Thursday, January 17, 2019

Dinosaurs Were Too on the Ark!

Over the years I've made quite a bit of fun of the silly beliefs of Ken Ham and his Answers in Genesis creationist crowd. Back in the 1970's the widespread creationist belief was that dinosaurs went extinct because they died in the great flood. That (sort of) explained why their bones were found in various strata and the like. The short timeframes supported by the "young Earth" crowd didn't really allow for fossilization or a real understanding geography or anything like that, but it was at least consistent. The problem for Ken Ham was apparently that when he set out to build the Creation Museum he wanted to show stuff like people riding dinosaurs. Because the only thing cooler than Jesus is Jesus riding a dinosaur. Right?

So Answers in Genesis decided that dinosaurs WERE on Noah's Ark, and their Ark Encounter attraction suggests just that. What makes Ham and his crew so easy to make fun of is that they insist there's absolutely no ambiguity. Either you believe dinosaurs were on the Ark, or you're not a real Christian. Same with the Ussher Chronology, which they insist is the absolutely only possible correct Biblical timeline, even though they claim to be literalists and Ussher is an interpretation-heavy other-than-literal exposition that predicted the world would end in the year 2000. It didn't, which to my way of thinking disproves the whole thing.

As with occultists, the easiest ones to mock are the ones who insist their own contrived interpretations completely infallible and kick anyone who says otherwise out of their churches or Facebook groups or whatever. But I digress a little. In a recent interview, Answers in Genesis "geologist" Andrew Snelling (and yes, a Young Earth Creationist geologist deserves those quotes) doubled down on the whole dinosaurs-on-the-Ark thing by insisting that old stories like Beowulf that mention dragons are actually talking about literal dinosaurs.

SF Gate reports that in this month’s Louisville Magazine, reporter Charles Wolford recounts a surreal exchange between Answers in Genesis geologist Andrew Snelling and himself last year at the Noah’s Ark theme park, the monument to Creationism in Williamstown, Kentucky.

[AiG’s Dr. Georgia] Purdom introduced me to geologist Andrew Snelling, who followed Ken Ham to the U.S. from Australia and for the last nine years has been the director of research for Answers in Genesis. I said,

“There were dinosaurs on the Ark, right?” Snelling nodded. “Right.”

“Then why aren’t there dinosaurs today?”

“Dinosaurs went extinct after they left the Ark. After the Flood, we had the Ice Age. We had a radically different world. Some creatures weren’t able to adapt. But most cultures in the world have some legend about dragons, and these dragons are actually a good description of dinosaurs. The Chinese, for example — their dragons are depicted on scrolls pulling the chariots of emperors. And there was a story called Beowulf in which the king slays a dragon, and this happened in Norway.”

“So you take Beowulf to be evidence of dinosaurs existing?”

“Yes,” Snelling said. “It was an eyewitness account.”

In other words, this “scientist” is arguing that the dragon in Beowulf is actually a dinosaur, and as such constitutes legitimate evidence that humans interacted with dinosaurs.

Also of note - since the Ussher Chronology timeline starts in 4004 BCE, when the world was supposed to have time for an ice age after the flood is anybody's guess. But of course we're not really talking about rational people here. No matter what information they come across, they bend it to fit what they already believe. Maybe they think an Ice Age lasts twenty years or something. I really have no idea.

I'm going to go off on another tangent here, too, since this is a perfect example. Analyzing literature from a long time ago is a terrible way to derive statements of fact. You get things like the ridiculous argument over whether ancient people could see the color blue, for example. The problem with ancient literature is that there's so little of it, which means that your sample size is tiny and thus not necessarily representational.

We know that the ancient Romans read novels, for example, but how many of them survived? One - The Golden Ass by Apuleius. It would be a mistake to take that one book as representational of any aspect of Roman culture, let alone physics. If we go by Andrew Snelling's logic, we would conclude that the Romans possessed spells that could literally transform humans into birds and donkeys. A future cult provided with only the Harry Potter books might conclude that people of the late twentieth centuries ran around dueling with wands, playing Quidditch on flying brooms, and so forth.

Isn't is a lot more logical to suggest that people found fossilized dinosaur bones, looked at how they fit together, and concluded that they must have come from a creature that looked like a mythical dragon? For that matter, maybe they thought dragons could breathe fire because their bones were made of stone. That makes a lot more sense than anything the Answers in Genesis crowd has ever come up with.

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Jac Martins said...

It is thought that the Greeks and Romans misinterpreted fossils. The large hole in mammoth skulls were interpreted as eyes, leading to the cyclops. Also, triceratops bones were interpreted as griffins.

Scott Stenwick said...

Yeah, that makes a lot more sense. Granted, most things make a lot more sense than Answers in Genesis!