Museum of Earth History (Closed)
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
According to Vernon Payne, our tour guide at The Great Passion Play theme park, the Museum Of Earth History has one of the largest collections of dinosaur bones in all of Arkansas. Depending on your beliefs, that's either a blessing or it's grotesque.
The Museum, housed in a circular white building that suggests an early Holy Land church, is the handiwork of Dr G. Thomas Sharp, founder of the Creation Truth Foundation. His goal is to convince people that evolution is wrong, and that the creation stories found in the Bible book of Genesis are right. Until now he's done this by hauling dinosaur bones around in an 18-wheel truck as props for his seminars. The Museum is his first attempt at a permanent exhibit. We asked Vernon about Dr Sharp's credentials. "I don't know what his major was," Vernon said, "but he's been in science all his life" (Sharp's doctorate is in the philosophy of religion and science, awarded by South Florida Bible College.).
The Museum stresses the interaction between book-of-Genesis Bible figures and dinosaurs, because, as Vernon noted, "kids love dinosaurs." Not all Bible literalists, however, love dinosaurs, as the D word does not appear in the Bible. The Museum thus has two groups to sway: the disbelievers, and the super-literalists. This second group is critical, for without dinosaurs you might as well kiss the kids (and a lot of adults) goodbye. We asked Vernon if he believed. "Yes," he replied. "They were on the Ark."
The Museum is small, and divided into three sections: Garden of Eden, post-Garden of Eden, and post-Flood. It is a blend of moodily lit traditional dioramas and high-tech Dr Sharp narration over wireless headsets. A friendly T-rex replica peers over the Tree of Knowledge; Adam and Eve painted figures are obscured by modesty fronds. The Fall occurs, and the dinosaurs turn mean and eat each other. Ash from an erupting volcano causes the Ice Age and buries the dinosaurs. Noah saves a handful, but cavemen eat the survivors. The Museum ends with a mastodon skull sticking out of a snow bank, and skulls littering the steps of the Tower of Babel.
There isn't much to read in the Museum Of Earth History. That's not a problem, however, as Dr Sharp is in your headphones, telling you what you are seeing. Sharp says that continental division was not caused by plate tectonics, but by The Flood. "People are always asking me about the kangaroos!" he exclaims at one point, declaring that the Ice Age caused a 600-foot drop in sea level -- "land breaches!" Sharp announces -- that allowed the marsupials to reach Noah. At another point he declares, "Marine reptiles found in Kansas! Where's Kansas? It doesn't have a beachfront!"
Our tour guide is less urgent in his belief -- content, he told us, to "lay out the facts and let people draw their own conclusions."
Dr Sharp, however, has greater ambitions. He reportedly intends to open a much larger, 20,000-square-foot version of the Museum Of Earth History in Dallas, Texas, joining several other anti-evolution museums that are near completion. Once in Dallas, Dr Sharp will have plenty of material for his museum, as the Creationists in nearby Glen Rose, Texas, are going to grow dinosaurs.