The Frontal Cortex

Creationism and Dinosaurs

When my girlfriend told me that the Baptist church down the street was holding a dinosaur fair at its summer camp, I didn’t expect anything unusual. I assumed the kids might watch Jurassic Park, or learn about the teeth of T-Rex, or excavate some fake fossils. Alas, I was wrong. The poor campers were being brainwashed:

The church is sponsoring the “Great Dinosaur Expedition,” a five-day series of games, skits and Bible lessons for kids. During the kids’ evening sessions, adults attend presentations of their own, from “Dinosaurs and the Bible” to “The Early Earth: Eden or Ape Men?”

Leading the talks is Dave Woetzel, a Concord businessman who wants to “attract people to the evidence that dinosaurs and men have always coexisted,” he told the Monitor last year. Woetzel’s pro-creationism website (genesispark.org) “questions the evolutionary illusions surrounding the dinosaurs and approaches the subject of origins with a literal adherence to the scriptures.”

Woetzel is “refuting the premise, the theory, that these (dinosaurs) occurred millions and millions of years ago,” said Ron Campbell, the church’s pastor. “It’s certainly something we would ascribe to. It’s the biblical view of creation.”

Church officials “haven’t necessarily taken a lead role” in promoting the teaching of creationism in public schools. But they agree with the position, Campbell said.

The talks and games have generated quite a following. On Sunday, the program’s first night, the crowd was 770-strong, Campbell said. Tonight, the day of the volcano’s eruption (about 7 p.m., if you’re hunting lava), Campbell expects another large audience.

Woetzel’s search for modern-day dinosaurs has taken him far.

In 2001, he traveled to Cameroon in search of a beast called li’kela-bembe. He didn’t spot the creature, but his efforts spurred the British Broadcasting Corp. to send a crew to the area, according to news reports. Last year, Woetzel scoured volcanic peaks and mountains for a glimpse of a pterosaur, a flying reptile closely related to dinosaurs. The pterosaur didn’t make an appearance, but Woetzel spoke with Umboi Island natives, who described a creature resembling the reptile, he told the Monitor.

As church membership has grown at Trinity, so has property. In the mid-1990s, the church bought a large parcel – which includes the barn and two farmhouses – from the Tilton family. In 1999, the church expanded its education wing. On any given Sunday, 1,000 individuals come to worship, Campbell said, making the church “one of the biggest in New England.”

What a fool. It’s not as if creationism doesn’t have enough epistemological problems – now they have to go and look for dinosaurs.

Comments

  1. #1 s. zeilenga
    August 9, 2006

    Well, usually I don’t even risk posting a comment but this one just begs for a good creationist response. Laugh at me if you want but I guess I am one of those silly brainwashed ones.

    So, here you go. The obligatory creationist comment :

    To a creationist who believes the Bible is true, the logical progression of events would be : creation 6000 years ago (including dinosaurs), flood (noah’s ark carried the dinosaurs), ancient man (dinosaurs are still alive but are slowly being killed off), AD man (dinos are very rare but still show up enough to find their way into most literature and art…dragons), modern man (almost all dinosaurs are now extinct but there are a few scragglers in Africa and other exotic places)… If you begin by assuming the Bible is true then logically dinosaurs have lived with people and possibly have even in recent times.

    Now, I agree, an evolutionary timeline doesn’t allow it and so many people think the dinos died out 65 million years ago so it is inconceivable to even consider such a thing. But, that is just that particular evolutionary worldview. A creationist worldview includes dinosaurs with man.

    I don’t know why you expected anything else. Evolution hasn’t infiltrated our churches completely yet. There are still a few nooks where creationism rules the scientific mind…

    So, anyway. I am off to find a dinosaur. I will let you know if I find one. Maybe a mokele-mbembe will pop its head out.

    Keep open minded,

    z.

  2. #2 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    August 9, 2006

    There are still a few nooks where creationism rules the scientific mind…

    No, a scientific mind has long since dismissed creationism as the fable it is. If a mind is clouded by creationism it is not scientific.

  3. #3 GH
    August 9, 2006

    If you begin by assuming the Bible is true then logically dinosaurs have lived with people and possibly have even in recent times

    There is nothing even remotely logical about any of this.

  4. #4 matthew
    August 9, 2006

    yikes, before this post i was just on the answersgenesis website (http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/2.asp) reading all about dinosaurs… now I’m going to have to go take another cold shower… blast you Jonah!

  5. #5 somnilista, FCD
    August 9, 2006

    To a creationist who believes the Bible is true, the logical progression of events would be : creation 6000 years ago (including dinosaurs), …

    At what point was the light coming from galaxies 13+ billion light years away created?

    I wonder if Woetzel was their originally scheduled speaker, or whether he was filling in for Kent “Dr. Dino” Hovind, who is preoccupied with other things at present.

