Touted as South Carolina’s most visited attraction, Ripley’s Aquarium was high on my list of possible destinations during our recent family vacation to Myrtle Beach. As we neared the city we saw advertisements for the aquarium’s temporary dinosaur exhibit, and I decided we had to check it out.

Initial Thoughts

Petting Stingrays

My son enjoyed the opportunity to pet a stingray.

Ripley’s Aquarium brings visitors up close to hundreds of God’s marine creatures. The Underwater Guidepath takes guests under and alongside the Dangerous Reef—a large tank filled with sharks, sawfish, and dozens of other fish. Smaller tanks throughout display thousands of colorful and exotic denizens of the deep, including piranhas, jellyfish, seahorses, sea dragons, clownfish, angel fish, eels, and much more. Visitors can also watch divers perform underwater tricks and feed fish and rays. At Friendship Flats, guests have an opportunity to reach into the water and touch a variety of stingrays, such as the Cownose Ray, the Spotted Eagle Ray, and the Southern Stingray. This tank also houses the bizarre Bowmouth Guitarfish.

While I truly enjoyed viewing some of God’s marvelous underwater creatures, I really wanted to see the dinosaur exhibit. I have always been fascinated by these magnificent beasts, but I was also curious to see the amount of evolutionary teaching permeating the exhibit. Only a handful of dinosaurs were on display—but for the most part, the animatronic beasts were pretty good quality, unlike some of those at many traveling dinosaur exhibits.

Evolutionary Content

Entrance

Entrance

Of course, it didn’t take long to see children being indoctrinated with evolutionary teaching. It’s heartbreaking to see how evolutionists use God’s amazing creation to proselytize a generation of young people into a worldview that rejects the Creator. A sign at the entrance of the dinosaur exhibit immediately broaches the topic by claiming, “For 120 million years some of the largest, most incredible animals ever to inhabit the earth made the ground shake with every thundering footstep.”

Tim and the T-Rex

This little T-rex was nice enough to allow me to pet him.

An animatronic T-rex near the entryway of the exhibit hall nearly fills the room. Yet like the other dinosaur models, this beast is less than half the size of what a fully grown specimen would have been. This T-rex is clearly the featured beast, as a large section of one wall is devoted to telling visitors about the creature’s “stats,” including its height, weight, length, sense of smell, bite force, tooth size, strength, and habitat.

Chasmosaurus

These two animatronic chasmosauruses are displayed next to a genuine triceratops horn and a sign explaining the horn is over 70 million years old. God’s Word tells us otherwise.

A stegosaurus and two chasmosauruses as well as three creatures that are often mistakenly called dinosaurs—dimetrodon, mosasaurus, and pteranodon—are also on display. Signage provides some “facts” about the various creatures, such as the meaning of their names along with their size and diet.

Evolutionary Timeline

Evolutionary Timeline

In direct contradiction to earth’s true history as described in the Bible, the prominently displayed evolutionary timeline ran from the Cambrian Period to the present. According to this chart, dinosaurs lived from 248–65 million years ago. There was no explanation of how this idea of millions of years arose in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These millions of years were hatched by a group of men who despised God and sought to explain our existence without appealing to Him or admitting the truth of His Word. Instead, Ripley’s dinosaur exhibit just presents these vast ages as fact.1

Extinction

The dinosaur exhibit provided five explanations for the “mass extinction” in the past, but failed to list the global Flood in Noah’s day.

Since most museums promote their beliefs about the unobservable and untestable past as though they were proven scientific facts, I was surprised to find a sign discussing “Fact vs. Theory.” The sign read, “Paleontologists study rock formations and fossil remains looking for clues that will reveal what actually led to the extinction. Their conclusions (theories) are only educated guesses. As more facts are unearthed—existing theories evolve or are discarded.” Unfortunately, this cautionary caveat seemed to only apply to the many suggested reasons for dinosaur extinction, which included the meteorite strike, ecological competition, volcanic disaster, an ice age, and disease theories.

Nautilus

Nautilus

If the exhibit had applied this distinction between “fact” and “theory” to the rest of the conjectures in the display, then they would not have promoted the ideas in the accompanying table as factual. Actually, it would be more accurate to use the term “belief” instead of “theory” when referring to man’s ideas about the untestable past. A “theory” must be testable—and the time of dinosaurs, whenever a scientist believes it ended, cannot be subjected to controlled scientific tests because those conditions no longer exist anywhere on earth. In the following chart, the “fact” appears in the left column, man’s word is in the center (called “fact” in the exhibit), and our explanation based on our understanding of God’s Word is on the right.

