Archive for category Dinosaurs

It’s A Double Whammy!

Recently, I was reading Jerry Coyne’s totally awesome book Why Evolution Is True, when I noticed a picture that really got me thinking “Wow, this is both evidence against Noah’s Flood, and evidence for evolution!”  While this isn’t the exact picture, I’m pretty sure it’s the same specimen: a creature called Mei long, from Cretaceous China.

Mei long

It doesn’t look like much, I know, but it seriously is both anti-Flood and pro-evolution!

  • Anti-Flood.  It’s quite obviously in a sleeping posture.  Creationists claim that the fossil record was formed by Noah’s Flood, but if your house got hit by a tsunami at midnight, would you still be asleep?  Or at least in the same position?  There are several theories as to the cause of death, including toxic gasses (like carbon monoxide).
  • Pro-evolution.  Evolution (as I hope you well know) says that the ancestors of birds were dinosaurs.  There aren’t any feathers on this fossil, but it’s sleeping position tells us everything we need to know.  Many modern birds sleep the same way, with their head tucked under their wing.  Normally, in dinosaur-bird transitional forms, we either see behavioral evidence or physical evidence.  This is clear behavioral evidence.

It’s a prehistoric double whammy!

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Hot Whales, Inheriting Air, Lots of Dragons, Policy Problems, and More

Time again for another multi-piece article!  First, we’re going to discuss the counterarguments for a graveyard of Chilean whales.  Next, I’m going to review the excellent evolution-themed play Inherit the Wind.  We’re going to look at several dragons from around the world and compare them to dinosaurs, in order to see if they really could be evidences for creationism.  I’m going to show you laughable quotes from a book on school policies, examine the new and controversial Rick Perry commercial, and finish up with a quick chat about quicksand.

Okay, first up, we have a little something from Kids Answers, in a piece called Whales in the Desert.  Basically, it talks about a large group of whale fossils that have been found in Chile.  That may not sound so outrageous-South America is known for its gigantic creatures-but here’s the thing: the fossils were discovered in the Atacama Desert, which is the hottest known location on earth.  So, here’s the question AiG poses: how could seventy-five whales (along with a tusked dolphin that I think might also be a small whale called Odobenocetops) wind up smack dab in the middle of the hottest desert anywhere in the world?  The answer for them, of course, is the global flood described in the Bible.  According to them, that’s the only way you could take a large group of whales and dump ’em in the desert.  Is there any other explanation?  Well, yes, if you look at it logically.

First, there’s the matter of the fossils themselves.  AiG claims that fossils can form quickly, and demonstrate it in a small, science fair-like experiment with no organic material at all.  Riddle me this, Batman-how do you know fossils can form quickly if you don’t test it with organic material?  Here’s what could prove your claim: subject a small creature (a rat or squirrel would do) to a small-scale tsunami, and have it buried under a large pile of sediment.  Wait about forty days and forty nights, and then see just how fossilized your test subject is.

But, I’m getting off track, aren’t I?  We know for a fact that whales travel in small pods, and that gray whales travel in masses for one of the largest migrations on earth.  Isn’t it likely that prehistoric whales behaved similarly?  If so, that explains why they were all there in the first place.  But how did they get to the desert?  Well, we can reverse engineer a global model, based on current continental drift, how the world looked back when the whales were buried.  At about the time whales evolved, the Sahara desert was a salt marsh.  It’s highly likely that water levels near South America were higher back then.  If so, then they simply could have drowned.  Easy as that.

Ah, the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925.  Without a doubt, it was the biggest evolutionary hullabaloo until Dover/Kitzmiller, and one of the most dramatic.  But the legacy stretches to the superb play Inherit The Wind, which is similar but still very different from the actual happenings.  Instead of the small town of Dover, we go to the fictional little village of Hillsboro, where instead of John T. Scopes, a man named Bertram Cates has been arrested (actually not part of the punishment for teaching evolution) for teaching, of course, Darwin’s theory of evolution, instead of biblical creation as mandated by the Butler Act.  Despite all of the historical inaccuracies, the play is really, really good.  I mean, you can picture a troubled small town, understand the massive issues at stake, and best of all, feel the heart-pounding emotion of the Drummond-Brady standoff, which is based on a real event.  In fact, I’m even considering turning the CC tagline (a Mark Twain quote) into one of the lines from that awesome argument.  There’s just no other way to say it: Inherit the Wind is a truly great American play.

