Standing in the lobby of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Bill Jack and Rusty Carter pointed to the enormous teeth on the reproduced skeleton of a Tyrannosaurs Rex, and told a group of children and their parents that the fearsome T-Rex was really a vegetarian.
They said the T-Rex was vegetarian because at the time of the Creation, there was no such thing as death, so a T-Rex could not have eaten meat. There was no death until Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, they continued, and God's revenge was to curse the world with death.
Jack asked, "If this creature was designed to eat meat from the very start, what would he have to do until Adam and Eve sinned and death entered the world? What would he have to do?" The children replied in chorus, "Starve."
"Fast and pray for The Fall. Is that likely?" Jack asked. "The answer is, everyone look at me and say, 'No.' Try that with me.'"
"No!" the children replied.
Jesus: The Designer and Creator
Jack and Carter operate what they call BC Tours: "BC" stands for Biblically Correct. They take paying customers on tours of such places as the Denver Museum, the zoo, and fossil sites, giving an explanation of nature, biology and paleontology with a strictly Biblical interpretation. They lead 100 tours a year and have reached thousands of children since starting their company in 1988.
"We believe Jesus is our designer and our creator of everything that was ever made," Carter tells the group of about 30 home-schooled Christian children and parents.
Known as "young Earth creationists," Jack and Carter say the Bible tells them Earth is only 6,000 to 10,000 years old. In the scientific community, the earth is estimated to be 4.5 billion years old. Jack and Carter describe both Creationism and the theory of evolution as "philosophies" and "world views" that are essentially on a par with each other; it's just a question of which you choose.
They believe that the life that populates Earth is not the product of billions of years of evolution, but created by God in six 24 hour days. And they believe Adam and Eve walked the Earth with dinosaurs, and that all the dinosaur fossils found all over the world are probably the result of one catastrophic event, such as Noah's flood, and not 4.5 billion years of life and death.
A 2007 Gallup Poll found that more Americans accept the theory of creationism than evolution. When those surveyed were asked about their views on the origins of life, 66 percent said creation, defined as "the idea that God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years," is probably or definitely true. In comparison, 53 percent said evolution, defined as "the idea that human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life," is probably or definitely true.
Carter asked the children, "Is evolution a religion?" and they replied "Yes."
"Yes it's a religious belief," Carter said. "It's a philosophy."
They dismiss much of what's on display in the museum as "pseudo-science" and describe many of the graphic depictions of paleontology and evolution as merely "artwork." Standing before a display on "Life in the Cenozoic Seas," Jack told the group, "This is a great museum if they would take out the propaganda, if they take out the pseudo-science. It's appalling because students go away thinking that cows turned into whales."
They deride the notion that anything so complex as the human eye could be the result of random mutations, or that the scales of a fish could over millions of years become teeth.
"This is a fairy tale, " Jack declared to the children. "How do they know your teeth evolved from scales? Everybody, try that with me, how do you know?
"How-do-you-know?" the kids repeated in unison.
At another exhibit, Carter pointed to a fossil of a giant fish found in Kansas and said, "Who likes to fish? Who would believe you could catch a fish this big in Kansas ?"
The tours are tolerated but not sponsored by the museum.
"They selectively ignore the vast majority of science in their presentation," said paleontologist and Chief Curator Kirk Johnson.
Johnson, who was raised in a creationist household and taught to believe that the world was only 6,000 years old, said that personal observation and a long education have taught him that evolution is the only way that biology makes sense.
"All of science understands that evolution is a central tenet of biology," Johnson said. "That's how biology makes sense. That's how we make better medicines. That's how we understand food crops.
"If you want to map out life through time, the fossil record is really great for doing that," he continued. "There's a really nice record of what happened on this planet from the first real life forms we know of about 3.4 billion years ago until today."
Out on the museum floor, Jack and Carter stopped the group in front of a window display that contains samples of sandstone that have ripples created by water and fossils of ancient life. Bill Jack asked his group, "How do they date the fossil? By the layer in which they find it. They date the layer by the fossil and the fossil by the layer," he said. "That's circular reasoning."
In the next moment he stepped past and turned his back to a display on radiometric dating, the method by which scientists determine the age of rocks through the rate of decay of their natural radioactivity.
When later asked why he skipped the display, Jack said simply, "We can't cover everything."
Inside the museum's expansive bone and fossil storage room, Johnson said, "They have no clue about how accurate it is … Now it's plus or minus a tenth of a percent."
Preaching to the Choir
Jack and Carter are usually preaching to an agreeable audience. Many of their customers also are creationists, some looking for ways to further instruct their children or bolster their own beliefs.
Stacia Martin, who brought her 14-year-old son Shawn, said she had learned how to defend her faith in Jesus Christ.
"I learned that when you look at exhibits, don't take them at face value just because they're exciting looking or because they're interesting," she said.
Her son Shawn said he thinks the world is 10,000 years old, "Because the Bible says that."
According to Johnson there are benefits to the BC Tours, even if children are given a message diametrically opposed to what the museum presents.
"Regardless of what the tour guide is saying, some of those kids are going to start thinking for themselves," Johnson said.
Jack and Carter said that's exactly what they are teaching: that people should think for themselves, but think within a framework of Creationist belief. They say that life makes sense if you believe that God created all life, and man in his own image.
Otherwise, Jack said, "It is naturalism. All there really is, is nature, and everything comes from nature. And yes, that is antithetical to a supernaturalist world view, if you will, that there is a God who created, put order into the universe."
Jack and Carter are now training other people around the country to hold similar tours at their local museums, and they are also putting together tour materials for Christian teachers.
"I've chosen to believe the God of the Bible," said Jack. "Now the evolutionist has chosen not to believe the God of the Bible. So we've chosen to believe they're both matters of faith."