God & Dinosaurs : Did God Create Dinosaurs? – Dr Dwight Nelson with Experts

Dr Dwight Nelson of Andrews University in the US present a talk on Dinosaurs and God.

So did God really create the dinosaurs?

Why would a loving God create the Tyrannosaurus rex? Did T. rex live in the Garden of Eden? It is reasonable to assume, from the data (facts) we have, that God created some basic kind or kinds of dinosaurs. In addition, some variety of theropods, which may have included T. rex, could have existed in the Garden of Eden.

However, given the theological perspective of most Bible-believing Christians, it would be hard to believe that the animals in Eden were carnivores (meat eaters). The alteration of their diet would have occurred after the Fall, just as thorns and thistles appeared after Adam and Eve sinned.

a picture of t rex dinosaur

A picture of T Rex dinosaur

What killed the dinosaurs?

Many theories have been proposed for the demise of the dinosaurs:16(1) a drastic change in climate due to an asteroid impact or increased volcanism, or both; (2) a break in the food chain; or (3) the evolution of dinosaurs to birds. Many Christians do not believe that dinosaurs evolved into birds, and the evidence for a break in the food chain has proved difficult to document.

Destruction of the dinosaurs by the Genesis flood fits within the biblical view held by many Christians. Independent of the time issue, the burial of dinosaurs in a variety of water-laid sediments worldwide is consistent with the biblical account. Furthermore, given the complexity of the Genesis flood, asteroid impacts and increased volcanism may have played a significant role in the destruction of the Earth and its organisms as well.

Were there any dinosaurs on the ark?

At least half of the families of dinosaurs could have been on the ark. They were certainly small enough. In addition, it is important to remember that not every single species had to be on the ark. Only representative kinds or basic types were needed because we recognize that there is variation within genera (groups of species) at least. However, it is important to remember that there is no scientific data to support this idea. The belief that dinosaurs were on Noah’s ark is a statement of faith.

Below is a transcript of the video discussion below:

Dwight Nelson:
Christians looked at the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible and concluded that about six thousand years ago God created the earth in a week, and scientists looked at the evidence of geology and concluded that the earth was much older than that. They found evidence of strange creatures, such as dinosaurs, that lived long before any humans appeared on the scene. Christians who view Genesis 1 as true history began a debate with geologists that continue to this day. If God is the creator, when did He create dinosaurs?

I’m Dwight Nelson, welcome to The Evidence.

When paleontologists first began finding dinosaur bones, there were actually many Christians who insisted these bones were from some other creature and were mistakenly identified. Dinosaurs simply didn’t exist. But as more and more bones were unearthed, it became clear that dinosaurs had at one time existed. And geologists pointed out that dinosaur bones and human bones were found in very different sedimentary layers.

This suggested to them that dinosaurs and humans didn’t live at the same time, that dinosaurs were extinct long before humans existed. Faced with this evidence, Christians who regarded Genesis 1 as true history began to study the evidence of geology for themselves.

One of the first things these geologists noticed was the extraordinary design evident in dinosaurs. They concluded that these creatures were, in fact, products of God’s design.

Joining me now are two highly trained geologists who have looked at the evidence of geology from a very different point of view than most mainstream geologists. Dr. Elaine Kennedy received her doctorate in geology from the University of Southern California, and Dr. Kurt Wise got his Ph.D. in paleontology from Harvard, where he studied directly with the world renowned late Steven J. Gould. Dr. Wise, Dr. Kennedy, welcome.

So, what evidence is there that dinosaurs, in fact, lived–existed on this planet?

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
You know, that’s an important question, because when my daughter was in high school her Bible teacher got up in front of the class and said, we’re not going to study dinosaurs because they never existed. Satan sowed the bones in the earth to confuse us. Well, he did a lot more than just throw bones, if he did, because dinosaurs are found worldwide, we’ve got track ways worldwide. I’m seen then in France, in Israel and western U.S., I’ve seen them all over. I’ve seen tracks in South Korea.

