Here are my answers for #8-10 (I gave my answers to the rest of the questions on the previous post). Again, I have place a red X next to the answers a YEC teacher would mark wrong.
X Yes — The Bible simply does not say whether or not non-human animals died before Adam sinned. If one looks at the most frequently cited passages which are given in support of “no death before Adam’s sin” position, none of them say anything whatsoever about animal death (See Gen 3, Rom 5, Rom 8, 1 Cor 15). External evidence tells us that animals have been dying for a long time, so their death is not part of the curse given in Genesis 3.
False — Humans are animals, but we are more than “just an animal.” According to Genesis, we are made of dust, that is, the same stuff as the rest of creation, and were created at roughly the same time as the rest of land animals in the Genesis outline of events. But we are special animals, in that we are created in the image of God, bearing his resemblance, rationality, and ability to have relationships. As animals we are embedded in the creation, but God has also placed us in a position of dominion over the creation (and dominion is a very different concept than domination).
1/2 X — No. Scientists sometimes get things wrong. For example, some Christian scientists twist science in order to come up with a “Biblical” interpretation about dinosaurs or ice ages, even though neither are mentioned in the Bible.
Adding these three answers to my previous total makes my new grade (from a YEC perspective) 6/18 = 33%. That is a bit of an improvement, but still quite solidly an F.
A few additional thoughts:
My answers for the questions were largely based on the Bible, not on science. I am not reading science into the Bible.
It is amazing how Answers in Genesis pushes their speculations as absolute truth, when so much of what they say is not found in the Bible.
It should not be surprising that the atheists and skeptics (many of them are anything but “freethinkers”) are mocking the quiz. It is also not surprising that AiG is painting this as another atheist attack against Christianity. But the YECs have, as a result of a decades-long history of bad science and Scripture stretching, given the skeptics a very easy target. As I have said numerous times, let it be the “foolishness” of the the crucified and risen Jesus that confronts the world, not our own human foolishness.
Bad apologetics is harmful to our youth, adults, and witness to the world.
The small Christian school in this controversy was struggling financially and has received numerous donations in the past few weeks. Despite teaching YEC sciences, many of these small Christian schools are doing a fantastic job of providing a Christian education for our youth, and so I am thankful they have received these gifts.
The empty tomb — Here are 14 Evidences for the Resurrection. This is a central teaching of Christianity. Put all other issues aside for a while—questions about evolution, biblical inerrancy, gay rights, or whatever else keeps you from Christ—and give some thought to the most significant person in all of history: the risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The result is a very strong case that Jesus (a) died, (b) was buried, (c) rose from the dead, and (d) appeared alive to a variety of persons.
Young earth creationists paint a picture of half-crazed dinosaurs running around to escape the next giant wave washing new layers of sediments over the world and laying nests in barren sand layers and then running off to try to find higher ground. What we find in this nest contradicts everything about this explanation. Here we find that a well-organized preserved nest in which one of the broken eggs has these cocoons preserved in it.
The YECs might respond with their “They only look like wasp cocoons” tactic. That doesn’t help them; dinosaur nests simply do not fit into their flood geology model.
Richard Dawkins practices survival of the fittest — Dawkins is quite willing to tell the Arabic newschannel Al-Jazeera that the the God of the Old Testament is a hideous monster, but didn’t have anything bad to say about Allah in the Quran. Perhaps he hates Christianity worse than he hates Islam. Perhaps he wants to live a little longer. See In defense of Richard Dawkins.
Persecution of Christianity continues — Bible Burning Spreads to Another Former Soviet State. “The newest report on Kazakhstan suggests that a recent court order to ‘destroy’ 121 books (mostly Bibles) confiscated from a Baptist could be the first-ever religious book burning in the country.”
Persecution of Christianity questioned — CNN posted a story today — Christ was persecuted, but what about Christians? — that reported nothing new to anyone who has actually read church history. Official persecution of Christians by the Romans was sporadic, and most Christians in the Roman Empire never faced a real threat of martyrdom. But when the Romans did move into action against Christians (e.g. Nero), they could be quite brutal. Like today, however, there could be a lot of social pressure against becoming a Christian.
Landsat 8 — The Landsat Data Continuity Mission has released the first images taken by the satellite. It will be renamed Landsat 8 once it has completed all of its tests and calibrations. See First View from the New Landsat Satellite on the NASA Earth Observatory site.
Oh my, there are links to the Klingon Bible — here and here. “yeSuS ‘IHrIStoS, [Qun’a’ puqloD] Delbogh De’ QaQ’e’ taghlu’.”
