We Visit the Museum
February 10th, 1957 @ 8:15 AM
WE VISIT THE MUSEUM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2-10-57 8:15 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message at the 8:15 o’clock hour. We have been, in these last several Sunday mornings, speaking from the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, and in our preaching through the first chapter of Genesis, the creation story of the world, we have come to the creation of the beasts of the field and finally to the creation of man himself [Genesis 1:1-31]. And the title of the message this morning is The Creation of Man and the Facts of Paleontology, and it is more of an introductory message. And if we were actually to name it, we would call the address this morning A Visit to the Museum, and the reason for that name will be obvious as we go on.
First, a reading from the Book: in the first chapter of Genesis, in the twenty-fourth and the twenty-fifth verses, God’s Word says,
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that was it good.
No one could read that, or listen to it being read, without noticing the repetition of a certain thing that God’s Word says: that God made every living creature “after his kind, cattle, creeping thing, beast of the earth after his kind” [Genesis 1:24]. Then He repeats it: “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, cattle after their kind, everything that creepeth upon the earth after his kind” [Genesis 1:25].
The Bible says a very conclusive and definite thing about how God created this life. Each one He created in a family group after his kind, and they never break over, those family units. You call them species. Those family units are never broken. They are unbreakable units in the creative act of God.
Now, we have been saying these things along the lines of biology, and of embryology, and now we come to the witness of paleontology or fossilology. That is, what is the record of the earth, the geological ages of this earth? What has God written in the rocks? And does what God writes in the rocks corroborate what God writes in the Book, or are they two different things?
The evolutionist says that what is written in the Bible and what they read in the rocks are contradictory. If that’s so, then what’s written here in the Bible isn’t so, because if we can read contradictions in the rocks to what God has written here in the Word, then I’m willing to give up the Word. If it can be an established fact that what I see here with my eyes, written in the geological formations of the world, contradict what I read here in the Bible; if that can be proved, I am willing to give up the Bible.
But the thesis of this pastor is that what God has written in His rocks is the same thing as what God has written in His Book. And we can look at it for ourselves. We can read here in the Bible, and we can see for ourselves in the rocks, so we’re going to do that this morning and next Lord’s Day morning.
Now I say this morning it would be a little more accurate to entitle this message A Visit to the Museum. We’re going to the museum and look at some of those fossils that they have aggregated and arranged to support their theory of evolution.
Now, the thing started in my mind like this: a few months ago, I was riding across this continent in a big Lockheed Constellation airplane. Now, those Constellations are built like this: on one side of the aisle are two seats, and on the other side of the aisle are three seats. Now, the Constellation was full, so when I boarded the plane, there was only one seat left, and that was by a young man and his wife on the right side of the aisle where the three seats were placed together. So I sat down by the young man.
Now it being a long, long trip, I opened a magazine, and on the inside of that magazine there happened to be an article on the creation of world and the creation of life, or, as that article was presenting it, on the evolution of the world and the evolution of the forms of life.
So as I began to look at it, I noticed the young fellow next to me was interested, and I began to talk to him about it. I found out that he was a young professor in the University of California at Los Angeles. So we began to talk about evolution, and he was amazed, he was astounded that I believed in the Bible, and that I believed “those old legends, and myths, and fictional presentations that you can find there in the Book of Genesis.” He was very surprised, so it precipitated in a discussion—I started to say an argument—it precipitated a discussion, let us say, between the young professor and me. Well, as we went on, he just floored me with this word. He said, “Evolution is a demonstrable fact, and you can see it for yourself.” He said, “I have seen it.” He said, “In a certain museum, you can go there, and you can see from fossil life where the horse has developed from a four-toed cat to the great draft Clydesdale of modern time.”
“Well,” I said, “you’re sure of that?”
He said, “I positively am sure of it. I have seen it for myself.”
“Well,” I said, “if that’s so, then I’m, I’m just lost. I’m wrong. Everything I think and believe, it just isn’t so, it isn’t true.”
“Well,” he said, “that’s a fact.”
Well, since then, I have read of that horse and the evolution of the horse many, many times in many books after that young fellow told me that. I didn’t have anything to answer. I couldn’t answer. What could you say to a young professor who says in a museum you will find demonstrated, from fossilology, the evolution of the horse from a four-toed cat to the great draft animal that you see today?
Well, it was just one of the good fortunes of my life that this last week, being on the Pacific coast, I made my way to that museum, and I visited the fossils of which that young professor spake. So this morning you and I are going to visit that museum.
First of all, when I walked in the door, on the right I saw up there a great big long poster of a thing, and it was entitled “The Histomat of Evolution,” and then the subtitle, “Ten Thousand Million Years.” That would be ten billion years. Ten thousand million years of evolution on a single page—brother, what a page, what a page!
