Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Schism in Evolutionary Theory Opens Creationist Opportunity


Evolutionary biology is experiencing its most serious division over the structure of evolutionary theory since the development of the Modern Synthesis nearly 100 years ago. Last November, Great Britain’s prestigious Royal Society (The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge) held a conference to deliberate if evolutionary theory needs to be “extended” or even renovated to accommodate fresh ideas from new discoveries. The article Schism and Synthesis at the Royal Society in the current issue of Trends in Ecology & Evolution by a conference organizer explains why “the discussion witnessed little meeting of minds.”1
The vital importance of this conference was framed in the science journal Nature in a point-counterpoint-style article, “Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?”2 They note that “researchers are divided over what processes should be considered fundamental.” A division over basic processes at the core of any theory suggests that the theory is incomplete, based on misleading research, or broken.
One researcher advocating for a major revision in evolutionary theory (modestly labeled the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, or EES) is Kevin Laland of the University of St. Andrews. He said that “the data supporting our position gets stronger every day. Yet the mere mention of the EES often evokes an emotional, even hostile, reaction among evolutionary biologists. Too often, vital discussions descend into acrimony, with accusations of muddle or misrepresentation.”2 The bitterness, per Laland, is generated since “this is no storm in an academic tearoom, it is a struggle for the very soul of the discipline.”
The Debate: What Causes Adaptive Innovations?
Another scientist supporting the EES, Gerd Muller of the University of Vienna, had previously stated that one value of the extension would overcome the “restrictions” of “externalism.”3 Externalism is principally a way to think about how organisms are formed. Externalists see an organism’s traits as imposed on it by external conditions.4 These conditions are designated as “selective pressures.” These “pressures” are essentially environmental problems “driving” the adaptation of organisms to produce some trait or traits to overcome the problem. In contrast, most researchers promoting the EES would say that traits which overcome problems are, obviously, due to an organism’s internal systems—and therefore where research should primarily focus.
For example, one Royal Society conference topic was embryonic development. The internalist EES faction contends that, for some organisms, specific traits “could be predicted with knowledge of their mechanisms of development. For these biologists, a bias in development that produces some morphologies more readily than others can shape the course of adaptive evolution. Douglas Futuyma, by contrast, presented a more traditional standpoint in attributing the adaptive characteristics of organisms solely to selection….”5
Internalists also view organisms as possessing a repertoire of traits which are “plastic” enough over multiple generations to enable them to actively explore and fill new niches, rather than be passively driven by selective outside pressures. Thus, another area of departure was over developmental plasticity “which can be viewed as a genetically specified reaction norm fashioned by past selection, and/or as being reliant on more open-ended (e.g., exploratory) developmental processes that are propagated across generations through epigenetic mechanisms.”6
This sharp division at the Royal Society also highlights the completely different approaches to identifying causality for traits. Internalists attempted to describe observable mechanisms. Externalists repeatedly invoked natural selection, prompting one science reporter in attendance to state that “the event would have benefited from someone in the wings with a hook restraining speakers who insisted on relying on the mantra of natural selection to fill in the blanks of their science. Repeated references to the term became almost comical. Sir Patrick Bateson finally came to the rescue, cautioning against overuse of the ‘metaphor,’ saying further that ‘natural selection is not an agent.’”7 Laland also writes that the anthropologist and archaeologist attendees welcomed “the plasticity-first hypothesis” as “vital to their work. For these social scientists, standard gene-centric selectionist accounts provided less satisfactory explanations.”
Different Interpretations of the Same Data
Interestingly, these deep divisions at the Royal Society illustrate an important point that Creationists have been making for years. Evolutionists often claim they have a mountain of data to support their position while creationists have virtually none. Creationists contend they possess the very same data, but interpret it quite differently. Similarly, Laland, who comes from the minority position at the Royal Society, also observed, “This tension was manifest in the discussions where different interpretations of the same findings were voiced…. The conference brought home a key point—these debates are not about data but rather about how findings are interpreted and understood.” So, it seems the debate generally isn’t over which side has data, but is about the best explanation of that data.
Even though evolutionists engage in acrimonious disputes over how evolution could happen, they still unite in the common belief that it did. In their minds, evolution is a fact. “There were points of agreement,” Laland reassures readers. “All parties emphasized that evolutionary biology is a vigorous and progressive field of science. To the chagrin of creationists and some journalists hoping for a fight, no calls for revolution were heard.”
Creationist Theory Better Explains the Data
Creationists have some points of agreement with advocates for the EES. First, we would agree that the Modern Synthesis which proposes that random genetic mutations are “acted on” by progressive iterations of a struggle to survive has some fundamental problems. Problems not only in the sufficiency of those mechanisms to account for the diversity of life, but a basic conceptual problem with the projection of volition onto nature to exercise “agency” as a causal substitute for areas where the handiwork of a real intelligent agent would normally be understood.
We could also agree with Laland that along with the basic research of biologic systems “at least as important are different notions of how the scientific process works, or ought to work. Those speakers at the meeting pushing for change tend to emphasize the role of conceptual frameworks in shaping what questions are asked, what data are collected, and what factors are viewed as causally important.”
The mechanisms discussed at the Royal Society tend to confirm design-based creationist theory that emphasizes active, problem-solving organisms capable of self-adjusting to fill dynamic environments. Creationist theory predicts that if organisms were designed with internal capabilities to continuously track environmental changes then developmental bias and plasticity, then epigenetic mechanisms and many other mechanisms would enable these organisms to fill new niches. Tracking conditions and filling new environments would happen quickly—within the lifetime of a parent—and enhance the ability of offspring to do the same.
In fact, the creationist model of Continuous Environmental Tracking would enable creationists to 1) fully describe, or 2) predict currently unidentified, system elements that a design-based model would indicate are essential to proper function. Since even EES proponents have evolutionary mindsets and are often trapped in naturalistic research programs, they overlook blatantly obvious key system elements that ought to be described or, if unidentified, ought to be investigated.
For instance, developmental bias is only the output response of a system having at least three parts. Though rarely described or even identified in evolutionary literature, an organism must first have a sensor to identify the presence of specific events or changes in its environment; then it needs a corresponding signal to an if-then logic center to direct the third part, the appropriate developmental bias as a response.
Evolutionary theory is in a “struggle for the very soul of the discipline” due to the discovery of pervasive internalmechanisms facilitating self-adjustments…that clearly don’t fit into current theory that posits passive creatures shaped by external conditions. But those mechanisms confirm a model that expects active, problem-solving creatures designed to track changing conditions to “fill the earth” showcasing the wisdom of their Creator—the Lord Jesus Christ.
Evolutionists have had over 150 years to fully develop and fine tune their theory, but they are bitterly fighting over its most fundamental processes. Time and data are on the creationists’ side.
  1. Laland, K. N. 2017. Schism and Synthesis at the Royal Society. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 32 (5): 316–317.
  2. Laland, K. et al. 2014. Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? Nature. 514 (7521): 161–164.
  3. Muller, G. B. and M. Pigliucci. 2010. Evolution: The Extended Synthesis. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 13.
  4. Denton, M. J. 2013. The Types: A Persistent Structuralist Challenge to Darwinian Pan-Selectionism. BIO-Complexity. 2013 (3): 1–18.
  5. Laland, K. N. Schism and Synthesis at the Royal Society, 316.
  6. Laland, K. N. Schism and Synthesis at the Royal Society, 316.
  7. Mazur, S. Pterosaurs Hijack Royal Society Evo MeetingHuffpost, The Blog. Posted on November 21, 2016 accessed on April 25, 2017.
*Dr. Guliuzza is ICR’s National Representative. He earned his M.D. from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Public Health from Harvard University, and served in the U.S. Air Force as 28th Bomb Wing Flight Surgeon and Chief of Aerospace Medicine. Dr. Guliuzza is also a registered Professional Engineer.
Image Credit: Copyright © 2017 The Royal Society. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holder.
Article posted on May 18, 2017.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Digging Past the Doubts