I actually don’t look at this as a useless exercise. If I were a Trekie who was into learning Klingon, I would want to be able to communicate the gospel in a way that my fellow Trekies could relate to.
The Sun occasionally launches outsize solar flares, which fry electricity grids by generating intense currents in wires. The most recent solar megastorm, in 1859, sparked fires in telegraph offices; today, a similarly sized storm would knock out satellites and shut down power grids for months or longer. That could cause trillions of dollars in economic damage. A solar flare some 20 times larger than that may have hit Earth in 774…
This is the fifth post in a multi-part review of a young-Earth creationist (YEC) presentation given by Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson of the Institute for Creation Research in Billings, Montana in November 2012.
Part 1— The Relevance of Genesis (I was in complete agreement with Dr. Jeanson). The YEC version of the scientific method.
Part 2 — Hyper-rapid post-flood diversification of species. Five fossil facts that YECs think point to Noah’s flood.
Part 3 — Distortion of “uniformitarianism.” Mount St. Helens.
Part 4 — Seawater. Mud sedimentation rates. Radiometric dating.
Part 5 — This page. Dinosaurs in the land of bunnies and daisies. My question in the Q&A.
I am an old-Earth Christian and strongly disagree with much of what Dr. Jeanson presented. I believe that young-Earth creationism is neither Biblically necessary nor scientifically feasible. Dr. Jeanson is my brother in Christ, and nothing I am writing in this series should be taken as an attack on him or any other YEC believer.
The carving at the Ta Prohm complex at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, is not a Stegosaurus. I wrote Stegosaurus in Cambodian temple? in response to this common YEC claim. The “plates” on the back of the critter in the carving are part of a leaf motif that occurs throughout the site, and the tail has no spikes.
The Bible does not say that there was no animal death before the fall of Adam, as I demonstrated in my post Death before the fall — an old-Earth Biblical perspective. YECs are reading something into the text, and then taking that as proof that dinosaurs couldn’t have died before Adam sinned.
The dinosaurs did not go extinct during the ice age only 4000 years ago. Pleistocene terrestrial fossils (in what YECs would call post-flood deposits) include mastodons and sabertooth cats, but not dinosaurs. The whole “ice age occurred only 4000 years ago and lasted only a couple hundred years” scenario is almost harder to accept than “flood geology.”
The Mokele-Mbembe argument (there really are large dinosaurs in the jungles of Africa) should be on Answers in Genesis’s Arguments we don’t use page. Until someone actually provides evidence that there are sauropods roaming the jungles, this is just Sasquatch science.
Many of these problems stem from the YEC “bunnies and daisies” interpretive framework for Genesis 1. In the Bible, Adam and Eve are placed in a garden, a safe place that is distinct from the rest of the Earth. Adam is given the command to go out and rule over the Earth; to subdue it and have dominion over it. This implies that Earth was somewhat wild and in need of being subdued. In the YEC framework, on the other hand, the entire Earth is a gentle place, filled with kind animals and soft flowers out of a cartoon created for four-year-olds.
My question in the Q&A time
I made a brief statement and asked a question in the Saturday question and answer time. It went something like this:
I have a Master’s degree in geology and was once a member of the Creation Research Society, but abandoned young-Earth creationism when I figured out it wasn’t Biblically necessary. By God’s grace, my faith stayed intact throughout my transition from young-Earth creationism to acceptance of an old Earth, but this hasn’t been the case for many geology students when they figure out that much of YEC science simply does not work. For example, I have heard that some former students in the Institute for Creation Research’s Master’s degree program in geology went on to have their own crises of faith. This is anecdotal evidence; I have no statistics, but few if any have gone on to be involved in creation research or ministries. Why do you think it is that almost no geologists have been convinced by evidence presented by young-Earth creationists?
First of all, Dr. Jeanson was able to name an ICR geology M.S. student who is still active in YEC teaching and research, and that is Dr. John Whitmore of Cedarville University. I knew that, but it had slipped my mind when I asked the question. I would be very interested, however, to see statistics of what has happened to ICR geology students over the years.
Dr. Jeanson’s reason for why so few geologists have been convinced had to do with worldviews. Geologists have been indoctrinated by an anti-God, “uniformitarian” way of thinking, and simply cannot see the evidence that is before their eyes. But this does not explain why so few Christian geologists have been convinced by YEC arguments. As a Christian with geological training, my problem with YEC science is not that I have a wrong worldview (my worldview is probably very close to that of Dr. Jeanson), but that most of what YECs teach simply does not work in the real world of rocks, seas, streams, glaciers, volcanoes, and fossils.
