AiG, unfossilized bones, and the lies therein

29 01 2007

I don’t have HBO so I couldn’t see it, but Crooks and Liars has posted a clip from Alexandra Pelosi’s (yes, she is the daughter of the new Speaker of the House and creator of Journeys With George [“Cheeto?”]) new documentary series on American evangelical Christians called Friends of God, featuring conservative Christian figureheads like Ted Haggard and the folks over at AiG. The clip is actually from the section of the documentary dealing with evolution and creationism, and the impression is similar to that given by the excellent documentary Jesus Camp. Ken Ham and Buddy Davis are showing telling children the same lies that are so prominently available all over their website (as well as various books, PC software, and DVDs) i.e. the world is less than 6,000 years old, man and dinosaurs lived at the same time, the Noachian Flood is where we get all our fossils from, Hominid ancestors like Neanderthals are really people dispersed from the Tower of Babel, etc. In case you missed the link before, go here to have a look at them in action: http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/01/29/the-evangelical-war-on-science/

The bit featuring Buddy Davis and his straw-man argument about “dinosaur” not being in the Bible is particularly telling. And I quote:

Buddy: …how come we can’t find the word “dinosaur” in the Bible? Can I look in the Bible and find the word “jet airplane”?

Children: Noooo…

Buddy: No, it’s a brand new word. Can I look in the Bible, boys and girls, and can I find the word computer?

Children: Nooo…

Buddy: It’s a brand new word. And the word “dinosaur” is a brand new word too.

Davis’ argument falls flat because, just like dinosaurs, computers and jet planes did not exist during the timeframe that the Bible covers, so there is no reason for them to be mentioned in it. The assertion that the Behemoth in Job is a dinosaur is entirely wrong, the passage “his tail swings like a cedar” more likely referring to the beasts reproductive organs than a tail, the word translated “swings” perhaps actually meaning “extends.” I’ll repost an old analysis of the claim in the next day or so for your enjoyment. For those of you not steeped in paleontological history, the word “dinosaur” (meaning “terrible/fearsome/formidable lizard/reptile”) was coined by Sir Richard Owen 1842 when some of the fossils previously thought to be products of the Biblical Flood were recognized for what they actually were. Previously, fossils were considered to be frozen lightening bolts, the tongues of snakes, things that grew biologically in the earth, and at least in one case, the fossilized scrotum of an “Antediluvian giant,” later revealed to be part of the femur of a Megalosaurus. Take a look at the fossil that gave rise to such a preposterous notion here, and for a good overview of one of the most important scientists in all of history, Nicholas Steno, read The Seashell on the Moutaintop by Alan Cutler.

In any case, just to put Davis’ expertise on paleontology and evolution in perspective, I remember hearing that he had found “unfossilized” dinosaur bones in Alaska, but then the trail went cold. If true, the discovery would be fascinating and shed light on a lot of issues about dinosaurs, fossilization, and taphonomy (how things are buried and preserved), but Davis seemed to want to take the credit and do none of the footwork in following up on the discovery. Frustrated with the lack of information, I e-mailed AiG directly about the issue and was sent a clipping from one of their magazines, stating:

It was our hope, because of the “remarkable” preservation, that these bones might contain some ancient organic molecules. To date, our tests have not been able to confirm the “unfossilized” hypothesis. Twenty of the bone samples were analyzed in Russia for collagen. Only four showed positive results. We became suspicious of these results when we were not able to confirm them with tests made by other labs. One report from a reputable laboratory in the United States told us the samples they tested were “extremely degraded”. Some of the bones have also been tested for DNA. The results were inconclusive. From our results thus far, the bones should not be referred to as “unfossilized”. [emphasis original]

The Bureau of Land Management reports that the Alaskan bones are fossilized, but all of their pore spaces have not been filled in with rock, making many of them lightweight. They also report that no DNA had been discovered in the bones, but because of their condition, they might be good candidates for it. Until further testing can prove otherwise, the Alaskan dinosaur bones should be referred to as “fossilized.”

John H. Whitmore

Given this revelation, one would expect an honest, Christian organization to be forthcoming with something of such importance to their claims, or at least change the information on their website to reflect such a development. I guess they never got around to it, as the biography for Buddy Davis still says he discovered unfossilized bones in 1994, as well as citing the bones as unfossilized in this article, referencing the same note by Whitmore I just shared with you saying the bones should not be considered unfossilized! Either they’re holding out hope for dinosaurs within the Bishop Ussher timeline, lazy, or dishonest (I’ll leave you to be the judge).