So I looked at the page—great big, long sheet—and on the inside, “Line of Ascent from Amoeba to Man.” Then it goes through, among other things, the amoeba. Then we developed into unsegmented worms, then we developed into sea squirts, then we developed into vertebrates, then primitive sharks, then amphibians, then reptiles, then mammals, then monkeys, then apes, then the Piltdown man—I especially noticed him. Then we developed into the Piltdown man—and after a little while we are going into the hoaxes of anthropology—then we developed into the Piltdown man, and finally we developed into man.
Then the foreword, and I quote:
The subject of evolution has been considered as being opposed to religious principles. It is becoming increasingly evident, however, that a wider dissemination of the scientific data of biological evolution will have only one result, the building of a new and a greater faith in life. It brings realization of an upward trend in bodily function and mental powers. Is not this the best possible guarantee of further evolution towards something higher and better?
Do you see? That’s exactly what I saw; in the foreword of that “Histomat of Evolution,” he says that this does not contravene religious principles, but it builds “a new and a greater faith in life.” That’s what I’m talking about, but it doesn’t build it in God. It’s a repudiation of God! It leaves God out! It empties the universe of God, and I have a comment to make about that.
Men for a while, men for a while will follow religious ceremonies that have been emptied of their meaning, but they will not do it for long. It is not long after the religious content has been emptied of its faith, and of its pertinency, and of its revelation, and of its truth, it is not long until thinking men abandon those religious forms, and rites, and ceremonies, and truths, and revelations, and preachments, and doctrines. And that happens to any man. So when he embraces atheistic, materialistic evolution, he may be religious for a while, his children might have a halfway form of religion, but after a while, they give it up all together! Why? Because it has no meaning. It has no pertinency. If there is not any God, and if God is not in this world, and if He didn’t make it, and if He doesn’t control it, and if there’s not some God to whom someday we shall give an account of our lives, why bother with the fact of God, the supposed fictitional fact of God?
That’s what I’m saying. He says, “The building of a new and greater faith in life.” That is, give us time, just give us days, give us hours, give us a hundred million years, and we’ll all develop into archangels. But God says an altogether different thing about humanity. God says we were created perfect and fell in sin [Genesis 1:31, 3:22], and from that fall we cannot redeem ourselves [Matthew 16:26]. Then you have the unfolding of the great plan of the ages in the redemptive sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ [Hebrews 10:5-14].
But let’s go on into that museum. On the inside of that great, world famous museum is a hall entitled “The Hall of Evolving Life,” and then above that hall, underneath the caption, there are these words inscribed: “This hall is designed to demonstrate the capacity of change inherent in all life, and that change goes hand in hand with a gradual evolution of life forms throughout the ages.” What a wonderful prospect.
We’re now entering a great world famous museum, and they call one of the great halls in that museum “The Hall of Evolving Life,” and we’re going inside of that wonderful scientific hall in order to see unveiled there before us the forms of evolving life. And we’re going to have a final answer to this thing about how these many, many life forms about us came into being. So we enter the hall, and what do I see? All right, this is what I see.
First, they have a skull of a new world monkey. Then right by the side of that, they have the skull of an old world monkey. Then right by the side of that, they have the skull of an ape. Then by the side of that, they have the skull of a man. The skull of a monkey looks like a monkey’s skull to me, looks like an animal skull. The skull of the ape looks like an ape’s skull to me. The skull of the man looks like a man’s skull. But that’s the first exhibit.
All right, the second exhibit is this: they have the exhibit of a skeleton of a man, and then by the side of that they have the exhibit of the skeleton of a chimpanzee. The skeleton of the man looks like a man’s skeleton to me, and the skeleton of the chimpanzee looks like the skeleton of a chimpanzee to me.
And then in the next exhibit, they have the leg bones of the mammals. They’ve taken about, oh, I would say eight or nine mammals, and they have the leg bones of these mammals. And there they are, one, two, three, right and right on up. And that is supposed to be a demonstration of the evolution of life! I could not believe that men who are supposed to be trained and supposed to be scientists propose to demonstrate such a far-reaching doctrine as the evolutionary hypothesis by just putting there behind those glass windows these several skeletons that you can find most anywhere in the earth.
Let me tell you what that’s like. That is the same and identical thing as if you took the houses that you see in this world and you noticed they all have floors. They all have ceilings. They all have walls. They all have windows. They all have doors. Then you classify them, you arrange them, and here you have a little dog house, and then there you have a big dog house, and then over there, you have a shanty, a shack. Then you have a cottage. Then you have a little house, then you have a big house, then you have a mansion, then you have a castle. And when you get them all arranged, why, you say, “See, this castle evolved out of that little dog house down there.”