The tragedy for geologists, and many other scientists, is that all this bad evidence—promoted as true to the Bible—closes the door for the gospel. They cannot believe because they have been convinced by both skeptics and YECs that to do so would require them to accept YEC science, which is neither necessary Biblically nor workable scientifically.
The ESV Study Bible is a theologically conservative Evangelical work, and is certainly one of the most comprehensive study Bibles ever produced. It has been out for only three years, but it looks like it will be a highly influential reference work for decades to come.One potential positive impact of the ESVSB relates to its treatment of the doctrine of creation. The ESVSB does not take a stand on geological issues such as the age of the Earth or the extent of the flood. In both of these cases it offers cautionary notes that could open the doors to old-Earth interpretations for many readers. The authors of the study notes, though firmly committed to the inspiration of the Scriptures, believe that it is not necessary to hold to the “literal” young-Earth interpretation of Genesis.My hope and prayer is that, just as the Scofield Reference Bible led many to accept the Gap Theory (rather than young-Earth interpretations) a century ago, so the ESVSB will introduce Christians of our day to alternative viewpoints on Genesis 1, such as the analogical days and day-age interpretations.
This is my fourth article on the ESV Study Bible’s coverage of issues related to the doctrine of creation. My previous posts were:
Young-Earth creationists (YECs) commonly assert that dinosaurs lived in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and that they are even described in the Old Testament book of Job. If the Earth is only six to ten thousand years old, as YECs claim, and if dinosaurs were created on the same 24-hour day as Adam and Eve, and if Noah took two of each kind of animal that lived on Earth onto the Ark, and if dinosaurs came off of the Ark and survived for some time afterward, then it follows that dinosaurs could have wandered the Earth for a while after the flood, only a few thousand years ago. Of course I disagree with most of these premises, as they are Biblically unnecessary. Because of this, I don’t have to be looking for dinosaurs in the Bible or anyplace else, other than in the fossil record.
Chapter 40 of Job describes a creature called “behemoth”, and Job 41 depicts another fearsome creature called “leviathan.” It is often claimed by YECs that both of these refer to giant extinct reptiles, such as dinosaurs, plesiosaurs, or giant crocodiles. Many Christians, raised on a steady diet of YEC materials, don’t know that most Biblical scholars (including conservative Evangelicals) offer alternative understandings of the identities of both behemoth and leviathan that make more sense than the YEC interpretations.
In regards to behemoth, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis writes:
If the different kinds of dinosaurs survived the Flood, then they must have come off the Ark and lived in the post-Flood world.
In the Bible, in Job 40:15–24, God describes to Job (who lived after the Flood) a great beast with which Job was familiar. This great animal, called “behemoth,” is described as “the chief of the ways of God,” perhaps the biggest land animal God had created. Impressively, he moved his tail like a cedar tree! Although some Bible commentaries say this may have been an elephant or hippopotamus, the description actually fits that of a dinosaur like Brachiosaurus. Elephants and hippos certainly do not have tails like cedar trees!
Actually, very few animals are singled out in the Bible for such a detailed description. Contrary to what many may think, what we know now as dinosaurs get more mention in the Scriptures than most animals! So dinosaurs—all the different kinds—must have lived alongside of people after the Flood.
The ESV study notes on behemoth in Job 40:15-24 offer a more straight-forward interpretation of this creature:
Job 40:15 Behemoth usually refers to cattle, but in at least one other reference it most likely signifies a hippopotamus (see esv footnote). It is almost universally so interpreted in this passage, taking the description of vv. 16–18 as poetical extravagance. Some, however, suppose that the description requires some kind of mythical beast to be in view, as a parallel to Leviathan (41:1); the first option is simpler.
Job 40:17 tail stiff like a cedar. “Tail” is a common euphemism for phallus. It is to be so interpreted in this verse, considering the description of the anatomy of the animal. Potency is often associated with procreative power. In the medieval period, Behemoth was conceived as a symbol of sensuality and sin. sinews of his thighs. The word for “sinews” is otherwise unknown. Some ancient versions (see Targum, Latin) took it to mean “testicle,” in keeping with the interpretation of the first line.
There seems to be no reason to suppose that behemoth is a Brachiosaurus rather than a hippopotamus. YECs say that “tail like a cedar tree” points to a dinosaur rather than a hippo with its diminutive tail, but they may very well not even be thinking about the right piece of anatomy. “Penis” and “testicles” aren’t words you will find in any AIG/ICR childrens’ books, but the Old Testament authors weren’t squeamish about using such terminology.
Another difficulty of the “dinosaur” interpretation of behemoth, not mentioned in the ESVSB notes, is found in verse 21, which states
Under the lotus plants he lies,
in the shelter of the reeds and in the marsh.