Back to the clip, I found this quotation from a young woman to be especially interesting:

Pelosi: What do you think of people like me who believe in evolution?

Girl: Well, um, I’m not sure if you’ve maybe studied all the facts exactly right, and um…

Pelosi: So you think I got a bad education.

Girl: No, I’m not saying that at all, I’m just saying…

Pelosi: It’s ok, it’s ok, I won’t take it personally

Girl: Ok, I’m just saying the school system is probably pretty biased towards evolution, as most public school systems are. At least mine was. And, um, they tend to just show you one side of the story…”

Ah, the good old “Teach the Controversy” nonsense. I find it interesting that creationists and IDers have so much to say about the public school system and the separation of church and state, yet they only stand up for the right to preach their religion in classrooms. I have yet to encounter a creationist saying that along with evolution, we should teach creationism as told in the Bible, as conveyed by Buddhism, as conveyed by Hinduism, etc. Why not invite the other faiths under the “big tent”? The girls first comment is also important to note, the overall attitude of “If you believe in evolution you must not have looked at all the evidence” (just as I would say if you believe in a historically accurate 6-day creation event you haven’t looked at all the evidence). Can anyone look at all the evidence? I’ve been reading at a breakneck pace for 9 months now, reading as many creationism and intelligent design books as ones on evolution and I still have yet to find anything compelling about any form of creationism, and yet there is still so much more to learn. Even in evolution, there are so many aspects to understand that I can’t possibly be an expert on them all, so even if I devoted the rest of my life to the study of evolution (which will come naturally), there would still be lots I didn’t know. What aggravates me most is that many creationists read a creationist book or two, go to a creationist lecture, assuming that just because the person speaking/writing is a Christian they must be telling the truth and have accurate information. In order to understand evolution, you need to read books by evolutionary scientists just as one needs to read creationism books to make sure an accurate view of the other side is obtained, and yet many people fall short here. I have to admit, however, that scientists are far better at giving concessions to creationists, spending lots of time thinking about, debating, and refuting their claims whereas creationists often cannot be bothered to do the same.

Personally, I wish I could spend less time dealing with creationism but I think it’s important as both a Christian and evolutionist to confront the issues raised by those who think they have a corner on the absolute-truth market. It’s not so much about evolution; if they had any actual data to support their claims I’d be all for debate. No, rather it’s about the spirit of the debate, where we can not question, investigate, or even think outside the box that God made for us to be in, essentially going through the Fall all over again by trying to gain knowledge. Indeed, in mythology too there has been a high price paid of intelligence, the titan Prometheus chained to a rock to have his liver eaten by an eagle every day for daring to illuminate mankind. Perhaps some creationists have convinced themselves they’re actually doing science, perhaps others don’t investigate the issue and take it on faith, but what worries me is the idea that it’s more important to save people than to tell the truth. If you’re saving someone by telling a lie, then what good are you doing? What will happen on the day that person finds out that what they based their faith on was just a trick for “their own good”? The constant references to spiritual warfare worry me as well, many people translating that into real-time warfare and condemnation of people who disagree, convinced they’re right because they’re for God and anyone who is against them must also be against God. I would love nothing more for this issue to go away, but I know it most certainly won’t. To some it is a divisive issue in the church best avoided, but I think it is important to confront so that we can have reform and speak in truth to those who care to listen. I have never agreed with the idea of letting Christians proceed with being hateful, bigoted, or dishonest just because we share a religion. No, in fact, if anything right now there needs to be reform in the church because the “virtues” of judgement, hate, and blinding literalism have gotten to the point where Christianity resembles the Pharisees of the New Testament more than what Jesus ever envisioned. In any event, I have a feeling that there are many people (like myself) in the middle on this issue, acknowledging evolution for what it is but not losing faith because of it, but such people are often marginalized by the super-conservative and super-liberal, but if there is hope for greater understanding between faith and science it lies with these people.