Well, if a man objects when he says, “But you’re talking about inanimate things, and inanimate things don’t evolve,” listen, brother, I am telling you that when I say that little dog houses don’t evolve into castles, and you say that’s because they are inanimate objects, I’m telling you that’s not half as ridiculous and preposterous as when the evolutionist says that dead, inert, inanimate matter evolves into life! But that’s what the evolutionist has me to believe when he says that all of these things that we see today evolve out of dead, inert matter, and it did it of itself, spontaneously, of its own inherent chemical powers on the inside of it. Why, a demonstration as that proves not a thing in the world! And if a man is looking for something that it might prove, it does prove this: that the infinite God and the all-wise God, when He made all of the differing forms of life, He gave to all of those forms the finest construction that God Himself could devise. And the finest construction of a bone is the bone that you see, and the finest construction of muscles are the muscles that you see, and the finest construction of nerves are the nerves that you see.
So God didn’t change the thing in the differing species, but He gave the best to each one. And all of us have to eat, and all of us live in the same world, and all of us breathe the same air; therefore, their structural forms will be very much alike; the bones of an ape, the nerves of an ape, the muscles of an ape, the bones of a man, the muscles of a man, the nerves of a man; God chose the best form, and He gave it to the animals that He created, and He gave it to the man that He made, and that’s all that those structural likenesses indicate. But as for one evolving out of the other, there’s no semblance of proof in it at all just by looking at the similarity between the skeleton of a man and the skeleton of a chimpanzee.
Now, to omit a whole lot of things, let’s go to this main exhibit. This is the thing that I had been looking forward to for a long, long time. So I went into the exhibit of the fossils that they’ve dug up and presented there in that world famous museum, and then I went on the mezzanine. I couldn’t find what I wanted, and I asked the guide, and I went up onto the mezzanine, and there it was entitled “The Ascent of Equus,” the ascent of the horse, the evolution of the horse; then the caption underneath the big headline: “The Ascent of Equus–beginning with eohippus.” The Greek word for dawn is eos and the Greek for horse is hippos, so eohippus would be “dawn horse,” the beginning horse.
Beginning with Eohippus, this exhibit traces the development of the horse through forty-five million years of natural evolution, and a few hundred years of domestication. Brother, wouldn’t that interest you? We are now going to see unfolded before our eyes forty-five million years of natural evolution of the horse. Why, my fingers tingled, my eyes dilated, my mind quickened, everything about me sprang up. What a great exhibit am I going to see!
All right, then this is what I saw. This is what I saw. There were five exhibits of skeletons of horses. Number one, Pliocene horse—that’s one of the eras back there—Plesippus shochonenis, early one-toed horse of two million years ago. “From Upper Pliocene Hagerman Beds, Idaho,” and that was the sign on the skeleton. And I looked at the skeleton, and it was the skeleton of a horse; just an ordinary horse, just a horse.
And I looked at the sign up there, and I read it again: “Early one-toed horse of two million years ago,” when it was just his hoof, just like any horse’s hoof; every horse got a hoof, every one of them. Well, they labeled that the “Early one-toed horse.” So as I looked at that sign, I said, you know, people will come here and look at that and say, “What a marvelous fossil.” A one-toed horse, and I want you to know while I was thinking that, while I was thinking that, standing there looking, reading that sign, there came up a man and his wife back of me, and she looked at that thing for a while and said, “Husband, husband, husband, look: a one-toed horse!” So the husband looked, “Why,” he said, “wife, I don’t see anything different. It just looks like a horse’s hoof to me.” All right, that’s exhibit number one. This Pliocene horse, called Plesippus shochonenis, two million years old, that was the first one they started with.
All right, the second horse skeleton is, now I read, “A Pleistocene Horse, Equus occidentalis”—on our side, not orientalis; occidentalis, a “Western” horse. Then, continuing from the sign, “Western Horse of California Fifty Thousand Years Ago.” You see, that’s 1,950,000 years later, he says, extinct before historic times, “from Rancho LaBrea.” LaBrea, that’s the Spanish word for tar, asphalt; “from Rancho LaBrea Pleistocene Asphalt Deposits.”
Well, I looked at that horse, and he had one toe too, just like the other one, but it never mentioned that, never said anything about his one toe. And I looked at the second skeleton, and it looked exactly like the first one, just a little larger, one million nine hundred fifty thousand years later. All right, that was the second exhibit.