Ah, the old myth of dragons.  At least, we think they’re myths.  If the creationists are correct (and they rarely are when it comes to things like this), then maybe your fire-breathing favorites have some roots in the fossil record.  Let’s look at a couple of examples.  First, we have this dragon from the Ishtar Gate in Babylon:

Ishtar Dragon

Okay, at first glance, I can see where the idea that it was a dinosaur came from.  From a distance, you might call this thing a sauropod, and the neck/head are slightly similar, but look at the feet.  Even if you were ten meters away, you can automatically tell: those are talons.  No sauropods that we know of had feet like that.  Sauropods have elephant-like legs, not something that looks like it belongs on a chicken.  If that wasn’t enough, the body shape is too slim and rectangular to support what we know of as a sauropod body.  While I see the creationists’ point, the visual evidence is stacked against them this time around.  Next, we have a cave drawing of what some are calling a pterosaur, obtained from a pretty basic website called Discovery News, which I assume isn’t affiliated with the far better Discovery Channel:

Pterosaur Drawing

Does this bear any resemblance to known pterosaurs?  Actually, you can see a few traits that are common in large pterosaurs, such as the crest, but there’s one big problem here: the wings.  A) they’re barely distinguishable, and B) we know that their wings were shaped differently.  Instead of curlicued things that aren’t aerodynamic in the least, we see broad, sail-like appendages.  Plus, it’s entirely possible that this is a case of mistaken identity, with the Native Americans who drew this in fact seeing a bird, like a buzzard or vulture.  That also explains the long legs, which we don’t tend to see a lot in big pterosaurs.  Finally, we have a classic Chinese dragon.

Chinese Dragon

The creationists want us to believe that this was, in fact, a dinosaur.  Ahem.  *cough*  How unbelievably stupid is that?  First, we have the length of the body.  We see some dinosaurs that were really long, but none this lanky, and certainly none with splayed-out legs like we see here.  Then, there’s the fact that this thing appears to have fur and facial hair!  While lots of feathered dinosaurs have been found, none of them look anything like this.  The most likely idea is that the people were either seeing a monitor lizard, or it was just a figment of their imaginations.

Let’s finish off this four-step article with a few quick quote dissections from a book I have read, Opposing Viewpoints: School Policies.  This book tackles everything from dress codes to creationism in schools.  And why not have a look at one of the quotes supporting the latter!

“Even Darwin himself purportedly no longer believed in his own theory when he died.”

I’m really going to try to keep from laughing now.  The whole “Darwin rejects evolution” story is a huge myth.  The perpetrator of the fairy tale, a woman named Lady Hope, never actually visited Darwin on his deathbed, according to his children.  It’s just plain crazy.  Another section of the article is also written by a Christian, but this is about gay/straight alliance clubs.  The writer states that any self-respecting school wouldn’t allow a Marlboro/tattoo/drag racing club to exist, so why a GSA?  Well, Ms. Misrepresentation, there’s a fine line between a club that basically supports human rights and a club that is obviously inappropriate.  A gay/straight alliance club will not “indoctrinate” people into being homosexual.  It would just show them that gay and lesbian people are humans, too.  There’s nothing immoral about that.

Recently, Republican president wannabe Rick Perry aired a short commercial entitled “Strong”, in which he pretty much criticizes the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, saying that there’s something wrong with the country if gays can openly serve in the military, but children can’t openly celebrate Christmas.  I mean, REALLY?!  Children can obviously go to church and openly celebrate Christmas, or go caroling, or any other of a number of things that count as openly celebrating the holiday.  And yeah, gays can serve in the military, but there’s nothing wrong with that.  Then, he goes onto say that they can’t pray in schools.  And it all goes downhill from here.  Here’s the thing: kids can silently pray in schools, or pray during free hours like lunch or recess, but if he means to say that we should legalize school prayer, Rick is violating the freedom of religion.  If you want to have Christian prayers said openly in the classroom under the teacher’s guidance, you either have to include prayers from every other religion on earth, or you’re asking for another Engel vs. Vitale case.  You’d probably get sued anyway.

Rick keeps on going, saying that he’ll end Obama’s war on religion.  That’s actually not true.  President Obama never attacked religion in general, or even negatively criticized any particular religion (to the best of my knowledge).  All he said was “America is not a Christian nation.”  Even though the U.S. was partially founded due to religious discrimination in England, immigration up till today formed what some call the great melting pot.  Which is, to say, we are not just fundamentalist Christians.  We’re Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, and dozens of others.  Rick says that faith is what made America great, and that’s what will make her great again.  Well, our freedom of religion is a really good thing, but what about our freedom of expression, or press, or speech, or assembly?  Rick, being as right-wing as right-wing can get, is merely equating gay rights with being anti-Christian.  That’s not true.  I support gay rights, but I’m only anti-young earth creationism.

