Bible and rec centre offer fun way to learn
by Peter Fleck
“Unique” is an overused word, but situated just a few minutes from the QE2 Highway in Innisfail is a truly one-of-a-kind concept.
Open since mid-June, the 12,000-square-foot DINOS Centre combines a dinosaur-themed family recreation facility with a Bible History Museum.
“I just think that there are fun ways to learn,” explains founder Dr. Shem Dharampaul.
DINOS stands for Discovery Institute of Nature, Origins and Science. Amid a ubiquitous array of animatronic dinosaurs, the centre features 18 holes of mini golf, black-light laser tag, a museum and café. During the warmer months, the on-site driving range is also open.
Describing it as “an immersive museum experience,” Dharampaul says, “In every part of this place you could learn something.”
For instance, the indoor mini golf course features a model of the Niagara Falls complete with flowing water. On the side are plaques describing how current measured erosion rates are now contradicting claims initially made by old earth evolutionists. Further along, attached to a sculpted Mount St. Helen’s is a sign explaining how radioisotope dating incorrectly pegs volcanic rock formed 40 years ago to be 2.2 million years old.
Then the laser tag has combatants “travel back in time” to an ancient city that is being invaded by dinosaurs.
In the actual museum is a detailed display referencing Bible passages and citations from other cultures that speak of people co-existing with dinosaurs.
The entire experience, Dharampaul says, is aimed at “showing the accuracy of the historical record of the Bible.”
Trained in nuclear medicine, Dharampaul was at one time an avowed “humanist/atheist.” But it was while in medical school that he came to faith in Christ.
Launched together with his wife, Anna, Dharampaul says the privately-funded DINOS Centre is the outcome of “10 years of praying.” The last three years saw the centre advance from blueprint to completion.
Indicative of the quality of the exhibits and attractions is the superbly designed website at www.dinoscentre.ca.
Admission to the museum is just $5 with tax, but remains free for those already paying to golf or play laser tag.
In the museum, visitors can check out the scale model of Noah’s Arc, view the large diorama of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, see a representation of the Tower of Babel and examine various artifacts, both replicas as well as several authentic pieces.
Up a flight of stairs on the mezzanine level, running the entire width of the room is a replica of the complete Book of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Generated from negatives taken shortly after it was found, only a handful of these rare reproductions of the “Great Isaiah Scroll” exist. Another is on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem with the original kept mostly hidden away in a vault.
The upstairs also features a detailed Bible history and translation display. Behind glass is a more-than-400-year-old page from the original 1611 King James Bible. But guests are free to leaf through a realistic reproduction of this entire Bible.
Still being developed downstairs is a hall commemorating ground-breaking scientists with a deep Christian faith. Currently profiled are Michael Faraday, Sir Isaac Newton, Blaise Pascal, Werner Von Braun and Raymond Damadian.
In the science section, people can shoot an air cannon or catch a live demonstration of the quantum levitation superconducting magnetic track. Yet another demonstration allows visitors to see how a tornado is formed and even stick their hand in it. With group tours, there’s a further opportunity to personally handle various fossils and ancient pottery.
Dharampaul explains the centre is designed to appeal to all age groups. Little kids can colour, play with toy dinosaurs or ride on some of the bigger models. There are also shorter plastic golf putters available for them.
With the museum, Dharampaul says there’s the option of just scanning through the quick take-home points or reading through the more detailed explanations.
For the more scholarly, he says some of the material is “higher than some seminary levels.”
In the first six months, among the several thousand visitors, Dharampaul says, “I would say more people who don’t know the Bible come here than people who do.”
Quoting Hosea 4:6 which states, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge,” Dharampaul outlines the mission of the centre is to inform people and do it in a fun, engaging fashion.
“It is to their detriment that they neglect such a great Word, such a great faith, such a great book,” he says.
The centre is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Available for individuals and families as well as school trips, youth groups, parties and even reunions, the central location has attracted people from throughout the province.