The third exhibit was a domestic horse, labeled such. The fourth exhibit was an Arabian horse, and the fifth and last exhibit was the skeleton of a draft horse. Well, I looked at that thing, and I said, “My soul, surely there’s something more around here than that. I’ve just got five skeletons of regular horses up there. There’s bound to be something more than this, because they’re going to demonstrate to me fifty million years of the ascent of equines, and all I have here are just five skeletons of horses.”
So I looked around and I found it. Oh, bless its poor little bones, I found it! I found it. Over there by the mezzanine rail, there was a little glass case, about that high and about that long. And the sign on that little glass case was this: “Earliest American Horse. Plaster replica of Eohippus borealis. “Borealis” just refers to the north, and Eohippus, the dawn horse: the “Northern dawn horse.” That is, not the Southern dawn horse; the Northern dawn horse, Eohippus borealis.
Did you know these scientists would sure make you think they were smart people by using all those big words, when all those big words just say little simple things, just like you’d talk in everyday language? “Plaster replica of Eohippus borealis, Eocene, fifty million years ago, fifty million years ago.” Now, I’m still quoting: “Eohippus, or dawn horse, earliest known ancestor of the modern horse, lived in North America during the Lower Eocene, forty, fifty million years ago. The remains are fragmentary. Only rarely do we find fossil material complete enough to permit construction of a mounted skeleton.”
In other words, he’s guessing at it, and he went on to say there in that caption that the head of that little thing he had didn’t belong to the body, but they just put them together in order to display it there in the case. Then, continue to quote, “Striking difference, tiny size, thirteen inches high, long body with arched back, four functional digits on front feet, three functional digits on hind feet. Teeth and feet indicate a browsing,” that is, they ate tender leaves and bark, “indicate a browsing rather than a grazing animal” end quote.
So we have it there in the little glass case, a little cat-like looking animal with four toes on its front feet and three toes on its hind feet. And as I stood looking at it, there came two high school boys, and they came over there to that case, and they read out loud all of those things I’ve just read to you. And those two boys looked at one another in amazement and said, “Just think, a horse used to look like that!”
Well, I couldn’t hold my tongue. I said, “Listen fellows, don’t you believe that a horse ever looked like that. It just says here that a horse looked like that.” Why, those boys said to me, “But sir, but sir, look, it says it here by these great scientists who make this museum.”
I said, “That doesn’t mean anything, son. That doesn’t mean anything. They just put that thing here, and you could have put it here. And another thing you could have done, you could have got a common alley cat, and you could have put that alley cat in that same glass case, and you could have said, ‘This is the ancestor of the modern-day horse.’”
But one of those boys said, “That wouldn’t be right and that wouldn’t be so, mister.” And I said, “And son, that’s what I’m telling you. This ain’t right and this ain’t so either.”
Those boys looked at me in amazement and astonishment! I never did say anything else except this. As I walked away, I said, “You two boys, when you go through this museum, and when you look at these things, you think about what you’re looking at, and you think about what you read when you read these signs and when you see these displays.”
All right, what about that horse? And I must conclude immediately. What about that horse? All right, there are several things about that horse. That horse is the classic demonstration of the evolutionist to show the facts of his hypothesis and of his theory. Whenever you ask an evolutionist, “Where can you demonstrate with a fossil ancestry any species that developed and evolved?” they will point with their collective finger to their prize exhibit, the horse!
Well, I will admit, I will admit, if the extravagant reproductions that they make of that little thing and all of those paintings by which they present him, if that thing is true—that the great draft animal you know today evolved from a little old thing that looks more like a civet cat than anything else—I will admit that you have, pretty well beyond question, demonstrated your hypothetical theory. But there are several things to be said about it, and the first one is this: they said on that case that that little Eocene animal lived fifty million years ago. And the next demonstration they had of that Pleistocene animal was two million years later. They have to account for forty-eight million years of time, and in that forty-eight million years of time, they must find the missing links between that little civet cat and the horse as we know it today. Where are those missing links? Show them to us. You say this animal evolved into this draft animal we know today; show it to us, that’s what I want to see! That’s why I went to the museum. That’s why I was eager to see. I want to see those missing links. I want to see the evolving of it; not just pick out an animal and say this animal is this ancestor. Show us how that thing was its ancestor. That’s the first fact.
The second fact is this: the arrangement of that thing is purely arbitrary. From what I can read, from what I can find, there’s another museum, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and I’m going to go there on my next opportunity. And from what I can find out in the American Museum, they have twelve exhibits, whereas there in the great museum on the West Coast, they have just six. They have twelve.