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36 responses

30 01 2007
Dan

I saw the video on Crooks and Liars earlier today also, and I have to agree heartily. That’s just disturbing stuff coming from Ken Ham et al. I’m really glad that Friends of God and Jesus Camp are coming out as documentaries. Hopefully they’ll help wake people up a little bit.

13 03 2007
Gordon Engel

As a Baptist and someone who has always had a strong interest in prehistory (and especially dinosaurs), I have had to go through the same frustration of being caught in the middle. I am now 48 years old, and not much has changed after all these years. In fact, with the public relations success of Intelligent Design and the poor manner in which evolution is taught in many public schools, things have gotten much worse in recent years. The thing that gets me most upset is all of those misguided people who absolutely insist that anyone who is a true Christian has to reject evolution. By making such a statement, they demonstrate a lack of basic understanding of both science and Christianity.

23 03 2007
Laelaps

[…] rational and intelligent folks trying to edit some things for the better, and the link goes back to my rant about how AiG keeps saying they’ve found “unfossilized” dinosaur bones even […]

31 03 2007
Dinosaurs of Eden: A Biblical Journey Through Time (part 3) « Dinosaurs: A Creationist’s Fairy Tale

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he enquired Ham and […]

31 03 2007
The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved! (part 2) « Dinosaurs: A Creationist’s Fairy Tale

[…] find alleged unfossilized dinosaur bones Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, have posted an article about. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he enquired Ham and his cronies about […]

5 04 2007
The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible « Dinosaurs: A Creationist’s Fairy Tale

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he enquired Ham and […]

14 09 2007
Bit

Please tell me the three most compelling evidences that convince you evolution happened.

Also, the Hebrew and Greek words for the tail of the behemoth in Job mean tail. Anything more on that?

14 09 2007
laelaps

Thank you for commenting Bit. It’s difficult to pick just three evidences for evolution (every living thing exemplifies it), but I’ve recently written about several evolutionary processes in mammals. If you care to look, here they are;

Horse Evolution

Convergence and Parallel Evolution

Thoughts about Human Evolution

Cetacean Evolution

As for Behemoth, there is debate about what the words being used for “tail” really mean, just as there is debate as to what the verb describing the action of the tail is. Like I mentioned in the post, the verses in which the “tail” is mentioned are talking about the sexual virility and strength of the creature in it’s “loins,” so describing a literal tail would be quite odd. AiG and other ministries usually gloss over this point, hoping to wow people that dinosaurs were mentioned in the Bible (even though they are not). The area in which Job lived would have had crocodiles and elephants, the most likely animals to have inspired these passages, or perhaps the beasts were entirely mythical (which is much more likely in the case of the sea monster).

Biblical semantics aside, there is no proof that Job ever saw a dinosaur or that dinosaurs ever lived alongside people. 65 million years separates Job from the last of the dinosaurs, so extraordinary proof would be needed to convince me that sauropods survived into modern times but died out within the last 6,000 years or so. The Bible itself says that nothing should be added or taken away from it, but that is exactly what AiG trying to do; they’re trying to cram dinosaurs into the Bible in order to support their own narrow opinion of Scripture, directly contradicting their claims of standing for Biblical inerrancy.

5 04 2008
The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved! (Part 2) | Dinosaurs and The Bible: A Creationist's Fantasy

[…] find alleged unfossilized dinosaur bones Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, have posted an article about. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he inquired Ham and his cronies about […]

8 04 2008
From the False Answers Book Part 3 | Dinosaurs and The Bible: A Creationist's Fantasy

[…] his creationist cronies in Alaska in 1994 which turns out not to be the case after all according to Laelaps’ investigation about […]

14 04 2008
Dino Den, The Worst Dinosaur Exhibit Ever! | Dinosaurs and The Bible: A Creationist's Fantasy

[…] notorious for claiming to have allegedly found “fresh” unfossilized dinosaur remains in Alaska that were really fossilized after all. The exhibit also claims to have “real” fossil bones and eggs of dinosaurs shown along with the […]

18 04 2008
Dinosaurs of Eden: A Biblical Journey Through Time (part 3) | Dinosaurs and The Bible: A Creationist's Fantasy

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he enquired Ham and […]

20 04 2008
Book Walkthrough - The Great Dinosaur Mystery and The Bible | Dinosaurs and The Bible: A Creationist's Fantasy

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he enquired Ham and […]

24 04 2008
Dino Den, The Worst Dinosaur Exhibit Ever! « Dinosaurs and The Bible: A Creationist’s Fairy Tale

[…] notorious for claiming to have allegedly found “fresh” unfossilized dinosaur remains in Alaska that were really fossilized after all. The exhibit also claims to have “real” fossil bones and eggs of dinosaurs shown along with the […]

26 08 2008
The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Big Lie » Dino Den, The Worst Dinosaur Exhibit Ever!