Observable Fact Theory (Called “Fact” in Dinosaur Exhibit) Biblical Creation View Based on God’s Word
Archaeopteryx fossil looks like a bird with a few reptilian features. Archaeopteryx fossil “shows how birds evolved from reptiles.” Archaeopteryx was a fully functioning bird made on Day Five.
Nautilus is a “living fossil.” Nautilus has survived “relatively unchanged for 450 million years.” Nautilus is a sea creature created on Day Five, about 6,000 years ago.
Sharks inhabit the world’s oceans. “Sharks inhabited the world’s oceans long before the first dinosaur made its way across the land.” Sharks were made on Day Five—one day before dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs existed. Dinosaurs lived from 248 million to 65 million years ago. Dinosaurs were land animals created on Day Six—the same day as man.
A global “mass extinction” event occurred in the past. The exhibit actually did better here, listing five different theories: meteorite strike, competition, volcano, ice age, and disease. The global Flood in Noah’s day wiped out all air-breathing land animals not on board the Ark (so it was not truly an extinction event since some of each kind survived.)
A piece of fossilized dinosaur dung (“coprolite”) was found in Arkansas. This coprolite was formed 125 million years ago. The coprolite was formed during the Flood (c. 2350 BC) since the dung was deposited by a dinosaur before it perished and was then entombed in Flood sediment.
Coprolite

Coprolite

It’s always intriguing to see how evolutionists gloss over the so-called “living fossils.” The nautilus is not the only creature to remain “relatively unchanged” for supposedly millions of years. According to the evolutionary timeline, sand dollars, wasps, dragonflies, mollusks, coelacanths, Wollemi pines, and many other animals and plants have supposedly survived for millions of years without undergoing any evolutionary change. Of course, such “living fossils” are exactly what we’d expect to find, since Genesis 1 repeatedly states that God created each of these things according to its kind. This is also precisely what we observe in our world; we see small changes within a kind of creature, but we’ve never observed one kind of animal evolve into another kind.

Geodes and Fossils

Evolutionary content abounds on this display of Ammonites, Orthoceras, and Megalodon teeth.

The aquarium’s evolutionary and/or old-earth content was not limited to the temporary dinosaur exhibit; it can be found on numerous displays throughout Ripley’s Aquarium. For example:

  • “The [Carcharodon] Megalodon lived 65 million years ago.” Another sign in the museum states that “Carcharocles Megalodon first appeared 23 million years ago.” This apparent discrepancy reveals the ongoing dispute among evolutionary scientists regarding the creature’s ancestry.2
  • Horseshoe crabs have “survived virtually unchanged for over 300 million years … 100 million years before the dinosaurs.”
  • Ammonites are extinct cephalopods that first appeared “435 million years ago.”
  • “Orthoceras was a Paleozoic predator that lived more than 400 million years ago.”
  • The gift shop sells items such as shark tooth bracelets (teeth are said to be 5–60 million years old), shark tooth necklaces (each with several shark teeth said to be several million years old), and a dinosaur book that opens with the words “millions of years ago.”
Horseshoe Crab

This particular photo is of a corresponding display at Ripley’s Aquarium in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Some may choose to avoid spending money at attractions that contain a great deal of evolutionary content, knowing that some of their funds may be used to advance the evolutionary agenda. Others believe the cost is worthwhile since an aquarium such as this one provides an opportunity to see some of God’s magnificent sea creatures. Additionally, with thoughtful preparation you can use these places to teach your children and friends about the assumptions and errors in evolutionary thinking while pointing out that God is the Creator and that these creatures’ exquisite design and beauty testify of His wisdom and glory (Psalm 104:24–25; 107:23–24). Christians who choose to visit such places must exercise discernment as they will be confronted with a mixture of fact and fiction. Our popular Aquarium Guide is designed to help you recognize the difference between truth and error.

Ultimately, whether you choose to visit these places or not comes down to personal conviction and circumstances. Paul’s words to the Corinthians (inspired by the Holy Spirit) are applicable here: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Conclusion

Evolutionary museums, zoos, and aquariums teach or imply that people are nothing but star dust that just happened to come into being through billions of years of blind, random processes. The sometimes unspoken but unmistakable message is that we are all living out a purposeless and meaningless existence on an insignificant pale blue dot of a planet.

The Creation Museum counters these vicious lies and stands as a witness to the truth and authority of God’s Word. Parents can have confidence when they bring their children to see our world-class exhibits, knowing they will be taught the true history of mankind, dinosaurs, and our world. Dinosaurs were land animals created on Day Six—the same day as man (Genesis 1:24–28). We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13–14) in the image of the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator (Genesis 1:26–27). God loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to become one of us and then suffer and die for our sins on the Cross to redeem us from the eternal punishment we deserve (John 3:16).

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Footnotes

  1. See the following articles to see some of the many problems with the idea of millions of years: Radiometric Dating: Back to Basics, Radiometric Dating: Problems with the Assumptions, and Radiometric Dating: Making Sense of the Patterns Back
  2. A website devoted to the Megalodon states, “The scientific community still debates many aspects of C. megalodon, including it’s [sic] origin and proper scientific classification. It’s been argued that this species should actually be called Carcharocles megalodon, putting it in relation to the great white shark, Charcharocles carcharias. Even more scientists propose that it should use the genus Otodus. Despite all of this controversy, the Carcharodon genus is still widely accepted as the proper place for it.” See www.carcharodonmegalodon.com, accessed October 8, 2012. Back