Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Dinosaurs and the Biblical Narrative of Creation
By Alexander Marriott

Perhaps my audience for this article is limited to skeptics, atheists, and other assorted non-believers, but if others read it I would greatly appreciate some sort of feedback as I have never received a satisfactory answer concerning the question of dinosaurs and the Biblical account of the creation of the world. For in essence, the presence of dinosaurs debunks the entire Biblical account in two fundamental ways. The first is the age of the earth which sense-ignoring fundamentalists contend is somewhere in the thousands of years; which is clearly impossible given (among innumerable other pieces of evidence) the presence of a whole other class of earth dominating animals that clearly predate human beings. The second is that the Biblical account fails to mention dinosaurs in numerous places starting with the creation of the earth along with animals and plants (dinosaurs not mentioned at all) and going into the infamously stolen Noah account (from the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh story among others) which does not mention any dinosaurs or a number of other beasts which exist on the planet today and would not have had time under the Biblical time frame to evolve, notably absent the American bison.

The reason I bring this up is not because I have any problems with this, being an atheist it makes no difference to me that religious texts that claim to be derived from supernatural forces and deities miss precisely the knowledge human beings at the time they were written lacked. But what troubles me is the tremendous amount of mental shutdown people who do believe in the Biblical account must be forcing upon themselves, or are simply unaware of in their unsubstantiated belief systems which are debunked, or at the very least, seriously challenged by the simple fact that God seems to have left out knowledge of the dinosaurs in his attempts to describe the creation of the earth and mankind (which allegedly happened in six days, although we need to know when the sun was created because without that, days are impossible, except that those who would have written the first books of the Bible would have assumed that the sun went around the earth, or something close to this belief).

The recent ascendance by the insanely religious, due mainly to the media wrongly attributing the recent election victory of President Bush to some sort of overriding concern with all things “moral” which in the media’s vernacular of ill-defined concepts means religious, has encouraged our modern day Augustines to stand up taller than before and shout their nonsense with a little more confidence than before. With their new-found publicity and reputation as king-makers the religious leaders like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, etc., and their political friends like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly have become more grandiose and aggressive in their religiously inspired assertions such as the renewed attack on evolution under the guise of teaching the entirely ascientific “intelligent design.”

The only problem is that “intelligent design” is on no better foundation scientifically than the Biblical account of creation given that its proponents do not offer evidence, merely assertions and questions based on the inability of scientists to explain certain things given gaps in current evidence. In the end the argument for “intelligent design” falls down to the “it could have happened this way because you cannot prove that it did not happen this way” argument. Of course if we are going to allow every theory that meets this criteria to be treated as legitimate science then I demand that my theory of purple unicorns in the center of the earth running the universe should also be taught as equally plausible since no one has been to the center of the earth yet to prove that I am wrong. Besides the purple unicorns told me it was true so I do not see why there should be a problem.

No matter what one may bring up as a reason to toss the Bible in the waste bin as anything other than poorly written literature, the fanatics will not be swayed from their irrational commitments, unless they snap out of it themselves. So long as people willingly abdicate their ability to think, there will be peddlers dressed in robes to collect money in exchange for pure and unadulterated hogwash.

1 comment:

Gideon said...

I have read several Creationist books, as well as some that fall into the so-called intelligent design category. Basically, the more sophisticated proponents of such views argue that the biblical account of creation should not be taken literally due to, among other reasons, the limitations of knowledge and language at the time. For example, some see apparently clear parallels between Big Bang theory and the Biblical account. Thus the traditional figure of about 6000 has frequently been rejected for more scientifically compatible numbers. I'm not entirely clear on the dinosaur question myself. Sometimes this is considered a test of faith. At other times I've heard them compared to rarely mentioned dragons or monsters or some such.

In the end, there is simply no rational scientific basis for any of it. The proper approach should be not to give an inch. If someone chooses to believe in nonsense for emotional reasons, so be it (it's still a largely free country), but he should not expect any respect from those of us who choose to think. And certainly any attempt to inject such nonsense into University classrooms should be rejected on principle.