Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Jurassic Eden

My article from this week's newspapers answers a question about how Dinosaurs fit into the Biblical Creation Story:

Q:  How is it possible to reconcile the creation events described in the book of Genesis with the existence of dinosaurs?

For those who disregard the events of Genesis as mere myth, this problem can be solved simply by adopting whatever theory about dinosaur life is current in the scientific community.  However, finding the place where dinosaurs fit into a literal reading of Genesis has been a task that requires more intense examination and which has resulted in diverse conclusions across the spectrum of Biblical scholars and scientists who are convinced of the authenticity of the Hebrew Scriptures. 

Some of the attempts are difficult to consider seriously as they border on science fiction.  These include ideas such as a previous creation that had fallen victim to disrepair or destruction prior to the events described in Genesis and an earth that was created to include evidence of history which never actually happened.  Even less credible attempts have suggested that dinosaur fossils are a hoax or even a demonic plant to lead people into doubt. 

More credible attempts at proposing solutions to this question have taken into account how limited our knowledge of dinosaur life really is, and how little the Bible actually says about that period of history. For example, all we know about most dinosaurs is their bones, which have been preserved as fossils, or perhaps an occasional fossilized footprint.  Many details which we think we know about dinosaurs, though, are merely speculation or educated guesses, including such details as their behavior and the appearance of their skin or other soft tissues, which have long since decomposed. 

We also know that Genesis only devotes two chapters to the creation event itself and 11 chapters to the world, as it existed prior to Abraham, but within these chapters exist several clues that might provide insight into the place of dinosaurs in the Biblical version of creation:

Probably the most important of these details is a massive flood in which all life on earth is destroyed, except for 8 people and 2 or 7 specimens of each animal kind, and there are two significant changes that accompany this event.  The first of these is a decrease in human life span.  In the pre-flood genealogies, the individuals named had lives that spanned six to well over nine centuries.  Following the flood, the sort of life spans we are familiar with today are seen. 

The second of these changes relates to a “firmament” mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis, which appears to be some sort of water canopy in the earth’s atmosphere—something we do not see in existence in our present-day world.  It has been proposed that such a feature could relate to dramatic atmospheric differences compared to what we know today, and may contribute to the differences seen in life spans in the pre-flood and post-flood worlds. 

Taking both of these things into account, and knowing that some species of animals grow throughout their life span, and not only until a certain point of maturity, it has been proposed that species who today live to a certain age and grow to a certain size could grow to exponentially larger sizes if allowed to live to ten times their current life span, resulting in a creature with a skeleton of the size and construction we presently find in dinosaur fossils. 

However one concludes about dinosaurs, though, the Resurrection is the event upon which Christianity stands or falls, because Jesus predicted His resurrection as the evidence that what He proclaimed was true.  If He rose and still lives, then all of His teachings are to believed, including the fact that He took Genesis as an accurate and reliable account of human origins. 

When the limitations of the evidence at hand – both regarding our knowledge of dinosaurs and the few literary details given about the creation event and the pre-flood world – we recognize that there is limitless potential for yet-undiscovered evidence to fill in the gaps in such a way that confirms both the existence of dinosaur life and a literal creation as described in Genesis. 

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