For his shade the lotus trees cover him;
the willows of the brook surround him. (ESV)
With this description, it seems much more likely that behemoth is something like a hippopotamus. Brachiosauruses wouldn’t have been able to hide among the reeds along the Jordan River (v. 23)!
To some young-Earth creationists, the leviathan in Job 41 is not only a giant marine reptile, but a fire-breathing one at that! CreationWiki states:
Leviathan […] is an animal that is described by God in the book of Job as a terrifying fire-breathing sea monster. The creature is described as a strong beast with a tough outer “armor”. He cannot be pulled out with a fishhook and no one dares to fight him. It is also said to have breathed fire and snorted out smoke! (Job 41) Some believe that Leviathan is a reference to an extinct animal that was alive and known to those that lived during the days of the Old Testament. Some that hold to this view suggest it was a plesiosaur, such as the Kronosaurus, others have proposes it was the giant armored crocodile Sarcosuchus.
In regards to leviathan, the ESVSB notes are somewhat brief:
Job 41:1–34 The Lord describes the power of Leviathan by focusing on the inability of man to subdue him, then applies such power analogously to himself (vv. 9–11).
Job 41:1 Leviathan. The animal described in this section may be the crocodile (see esv footnote). Interpreters sometimes suggest it is a mythical creature representing forces overcome by God’s power in creation (see 3:8 and note). However, the focus of this section is on the fact that, whatever powerful creature is being referred to, it is a part of God’s creation and is governed by his power (see note on Ps. 74:14).
Job 41:9–11 If it is futile for people to presume that they could lay their hands on Leviathan, who is a part of God’s creation (vv. 9, 11), then how much more should Job be cautious about his presumption in wanting to bring his case and stand before God.
Again, it is quite possible that this refers to a crocodile, and it is unnecessary to see any sort of dinosaur or other extinct reptile in this passage.
The description in Job 41 seems to fit a crocodile pretty well:
lived in the area
fierce and quick
has a tough hide
has fearsome teeth
has a strong neck
has strong jaws
The ESVSB doesn’t comment on the “fire-breathing” passage of verses 19-21, but given the poetic nature of most of Job, there is no reason to read “fire-breathing dragon” into the the description of this beast. Most interpreters see this as a picture of the steam coming out of the creatures nostrils on a cool morning; no flames needed.
There are a number of reasons to question the YEC interpretation of behemoth and leviathan being dinosaurs. First, there are perfectly plausible options. We know that hippopotamuses and crocodiles lived in the area in the second millennium B.C., and the descriptions fit them well. Second, there is absolutely no evidence that organisms such as Brachiosaurus lived in the Middle East in historical times. If such organisms the size of school buses were around back then, we would surely find their remains somewhere, such as in archeological sites. And finally, this interpretation is only necessary if young-Earth creationism is true. If young-Earth creationism isn’t true—and I believe that it isn’t necessary Biblically nor plausible scientifically—then there is no need to try to read dinosaurs into the book of Job.
What does it matter? Many Christians are not harmed by accepting questionable interpretations on secondary (or even tertiary) matters such as the identities of behemoth or leviathan. On a broader scale, however, any time we use poor arguments to defend the reliability of the Bible, we create unnecessary stumbling blocks that make it harder for people to accept the gospel of Christ.
The notes of the ESV Study Bible make it clear that one can hold firmly to the truthfulness of the Bible, to the essential doctrines of the Christian faith, and not be a young-Earth creationist.
About two years ago I wrote three posts on young-Earth creationist (YEC) claims of human footprints being found with dinosaur footprints, and the problems that footprint fossils in general cause for the young-Earth catastrophic “flood geology” model.
To their credit, the major YEC organizations, such as Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research, haven’t used the “human and dinosaur footprints together” argument for a couple decades, but many smaller YEC organizations do.
Answers in Genesis recently put a new article on its website about the formation of dinosaur footprints: Fossilized Footprints—A Dinosaur Dilemma. The article focuses on dinosaur footprints found in Israel in the Cretaceous Judea Group (A “group” in geology is a sequence of two or more sedimentary rock formations).
The footprints are found in a rock called dolomite. Chemically, dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2) is similar to calcite (CaCO3), which is the primary component of limestone. The author correctly states that dolomite forms only in rather exotic environments, such as desert salt flats and hot springs, or in ocean water of rather unusual chemistry. Dinosaurs could not have survived in large numbers in salt flats, and wouldn’t have been walking through hot springs, so the layers of dolomite must have formed from ocean water. Here’s the explanation in the article:
The pre-Flood ocean floor would have been littered with the remains of mollusk shells, in the form of lime. (Mollusk shells are made out of calcium carbonate, the main ingredient in lime.) When the fountains of the great deep broke up at the start of the Flood, massive earthquakes would have caused the ocean waters to rise and sweep in across the pre-Flood supercontinent, like tsunamis, carrying the lime sediments landwards with them.