And, just to finish this article off, let’s say a few words about quicksand.  AiG has an article on their Answers Magazine site about the famous Velociraptor vs Protoceratops fossils, and attempts to debunk the various evolutionary explanations for their fossilization, eventually just sticking to their unscientific assumptions of the Flood.  One of the explanations, quicksand, was supposedly debunked by the fact that the animals would have tried to get away.  That may be true, but if prehistoric quicksand was anything like modern quicksand (there’s no difference between the two, but I’m just saying), the struggles of the fighters might have sunk them almost immediately.  On a related note, the two other “debunked” explanations, a sandstorm and a collapsing sand dune, were put down by the fact that they couldn’t carry the moisture needed to mineralize the bones.  Well, here’s my response: where do you think this photo comes from?  (Besides Wikipedia)

Perfect Fossils

That’s right-it came from the Italian city of Pompeii, where around 70 A.D., a volcanic eruption perfectly preserved the forms of the city’s citizens.  Just like the Mongolian dinosaur fighters, these fossils are beautifully preserved.  So here’s my question: did Mt. Vesuvius carry the moisture needed to fossilize these skeletons?  On that note, we’re done with the article.  See you around!

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Racist Churches, Dinosaur Ancestors, And More Flood Problems

AiG posted their latest News to Note article today, and I intend to deal with one of the news pieces covered, and what it says about evolution.  You see, a church in Kentucky recently banned interracial couples from taking part in services.  Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty racist to me.  I mean, just because a couple is of two different races does not violate their freedom to practice religion.  There’s nothing wrong with an interracial couple being good Christians.  But that’s not my point.  My point is about a quote from the article:

“On the other hand, some evolutionists, including Darwin, believing human beings evolved from apelike ancestors, have thought some ‘racial’ groups are more highly evolved than others.”

How does this A) have any relevance to the issue at hand and B) make any sense?  I can see where AiG gets their “racist Darwin” concept from: the full title of Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species.  The full title is On The Origin Of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (Thank you, Wikipedia!).  Whew!  Kent Hovind pointed out his theory that favored races equals racism, but that’s not true.  The races Darwin refers to are just different kinds of animals.  In fact, if evolution is true, there’s no need for racism, because all humans are one species and there’s no superior race!

Next up, we have a piece on the ancestors of sauropods and ceratopsians.  That may sound like gibberish, but they’re very real families of very popular dinosaurs.  Sauropods are the long-necked herbivores that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and include such famous creatures as Apatosaurus and Brachiosaurus.  Ceratopsians are the frilled creatures from the Cretaceous, and include the hugely popular Triceratops, as well as big-skulled Torosaurus.  But, if evolution is true, where did all of these guys come from?  The answer is staring you right in the face.

The origins of the sauropods are perhaps best represented by the Triassic prosauropod Plateosaurus, whose image can be found below.  This and the next photo were obtained via Wikipedia, which is a lot more accurate than you’d think.

Plateosaurus

As you can see, Plateosaurus has a fairly long neck, which we would expect to see in an ancestor of a sauropod.  The similarities between the arms and the legs indicates that it may have been able to walk on all fours, like its Jurassic descendants.  While the size is drastically different from the Jurassic Park behemoths we know and love, it’s a large step forward for this kind of creature.  One species of prosauropod, Mussaurus, had babies no bigger than mice!  It’s fairly easy to see how, as plants became bigger to cope with more carbon dioxide in the Mesozoic atmosphere, the animals that ate them had to grow, too.  This next photo shows a dinosaur you’ve probably heard of.

Protoceratops

Ah, yes.  Protoceratops.  These ancestors of the giant Triceratops are well-known finds from Mongolia.  While they’re no bigger than a sheep, the ceratopsian characteristics in this fossil are easy to see.  First, we have the prominent frill, which, as everybody knows, is a key component in the mental image of a Triceratops.  Then we have the horn/beak formation at the mouth, which in more recent ceratopsian skeletons serves as the third horn.  We’ve found multiple other specimens of “protoceratopsids”, which serve as saurian transitional forms in the ongoing search for knowledge about dinosaur evolution.

For our final article, I’d like to point out two more issues with the Flood.  I already addressed three major problems with the Flood in one of my earliest articles, but I’d missed a few, so let’s have a look at them:

  1. Everest-sized erosion.  Let’s face facts: Mount Everest is pretty dang high.  It’s the tallest mountain in the world, for gosh sakes!  So here’s my question: since all water on earth disperses evenly (as in, you can’t lower the level of one part of a bathtub without lowering the level of the rest), how high were the floodwaters, and if so, how thick did the rain need to be?  I mean, you wouldn’t be able to breathe if sheets of water were always falling on your head?  Some creationists propose that the earth was smooth, and that the Flood changed its geology.  But then, that would mean the Flood would need to carve around something, right?  Or else it would just cover the earth.  Which brings me to point two…
  2. Where’d all the water go?  According to the creationists, here’s the answer:

By the way, that’s one of AiG’s After Eden comics, by Dan Lietha.  So, let me get this straight: God just blew the water away?  The only way that would make any sense at all is if earth was as flat as the Discworld, and that isn’t likely.  If the water evaporated, it would have taken a really long time for the Ark to land.  This is just mounting evidence against the Flood.  Keep watching Confronting Creation for a new Chick dissection!