Eggs everywhere. Eggs! Amazing! I mean, you can’t go out in your back yard always and find them, they’re in specific layers, but we’ve got dinosaur eggs, which indicated–and embryos–that these things were breeding. They were obviously alive and walking around. You can’t just sit around and say, oh, well, those dinosaurs, they just–

Dwight Nelson:
In all honesty, are there any people left saying that?

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
Well, I’ll say this. That was my older daughter. When my younger daughter got to the class, the teacher said, we’re not going to talk about dinosaurs because I don’t know what to think about them. That was after he had talked to me. I felt like I was a very poor missionary in that situation.

Dwight Nelson:
So, let me ask you this, Dr. Wise, what kind of evidence do we have of dinosaurs and humans concurrently, at the same time, cohabiting earth?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
As a paleontologist, having looked at a lot of those claims, and there’s thousands of claims out there — that humans and dinosaurs lived together and there’s evidence of it, my contention is, as a paleontologist, is that there is none of that is conclusive enough to convince me that human and dinosaur remains are found in the same sediments. Simply not.

Dwight Nelson:
Not? So then, Kurt, what do we do with the 1930’s, what was it, Pulaski River, Texas? The claim was that side by side you had a dinosaur print and a human print. What about that story?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
One of many claims that human and dinosaur remains are found in the same sediments, but subsequent studies indicated, as far as I’m concerned, there is definitely dinosaur prints there, but I see no definite evidence of human prints anywhere in the Pulaski River area.

Dwight Nelson:
Just not there?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
It’s not there.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
No.

Dwight Nelson:
So, is there evidence of a cohabiting of this planet at the same time?

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
No.

Dwight Nelson:
Of humans and dinosaurs?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
I would say no physical evidence.

Dwight Nelson:
No physical evidence. Well, what kind of evidence is there then?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
There’s no physical evidence for it, but there is scriptural evidence that would suggest that that is, in fact, the case.

Dwight Nelson:
And why would that be important scripturally for having dinosaurs and humans concurrent? Why is that a significant point for one who believes in that book?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
I think perhaps one of the most important reasons why it is important is we’ve referred to the fact that most of the evidence in the form of bones, bones that would suggest there were once living creatures now dead. So there is evidence in the bones that death occurred. If in fact dinosaurs preceded man, then dinosaurs died before man came on the scene. But my understanding of scripture indicates that death in the animal kingdom came because of man’s sin, and if that’s the case, then you can’t have death of dinosaurs previous to man.

So it’s important if, in fact, the dinosaurs preceded man, then they died before man, which means man’s sin didn’t bring death onto this earth, and if man’s sin didn’t bring death, that has implications for salvation, that has implications for the meaning of Christ coming for our salvation.

Dwight Nelson:
A lot of implications, but in particular I’m interested in this — how would there be a catastrophic death of dinosaurs and humans — and we want to get back to that point, that’s a critical point, because we know dinosaurs did exist. There’s very little evidence, as you’ve just heard, that dinosaurs and humans coexisted on this planet. The current, generally accepted view of geologists and paleontologists sees the world as much older than Genesis 1 implies, but there are problems with that generally accepted view. And there’s evidence in the world of geology that supports a view more in line, as Dr. Wise has just noted, with the biblical view.

We’re going to find out what that evidence is when we come back. Stay right there, we’ll be back in just a moment.
[break]

Dwight Nelson:
Welcome back. We’re talking to geologist Dr. Kurt Wise, who wrote the book Faith, Form and Time, right here with me. And Dr. Elaine Kennedy who is working on a book right now and an intriguing title, what is that title again.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
How to Find a Dinosaur.

Dwight Nelson:
How to Find a Dinosaur, perfect for our conversation here.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
It’s written for fourth graders.

Dwight Nelson:
Ooh, that’s perfect for me then. I want to come back to dinosaurs one more time, Elaine, because they found the nests of dinosaurs?

