As a very young child, one of the main things I wanted to know about was how science and the Bible fit together. “What about the dinosaurs, dad?” (an elephant?) We’ve taken our kids to natural history museums and even the Creation Museum when we were down in Kentucky, and there is nothing like dinosaurs that gets the imagination – and questions – going.
Like a Velociraptor, the new Jurassic World movie totally snuck up on me. I had no idea it was coming. In any case, I really enjoyed the original film. This weekend I watched it again with the boys (with lots of warnings about the scarier scenes).
One thing I find fascinating to think about is how in the first movie there is this idea that 65 million year old dinosaur blood and DNA could potentially be preserved. What this made me think about is the [rather under-reported] news over the past ten years about the fresh (and smelly!) dinosaur tissue discovered by Dr. Mary Schweitzer (see this article for amazing color pictures of this).
What could all of this mean? I think it’s a good question for people to keep asking and thinking about (see the brief conversation I initiated in the comments of this article). What is really interesting is that young earth creationist scientists have evidently been talking about discoveries like this for quite a long time and consider finds like these to be highly significant to their case (see the links to all the articles at the bottom of this and this article). Things like formaldehyde and iron atoms can act as preservatives under certain conditions – that said, it seems amazing to me that tissue could remain fresh for thousands of years much less millions (all the fresh tissue found would have to have been preserved for 13,000 – 40,000 times longer than 5,000 years).
What to think of evolution as a whole? I will admit that I am no expert on the topic but it hasn’t prevented me from writing on the topic from time to time. The following is a revised compilation of a couple posts I’ve done on the topic from the past couple years (originally here and here – see my take on the Ham-Nye debate here).
“Dad, why did God make sharks so that they eat other animals?”
So my four year old asked me this question out of the blue two nights ago (as of this writing) – well, right after asking me if sharks, crocodiles and sea monsters were real.
What would you say?
Some people just think that this shows God has a hard edge – sure He is loving, but still… in some ways, He is very hard”.
Others say that animals eat other animals because of the curse, and I think they are right.
When Adam and Eve sinned, the creation fell with them. God had given Adam and Eve great power and when they disobeyed Him and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they threw the whole creation into chaos.* They started getting old, and would die. Things started to decay and disintegrate. Animals started to eat one another…
Not long ago on a blog, a man known as the GeoChristian linked me to his blog post about animal death before the fall.
Being firmly unconvinced by his post, here is how I replied to him:
I guess I, sensitive guy that I am, am just fundamentally incapable of interpreting God’s evaluation of “very good” in a way that permits carnivorous activity. God said the world, not the garden, was “very good”. You say: “A related passage is Romans 8:20-22, which states that the whole creation groans. Just like in Genesis 3, the passage does not state the nature of that groaning, and it doesn’t necessarily include death” and it is pretty much impossible for me to think that groaning and death do not go hand in hand. Looking at it briefly, Psalm 124:1 “The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God” is not glorifying God because of predation per se, but is glorifying God because all creation seeks their sustenance from him. I Tim 4:4 is simply saying that “everything created by God is good”, which is certainly true – but he does not create that which infects his good creation by the curse of original sin. As for teeth indicating predation, we know that doesn’t work. Kevin, I’m guessing I won’t convince you and you won’t convince me. I don’t consider myself a hard core YEC – I just like to listen widely to the various views.”
In short, I find the idea that God built suffering, death and decay into the original creation – as if this is “very good” – even more disturbing than the idea of eternal punishment. Why? Death, decay and destruction are not very good and I see no reason, biblically or otherwise, to think they are (am I simply irrationally sensitive, being repulsed and wanting to turn away, for example, from carnivorous assaults as I do?). On the other hand, it is clear that eternal punishment is not the way it is supposed to be – nor is it supposed to be for men, but for angels.
That’s where I think the accent needs to go. You see, I think God hates eternal punishment more than I do. Of course, I still believe in it because I think the words of Jesus – kind Jesus – point to this reality.**
This is one of the reasons I think the young earth creationist position can’t be readily dismissed.*** In any case, even theistic evolutionists who would say that there was a literal Adam and Eve are now being told that this is not even a scientifically viable position to hold (for why, see the answers to my comment here)
The powers that be inform us that anyone who believes in something like young earth creationism is a complete and total moron (evidently people like Leonard Brand, Ben Carson, Terry Hamblin [Wikipedia article here], Andrew McIntosh, John C. Sanford, Raymond Damadian, Stephen Lloyd and Todd Wood for instance). These days, saying you believe this a good way to socially assassinate yourself when it comes to intellectual respectability.