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Hominid Smiles, Sandstorm Fossils, Trilobite Explosions, And More

Today, we’ll be examining a few articles from AiG’s most recent News to Note article, as well as other creationist news and classic arguments.  First up is the newly discovered Australopithecus sediba, a new hominid species.  Recently, an artist’s interpretation of one of the fossil’s faces was created, that portrayed the specimen (dubbed “Karabo”) with a smile on its face.  AiG says that we’re jumping to conclusions, the reason being that just because an artist draws it doesn’t make it true.  They’re right about this, but we know hominids are very similar to, if slightly more advanced than, modern apes, who show lots of emotion.  I can attest to this, since I very recently visited the National Zoo in Washington D.C. (my hometown, as a matter of fact). The gorillas there displayed very humanlike behavior, including slapping one another (true story), and even curiosity.  While they can’t exactly smile, this doesn’t mean they can’t show happiness, anger, or even just plain wonder.  That makes hominids showing emotion a very likely possibility.

Another piece in the AiG article is about recent findings of Protoceratops babies in the Gobi Desert.  It’s a little-known fact that Protoceratops, as well as creatures like Plateosaurus, are spectacular evidence for dinosaur evolution.  Both of these species represent early stages in the development of two major dinosaur groups (for Protoceratops, it’s ceratopsians, and for Plateosaurus, it’s sauropods).  But that’s not the point.  The point is that AiG says that the main theory for how these dinosaurs died is that water-propelled sand buried them.  According to them, that leaves two possibilities: flash floods, or the global Flood.  While both could carry sand, there are alternative explanations.  Let’s have a look at pop culture to find another possibility: in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, we see firsthand how devastating sandstorms can be.  It’s no huge mystery that the Gobi Desert wasn’t that different from what we see today than it was in the Cretaceous, so sandstorms were likely to still exist.  Therefore, here’s what might have happened: a massive sandstorm, the likes of which can suffocate living things, buries and preserves the bones of the Protoceratops babies.  That also explains why we find so many well-preserved fossils from Cretaceous Mongolia.

It’s a well-known antievolution argument: the Cambrian Explosion, which produced hundreds of new species over a several million year period, is too abrupt to encompass evolution.  On the contrary-it’s one of evolution’s greatest successes.  During the Cambrian Explosion (which took place during the Cambrian, as you may have guessed), it’s true that many new species of trilobites and other invertebrates and fish, but that doesn’t make it evidence against evolution, despite it only taking a few million years to happen.  If I do recall, if human evolution is true (and the evidence says it is), man only had a few million years to evolve from more basic species of primate.  And that’s not counting that we’ve found pre-Explosion fossils that evolution predicts would exist.  So is the Cambrian Explosion evidence against evolution?  The overwhelming evidence says no.

On the AiG site Kids Answers, an article appeared about a new fossil species called Cronopio.  What makes this fossil so unique (and just plain neat) is that it bears a distinct resemblance to the famous acorn-hunting prehistoric squirrel Scrat, of the Ice Age film series.  What’s funny about this article is found in this quote from Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell:

“Cronopio just happens to have some features in common with living insect-eaters, some features in common with other fossilized extinct creatures, and enough unique features to give its discoverers the prerogative of naming it as a new species.  It is not a transitional form.”

The key word in this quote is “just happens” (Okay, it’s two words, but who’s counting?).  Elizabeth just assumes the fact that Cronopio has features of several different kinds of animals is just a coincidence.  That’s illogical, because which is a better explanation for an extinct species with several different features present in other animal families-the features just happen to be there, or the animal had shared lineage with other kinds of mammals?  The odds favor the latter.

For our final article, let’s discuss population control.  Today, there are roughly seven billion people on earth.  That’s not the issue here.  The issue is how many animals there are.  There are a lot of them, you can probably guess, and new species are often discovered (take the Census of Marine Life’s findings, for example).  Let’s add into the organism melting pot all of the extinct species.  As far as we know, there are over two hundred thousand.  And that’s just scratching the surface; it’s been estimated that we only have one percent of the Cretaceous fossil record.  So, there are most likely millions of extinct species that we don’t even know about.  According to what creationists say, all of these animals were present in the Garden of Eden.  But here’s the catch-they don’t know how big the garden was, nor where it was located. So, riddle me this, Batman-how is it humanly possible that a place we barely have any knowledge of (assuming that it even existed) could support millions upon millions of plants and animals, counting marine life?  It’s a tough question, one that creationists can’t answer without just saying that God did it and everything was fine.  ‘Cause that’s not science.  And on that happy note, I bid you guys adieu.