  6. #6 DragonScholar
    August 9, 2006

    Here’s something that gets me: let’s say there are surviving decendents of dinosaurs that are relatively unchanged from their ancestors millions of years ago.

    What would it prove for him? That some species isn’t quite as extinct as we thought? It’d be worthless to him, except perhaps as a propaganda tool.

  7. #7 s. zeilenga
    August 9, 2006

    -Rev. BigDumbChimp – yeah, I hear ya. I used to think that way too. The only problem with that statement is that it also rules out Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Robert Hooke, and others. Where would science even be without these creationists? Hmmm…

    -GH – I don’t mean it is logical to the evolutionary minded person. What I meant by that was when you start with an assumption that the Bible is true then you almost have to follow it to a specific conclusion within that framework, which would mean that dinosaurs lived with man. Sorry if I was a bit confusing there.

    -Somnilista – ah, yes, one of my very favorite subjects. One of the biggest mysteries in the creationist camp is still that question. It is something I ponder quite often actually. But don’t think there hasn’t been major advancements in that area by creation scientists. There has been. No one knows everything. Discovering how things work and how truth plays out is part of what makes us scientists right?

  8. #8 Rob Knop
    August 9, 2006

    s. zeilenga — if you start with the assumption that the Bible is absolutely and literally true, thereby leading to a young-earth creationist position, and you follow the logic correctly, you quickly come to realize that you’re working in a framework that is completely inconsistent with the world that we live in.

    Hell, if you’re using logic, you fall apart with just the Bible itself, as it self-contradicts. The only way to maintain the Bible as something meaningful and true is to read it and value it for what it is — a book of stories, songs, and philosophy, with some history mixed in (although it is imperfect history, much as the works of Herodotus are imperfect history).

    It’s so sad to me to see people clinging to the need to have the Bible be completely and literally true in order to maintain their Christianity. This has a couple of unfortunate side effects. First, it makes some scientists think that all Christians are stupid — because they argue points that, logically, are fundamentally inconsistent with our world in the name of Christianity. Second, it is working on relegating Christianity to irrelevancy. If you insist that your religion is dependent on things that are demonstrably false, your religion is doomed. (Fortunately, there are many people of many religions who don’t feel the need to deny modern knowledge to support their religion.)

    -Rob

  9. #9 The Ridger
    August 9, 2006

    Light was created 6000+ years ago – just like everything else. It was just created *on the way here* as though from far away. Why? To test our faith.

    It’s all really so very simple. Just assume everything God does is a lie to test your faith and you can believe anything.

    Why you’d want to – except fear of hell – is another question.

  10. #10 Crusty Dem
    August 9, 2006

    Zeilenga, you are hilarious!!

    I always wondered whether I could use my PhD to make big money by joining the “scientist christian” racket and coming up w/loopy theories purporting the “creation science”*. I’m sure Zeilenga and his friends would love to hear me spin fables explaining the scientific shortcomings of those other, bad, atheist scientists (they should fund some grants to encourage a transition to “creation science”*, I hear that even under Bush the NSF isn’t paying it). It would all be garbage, of course, because when you start of with the presumption that the universe is 6,000 years old, that’s what you’ll get. It’s just not true. It’s not a question of faith, it’s a scientific fact, with literally thousands of separate pieces of evidence supporting it.

    Anyway, during these long, miserable days in the lab, it’s nice to know there’s another career choice for me out there.

    * creation science is in quotes because it doesn’t actually exist

  11. #11 Jonah
    August 9, 2006

    Well, I can see we’ve got a lively conversation going on here. What I don’t understand is this: if the Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs (and it doesn’t), then why don’t creationists just deny they ever existed? I mean, creationists deny scientific evidence all the time. So why not just deny these fossils too? By admitting that dinosaurs existed, biblical literalists are then forced to find a T-Rex, which strikes me as highly unlikely. So how do creationists decide what science to accept (dinosaur bones) and what science to reject (most everything else)?

  12. #12 Edward
    August 9, 2006

    No, a scientific mind has long since dismissed creationism as the fable it is. If a mind is clouded by creationism it is not scientific.

    Rev. BigDumbChimp (emphasis added)

    The only problem with that statement is that it also rules out Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Robert Hooke, and others. Where would science even be without these creationists?

    s. zeilenga

    This response makes a logical error that was implicit in the word I bolded in Rev. BigDumbChimp’s post – “dismissed”

    It was not “unscientific” to be a “creationist” before the collection of substantial data supporting modern evolutionary theory.

    By the same logic displayed in second quote, Newton was an absolute moron because he didn’t understand relativity and quantum mechanics. Both of those theoretical frameworks have been repeatedly confirmed – so how could that idiot Newton have worked with absolute space?