[…] notorious for claiming to have allegedly found “fresh” unfossilized dinosaur remains in Alaska that were really fossilized after all. The exhibit also claims to have “real” fossil bones and eggs of dinosaurs shown along with the […]

1 10 2008
The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Big Lie » Dino Den, The Worst Dinosaur Exhibit Ever!

[…] for claiming to have allegedly found “fresh” unfossilized dinosaur remains in Alaska that were really fossilized after all. The exhibit also claims to have “real” fossil bones and eggs of dinosaurs shown along […]

7 10 2008
The Big Dinosaur Lie » The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved! (part 2)

[…] find alleged unfossilized dinosaur bones Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, have posted an article about. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he inquired Ham and his cronies about […]

16 10 2008
The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible | The Big Dinosaur Lie

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he enquired Ham and […]

26 10 2008
The Big Dinosaur Lie » Blog Archive » From the False Answers Book Part 3

[…] his creationist cronies in Alaska in 1994 which turns out not to be the case after all according to Laelaps’ investigation about them, “In any case, just to put Davis’ expertise on paleontology and evolution in […]

18 11 2008
The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Big Lie » Blog Archive » Dinosaurs of Eden: A Biblical Journey Through Time (part 3)

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he enquired Ham and […]

19 11 2008
The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Big Lie » Blog Archive » The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he inquired Ham and […]

1 12 2008
Stupid Dinosaur Lies · The Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he inquired Ham and […]

6 12 2008
Stupid Dinosaur Lies » Dinosaurs of Eden Part 3

[…] Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, has posted an article about the alleged claim. Apparently, what Laelaps found out from them, after he inquired Ham and […]

7 12 2008
Stupid Dinosaur Lies » Dino Den, The Worst Dinosaur Exhibit Ever!

[…] for claiming to have allegedly found “fresh” unfossilized dinosaur remains in Alaska that were really fossilized after all. The exhibit also claims to have “real” fossil bones and eggs of dinosaurs shown along […]

10 12 2008
Stupid Dinosaur Lies » The Answers Book Part 3

[…] his creationist cronies in Alaska in 1994 which turns out not to be the case after all according to Laelaps’ investigation about them, “In any case, just to put Davis’ expertise on paleontology and evolution in […]

12 07 2009
The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved [NOT!] Part 2 | Stupid Dinosaur Lies

[…] dinosaur bones. Brian Switek, the owner of Laelaps, one of the regular blogs I visited, posted an article about this sometime later. Apparently, what he found out after he inquired Ham and his cronies […]

2 03 2011
Dale Dupont

I find few who will discuss the issue in a clear honest manner.

Logical if one accept the Bible version of history, and I do, God made different kinds of living creatures and they have been reproducing their own kind since then. Therefore evolution cannot be true.
If one accepts evolution small changes have produced all the types, plants, animals, birds, etc we we see today. Yet no one can find that children or parent that has changed enough. tadpoles becaome frogs yet reproduce always the saem kind of frog.
One might say give it millions of years, which is an untestable theory, therefore it is not science.
Be honest both are a matter of faith can we aleast be honest about the differences?

14 06 2011
ipads for cheap

Aw, this was a very nice post. In thought I wish to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and certainly not appear to get one thing done.

9 08 2011
mutuelle optique

hello very nice article

29 08 2011
Surveyor

You know, semantics are very important. Why do you see it necessary to accuse creationists of spreading lies in your post (from the very beginning, not just in reference to AiG’s not correcting the “unfossilized” claim), instead of merely stating that you don’t agree with their opinion, or even that they are spreading inaccuracies? A lie is a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive. The creationists who are spreading the things that you and others are disagreeing with are not spreading things they believe are false, nor are they intending to deceive anyone. They believe what they are proclaiming to be true, just as you believe your version of prehistory. Your choice of words to describe what they are doing is inflammatory at best.