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Did The Dinosaurs Go Extinct?

Well, as far as we know, yes.  Now, the creationists obviously think otherwise, as seen in many different ministries, but where is their evidence?  Creation Science Evangelism says that cryptozoology (the study of creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster) is proof.  How so?  In the Congo, home of thick swamps and jungles, natives say that prehistoric creatures still live.  Now, as much as I’d like that to be true, it isn’t evidence for creationism.  Why?  Because there is no obvious statement in the Bible that dinosaurs lived with man.  That’s partially because the term dinosaur wasn’t invented until the 1800s, but also because dinosaurs and man did not coexist.  I know, I know, the Book of Job with Leviathan and Behemoth, but to be honest, the “tail like a cedar” thing doesn’t just point to a sauropod.  For instance, look at the Nile crocodile.  Some specimens can grow to be over twenty feet long, like the infamous Gustave, and their tails are thick and long.  And there’s the fact that animal and plant species go extinct every day, so it’s possible that an unknown creature could have been mistaken for Behemoth.  I used the computer game Spore to create a Behemoth:

Behemoth

But the crux of the extinction question comes in whether or not dinosaurs went extinct at any point.  Now, the most popular theory involves a massive comet hitting the earth, and we have found large craters in the Chicxulub region that are evidence for that theory, but there are several others, which include but are not limited to: ice ages, plagues, volcanic activity, and others.  And while living dinosaurs would be totally awesome, the odds are against it, no matter how much Sir Arthur Conan Doyle you read.

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Responding To An Insult

I was reading this article on Creation Science Evangelism recently, and I just didn’t know what to say.  The article basically creates a mock debate between a creationist and an evolutionist.  Pretty soon, the evolutionist resorts to insulting the creationist.  Now that’s just rude.  I know that I would never do that.  Frankly, if I were the one representing evolution, things would go a lot differently.  Here’s how the debate would probably go:

Creationist: Hey, why do you believe in evolution when there’s no evidence for it?

Me: First of all, I don’t believe in evolution.  Rather, I support it.  Saying that you believe in evolution carries religious implications that shouldn’t be there.

Creationist: Are you telling me evolution isn’t a religion?  You bet it is!  Let’s start with the fact that out of the six kinds of evolution, only one can be observed and tested-that’s microevolution, which is really not evolution at all.  The rest aren’t science-they’re religion.

Me: That whole “six kinds” baloney makes no sense!  For starters, the first four kinds don’t have to do with evolution.  They have to do with the Big Bang, star formation, chemical formation, and the origin of life.  Evolution doesn’t explain any of this.  It just explains how life diversified to fill niches.  And anyway, the fifth one, macroevolution, is observable in the fossil record.  Lots of transitional forms exist in the fossil record that show gradual evolution.

Creationist: So what if the six kinds argument isn’t true?  Those “transitional forms” you speak of have all been falsified!  For instance, Archaeopteryx, touted by evolutionists as proof of dinosaur-bird evolution, is just a bird, not a transitional form!

Me: Yes, Archaeopteryx was a bird.  But it had teeth, and claws, like a reptile.  Additionally, we find feathered dinosaurs all the time, so we have evidence for dinosaur-bird evolution on both sides of the spectrum.

Creationist: But wasn’t Lucy’s kneecap found miles away from the rest of the skeleton?  And don’t experts now agree that Lucy was just a chimp?

Me: No, and no.  The so-called “Lucy’s kneecap” was from a different skeleton.  Plus, no credible expert has ever claimed that Lucy was just a tall chimpanzee!  And even if the kneecap argument was true, Lucy still had lumbar vertebrae (info courtesy of Wikipedia), a sign of bipedalism.

Creationist: The whole fossil record was probably formed by the Flood, anyway.

Me: I was hoping that you’d bring the Flood up!  If the fossil record had been formed by the Flood, wouldn’t we see something a little more random than each dinosaur species in one of three layers, and not appearing anywhere else?  I mean, if you can show me evidence that a T-rex was fossilized with some woolly mammoths, that would be more along the lines of Flood evidence.

Creationist: You know, Noah didn’t have to bring every species of animal onboard the Ark.  He just had to bring every kind.  A kind is different from a species.  And Noah might have just brought juveniles aboard the Ark, for a lot of reasons.