    The point is that Newton, Pasteur, Hooke, et al. were men of their time. At their time, neither the theoretical framework of evolution nor the supporting data existed (the supporting data existed in a “raw” form, unseen by people, but that is another matter). So there was no logical competing hypothesis for the origin of life (and everything else). “Creationism” would thus be the logical position. That is not the case now.

    I’m curious about the statement “don’t think there hasn’t been major advancements in that area by creation scientists. There has been.” Are they looking for ways to independently corroborate those advancements, and if so, why haven’t they appeared in Science, Nature, Phys. Rev. Lett., etc.? Because resolution of the ability to see objects 13+ thousand million light years away in a 6000 year old universe is pretty amazing, and would seem to be pretty revolutionary.

    I agree that no one knows everything. But that doesn’t mean that all bets are off and that anything could be true.

  13. #13 s. zeilenga
    August 9, 2006

    Ah, yes, this is good for my brain. I was just telling my friend, Steve, that I was in the mood for a good healthy debate. (you know, they are good to sort through what you believe and why you believe it). So, thanks everyone.

    Hey, you all make good points, although I can answer all of them with science. But I cant sit on a blog all day trying to answer all your questions. So, check my blog in a few days and maybe I will get the chance to put a few things up there.

    Jonah – yeah, I know, “dinosaur” wasnt a word until the late 1800s. The term in the Bible is “dragon” and behemoth. Both can be found numerous times. I could write a book on this subject but now is not the time.

    The Ridger – nah, that answer doesnt satisfy me nor quite a few other creationist cosmologists. There are better ways to contemplate that problem. And why would God do things completely opposite of the very physics he created just to test our faith. I look for better answers.

    Everyone else – :) ha ha… glad I could make you laugh at least. I knew I was good for something.

    Ok, gotta run. This is my last post here but you will definately find me around ScienceBlogs.

    z.

  14. #14 Rob Knop
    August 9, 2006

    It’s all really so very simple. Just assume everything God does is a lie to test your faith and you can believe anything.
    :D

    Heh. Why go back 6,000 years? Why not postulate that we’re in the Matrix, and that it was created a year ago with all of our memories intact? Why not postulate that you’re a brain in a box wired for simulated sensory input, and that the whole thing was created yesterday?

    All of that is just as consistent with the “light created in motion” model of young-earth Creationism as a 6,000 year-old Universe…. Can’t disprove any of it!!

    s.z.:

    Hey, you all make good points, although I can answer all of them with science.

    Er, there are lots of scientists around here who know the meaning of the word. We know that what you mean is

    …I can answer all of them with “science”

    rather than

    …I can answer all of them with science

    Creation science cannot be taken seriously without the quotes around “science”. The quotes make it clear that it really shouldn’t be taken seriuously….

    -Rob

  15. #15 Crusty Dem
    August 9, 2006

    zeilenga pontificates: Hey, you all make good points, although I can answer all of them with science. But I cant sit on a blog all day trying to answer all your questions. So, check my blog in a few days and maybe I will get the chance to put a few things up there.

    Let’s just anoint s. zeilenga the creation science version of Sir Robin:

    Brave Sir Robin ran away.
    Bravely ran away, away!
    When danger reared its ugly head,
    He bravely turned his tail and fled.
    Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
    And gallantly he chickened out.
    Bravely taking to his feet
    He beat a very brave retreat,
    Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin!

    He is packing it in and packing it up
    And sneaking away and buggering up
    And chickening out and pissing off home,
    Yes, bravely he is throwing in the sponge..

  16. #16 s. zeilenga
    August 10, 2006

    ~ Crusty Dem – uh… I ran away? Did ya ever think I might have to do things other than sit on a blog all day? What is this, 3rd grade?

    z.

  17. #17 somnilista, FCD
    August 10, 2006

    I always wondered whether I could use my PhD to make big money by joining the “scientist christian” racket…

    If that is your career objective, you should convert to atheism, at least for a short time. Then later you can expound on how this destroyed your motivation and morality, and on what a relief it was to find your way back to Jesus. Francis Collins is working this angle right now; pay attention and take notes.

  18. #18 Crusty Dem
    August 11, 2006

    zeilenga, I think we can all recognize “some good points, but I can answer them all with science, but I’m too busy” for what it is. You don’t know diddly-squat about science, you’re in over your head, and you’re going home.

    You’ve given us your beliefs, but not one iota of science. Love your website, though, do you think you’ve given any of us “atheist scientists” reason to question our belief systems?

  19. #19 s. zeilenga
    August 11, 2006

    CD – well, the fact is that I am busy whether I know science or not. I didn’t have time to go through everyones comments and answer them with science or without. I just had to run.

    Glad you like my website. No, I don’t think I have made anyone rethink anything at all… but then again, I am not finished. I have a ton of stuff I want to write and a ton of questions I want to ask. I will be around. With good science or bad science, I won’t be afraid to comment. I thrive off the debate. Its fun.

    z

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