But the second observation I make about it is this, that the arrangement of those exhibits is altogether arbitrary. They pick out this animal, and they say this animal evolved into that animal. That is not so! This animal belongs to a species of its own, and this next animal belongs to a species of its own, and this animal belongs to a species of its own, and each of those species are unbreakable units in themselves. They did not evolve from one to the other! And when they pick out those exhibits, they have a four-toed animal and a three-toed animal, four and three, and then pick out another four and three, listen, some of those animals back there that had four functional digits on their front foot and three functional digits on their back foot, some of those animals weighed more than three tons! Way back there in those eras when they say the thing is evolving, why don’t they put those three-ton animals in the exhibit when we’re coming up with the horse? Because it’s not so! It’s not so! By an arbitrary arrangement, they pick out a fossil here and pick out a fossil there and pick out a fossil there, and say this fossil evolved from that and from that and finally back to that. That’s just not so! Any man could pick out fossils and present them and say the same thing. It’s not so!
All right, the third fact about it is this, and this is the main point. The third fact is this: that in the same fossil stratum where you find that little animal they call Eohippus, in the Eocene Age, in the same stratum, you will find a real horse, an actual horse, a horse like the modern horse, just the same thing! Well, why doesn’t the evolutionist put that in? Because you can’t evolve a horse out of a horse, he’s a horse already! Therefore, he can’t be put in that. At the same time that the camel lived back there, those prehistoric camels; and at the same time the saber-toothed tiger lived, the prehistoric, extinct saber-toothed tiger; and at the same time those great mammals lived, at the same time those great elephants lived—at that same time the horse lived, and you can find the fossil skeleton of the horse back there in the same stratum that you find all the rest of them. And yet they say this little animal evolved into the horse when you’ve already got a horse! He’s already there, side-by-side, in the same forest and in the same pasture and in the same world, and at the same time that that little old Eohippus was browsing around, there were real horses grazing out there in the meadows.
Now the last avowal—and I have to quit—is this: that the evolutionist is deceived by his own principles of arrangement. Now may I illustrate it quickly? Today, as I walk around, as I look, I see out here, for these little children to ride, I see a little Shetland pony. It’s just about that big. And then way over here, advertising stuff I don’t believe in, are tremendous Clydesdale horses. And I’ve seen those great draft animals at these meetings with that beautiful wagon going around. And there’s that little Shetland pony, he’s just about that high, and there’s those tremendous Clydesdales. And I look at them in amazement! But do you know, between the little Shetland pony about that high and the great draft Clydesdale, there are intermediate forms all the way through? The little Shetland pony, then you have a little zebra, then you’ll have a little western broom-tailed bronco, and then you’ll have a little saddle horse, then you’ll have an Arabian racer, then you’ll have a thoroughbred racer, then you’ll have a Percheron, and then you’ll have the great Clydesdale; you’ll have them all there in the same family. Now, let’s suppose they all die, and they’re all buried in mud, and the mud becomes fossil, and fifty million years from now, man’s digging down there, and they find those fossil skeletons. Oh, what a case for evolution. Look at here, look at here! The little Shetland pony, look at there. And look at there, and look at here, and look at there, and look, look, look, look, look, and look, and look at there! Ah, it’s demonstrated! It’s demonstrated. They all evolved from those little animals clear up to those big animals. Not so! They were all contemporary. That’s my point. They were all contemporary, and that’s my point about all of it. The amoeba is a contemporary of the man. The paramecium is a contemporary of the man. The worm is a contemporary of the man. The amphibian is a contemporary of the man, and the fish, the reptile and the fowl, the beast of the field, all of them are contemporaries of the man. And when they appeared, each species appeared by the creative act of God—sudden!—and they appeared complete, and they appeared whole, just like God made them! And just like it says here in the Book [Genesis 1:21-25]. And we’re going on with that as we study paleontology, as we look at fossilology.
Now, we must have our invitation song, and while we sing the song, while we sing the song, somebody you, come down this aisle and give the pastor your hand. “Pastor, I’d like to put my life with you in the church. I’d like to be with you here in this ministry, and I’d like to belong to this blessed and precious congregation.” You come. Is there somebody here who has prayed this thing through, and he says in his heart, “I’d like to be a Christian. I don’t want to be an unbeliever, or an atheist, or a materialist, or a mechanistic infidel. I believe in God. I believe in God, and I believe in Jesus our Lord, and I believe in the Word of God. And here I come, pastor, and I give you my hand. I give my life in the hope and in the precious promise of Christ Jesus.” In this little moment while we wait, into that aisle and down here to the front, would you come? “Here we are.” Is there a family of you or one somebody you? Just in this moment when we tarry, would you come and stand by me, while all of us stand and sing?