Me: That’s what I always hear.  Creationists have never really defined a “kind”.  Is it a domestic dog kind?  A canid kind?  A carnivore kind?  A mammal…”

Creationist: Okay, okay, I get the point.  But what about the juvenile argument?

Me: As for that?  Well, Talkorigins says that Noah brought “a male and its mate”.  That was from Genesis 7:2, so the juvenile argument actually contradicts the Bible, because the verse indicates that if Noah brought animals, they were at sexual maturity.  That’s about maybe three-fourths the size of an adult, and really wouldn’t make any difference.

Creationist: Fine, so maybe all the animals couldn’t fit on the Ark.  Okay then, but what about the Cambrian Explosion, where thousands of different species erupted from seemingly nowhere, in only a thirty million year period?  Isn’t that a problem for evolution?

Me: Not at all!  Firstly, preliminary fossils have been found that predate the Cambrian Explosion, so evolution is still plausible for that scenario.  And secondly, if evolution is true, man had only about six or seven million years to evolve.  Thirty million?  No trouble at all!

Creationist: Dinosaurs could have lived with man!  All of those dragon stories could have just been dinosaurs.

Me: You know the story of the griffin?

Creationist: Yeah, body of a lion, head and wings of an eagle.  What about it?

Me: Some historians think that the griffin was inspired by Protoceratops skulls.  However, does that mean that the ancient Mongolians saw Protoceratops and were inspired to write about the griffin?  You see, dragons could have been inspired by dinosaurs, but they didn’t need to be alive.

Creationist: What about the Paluxy tracks?  The Ica Stones?

Me: The Paluxy tracks are believed to either be a misidentification, or a hoax.  Actually, there is some testimony to support the latter.  And the Ica Stones?  Local villagers have admitted to faking them.  And anyway, the stones also show signs of ancient astronauts.  Do you believe that aliens visited the guys who carved those stones?

Creationist: No.  How about this: the Grand Canyon was obviously formed by the Flood!

Me: That argument has been used time and time again, but there’s a few big problems with it.  For one thing, most floods go in a straight pattern, but the Grand Canyon is sort of zigzag-shaped.  Why?  It wasn’t formed by the Flood!  And of course, there’s the fact that if the Flood HAD formed the Grand Canyon, the natural wonder would be shallower and wider, not looking like someone had taken an ax to it.

And so on and so forth.  But I would never insult a creationist, even if their arguments have been long disproven.  People deserve respect.

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Reviewing Jonathan Parks: Family Time

Okay, so I’ve been trying for a while, but let me just sum it up for you: I finally got the first episode of Jonathan Parks, the creationist family radio drama, to work!  Now, I’ll be reviewing it live, or sort of, and dissect that YEC (young-earth creationist) dogma!  Let us begin with The Secret of the Hidden Cave, Part One!

Apparently, New Mexico has been devastated by a killer rainstorm, flooding areas and threatening lives.  But, during a break in the rain, a father and son speed down a road in a red 4×4, their motives unclear.  This sounds like a modern-day Indiana Jones, which I think is the idea.  All of this is accompanied by special effects, to make it seem like you’re really in the middle of a storm.  Man, I’d hate to get my cool Camp Half-Blood T-shirt wet, but I’m not stopping!  It seems that the storm is starting back up again, and the two men are trying to get to Ghost Ranch.  Ghost Ranch is home to a massive deposit of Coelophysis (one of the earliest dinosaurs), making it a paleontological mother load.

The dad, and his son, who we have identified as the titular Jonathan Park, are on a dinosaur dig, and have just swerved to avoid a tree.  This is riveting, folks.  What will happen?  Stay tuned to find out!  Ah, it looks like the dad, who I think is Kendall Parks, is looking for fossils at Ghost Ranch to prove Noah’s Flood.  That’s a classic argument right there: fossils formed in the Flood.  It sounds reasonable, until you realize that getting hit by an eighty-foot wall of water traveling at the speed of a car would probably be the same thing as jumping out of a three-story building onto hard cement.  It would be a mess, even if you were just a skeleton.

Okay, from what I can gather, Kendall, looking up a hill for a ranch, has just either A) fallen down said hill or B) fallen into a sinkhole.  Either way, this is proving my whole modern-day Indiana Jones theory.  Meanwhile, just a few miles away, another family is fighting a battle of their own.  Geez, who’d be out and about in this kind of weather, other than YECs who are trying to prove something that never happened.  A girl named Jessie has just arrived at home, while her mother (not her father, Vision Forum is too sexist for that) prepares to evacuate due to flooding.

Okay, over the radio, it is announced that the US Army Corps of Engineers is evacuating the county that Jessie and her family live in.  Also, the dad, Jim, just came home (Lucy, I’m-why are we packing hand powered flashlights and saltine crackers?  Is this some kind of joke?).  As we speak, Jonathan has made contact with his dad down the sinkhole.  He’s okay, which is good, considering that this is so much fun that I just can’t stop!  He’s trapped in some kind of cave.