It seems another way to do this – not as much of course – is simply to question evolution period, as Ben Steyn argued in the 2008 movie Expelled. Besides the revealing Dawkins-aliens moment, the highlight of the movie had to be the agnostic and secular Jew David Berlinski, the mathematician-physicist turned harsh Darwin-critic. His effortless takedown of neo-Darwinian thought was compelling and his brash confidence admittedly entertaining (see the You Tube clip below for Berlinski on Darwinian evolution). Berlinski has nothing but contempt for what he sees as the intellectually facile system that is called the neo-Darwinian synthesis – a “Scientific Scandal” if there ever was one, he says.
I would say that Berlinski is well worth reading (if not for the sheer entertainment). And not long ago, our library ordered a book of his essays The Deniable Darwin.
As one can see by looking at Berlinski’s various books as held by OCLC WorldCat libraries, many of his peers in academia evidently did not judge this book to be one of his better moments.
One might be forgiven for thinking the articulate anti-Darwinian thoughts of a highly educated, scientific mind the stature of Berlinskis’ might actually be of interest to people.
Certainly, there is an interest in semi-popularized books about evolution.
All this said, as one can see from the first chart above his 2008 book lampooning atheism did a bit better. In it, he said of Darwinism:
“We have no idea how life emerged, and cannot with assurance say that it did. We cannot reconcile our understanding of the human mind with any trivial theory about the manner in which the brain functions. Beyond the trivial, we have no other theories. (bold mine, p. xiii, see also 156-165).
And in this excellent interview on Issues ETC., Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute talks about Berlinski as well as four other prominent, non-religious scientists scientists who have dared to question the Darwinian orthodoxy*: Jerry Fodor, Lynn Margulis (both opponents of intelligent design), Thomas Nagel (in his book pictured below: “the defenders of intelligent design deserve our gratitude”), and Steve Fuller (an agnostic who defends intelligent design). He also mentioned the late Philip Skell.
Luskin reinforces what should be the obvious notion that science is not the impartial search for truth, but is also governed by important sociological and political factors (and spiritual of course) as well.
It also seems to me that Luskin has been very careful with his examples. I noted a couple years ago his Discovery Institute colleague Paul Neslon was rightfully skewered (it seemed to me) by a couple prominent atheist-Darwinists, Jerry Coyne and P.Z. Myers, for being careless about representing people’s views.
This topic is always interesting to me – particularly when thinking about how Christ asks us to have faith like a child in His simple and humble words. I wish I had more time to read these books!
*So get what this kid – 4.5 years old – asks me last night…. [note: this was from last year] As I laid down with him in bed to tuck him in, he peppered me with theological questions and commentary for what must have been a good thirty minutes or so. I don’t recall the exact words that he used, but at one point I am pretty sure that he basically asked me whether or not the curse was enacted by a direct act of God in response to Adam and Eve’s unbelief or whether it came about by a release of some kind of power from the tree itself, as its true use had been violated. I told him I wasn’t sure, as I said to myself “Why had I never thought about it that way?”
This kind of thing happens more often than one might think (post from 3 years ago on kids asking very hard theological questions)… I feel blessed to know that I have a son who is proud about how he believes in God and wants to share that with me.
** Others these days are calling this into question left and right – it is certainly something that needs to be addressed and dealt with more. The very gifted and popular Eastern Orthodox blogger Al Kimel has been doing a lot of stuff arguing against the traditional view of hell, and linking to others doing the same, for instance: http://afkimel.wordpress.com/2014/06/17/scot-mcknight-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/
*** Old earth creationists will often say that they do not believe that there was any human death before the fall either. Here is a link (updated: https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Do-we-live-on-an-old-or-young-earth-Unbelievable-17-Jun-2012) to a relatively recent debate between two prominent young earth creationists (YEC) and two old earth creationists (OEC).
****The article the interview is based on is found in this issue (Issue 2, 2013) of the Christian Research Journal: Are There Nonreligious Skeptics of Darwinian Evolution and Proponents of Intelligent Design?
Images: JPark: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fireatwillrva/8224969668 ; animal pics: Wikipedia