Dinosaurs and humans coexisted, the Grand Canyon was shaped by the Great Flood, and the Earth was formed less than 10,000 years ago.
Those are some of the ideas put forth in Semisaurus, a mobile dinosaur museum with a message of creationism—the belief that the biblical account of creation is literal and accurate—was parked next to St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Beatrice this past weekend and saw about 750 people walk through its doors.
As a part of Junita, Nebraska-based Creation Instruction Association’s ministry, Brian Young—who refers to himself as a “t-rex enthusiast” on his business card—has been traveling the Midwest since September of 2016, spreading the message that science and religion can co-exist, Young said.
Invited by St. Paul’s, Semisaurus features interactive exhibits with microscopes, ancient artifacts, dinosaur fossils, a scale model of Noah’s Ark, an animatronic dinosaur, casts of ancient art that appear to depict dinosaurs and a motion-tracking velociraptor that teaches biology.
“I think it's wonderful because want our students to have a good grasp about the things that are presented to them by evolutionists,” said St. Paul’s principal Amy Duever. “You can also interpret the science according to a biblical viewpoint and see how creation can be supported by science. I think that helps to keep their faith strong.”
Science and the Bible are not at odds, Young said. Presenting just one side of the issue in schools, namely evolution, he said, isn’t education, it’s indoctrination. He said he hopes people who visited the museum took away an understanding of what creationism is and that historical descriptions of dragons and mythical creatures could be what we now know as dinosaurs.
“There's so much evidence that dinosaurs lived with people, that you would have to be a true science denier to not see that,” Young said. “But you're not allowed to hear it because they call that creation. It's just science, you've got Marco Polo, you've got Alexander the Great, you've got people from all around the world from all around history talking about it.”
As might be expected with a subject as sensitive as religion, the museum has brought in its fair share of skeptics, he said. The back wall near the museum’s exit has quotes from famous scientists, nonbelievers and other personalities who disagree with a biblical interpretation of where we came from, which the museum refutes with verses from scripture.
There were people with a wide range of beliefs visiting the museum, he said, and he hopes they were able to take something away from it.
“I think people have been very polite,” Young said. “Sure, there's been some who disagree, but they've been polite about it.”
Students from St. Paul’s visiting the museum on Monday morning took turns looking at feathers, insects and even their own eyes in a video microscope and got a lesson in how the world came to be, from a creationism perspective.
“Things were a lot bigger before the flood,” said fifth grader Carly Meints. “After the flood they were a lot smaller.”
“They were bigger because there's something called the firmament up in the sky, made of water,” added fifth grader Andrew Duever. “Then, during Noah's flood, that was all the water that rained down.”
Principal Duever was pleased that the museum came to her school, and said it was a good opportunity for the students to get a close-up look at biblical teachings in regards to where we came from.
“I think a lot of the fossils are really neat to see,” she said. “A lot of the kids were really excited about the fossilized woolly mammoth poop. That was a big hit when I was in here earlier.”