Jonathan: I’m glad you’re alright!

Yeah, kid, but he’s STILL trapped in a sinkhole!  How much longer will he be alright?  Okay, Kendall told Jonathan to go get some rope and a flashlight.  They’re going to spend the night.  Well, if he has some rope, why doesn’t he use it and get out of there?  I swear, the logic on this show is twisted.  I mean, Jessie’s dad was actually DRIVING when a flash flood was inevitable?  Duh!  Danger!  And now, due to really spotty connection out here in the middle of nowhere, Jonathan has lost contact with his mother.  Maybe she’ll send help, maybe she’ll find them, but it’ll be too late, considering that a sinkhole in a rainstorm is like a glass in the middle of a shower-it fills up fast.

Flip back to Jessie’s life!  His dad is struggling to make the car go faster, even though there are so many cop cars behind them it’s like a scene from Thelma And Louise.  Actually, that cop car joke was courtesy of by MST3K-set brain, not part of the show.  And now one of the girls is asking if God will take care of them.  Well, it’s about time we saw some references to Him, now, wasn’t it?  The mom replies by saying of course, he always has.  Wait, screw that, they’re swerving to avoid-possibly a dog, though since this is a radio drama, I can’t tell.  Oh, wait, it was a falling tree.  And now, of course, they’re trapped on the highway with no chainsaw to get through this arboreal obstacle.  Again, twisted logic!

Oh, and now, flip back to Jonathan and Kendall, who are down in the sinkhole warming their hands by a toasty fire-hey, wait a minute!  You’re in a moist cave, in the middle of a rainstorm.  I guess Kendall’s dad was Les Stroud or something.  And now the two are talking about how, if Kendall had found just a single skull, people could read about scientific evidence for the flood of the Bible.  Do you mean to tell me that you are IGNORING the fact that we found dozens of Triassic fossils in that formation, yet it convinced no mainstream scientific journals of Flood evidence, yet I’m sure the creationist journals are still buzzing about it.  So, naturally, Kendall and Jonathan do the natural think anyone would do if they were trapped in a cave with no way out-they pray.  Actually, when Jonathan says “Amen”, he sounds just the slightest hint bored.

And this is the climatic “path-crossing scene”.  Jessie’s family meets the Parks, even though the two are divided by about twenty feet of open cave.  And now, the two families, and Jessie’s dog, Shadow, are down in the cave around the logic-defying flames.  Jim introduces himself and his wife as Jim and Martha Brenan.  They also introduce Jessie as Jessica, and tell the Park men that they have a four-year-old, Ryan, but he’s staying at their grandma’s tonight.  Hmmm… cookies at grandma’s, or stuck in a sinkhole.  Tough call.  Oh, wait, I have just detected more evidence of Vision Forum’s sexism-Jonathan says, when Jessie wants to explore the cave with Shadow, that she’s a girl, and she’ll need someone else to go along with her.  As the two amateur spelunkers head off to certain doom, the parents chat, as parents will do that.

Flip to Jonathan and Jessie as they explore the hidden cave!  They’re finding lots of neat stuff, and frankly, I’m a little jealous.  The two kids are wondering whether or not there are dinosaur fossils in this cave.  What an exciting thought, but what are the odds?  And now, Jonathan is talking to Jessie about Coelophysis.  In case you’re wondering, this dinosaur isn’t the most impressive of the bunch, unless you count age.  This guy could out-bore Methuselah by a long shot.  Here’s a fossil reconstruction at a Denver museum:

Coelophysis

And now, it seems they’ve lost Shadow.  Oh, but wait, he went down that tunnel!  Let’s see where it goes!  And now, Jonathan is saying that his dad used to be a very respected paleontologist, until he started thinking that dinosaurs and the fossil record just don’t fit with the evolutionary timeline.  I’m not sure finding gradual fossils that transition into different kinds of animals doesn’t fit with evolution, but let’s see where this goes.  Jessie says that the Bible actually tells of creatures that looked like dinosaurs.  She must mean Behemoth and Leviathan, from the Book of Job.  I haven’t actually read it, but the whole “tail like a cedar thing” could mean almost anything!  Just because sauropod dinosaurs also had thick, tree-like tails doesn’t mean that Behemoth was one.  In fact, calling Behemoth a dinosaur is like calling Goliath a:

Giant Ground Sloth

Which we all know is totally dumb, but it’s a reasonable comparison!  For more information, check out here and here, though the first link does have a quick remark that may not be appropriate for young children.  Back to our regularly scheduled spelunking expedition.  Jonathan is saying that his dad found evidence that many dinosaurs may have been drowned, which Jessie takes to mean as a reference to Noah’s Flood.  But it’s entirely possible that a dinosaur could have drank poisoned water, or died along the banks of a river, or was killed by a seagoing reptile like Mosasaurus, or just plain drowned.  But the claim persists, despite responses galore.