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
Well, that’s the question. Is it really a nest? That’s what my research was about was trying to determine whether or not there actually was nest structure there. There have been reports in two–well, up in the Montana- Canada area where you have supposed nesting and then there are also areas in Argentina where they believe they have found nests. You have to look very carefully at the structure. The area where I’ve been working, they’re transported, we’ve got eggs, three-dimensionally through cross beds, which is sand coming in and water. So, we know pretty well what we’ve got out there.

Dwight Nelson:
I want to go from the nests to how those nests got wiped out, Kurt. We touched on it a moment ago. Catastrophic closure to dinosaurs, so to speak. Let’s talk about the flood, because that book in front of you suggests a global flood. Can you put out here on the table evidences for and against a global flood?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
If there was a global flood, I would expect there to be global patterns to sedimentation, and that’s probably one of the most exciting evidences in my mind, when you look at this stack of rocks in North America, there is a sequence of rocks you find there, particular layers have particular types of rocks, particular types of fossils. You walk over to Europe, well, swim over to Europe. When you go over to Europe, you see the same sequence. You go to Australia, you see the same sequence. Africa, you see the same sequence. It’s stunning sequence.

Dwight Nelson:
So it suggests a uniform laying down of these layers?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
And particular types of rocks are found in particular layers around the world. When you think black shale, for example, there are a couple of layers were you find 95% of all the black shale in the world in certain layers. Why? Globally something happened on the planet at the time that was deposited that’s unique and it’s worldwide.Same with the banded iron formation. Same with the cross-bedded sandstones that Elaine referred to already. And it keeps on going.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
Chalk.

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Chalk. And these–you either have to say that there’s a long history of the world in which there was periods for millions of years which were unique and strange and bizarre, or you’re talking about a sequence of events, catastrophic events, that were worldwide. I think the evidence in more in favor of that.

Dwight Nelson:
But what do you run up against that just says, ooh, we don’t have an answer to this question?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Well, Elaine referred to dinosaur nests. This would be part of a larger category of evidence of in situ fossils, what seems to be evidence of activity in place, like organisms that burrow into the sediments, creating burrows. We haven’t–a lot of those things really do look like the little critters were living in that burrow, and not in the midst of a global flood. Dinosaurs walking around leaving footprints, how are they doing that in the midst of the global flood? And there are a lot of challenges such as that, many of them. And those would be some.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
Well, Kurt, they’ve got better negative evidence than that. But that doesn’t matter. There’s always negative evidence. There’s always a lot of data that’s not explained when they’re doing the work. Everybody’s looking at the same data. How you interpret that data depends basically on your world view, what you understand about God. Whether you believe there’s a God or not. If you don’t believe there’s a God, how are you going to get life on earth if you don’t have evolution? That’s the issue. You have a choice to make based on the data that’s available. It’s not complete and there’s always going to be something you can’t explain. You make a choice.

Dwight Nelson:
God’s made it that way. God made it that way so that there is a choice we have to make.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
That’s right. He leaves us always with free choice. And people don’t like the uncertainty. They want answers, they want proof. You know what? There will never be any proof. We prove very little in science.

Dr. Kurt Wise:
I don’t think we prove anything.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
We don’t prove anything.

Dwight Nelson:
So, God leaves us a choice. He leaves all of us a choice.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
Exactly.

Dr. Kurt Wise:
It’s a challenge, because we’re talking about a global flood. How do you test that in the laboratory? You can’t do that.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
You don’t.

Dr. Kurt Wise:
We can play around with things that are very small and get characteristics that we would expect in small scale, but we really have trouble when we–and it’s a part of our challenge, it’s the reason we haven’t really solved most of these problems is because we can’t simulate it.

Dwight Nelson:
Well, let me ask you, Kurt.

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Some countries would object if we did.

