On March 23, 2012 our founder, Bill Sanderson, was interviewed on a local TV program called “Praise the Lord” that is aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). He was interviewed by Pastor Michael Knibbs of Open Bible Christian Center.
Below is a transcript of the YouTube video of the program.
Pastor Knibbs: Our first guest today is Bill Sanderson. Welcome my brother.
Bill Sanderson: Thank you so much.
Knibbs: So tell me, who is Bill Sanderson?
Sanderson: Well, I actually do financial planning for a living but I think that you have me on the show because of the museum that we started in Akron, Ohio in 2005.
Knibbs: What’s the name of it?
Sanderson: It’s called Akron Fossils & Science Center. And we are a creation science museum. You know the big controversy between creation and evolution and that’s what we are all about in terms of standing for the creation and intelligent design.
Knibbs: Wow! So what came first the chicken or the egg?
Sanderson: Well, the chicken. [Laughing]
Knibbs: I agree! I agree! In your own life which came first? The financial [planning] deal or the museum? How do they play together?
Sanderson: Well actually I started my formal career as a teacher. But that lasted about three years. I was teaching and waiting tables and coaching and thinking there’s got to be a better way to make a living! And I got into financial services, and I continue to do that, but… It was in 2005… But I have always had a passion (of course) for the creation, for the truth of creation, the truth of Scripture. And as I viewed the culture and if you read the polls—people want to hear about the intelligent design side. But then the battle in the school systems and so forth seem to be never ending and so we decided just to put ourselves right in the crossroads of the culture and show that whole [intelligent design/creation] side of the system of origins.
Knibbs: So God started it all, huh?
Sanderson: And still runs it!
Knibbs: He sure does!
Knibbs: Oh dear! Now, I was interested on the background because it’s neat how, you know, Paul was [also] a tentmaker by trade…
Knibbs: …and at times he went back to that to get him [through], because he said to some of the churches he went to “You’re not going to pay me a nickel, I’ve got to pay my own freight.”
Knibbs: But, you know? God has things in our background that He get’s us into His work, but the passion is about something else. You know? Like this is a means to the end. So tells us a little about the museum and what you do there?
Sanderson: The museum is a wonderful place to visit. In fact we encourage all of the viewers to consider joining and coming to the museum. It’s actually divided into a couple of pieces. We have the indoor tour which what we do in the first part of that tour is we talk about all of the science that supports the intelligent design/creation model in opposition to the evolutionary model. And in fact you could go through the entire first half of the museum without any mention of deity. And we brought that to the forefront because we wanted public schools to be able to go through there too— and just look at the science! And a good example of that is if you look at Grand Canyon… And we have a scale model of Grand Canyon… You see what doesn’t change… The evidence is what stays the same what changes is the interpretation of the evidence. [So] if you look at Grand Canyon the question is, “Did that river [at the bottom of the canyon] carve that canyon?” Or “Is there a better explanation for that?” What we [the museum] would say is, “That there was a large amount of water in a very short period of time that carved that canyon.” And we look at the evidence like there is no… There is only topsoil on the very top layers (there aren’t any in-between those [rock] layers). We look at the evidence for meteorites; there was no evidence of meteorite activity shown right in-between those [rock] layers. There is no evidence for any animal or plant life in-between those [rock] layers. So it brings to question, if it [the rock layers] really laid there for a while, and then another million years went by, and then another [rock] layer went on, and another layer, we should see all of those evidences, and we don’t! So the question that we would raise in our tour is, “Maybe a better explanation would be a lot of water in a short period of time, something that would [have] occur[ed] at [the time of] Noah’s Flood.”
Knibbs: Hmmm. I must be wrong in the way I preach. I always said the God just took His finger and went gweeekkkk [gesturing with his finger and making a mouth noise to depict someone gouging out a canyon]! [Laughing]
Sanderson: [Laughing] Well… I guess in a sense you could make that argument! But the nice thing is right next to [the Grand Canyon model in the museum] is the Mt. St. Helens display… And we watched Mt. St. Helens occur… And Mt. St. Helens, when that thing blew up and pushed the whole North side of that volcano down, it jammed up the Toutle River and recreated Spirit Lake. And when that whole river breached it carved a canyon about 1:40th the size of Grand Canyon in about an afternoon! So we actually had the ability to look at the real science that happened. And so we bring that together in the one side [of the museum]. The second half of the museum is designed to talk about the creation story; the six days of creation, the fall of man, the flood, the ice age, and of course we live in today’s age. But the most important thing about our museum is that we have an outdoor adventure land that we call Truassic Park!