The water temperature would have progressively increased as hot volcanic waters were added to the ocean. Also, many volcanic eruptions would have added magnesium to the lime-rich Flood waters. This combination of hot water, lime, and magnesium would produce the layers of dolomite. Thus, catastrophic plate tectonics can explain the increase in Flood water temperatures, the inundation of the continents, and the formation of enormous amounts of “marine” carbonate sediments on the continents.
As all of this gets washed up onto the continents, some dinosaurs who have survived the previous parts of the global catastrophe manage to walk around on the newly deposited dolomitic mud.
There are two major problems with this, in addition to the numerous problems with fossil footprints and “flood geology” I have outlined elsewhere.
Most dolomite in the geologic record is not what we call primary dolomite, that is, dolomite that was formed directly from water solutions. Instead, most dolomite is secondary, formed by the conversion of limestone that was formed in a wide variety of environments. Magnesium-carrying fluids move through pores in the limestone, and react to change the calcite to dolomite. Multiple lines of evidence point to this: obvious recrystallization of calcite to dolomite (the two minerals have different internal atomic structures), studies of strontium isotopes in the minerals, and studies of tiny inclusions of fluids trapped in mineral grains. A quick search on the internet for “Judea group dolomite” brings up articles that discuss all of these as having occurred in the rocks in Israel in which these dinosaur footprints were found. The sediments were composed of lime (calcite) mud when deposited, not dolomitic mud.
The scenario where volcanoes added heat and magnesium to ocean water as the flood progressed doesn’t work either. First of all, seawater is considerably richer in magnesium than in calcium to start with (though I suppose a YEC scientist might argue that in might not have been so before the flood). Basaltic magma (which must be what is being considered in this model, since the seafloor is made of basalt) is rich in both magnesium and calcium, so I don’t see how this would make the ocean into a dolomite-producing brew. Second, the ratio of dolomite to limestone decreases as one goes up the geologic column. If this YEC scenario were correct, the amount of dolomite should increase as the flood progressed.
I outlined the general problems with the “dinosaur footprints formed by the flood” hypothesis in Dinosaur footprints part 3, where I focused on dinosaur footprints in Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks at Dinosaur Ridge west of Denver:
Here’s what would have had to have happened:
The flood covers all the Earth, eroding the continents down to their roots. Most erosion, according to this model, would have had to have happened early in the flood.
At this point, the world-wide ocean was a slurry of water, sediments, and fossils.
Deposition of thousands of feet of sediments, representing Proterozoic through Triassic rocks.
Deposition of some Jurassic sediments. Then some dinosaurs go walking around. Then some more deposition. Then some more dinosaurs–a bunch this time–go wandering around. Then some more deposition of sediments. Then more dinosaurs trotting along the beach. Then more sediments. Wait, how did these dinosaurs all survive the previous part of the Flood?
Deposition of thousands of feet of sediments on top of all of this.
Lithification of the sediments (changing from soft sediments to solid sedimentary rocks).
Uplift of the Rocky Mountains, tilting up these layers to a steep angle (they aren’t horizontal anymore).
Erosion to expose the rocks.
I know that the author of the article read my Dinosaur footprints part 3 post, as it was referenced in the footnotes. This current AiG article did not adequately address objections such as mine, and its “dinosaurs could not have made footprints in dolomite” approach is a failure.
I write this with love and respect for YEC advocates. They love the Word of God, as do I, and share the desire to see people pointed to Christ. However, I don’t think that the whole YEC flood geology hypothesis works—nor is it Biblically necessary—and for many people it drives them away from Christianity rather than pointing them to Christ and his gospel.
I’m sort of caught between the young-Earth creationists on one side and the militant Dawkinsites on the other. I love them both: the YECs are my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and Jesus loves the atheists, so I do too.
There are a couple of interesting conversations going on on some of my older posts:
A conversation about dinosaur eggs under Dinosaur footprints part 3. Did stressed dinosaurs lay those eggs while swimming around in the flood?
A conversation about “How can you be a Christian and a scientist at the same time?” under Darwin’s birthday #2. I am having a dialog with some lengthy comments with an atheist who calls himself Human Ape. He uses language like “Christians are uneducated morons” on his own blog, but has been mostly respectful in his comments on my blog.