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July 19, 2008

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Q: Displaying the deceased?

A: Dr. Tommy Mitchell recently took his family to the Cincinnati Museum Center to view “Bodies . . . the Exhibition.” This was prompted by several inquiries that we have received at the ministry about the traveling exhibit. He reported on his medical—and biblical—opinion.

I spent three hours at the museum with my wife (a retired obstetrician) and two of my daughters. “Bodies . . . the Exhibition” contained about 15 bodies along with many individual organs and specimens that had undergone polymer preservation. The exhibit itself consisted of a series of rooms, each devoted to a particular organ system. Bones were displayed to highlight their unique structures, such as the inner portions of the skull. Muscles had been carefully dissected to show their attachments and arranged to reveal their functions. The distinction between the skeletal and muscular systems was highlighted by a display showing a complete skeleton standing face to face with its filleted muscles.
Circulatory system details were revealed by intricately branching castings, made by injecting the vessels with a plastic-like compound and then corrosively dissolving away the tissue. The digestive system was displayed in a dissection showing the entire digestive tract and also in displays of individual organs. One of the most amazing dissections was that of the nervous system. The main exhibit in this room was an entire nervous system meticulously stripped from its body to reveal the brain, the spinal cord, and the major nerves of the body.
The fetal development exhibit was an optional part of the tour. In this exhibit we found many fetuses, ranging from very early in development to 24 or so weeks gestation. According to the exhibitors, these fetuses were obtained after miscarriages. It was a powerful thing to see the development of the child so clearly. It is unfathomable to me that someone could view these children and not realize that we are indeed human from the moment of conception.
Traveling cadaver shows, including this one, have generated much controversy and a wide spectrum of opinions, ranging from those who extol the educational and pro-life value of the exhibit and praise God for His marvelous design to those who are mortified by various aspects of the exhibit and its history. As in other areas of observational science, the viewer’s presuppositions (such as beliefs about God, the sanctity of life, human rights, etc.) will influence his response to the exhibit. Nevertheless, as our readers make choices to attend or not—and whether or not to take their children—I would like to offer at least a few warnings for personal consideration.

To read his full report—including his warnings—see “Bodies . . . the Exhibition.”

News to Note Quick Look

Color by number: Scientists examining fossilized birds said to be 100 million years old have been able to interpret the color patterns of the feathers. Writing in Biology Letters, the researchers describe how the feathers displayed “striking” black-and-white bands. What could the plumage of extinct birds have to do with the creation/evolution controversy? Read more.


Mirror image: Cro-Magnon Man, you may be 28,000 years old, but you haven’t changed a bit! Read more.


Also: twin double take, the lake that is no more, worming in, and bugged by a bug. Read more.

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