Many Trying to Reconcile Religious Beliefs with Evidence of Evolution

EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark., Aug. 11, 2005 — -- It can be jarring to see fossil replicas of dinosaurs and adjacent images of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Most museums do not posit that dinosaurs -- adolescent ones, of course, for space reasons -- were shepherded onto the Great Ark by Noah.

The Sandborg family traveled all the way from their home in Minnesota to Eureka Springs, Ark., to visit the Museum of Earth History. As believers that God created the universe in six days, they made the trip to resolve a dilemma -- how to reconcile science with the Bible they believe in.

"To have dinosaurs, you know, as a child it was hard for me to figure out -- to try to make it line up," said Dawn Sandborg.

Almost half of the U.S. population -- 45 percent -- believes that human beings did not evolve, but instead were created by God, as stated in the Bible, about 10,000 years ago, according to a November 2004 Gallup poll. Now many of those believers are pushing for a way to align their beliefs with scientific evidence of dinosaurs -- a battle being fought in legislatures, classrooms and museums across the country.

Museum of Earth History founder Thomas Sharp tries to make science and the Bible compatible. In this museum and others he's planning nationwide, he claims Noah fit pairs of dinosaurs on his ark, and God created it all.

"I think it happened by intelligent guidance," Sharp said. "I think it's impossible to have slime (evolve) into the human brain no matter how long you say it took. I think that's biologically impossible."

Creationism Gaining Support

Religious views of creation that challenge accepted science are gaining support across the country.

The Kansas Board of Education this week tentatively approved new standards that would allow more criticism of evolution in explaining the origins of life. A final vote is expected in the coming months.

President Bush recently endorsed "intelligent design" -- the theory that life could not exist without divine guidance -- saying it should be taught in schools "so people can understand what the debate is about."

But scientists say there is no debate.

"I have no problem with people talking about religion as religion or belief as belief," said Alan Leshner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "It is extremely dangerous when we talk about religious belief as if it were science, because people need to know the difference."

Science is increasingly on the defensive.

IMAX theaters in Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia have refused to show films such as "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" because they teach evolution.

This movement has not won every battle. Despite the backing of the mayor, the Tulsa, Okla., zoo recently voted against a creationist exhibit, in a debate that caused quite a bit of local controversy.

There's no telling how strong this movement will grow. Compared to science, right now it is in its Genesis.