Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which we discuss dinosaurs and the age of the world and pursuing science as a Christian student.

Shawn made the following criticism in the comments to the “Six Days” post:

Below the slideshow you asked for corrections. I can’t speak to the astrophysics parts, but I can concerning two standpoints — that of theology, and that of fossil evidence, particular in reference to humans, but also in reference to even dinosaurs, which have been found containing soft tissue, something that seems strange, but plausible for a world of only 6-10K years, but absolutely forbidden for a world millions, even billions, or trillions of years old.

This strikes me as an odd observation. Taking the soft tissue evidence at face value, why couldn’t we simply have young dinosaurs in a very old world? It might be a bit awkward, but there is nothing in either science or scripture I’m aware of that “absolutely forbids” this.

In any case, it turns out that the soft tissue evidence is not necessarily a problem for old dinosaurs. It’s quite possible what we’re discovering is that scientists don’t understand decay like they thought they did. Evidence is mounting that, under certain conditions, soft tissue can be preserved during fossilization for millions of years. Nor is it a problem for Christianity, given that I believe scripture [together with a basic understanding of cosmology -Ed.] strongly implies an old universe/old Earth, anyway. Also, for you conspiracists out there, consider that the scientist who made the discovery, Mary Schweitzer, identifies as a committed Christian.

—–

HB writes:

I’ve wanted to change my major to astronomy, but I feel it will be a hard major to be in as a Christian. As an astronomer, do you feel that people are trying to convert you? Or do they respect your beliefs and work with you just the same? And is becoming an astronomer as cool as it seems?

I became a Christian halfway through my graduate studies in astrophysics, and did not find it difficult at all. Nobody in my department gave me any trouble for my beliefs. A few of the faculty and grad students were also Christian, which helped. However, I can foresee a problem being a young-earth creationist Christian and trying to major in astronomy, since so much of the subject matter reveals a very old age for the universe. But if you are not a young-earther, that’s not a concern.

Now, that said, if you are passionate about astronomy, you should not let the fact that you are Christian deter you. Science needs Christians. And we know from scripture and history that we will face many challenges and obstacles just for being followers of Jesus Christ. Since that’s inevitable, just do what you feel you are called to do, and ignore those who would give you any trouble.

And, yes, becoming an astronomer is wonderful. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Do keep in mind, though, that being a scientist is sometimes tedious, but that probably describes just about any job.

4 thoughts on “Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

  1. I think the potency of the soft tissue on dinosaur bones rests in the fact that in the standard theories dinos died out long before man evolved. And in addition the idea that they coexisted with human beings is a frequent target for darwinists who ridicule young earthers. It is therefore very satisfying for the YE folks when the Darwinian Research/Ridicule industrial complex is forced into dealing with problems like this.

    Of course, the world could be old, and dinosaurs could nevertheless have persisted until relatively recently. But if Darwinism is at all subject to dis-verification, then surely a finding which contradicts the consensus expectations of the field constitute at least some detraction in confidence in the theory.

    BTW, I’m curious, what are the ‘strong’ indications in the Bible for an old earth? I’ve watched your fascinating slide show, but I don’t think I saw anything like that there.

    Warmest regards,

    Jerry

  2. Jerry: But if Darwinism is at all subject to dis-verification, then surely a finding which contradicts the consensus expectations of the field constitute at least some detraction in confidence in the theory.

    I understand what you’re saying, Jerry, but I don’t see this as necessarily very helpful for the YECs. There are myriad reasons to be skeptical of Darwinism. That doesn’t necessarily mean the existence of soft tissue on dinosaur bones constitutes another reason for skepticism — it could simply be irrelevant (or ostensibly supportive), if, for instance, we discover that soft tissue can persist for millions of years under certain conditions. And we must also keep in mind that a dis-verification of Darwinism doesn’t automatically constitute a verification of YECism.

    Russell does bring up an interesting point. I’m not even close to being expert on this topic, but my sense is that a weakness with the idea of certain species of dinosaurs being “resurrected” in recent history is the idea that the environment would not have been suitable for their existence in the last several tens of thousands of years. Particularly as there was an ice age in North America (where the fossils were found) at that time.

  3. Jerry: I’m curious, what are the ‘strong’ indications in the Bible for an old earth? I’ve watched your fascinating slide show, but I don’t think I saw anything like that there.

    Leaving aside scientific evidence for an old Earth, the biggest problem YECs have is explaining how Adam could have done all the things he was described doing on Day Six in less than 24 hours (Earth time). On that basis alone, it’s extremely unlikely a Genesis day was 24 hours from the perspective of Earth.

    That said, I didn’t phrase my comment very well. Rereading my comment, it sounds like I was saying that, all by itself, scripture strongly implies an old earth/old universe, and that’s not what I meant to say. Adam’s exceptionally busy day is pretty compelling in terms of a Day not being 24 hours from the perspective of Earth, but that doesn’t imply that the Days were therefore billions or millions of years long. I should have said, when we put scripture together with a basic understanding of cosmology, we are practically forced to accept an old universe. The key scriptures are Psalm 19 and Psalm 90:4.

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