Following the group, I listened with concern. The information the tour guide was telling us didn’t match my beliefs.
I was visiting the museum of a public university. A group of slightly younger students was on tour that day, and I’d tagged along so I could hear the guide’s comments. I liked science and had researched the theories of evolution and creation quite a bit. What I’d found had made me even more sure that the Bible was right after all.
In the museum there were several weird-looking skulls in glass cases, plus two complete skeletons. One was a human skeleton, while the other was that of an ape.
I raised my hand. “I’ve noticed that most of the skulls are in pieces and have been patched back together, while others are missing entire
sections. How can you tell that the pieces you find don’t belong to different people, or even animals?”
The guide looked around, then focused on me in surprise. “Well, there’s DNA testing, you know,” he stated. “It’s not so easy to go wrong—”
“But there have been mistakes before,” I interrupted, loudly enough so that all the kids could hear. “What about the Piltdown Man, found in England in 1912? An entire skull, not broken at all. Evolutionists around the world were excited about it because the top part was like a human’s, while the jaw was like an ape’s.”
All the kids were looking at me now. I continued. “Nobody examined it carefully, though, and it wasn’t until 40 years later that they discovered it was a hoax. Someone had used a file to connect a human cranium and an ape jaw, and had actually stained them brown to make them look old!”
A few of the kids snickered, and the group leader grinned sheepishly. “You’re right,” he said. “But we know more now and can tell whether it’s human by the formation of the teeth.”
Warning bells started going off in my head. Careful, Juliana, you can go too far.
But I’d already opened my mouth again.
“Ohhh . . .” I said, almost wickedly. “Right. The teeth. Like Nebraska Man, found in 1922 in the Pliocene deposits of Nebraska? They found one tooth, one tooth, and immediately announced that it was the ‘missing link’ in the evolutionary chain. From that one tooth they constructed what the man looked like, how he walked—even what tools he used. The ’experts’ found out later the tooth had come from an extinct pig.”
The students cracked up, and I felt a little sorry for the museum guide. He did the best he could with the rest of the tour, but the students had lost all respect for him. They weren’t even pretending to listen anymore.
I felt guilty. I have the bad habit of getting into arguments when I should just mind my own business. I listened a while more, then drifted away and started looking at Indian pottery.
“OK, let’s move on,” the guide called out to the group. They all filed out, and I was left alone in the room.
The museum was deathly still. I was studying a small gold funerary mask when I heard a clicking sound, and the lights in the exhibits started going off. I jumped.
They must be turning the lights off in this section since the group left. I shrugged and walked toward the other end of the room, where the lights were still on. Suddenly the overhead light went out, and the entire area was plunged into absolute darkness.
“Hey!” I yelled. “Wait a minute! I’m still in here!”
No one answered.
Great. I thought. I’m trapped inside a dark museum with a bunch of skeletons for company.
Bravely I held my arms out and moved forward. All I have to do is get to the entrance and walk out into the brightly lit hallway, I thought. After all, they’ve only closed this one room.
I waited for my eyes to get used to the dark, but the blackness was complete. At first I crawled, then stood and felt my way along one wall. Turning a corner, I found myself in a large, nearly empty room. Where was I? There were several windows at the far end of the room. Their shades were pulled down tight, but a tiny bit of light escaped from the sides, and I was able to distinguish shapes and objects. I walked faster now. Suddenly a shape loomed out at me from the shadows, and I stared up into a grinning yellowed skull.
I stifled a scream. A skeleton! But wait—I knew where I was. All I have to do is turn the corner and walk about five steps to the doorway and freedom. Confidently I followed my plan—and walked smack into a wall.
“Where did I go wrong?” I mumbled. I felt my way along this “wall” and realized that where there had been an open entrance, there was now a metal door. And it was locked.
I banged on the door and yelled “Let me out!” No way was I going to spend the night in here! I nearly shouted myself hoarse, but no one came. Then the awful realization dawned on me. They must have closed the whole museum! I’m the only one in the building!
Shaken, I slumped against the door. “Lord God,” I whispered, “please get me out of here. I’m sorry for embarrassing the tour guide in front of the students. Just help me get out, Lord.”
Suddenly I heard the echo of footsteps outside the door. Yes! Thanks, Lord!
“Help!” I hollered, pounding on the door. “I’m locked in! Get me out of here!”
I heard a yelp on the other side of the door, then a voice.
“Ed!” a man called. “There’s a kid locked in this room!”
A few moments later I heard the sound of someone running toward the door. But the sweetest sound of all came next: the jangling of keys. The door scraped open, and I came face to face with two unfriendly-looking guards. They definitely weren’t as happy to see me as I was to see them, so after a quick thank you I scuttled away as fast as I could.
Once out in the bright sunshine, I glanced back at the museum and shuddered. Who knows? I could have ended up a skeleton in there! Well, maybe not really, but it would’ve served me right, I thought. Not only should I not have embarrassed the guide, I shouldn’t have stuck my nose into that class at all. Sure, I was stating what I believed to be true, but I didn’t use good judgment.
As Ecclesiastes 3 says, there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. It’s important to know what you
believe and why, and to share that with others, but people aren’t going to change their minds by being made to look like fools. We’re all here to learn. The person we believe to be wrong may very well know more than we do. Sometimes, if not usually, it’s better to listen than to speak.