Dwight Nelson:
Let me ask you, Kurt, in fact, now please limit your experience to your back yard, would you? Let me ask you about catastrophic plate tectonics. Now, what are we dealing with there?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Well, some people may have heard of conventional plate tectonics. Plate tectonics — as I teach in school — and so on. And the idea of it, in the past, the continents on the surface of the earth have moved around.

Dwight Nelson:
Theres been a shifting?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
There’s been a shifting of the continents with respect to one another.

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
The plates the continents are on.

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Well, yeah, but I’m not going to get into the technicalities–

Dwight Nelson:
You’re suggesting catastrophic?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
But the idea is–catastrophic plate tectonics is the same thing, but accelerated, it’s faster, it’s three billion times faster. So rather than plates moving at the rate your fingernail grows, they move at meters per second.

Dwight Nelson:
What would make them move at meters per second?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Oh, you ask technical questions. The continents are stuck onto what we call plates floating, if you wish, on the surface of the earth, and portions of those plates are denser than the material underneath. So that material wants to go down, wants to dive, and when it does, it pulls the plate along with it. So the continents are moving because of actual activity inside the earth.

Dwight Nelson:
And what makes it accelerate now?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Well, the reason it’s not moving today that fast is because there’s portions of the crust of the earth which are warm and they’re not denser than the material underneath. We believe that before the flood, 70% of the earth was covered by rocks that were actually denser than the material underneath. So sitting there ready and waiting to–all it needed was a little push and down it would go.

Dwight Nelson:
And then it collapsed and shifted?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
So all of that would go down, new material would come up, that material would be hot and, thus, it would be lighter than the mantle. So it’s not going to go down. And only after it’s cooled and it’s then only 4,500 years by biblical dating, it isn’t, then, long enough for it to cool, for it to go back again and do the same thing again.

Dwight Nelson:
I’m going to hit the pause button right here for a moment. We need to come back to this whole sciencefaith issue. You both are scientists, you both have faith in a Divine Creator, how you coexist those two realities in your lives intrigues me. I want to get back to you in just a moment.

We’ve just been hearing about catastrophic plate tectonics offering a credible alternative to the view held by most geologists that the earth is millions of years old. However, you have to admit, there’s no credible evidence that dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time. We have no layers of drowned human bones existing, like we would expect from a worldwide flood. When the scientific data to support a biblical position, while it is scanty, how does that affect our faith in the creator God? We want to come back to that question in just one moment. Stay there, we’ll be right back.
[break]

Dwight Nelson:
Welcome back to The Evidence. We’re talking with geologist Kurt Wise and Elaine Kennedy about geological evidence that suggests the earth may be younger than we had first thought. Evidence that may also suggest it isn’t millions of years old in terms of life on this planet.

Now, you understand, both of you, Kurt and Elaine, that there are critics out there, right? So, here’s a line, Dr. Wise, it’s simply bewildering that a person capable of a Harvard doctorate can believe something so monumentally improbable as that dinosaurs and humans lived quite close together in time. What’s up with that?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Well, if you don’t accept the data of scripture, then I think that’s a reasonable statement. But if you add the data of scripture and think–

Dwight Nelson:
The faith factor.

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Well, it’s not just–yeah, there’s faith in the fact that this is data. I believe this is data.

Dwight Nelson:
Historical data?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
So when you add, not just historical data, these are claims.

Dwight Nelson:
Scientific data?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
No, every claim in here is true. Okay? So you can use it in science and thus it becomes scientific data if you wish, but every claim in here is true. When you add this data to the mix, to the physical world mix, it changes everything. It no longer becomes improbable or almost impossible, it becomes not only probable, it becomes necessary. You have to believe it.

Dwight Nelson:
Elaine, here’s another one. I cannot believe that anyone with more than a third-grade education–so you’re doing the book for fourth grade–I can’t believe that anyone with more than a third-grade education thinks the earth is 6,000 years old. If the creationists want people to stop laughing at them, perhaps they should learn some basic science. How do you respond to that?

