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Attack on Creation Museum in Issue of Vanity Fair

on January 23, 2010
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Vanity Fair: “Roll Over, Charles Darwin!”* It isn’t a—ahem—“news source” we would normally cover, but we decided not to ignore a scathing attack on our Creation Museum that appears in February’s issue of Vanity Fair.

The article, by Vanity Fair contributing editor A. A. Gill, wastes no time in ridiculing the museum, saying it has been “battling science and reason since 2007” and accusing it of having no “hint of soul.” Nary a heartbeat passes before Gill insults those who live near the museum as well, writing, “It’s not in the nature of stoic Cincinnatians to boast, which is fortunate, really, for they have meager pickings to boast about.” In only a few moments Gill has antagonized not only Answers in Genesis supporters, but no doubt a great many Midwesterners as well. And shortly thereafter, Gill reveals (surprise, surprise) that he is more interested in mocking than in an even partially open-minded review of the museum: “Here in Nowheresville, Kentucky, tennis is considered a game for Europeans and other sexual deviants.”

“It’s not in the nature of stoic Cincinnatians to boast, which is fortunate, really, for they have meager pickings to boast about.”

Gill ventured to the museum with actor Paul Bettany (who once portrayed a tennis player—hence the above insult), who, we noted last week, labeled the museum “so monumentally peculiar and sad . . . like a museum of science, but of course there’s no science in it.” Bettany, who plays Charles Darwin in the film Creation (see item "#5"), took a series of photographs during his visit that Vanity Fair also published.**

Far more briefly than an exhaustive defense would require (since most of Gill’s insults have nothing to do with creation, per se)—but less briefly than Gill’s attempt at criticism deserves—are answers to his most relevant attacks:

God created the world in six days, and the whole thing is no more than 6,000 years old. Everything came at once, so Tyrannosaurus rex and Noah shared a cabin.

Since Gill is implying that our antediluvian ancestors lived with T. rex, we would point out that they no more needed to live with carnivorous dinosaurs than humans today need live with carnivorous/omnivorous mammals (e.g., lions or bears). If Gill’s use of “cabin” is meant to refer to the Ark specifically, however, then we answer both that as with modern zookeepers, Noah would have properly corralled and managed any dangerous beasts on the Ark with him.

This place doesn’t just take on evolution—it squares off with geology, anthropology, paleontology, history, chemistry, astronomy, zoology, biology, and . . . most theology.

Gill reifies academic disciplines that cannot in themselves stand for or against evolution, but that rather are studied by those who hold to particular presuppositions. Further, insofar as disciplines are repositories for knowledge, evolution has yet to be reconciled with many important scientific discoveries—e.g., the law of biogenesis. As for theology, Gill’s piece gives no impression that he is familiar with biblical theology.

What is truly awe-inspiring about the museum is the task it sets itself: to rationalize a story, written 3,000 years ago, without allowing for any metaphoric or symbolic wiggle room. There’s no poetic license. This is a no-parable zone. It starts with the definitive answer, and all the questions have to be made to fit under it.

We of course agree that many passages of God’s Word are to be taken metaphorically.

Biblical creationists do not arbitrarily eliminate the role of poetry and parable in Scripture; we of course agree that many passages of God’s Word are to be taken metaphorically. However, most of the Old Testament and much of the New Testament is history, not parable or metaphor. Each kind (or genre) of literature in the Bible has defining characteristics. And the clues for correct biblical interpretation are in Scripture itself and the study of ancient Hebrew (and Aramaic and Greek). According to those principles of sound interpretation, it is abundantly clearly that Genesis is to be taken as straightforward real history, not parable, poetry, or some other symbolic or metaphoric type of literature.

[Regarding the Ark:] “O.K., so you get everybody aboard, 10 million creatures, times two, without the neighbors’ noticing. Where did the water come from? You have to flood the whole world. Did they import water from the Scientologists? No: it came from underground. There is a great reservoir, presumably for flooding purposes, under our feet. I assume that’s where it went back to. Why don’t we drill for it to water Phoenix?”

First, the claim of “10 million creatures” comes from nowhere (certainly not from the Bible or sound reason) and vastly exceeds biblically grounded estimates that suggest the number of kinds (not species) of land animals and birds (not sea creatures) on the Ark may have been as few as 2,000 (see the links below). Second, the Bible clearly explains that both subterranean and atmospheric water contributed to the Flood. Third, most (probably) of the water from the Flood is with us in the oceans that still cover most of the earth—and which would flood the planet again today were the continents leveled out. Even so, Gill’s sarcastic comment about a “great reservoir” may be more right than he thinks—see Huge ‘Ocean’ Discovered Inside Earth (which we covered in February 2007); a non-reservoir possibility is described in Inner Earth May Hold More Water Than the Seas.

Reading the entire article is an exercise in futility (because there is no rational substance to it), and for that reason and the ones below we recommend against it. Nonetheless, we pray that perhaps it will spark some Vanity Fair reader to take a closer look—with a more open mind and less caustic heart than Gill’s.

* We declined to link to the Vanity Fair article above considering the questionable content both in the article and elsewhere on that website. However, we include it here for documentation and for adults only.

** With the same warning as above, we link here to the photographs, taken by actor Paul Bettany who accompanied Gill on his visit to the museum. (An item about Bettany follows below.)


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