Friday, June 15, 2007


It was reported in the journal Nature a couple of days ago that Chinese scientists had uncovered the fossil of a giant birdlike dinosaur dating to the late Cretaceous. The article I read about this (by John Noble Wilford of the New York Times) was a veritable goldmine of apologetic material and unintended humor. I’ll probably interact with it in three or four posts during the coming weeks.

The scientists who made the discovery—in a classic use of understatement—admitted that it presented problems for the established evolutionary theory. Specifically, this find refutes “widely-held theories that carnivorous dinosaurs got smaller as they evolved more birdlike characteristics.” No kidding.

Were evolutionary science the objective endeavor that we are supposed to believe, scientists would be content to view this awesome new discovery simply as evidence for a greater diversity of dinosaurs than was previously known. But the majority of paleontologists are not even close to objective. Rather, they have a very specific bias—naturalism—and agenda—to discover fossils for which they can claim the label “transitional.” And there’s no more important gap to fill with “transitions” (in order to bolster evolutionary theory) than that between dinosaurs and birds. This bias and agenda continue to lead evolutionists to say and write some pretty silly things. For now, let me offer you just one example from this most recent article. According to Peter Dodson, paleontologist at the University of Pennsylvania (and a dinosaur authority)...
This [Gigantoraptor] was on the line leading toward birds, though not itself the closest relative to birds by any means.
An unbiased observer could point out a couple of pretty significant facts that would seem to undermine this conclusion. Gigantoraptor dates to 70 million years ago. Birds (the real thing, feathers and all) predated this large dinosaur by nearly 90 million years! So how could the dinosaur be “on the line leading to birds”? Moreover, as almost everyone (and certainly any dinosaur authority worth his salt) now acknowledges, it was shortly after this—at 65 million years ago—that all the dinosaurs (and other higher organisms of the time) were wiped out (by conditions resulting from the impact on the Yucatan Peninsula of a huge meteor). That being the case, just how did this dinosaur “line leading toward birds” manage to pass their genes across this formidable extinction event? Written wills? Sheer will power? Cryonics?

You see, for neo-Darwinian macroevolution to be true, dinosaurs must have evolved into birds. The only problem is that the dino-to-bird evolution theory faces problems at every turn, including from the fossil evidence. Perhaps this is in part why ornithologist Alan Feduccia predicts that the theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs will prove to be “the greatest embarrassment of paleontology of the 20th century."


Anonymous said...

I'm interested to hear your take man's dating methods. It would seem you ascribe to the ancient birds/dinosaurs dating back many millions of years. Can we take man's fallible dating methods and use them to impose an idea on the infallible word of God? How is this best addressed when relating this back to the biblical account in Genesis of Creation? Someone once told me that they thought God as the creator, also allowed the creation of the hundreds of dating methods that made the earth appear to be millions of years old. Interesting... Thanks!!

Rick Gerhardt said...

Dear Anonymous: Thanks for reading! (I'll respond to your comment in reverse order, from last to first, as it were.)

I don't believe that God has made things to appear other than as they are. He is no deceiver--indeed He cannot lie. And yet Scripture is full of admonitions to look at the creation itself to learn of Him. I hold to the doctrine of dual revelation, the idea (found most explicitly in Psalm 19 and Romans 1 but implicitly throughout the Bible) that God has revealed Himself through both general revelation (the creation itself, conscience, and the universal moral law) and special revelation (the written Word, the Bible, and the incarnate Word, Jesus the Messiah).

I believe that the revelation from the creation itself and the revelation from Scripture are both reliable, without deception, and, if you will, inerrant. What this means is that they are also in perfect agreement with one another. I believe also that mankind is fallible both in his attempts to interpret the record of nature and in his attempts to interpret Scripture. The problem with the question in the middle of your comment is that it attempts to equate one particular interpretation of Scripture--the Young-Earth or 24-hour (creation day) interpretation with Scripture itself (the "infallible word of God"). There are several interpretations of the Genesis creation account among believers who recognize it as the inerrant Word of God. Moreover, each of these views has been held (in some form or other) since early in church history. Among these, only the young-earth view does a poor job of reconciling special revelation with general revelation. More importantly, the early church fathers (indeed, Christians throughout church history until the twentieth century) held their views on this issue loosely, humbly. For many, the correct understanding of what God meant by yom (the Hebrew word translated 'day' in English) could wait until scientists (studying the revelation from creation itself) could unravel it. It is only recently that some (that is, young-earth creationists) have sought to make their interpretation an issue of orthodoxy (to the point that they no longer recognize their interpretation as an interpretation).

Scientists (whether atheist or Christian or anything in between) are unanimous in accepting the reliability of radioisotope dating methods (when used appropriately); the only exceptions are those committed a priori to a young-earth interpretation of Scripture. More importantly, there is really no evidence from any field of science that would suggest an earth and a universe only thousands of years old. All the evidence from astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, paleontology, etc. indicates (as does the Bible itself) that the Earth is of great antiquity. While young-earth proponents have spent a good deal of effort calling into question the reliability of radiometric dating, inevitably their interpretation depends upon a denial of virtually all of modern science, not just one set of dating methods.

Hope this helps. I'd be glad to continue this dialogue; I can be reached by email at

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response. Your points are certainly valid and it's a topic I haven't put much thought into. Would you agree with the position of the late Charles Hodge in his work, "Systematic Theology" as he decribes a "mediate, progressive creation". He writes:

"Mediate and Immediate Creation But while it has ever been the doctrine of the Church that God created the universe out of nothing by the word of his power, which creation was instantaneous and immediate, i. e., without the intervention of any second causes; yet it has generally been admitted that this is to be understood only of the original call of matter into existence. Theologians have, therefore, distinguished between a first and second, or immediate and mediate creation. The one was instantaneous, the other gradual; the one precludes the idea of any preexisting substance, and of cooperation, the other admits and implies both. There is evident ground for this distinction in the Mosaic account of the creation. ... It thus appears that forming out of preexisting material comes within the Scriptural idea of creating. ... There is, therefore, according to the Scriptures, not only an immediate, instantaneous creation ex nihilo by the simple word of God, but a mediate, progressive creation; the power of God working in union with second causes." (Hodge, C., "Systematic Theology," [1892], James Clark & Co: London, Vol. I, Reprinted, 1960, pp.556-557)

I'm still trying to sort through various issues but sparked my interest.