Knibbs: [Laughing] I love it!
Sanderson: And Truassic Park is a great place for kids to come. We’ve got a 200 foot long zip-line. We have a 56 foot slide. We’ve got a helicopter swing. And one of the things we do in the tour is we teach the kids how to make a paper airplane that will fly 200 feet. And when they go outside after the tour they can have a chance to do that. So there are a lot of fun things outside for the kids and for the families to do. And so it’s really a museum that shows all the science that supports the Scripture and of course [has] the fun things to do outside!
Knibbs: Sure! I was just thinking when the tour is over and everyone is packing up to go home, “What kind of things do you hear?”
Sanderson: You know it’s very interesting. You know what we hear a lot about are from the believers who say, “You know I didn’t know that, I wish I knew more of the science.” We have some people who say, “Boy I hadn’t really considered a seven day creation in the literal sense.” (Which is kind of scary because you would’ve hoped that people would believe the Scripture as it’s written). And then we have the skeptics who are generally asking the questions about, “I don’t know that I really believe this?” kind of thing. So we see a variety of kinds of things. What’s very interesting, Mike, and I’m glad you asked the question. One of the things we have [at the museum] is Birthday parties. And when people come to Birthday parties they aren’t necessarily believers and so they’re kind of there [at the museum] for their kids. But then they kind of look around the museum and all of sudden they’re shocked to see all of this interesting science that they never thought about before! So we get a variety of responses. And I created the museum primarily to say, “We’re here to support and strengthen the faith of the believer’s and also challenge the skeptics in the area of truth.”
Knibbs: You say you have the first part [of the museum] where there’s no mention of deity. What went wrong in our country?
Sanderson: Well I don’t know I can answer that question—but we are here.
Knibbs: You’ve got a pretty good idea though!
Sanderson: We are here… But please don’t misunderstand… We do that [present the first part of our tour at the museum without any mention of deity] so that people can look at the science that supports the intelligent design/creation model.
Sanderson: We stand on the Bible! And we stand on the truth of God’s Word!
Knibbs: I understood. I’m just thinking as a nation… It’s so sad that when the original textbook’s in schools were the Bible… [Laughing]
Sanderson: That’s right. That’s exactly right.
Knibbs: And as a nation we’ve gone so far and now we’re afraid to have any mention of God at all. But there are some who are standing their ground and who are saying, “You know what? This is what the Word says!” I read a verse in Hebrews it says that Jesus is our faithful and merciful High Priest. And it’s a great verse! It changed the way I do funerals because it says (in the Living Translation) that Jesus was at all points faithful to God yet merciful to man! You know you do funerals sometimes for people who don’t know Christ… And didn’t know Him. And when I first started pastoring (40 some years ago) I just had this thing that I [had to] get the Word in their face… But I was being unmerciful to those who were burying their dad or their son. And I thought, “Lord, you’ve got to show me how to put this together?”
Knibbs: Now I said that to say this. In your museum there is a way to be faithful to God, and I think you’re doing it…
Knibbs: …but also be merciful to man in letting them see the truth.
Sanderson: Well, and to a great extent I think that’s a part of my personality style. We want people to come to their own conclusions as I mentioned to you [earlier]. Believe it or not the evidence is cast in stone what’s not is the interpretation.
Sanderson: So it’s really a discussion around the interpretation of the evidence. But in addition to just having the basic museum we’ve got fossils that kids can hold and touch and dinosaurs bones and teeth and all kinds of fun things. So it’s really… It’s a hands-on museum with a guided tour. But we [also] have a lot of ancillary things you know we have Birthday parties, science classes, we have a science fair (which is actually coming up pretty soon), we have a lecture series. And as I was listening to you comment about the Eagle [in an earlier portion of the TV broadcast, I was reminded that on] this particular week on the 18th we have a bird expert whose going to be our lecture series [guest]… And he’s going to be… His primary focus is going to be on the falcon… But he [also] talks about… He will be talking about birds and their design, how they operate, and how unique they all are even within the bird family so to speak! So we bring some real science to that [museum]. Plus we have fun things like the Niagara Falls trip, and rappelling trip, and a North Woods canoe trip! And so [we have] a lot of other things that we try to do there [at the museum] too!