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
So what. I think that–I live in America where you can believe anything you want to believe. If you don’t want to believe what I have to say or what Kurt has to say or what you have to say, that’s fine. You know. You have that right. But this is what I believe, that we are dealing with a very short chronology for the origin of life and for the history of the earth, and I just can’t–I come to this from a faith-based perspective. I don’t come to this from the science, because I don’t think the science can convince you. I don’t think that you can be convinced until Jesus Christ changes your heart. And when he recreates your heart, then you are willing to talk about what the creator did.

Dwight Nelson:
Obviously, you both can live comfortably in the world of science and the world of faith. Does the world of faith, Kurt, take precedence over the world of science, and let me just throw this–give you an example. So, we know that the earth is round, but let’s just say that the Bible taught that the earth was flat, which it does not do, but let’s just say that the Bible taught that the earth was flat, you’re a scientist and you discovered–you’ve seen the pictures from out of space, so earth is round. Would you, then, allow your science to take precedence over scripture?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
No. Claims of scripture become our data, as I said before, the data. When you consider that data, if that data makes it clear that the earth is whatever, then that is what is true. And it can never be that your interpretation of the physical world overrides the claims of God, especially in origins. It becomes almost irrational in my view to think otherwise. We weren’t there. You weren’t there. I wasn’t there. No one on this planet was there, but God was there. He was there.

Dwight Nelson:
So, every theory of origin requires faith, essentially? Every theory of origin, because nobody was there at the first moment?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
Faith in something.

Dwight Nelson:
Right.

Dr. Kurt Wise:
And I would say it’s unreasonable to put your faith in humans who weren’t there in science, which is produced by humans. It’s much more reasonable to put it in God who was there and created it and He gave us an eyewitness account of it in the Bible.

Dwight Nelson:
Okay, so I’m the skeptic. Scientists, Christian scientists, geologist, paleontologist. I’m the skeptic. I’m intrigued with this concept of a creator God, willing to consider the notion, what would you tell me to get me to your creator God?

Dr. Kurt Wise:
I believe the issue is a hard issue, so I’d be first interested in sharing with you the fact that this creator God isn’t just creator, isn’t just creator of you, but He cares about you. He cared about you so much that He came and died for you, for your sins, for your inadequacy. You can’t measure up to Him, but He came to die for you so that you could live with Him forever. That’s more important than any of this physical evidence stuff.

Dwight Nelson:
Few seconds left. Elaine?

Dr. Elaine Kennedy:
He’s risked all heaven for us. And He doesn’t try to tell you what to think. He says, make a choice. You have the right to make that choice. You have to have the right to decide who is going to control your life.

Dwight Nelson:
Elaine Kennedy, Kurt Wise, thank you very much for being with us on The Evidence. We’ve only begun, obviously, to address the questions of young earth, creationism versus old-age views that most geologists hold. One thing is certain, more research is going to be done, it needs to be done, if we’re going to deepen our understanding of truth. I’m going to come back with a closing thought in just a moment.
[break]

Dwight Nelson:
One thing that comes through clearly from our guests shared today is this — science is not always about certainty. Sure, chemistry and physics and geology have given us solid facts about our world to build on, but sometimes science can only present partial evidence and we have to draw our own conclusions. Sometimes, in fact, science can present evidence on both sides of a question, as we noted a moment ago. No one has real proof of how life began on our planet. No one has the last word on the subject. In fact, new evidence keeps coming in all the time.

So, I’d say this, don’t think you have to dismiss the idea of a creator because the evidence from geology just doesn’t lean a certain way at the moment. Bright, highly educated individuals, whose first love is science, have examined that evidence and still remain comfortable with their faith. That’s how we can live in a real world, a world without having to have the last word. I think that dinosaurs and humans could well have lived around the same time and that the geology of this earth can point us back to creation and the flood. I believe in a Someone who spoke the first word, who had a plan when He brought human beings into existence, and who will have the last word for your future and mine.

I’m Dwight Nelson and that’s what I believe. Join us next time for more of The Evidence.

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