Tuesday, August 18, 2009

God and Dinosaurs

I am terribly confused. If someone could explain this one to me, I would much appreciate it.

I recently read about a book called Idiot America, which asks "how a country founded on intellectual curiosity has somehow deteriorated into a nation of simpletons." According to Goodreads, the author had a "defining moment" at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, where he saw a dinosaur with a saddle and a museum proprietor who said, "We are taking the dinosaurs back from the Evolutionists!"

Now, this obviously leads to all sorts of questions. Not only "Why does anyone feel the need for a Creation Museum?" but also "HOW does one make a Creation Museum?" seeing as a museum is generally put together by gathering information and historical items .... however, these questions can probably be answered by a visit to the Creation Museum next time I am in Kentucky, so I won't burden you with them here.

The question about which I am terribly confused, with which I would like your assistance, is the following: when and why did it become anyone's Christian duty to insist that dinosaurs and humans lived together?

I was raised to be Christian and I do not remember anyone ever telling me anything other than that there used to be dinosaurs, they died out long before humans, and you can see some pretend ones on the train at Disneyland. I mean, hello, what kid didn't go digging once or twice in her backyard for dinosaur fossils?

So, I'm confused. Now, I do know that there are people out there who firmly believe in a false dichotomy between Evolution versus Creation. These people, big believers in polarizing issues, have pretty much made this invented debate a part of the fabric of our society. I never used to understand, when I contemplated the whole God-created-Adam story, just exactly how it supposedly conflicted with Darwin's theory. I mean, have people (on "both" "sides") read the creation accounts in Genesis? It's all kinds of flowery literature, like any society's creation myths, with lines like, "God raised up man out of the dust of the earth" and stuff. So, that could be a very poetic way to describe the process of life evolving into human beings.

I can see where some logical people might have an issue with the line if the "God" part implies a personage, and they wonder on what basis anyone believes in an omnipotent personage, and so on. But the other way? Why would anyone who thinks there's a God creating life not think that building species up out of the dust of the earth is a perfectly fine way to do so? I never understood their issues.

All that aside, however, this dinosaur-human co-existence thing is really throwing me. I have heard of the idea of a Bible-believer wondering if dinosaurs existed at all, since they are not mentioned in the Bible. That just shows a remarkably limited view and lack of comprehension of anything. I mean, even if you use the Bible as your spiritual guide, where does it say it's the only account of history? Uh, that's right nowhere. That would be like taking your geometry book and only your geometry book to ever learn math, ever. What about algebra? What about addition? It's stupid to say that only one book is all you need, and as someone who loves to read and write I am personally offended by the notion.

But when did questioning dinosaurs and questioning evolution, however silly those things are separately, however easy they are to dismiss separately, combine into an idea that dinosaurs existed at the same time as humans? What does that even mean? Like, I read where someone was arguing there must have been dinosaurs on the ark with Noah. But why? Again, it doesn't make sense even in terms of their own beliefs. Even if you thought the Bible was the literal and only history of all early humankind, why wouldn't you think the dinosaurs just missed the boat?

So, to sum up: Even if someone for whatever absurd reason thinks that evolution is a bad thing to mention, and also thinks that a father figure created humans the way a painter creates a portrait (we'll save the using-what-materials question for another day), the question remains what on earth does that have to do with humans and dinosaurs living together?

Please advise.


Megan said...

It hurts my head to think about fundamentalist viewpoints on creation, so I just want to throw out there that if you do end up in Kentucky to visit that thing, call me. I will so drive down for that.

Kim Diaz said...

According to these people, the universe is only 6000 years old. These people are obsessed with time and its measurement. I don't know why that is - perhaps time lends a sense of physical concreteness, a false sense of security to these beliefs. Time is relative - a day on the planet Mercury is only 8 (Earth) hours long, I think. Wouldn't God also have created that planet and hence that length of a "day" ? Never mind I believe Jupiter, it is that takes several Earth days to do one rotation. Apparently even this is far too flexible an idea of time for these rigid mentalities. I'm trying to feel sorry for them.

linda said...

But I swear this used to be two separate things! There were people who believed "The Universe" was 6000 years "old" ... born of what born of what born of what, I ask ... and then there were people who questioned why the Bible doesn't mention dinosaurs. When did people start saying humans hung out with dinosaurs? That's what I'm trying to get at. I totally missed this development in the Stupidity Department.

Kim Diaz said...

I think if the bible doesn't mention dinosaurs, then a creationist might want to leave them out. But what do they say to their children? How can you deny them Jurassic Park? Or the Flintstones? Maybe that's where this is from. Dinosaur with a saddle? Beats the shit out of me, honestly.

KneuroKnut said...

From what I understand it is an attempt to reconcile the obvious existence of dinosaurs with the fact that God created humans within a few days of creating earth (6,000 years ago of course) so they had to have lived together for both stories to hold true. If only they gave out medals for mental gymnastics.

KneuroKnut said...

And just to clarify - by saying "From what I understand" I do not mean to say that I understand anything. At all. Not even a little bit.

linda said...

OK, this is starting to "make sense" to me, in that it's the whole "days" thing. I was thinking more about the age-of-the-universe problem, but if it's the whole first day/sixth day or whatever, I see where if they tried to insert dinosaurs before humans there wouldn't be enough time unless the dinosaurs lived for only a day.

There's still one thing I don't understand ("ONE thing?!"): Christianity is totally into symbolism and even, kind of, poetry. Hymns and such. The cross - hello, symbol. Rock of ages, they are big into rock symbolism. WHY CAN'T THEY look at the "days" as a metaphor? OF ALL the things in the Bible that strike me as particularly not literal, the days are so...obviously poetic, I guess. Wtf?!