Keep in mind that there are two major schools of thought within creationists, old earth and young earth. Young earth assumes a literal 6 day creation, and is the view of Answers in Genesis, and many mainline evangelicals. The old earth view is very similar to your own, except we believe that God set it all in motion and kept it ordered and directed it. The “six days” in Genesis are taken as six periods of time, which is the actual Hebrew meaning of the word used for day in the passages. We accept that those periods could be millions or billions of years.

In the big scheme of things, though, as a Christian, it doesn’t matter to me how we got here, if God made the world in 6 days, 600 million years, or whether any of the missing transitional species in the evolutionary model ever existed. Being “saved” has nothing to do with any of that, but has to do with loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving your neighbor as yourself. Other than that, if we can all just stop bickering and admit that none of us really know all that much compared to the absolute body of knowledge that exists, we can all theorize, hypothesize, and respect the thoughts and ideas of others, no matter how different than ours they may be.

23 06 2015
amanda hughes

Thank you……I, for one, appreciate this comment. It is right on.

10 09 2011
erika

The bitch wasn’t worth it.

3 09 2012
John Jensen

As a rational empiricist, I see neither side of the creation-evolution argument as anything more than self serving, depending on which side of that row your weeding the garden from. Both are based on belief systems. Both are capable of, and do in fact ‘stack the deck’ with artifacts and so called ‘evidence’ that supports their particular theory. On the Evo-Sci side, one of the most egregious examples are the many (over 40) C-14 test performed on ‘elastic collagen’ and hemoglobin compounds extracted from more than 6 species of Dinosaurs bones, (mostly Theropods), that are ignored, discounted or silenced by the Evo-Sci community. If fact, the worst example of information suppression, is Dr. Mary Schweitzer’s refusal to C-14 test the T-Rex hind limb that contained recoverable segments of elastic collagen and Hemoglobin elements, including what appear to be actual blood cells.

Another example is the outright Academic ‘blanket of silence’ regarding the Windover Bog culture. Because Bog People remains were recovered with extant brain material, DNA testing was done to an astonishing level of accuracy. The results showed an Aryan (European) genetic footprint, for a group of people buried in ‘machine woven’ materials. The remains were dated via C-14 at 8,400 ybp + /- 250 a. So we have white European (mechanized) folks living in a community in Florida some 8,000 years before Columbus? That certainly doesn’t fit the textbook scenario. Could that possibly be the reason the data is so roundly ignored?

Science, particularly Evo-Sci, Historical Science and ‘Thought Experiment Sciences’, do not come to the table with ‘clean hands’, The best example is the current move toward ‘Attenuated Gravity’. Are you kidding me? Gravity is a ‘fixed’ law of Newtonian Physics’. It is either true, or it is not. Period, It isn’t ‘variable’ depending on some tinny ‘Invisible Gnome in the Garden’ argument. Which points out the truth in Tesla’s comment about Einstein being a ‘charlatan’.

Religion, on the other hand, is scarier that Evo-Sci. Aren’t these the folks that brought us the Inquisition, and the burning at the stake for any ideology or theory that argued Church dogma? Little things like Galileo’s assertion that the Earth revolved around the Sun, etc? Isn’t this the same group that hunted down and killed every man, woman and child of the Albigensian (Cather) religion? Sorry, the Church garments are stained with way too much blood of Innocents to have any veracity in their arguments on anything at all. If they would kill you to protect their belief system, they would certainly lie to you about anything and everything. Their science is no more or less valid than that of Evo-Sci. It is just as self serving, though much more dangerous.

So that leaves us with two warring factions, locked in a death struggle over the true nature of History of the Earth, neither of whom seem to give a rat’s ass about the facts, evidence or the truth.

The only comfort I have is that one day, sometime in some far distant future, the cycle of human life will begin anew. Maybe that cycle will be giants with six fingers and toes, and a double row of teeth, or it might be tiny pygmy like creatures. In either case, they will build their dogmas on the stories of the survivors of the last cataclysm (flood or fire from heaven), and countless generations later they will start killing each other over which of them has more of the ‘real’ truth.

I shuffle off this mortal coil soon, and the truth is, I would have rather lived with actual Dinosaurs. It would have been straight up easier.

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