Now Jonathan is saying that his dad’s colleagues, who “believe” in evolution (note that “believe” is not the proper term, rather “support”), didn’t believe in Noah’s Flood.  And we’re back with the parents, who are chatting about similar discoveries, massive graveyards of fossils mixed in with clams.  Kendall found that hard to believe, but I don’t.  Clams aren’t a problem, since there are such things as freshwater bivalves.  But the colleagues didn’t like that, and started talking behind his back.  Maybe they were talking about how the ARGUMENTS were nutty, considering that there are responses to them.  Back to Jonathan and Jessie, who are still following Shadow down the tunnel.  They’ve found themselves in a huge cave, but what secrets does it hold?  Bats, evidently.  And now Jessie’s in mortal danger, likely hanging by only her fingers from a steep drop down to, well, who knows where?  This is concrete proof of my modern-day Indiana Jones theory.  And cut to commercial, and we’re back to certain doom!

Jonathan has given Jessie one end of a rope, and has given Shadow the end of another, resulting in a lifesaving tug-of-war!  What a plan!  What a kid!  What a buff dog, to be holding all that!  Anyway, Jessie is safe, and this just goes to show that Vision Forum is obviously enforcing these gender stereotypes.  Wait, cut to what I think may be Homer Simpson watching Krusty the Clown cartoons in his nuclear plant office.  Now, his boss wants to watch the news.  It seems that he wants to exploit the Brenans’ ruined crops to buy low and sell high, to make a fortune and pay off a fellow criminal before he sends thugs after them.  I can’t wait for this dude to “release the hounds”.

Back to Jonathan and Jessie.  Jonathan says that one day, while his friend Mark was over for dinner, his dad came home with news that-dun dun dun-he’d been fired, because he opposed evolution.  Whoa whoa whoa, wait wait wait, FIRED?  This is taking things a little too far, this is propaganda!  Us folks in the field of evolutionary biology (or budding folks, considering that I’m only eleven-the truth comes out!) would probably get into a lively debate with this guy, but getting him fired?  We would never do such a thing!  What we would do is, we would ask him to spill all his evidence, and show him that his conclusions just don’t stand up to scientific rigor and basic logic!  Never FIRE!  Yowza!  And now Mark, having heard that insanity runs in the family, leaves Jonathan in his time of need.  This is too harsh to be realistic, but I’m not calling this off just because I’m deeply offended.

Now Jonathan is telling the second leg of the story, and how he and the family moved to Santa Fe and lived with his grandpa for a while.  Not long after, Kendall repented, and Jonathan soon after.  He didn’t support the idea that he came from apes anyway.  By the way, that whole ape-to-man thing is an urban legend.  What really happened is that a primitive ancestor, sort of like a prehistoric chimpanzee, split into two different mutations-hominids, ape-man creatures that eventually became humans, and regular apes, like gorillas and orangutans.  That’s what common descent means: we’re in the same family, but we had a common ancestor.  That leaves the creationist question “Why are there still apes around” looking pretty stupid, doesn’t it?  Wait, Jessie’s saying that there’s something over there.  Where?  Right over there!

It looks like some type of animal skull, and the parents are coming over to see what all the fuss is about.  It’s a dinosaur skull!  A Coelophysis, to be precise.  But dinosaurs shouldn’t be found in caves.  And there’s a crack in the cave, which gives Kendall an idea about how the dinosaur came here.  But rescue helicopters are coming, and Jim is saying that if he comes out, Kendall has his permission to come back to excavate it, since the cave is technically on Brenan property.  Three days later, there’s a knock at the door.  Jim answers, and it’s a man named Simon.  It’s the guy from back at the nuclear plant of evil!  He wants to buy land, though Jim can’t remember him wanting to sell any in the first place.  He says that he’s willing to buy it to help them, a real platypus, er, philanthropist.  Blame the Homer dude, Marvin.  Simon wants to buy the land for a third of the place’s worth, which has Jim kind of ticked off.  Admittedly, though, the Brenan property is barely worth a fourth of it’s original cost, and the bank is threatening foreclosure.  I’d take what I could get there, Jim.

Jim very nearly gives away the secret of the hidden cave, but stops himself.  That doesn’t stop Simon from questioning him, though.  After a fierce argument, Simon and his partners leave.  But they’ve heard enough.  They know something’s up, and they aren’t going to give up so easily.

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