New Museum of the Bible exhibit to explore relationship between science and the Bible

Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., 2017
Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., 2017 | (Photo: The Christian Post)

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., has announced plans for a year-long exhibition examining the often contentious relationship between science and the Bible over the course of history.  

Through millions of dollars in grants received from the John Templeton Foundation and Templeton Religion Trust, the temporary exhibit will run from summer 2020 through summer 2021 and will detail the contemporary debates related to scientific inquiry and biblical interpretation.

Specifically, the exhibit seeks to answer six of the world’s most pressing questions: How did it all begin? What keeps the universe running? Are we different from animals? What are we made of? Where are we going? Are we alone?

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“We believe that the narrative for the most part in Western civilization is that the Bible and science are incompatible with each other,” the museum’s chief executive officer Ken McKenzie told The Christian Post in an interview.  

“We believe that in the scientific community some folks look at the Bible and say, ‘We believe folks on the religious side look at science as competing with the Bible and therefore, is antagonistic. Our argument is that both the Bible and science have an authoritative place in society, and we believe a lot is complementary and they are not opposite to each other at all times.”

The museum aims to tackle “myths” that have emerged on both sides of the science-faith discussion in ways that are educational, engaging and informative.

The exhibit will feature artifacts from the museum and those on loan from other institutions around the world.

As there is much debate about the origins of the universe and human life, the matters of creation and evolution will be covered in the exhibit but will not be the entire focus. Rather, the focus will be on the six “big questions” that everyone has asked at some point in their lives.

“The origin of the universe and the diversity of life are certainly big questions,” he said. “We will cover them in Pod 1 and Pod 3 which ask, ‘How did it all begin’ and ‘Are we different from animals?’ respectively.”

Topics that will be discussed in the exhibit will range from past discoveries like Newton’s laws of motion and Darwin’s theory of natural selection, as well as modern topics like the cosmos and the debate on life and health.

“[We hope] that it makes you ask more questions as to where you believe you land on either side of the two parties — biblically based or scientific based,” McKenzie said. “If you really lean heavily to one of the other, we hope that it challenges your thinking and then think, ‘Maybe there is a lot of places where these overlap and actually are complementary to each other.”

The exhibit will be thousands of square feet in size and will be an interactive experience. However, it has not yet been determined what exactly the interactive experience will entail.

The museum is working with an international advisory panel of 13 scientists and scholars to develop the exhibit's content and associated educational programs. Included in the advisory panel are astronomers, biologists, and geologists.

According to McKenzie, a former airline executive who was appointed CEO of the museum last September, the discussions about this exhibit began around June of last year.

“We had chances to meet together and Oxford. We've met in Washington, over in Rome, Florence,” he explained. “So that team of scholars in conjunction with our exhibit staff are fine-tuning exactly what this is going to look like. Since we're looking to roll it out in 2020, there's still a number of questions to be answered. And every architect is going to be there.

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