Knibbs: Wow, that is so awesome! So this [museum] display is set up in the corner of someone’s garage, is it?! [Sarcastically]
Sanderson: No! It’s located in Copley, Ohio [and] the best way to find us is on the web site which is akron fossils, plural, dot com [akronfossils.com]. And that [website] gives you the directions… We’re in Copley, Ohio right here in Akron and easy to get to from Cleveland, and Massillon, and Northeast Ohio. We have people from all over the world who have actually visited and we generally have between five and six thousand people coming through the museum on an annual basis!
Knibbs: That is so awesome! Now you said it’s how large?
Sanderson: The square footage of the inside of the museum is about sixty five hundred square feet but then we also have the two and a-half acres outside (which is the Truassic Park). And that also includes a dinosaur range where we shoot water balloons at dinosaurs in the summer of course!
Knibbs: They never miss shoot and hit one of their helpers?! [Sarcastically]
Sanderson: Oh! Absolutely not! In fact, the staff (even on a slow day) never take the time to shoot at each other either!!! [Sarcastically]
Knibbs: Oh, dear! When people first walk in what’s the first thing they’re drawn to?
Sanderson: They’re drawn to a very large mural (that’s a color mural) of dinosaurs and all kinds… It’s very beautiful… And then of course we have our gift shop right there as well. And to the right of that is one of our Birthday party rooms which we have done in a jungle theme. And then the actual lecture hall which is kind of just around the corner is also done kind of in a jungle theme too!
Knibbs: The second part of the tour where you get into the Scriptural part? Do you have people that will come to you afterwards and say, “I didn’t know that?” Is there opportunities for them to come to Christ? Do you do that…? Is that…?
Sanderson: Yes. We have that question frequently. And a lot of times people will say to us, “Gee I didn’t know that!” Because in addition to showing them the six days of creation, and what probably occurred on those days, we have a lot of science that will support that. At the very end part [of our museum] our overall theme is “Opening the Doors to Truth.” And a lot of our displays are done on doors… And so asking the questions… And the very last thing that we have happens to be a tract “May I ask you one other question.” So it’s an opportunity for them to consider a relationship with the Lord. Although that’s not how we lead, I have to say that, but since we’re asking questions, “May I ask you one other question?”
Knibbs: Oh that is so great! Have you seen anyone come to Christ at all? I mean right there?
Sanderson: I wouldn’t say so… And that’s not necessarily our focus but…
Knibbs: I understand.
Sanderson: But we sure have people with a glint in their eyes saying, “Boy I’m sure glad you’re here because this really made something work inside of me!”
Knibbs: The Scriptures says in Psalms 119:130, I think it is, that the “entrance of His Word gives light.” Can you see it when the “lights” come on with somebody?
Sanderson: You sure can! You sure can!
Knibbs: That’s got to be exciting!
Sanderson: It is. It is. Yay!
Knibbs: Aw man, praise the Lord! I will be there!
Sanderson: Well boy we’d sure love to have you! In fact pastors are free on… Pastors and teachers are free on Fridays!
Knibbs: Ohh. I’ve got a pastor friend and he’s got a phrase, “If it’s free it’s for me!”
Knibbs: I love it! But… This is exciting! And who knew that this [museum] was right in our backyard!?
Sanderson: It’s right in the backyard and unfortunately as any [other] institution it takes time and it takes effort, it takes funding, and we have steadily seen a growth and an increase over the years. We’ve just hired a new executive director– we have a wonderful staff who are very dedicated. We’re adding new things like a live animal show where we can take our animals and talk about design in school systems and all over for that matter! So, we’re doing some good things and I think you would like being there.
Knibbs: I will. How long have you been in existence? We’re winding down here on time here but…
Sanderson: We started in 2005 and again the best way to find out about everything that’s going on is to just take a look at akron fossils plural dot com [akronfossils.com].
Sanderson: All the information you’ll need is there [on the website].
Knibbs: This is exciting! I will be there. I promise you.
Sanderson: Good, good!
Knibbs: Probably not tomorrow, I’ve got a funeral in the morning, but…
Sanderson: I understand.
Knibbs: O, God is so good. I appreciated this opportunity and God bless you so much!
Sanderson: Thank you so much!
Knibbs: Praise God! Praise God!