by Bryant Wood on ; last featured December 31, 2017
Audio Version
Today most archaeologists claim that no evidence supports the Bible’s claims about many Old Testament events. There is a problem, but it’s not with the evidence.
Have you ever tried to share your faith and heard these ominous words? “But archaeology has disproved the Bible!” If you haven’t, it’s coming soon. As our Western culture increasingly abandons all semblance of Christianity, more and more people think the Bible is just a bunch of myths.
Perhaps you’ve been taught to respond confidently: “Recent discoveries have forced archaeologists to admit the reliability of Old Testament history.” But the answer is much more complicated than that. In fact, most experts are now saying just the opposite. They’ve been looking very hard for evidence of biblical events, but nothing has turned up, they say.
So if you don’t know how to respond to these questions, your gospel presentation could effectively end right there. Answers really do matter.
The short answer is encouraging. Archaeologists have found evidence that supports the Bible, but many times the evidence is ignored because of preconceptions about the Bible’s historicity, or their dates or places are wrong for the biblical events. The longer answer is even more exciting. Any supposed contradictions turn out to be human errors, not Bible errors. Consider five of the most common examples.
  1. Tower of Babel
  2. Sodom & Gomorrah
  3. Israelite Slavery in Egypt
  4. Conquest of Jericho
  5. Conquest of Ai

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

RNA Miracle

'RNA World' Paper Retracted

The whole concept of how life originated is an insurmountable naturalistic hurdle. Life requires DNA, RNA, and protein in an interdependent triad in which each molecule is wholly dependent on the other two to exist. It’s worse than a chicken and egg scenario. Furthermore, since each type of molecule carries and conveys complex encoded information, an intelligent information provider is the only logical cause of this information source. Code implies a coder.
Shortly after the largely unfruitful origin of life research on amino acids by Miller and Urey in the 1950s,1scientist Alex Rich speculated in 1962 that RNA may have been the first biomolecule to spontaneously evolve. That first RNA biomolecule would possibly have both informational and enzymatic properties, thus omitting the original necessity of DNA and proteins.2 This idea slowly gained traction and eventually became more popular in the 1980s with discoveries that some types of RNA were involved in enzymatic-like reactions in the complex processing of RNA transcribed from genes. One of the main researchers in these discoveries was Scott Gilbert who coined the term “RNA World.”3
Since the late 1980s, researchers explored many aspects of the evolutionary possibilities related to RNA being the first biomolecule, but have found nothing but obstacles including no method of spontaneously forming RNA or its nucleotide building blocks. In fact, a secular scientist published a 2012 paper expressing this great frustration titled, “The RNA world hypothesis: the worst theory of the early evolution of life (except for all the others).”4
If we grant the evolutionists a lot of slack and assume that RNA molecules with meaningful biological information could somehow magically burst onto the scene in a chemical milieu favorable to RNA stability and life, there are still many other problems. One of these additional obstacles is how the first RNA molecule could have possibly replicated itself without the aid of protein polymerases. In 2016, research was published that seemed to provide a solution to this dilemma by showing that RNA could be partially replicated without protein enzymes.5 Small chains of amino acids called peptides were used to help keep the products of the replicated short RNAs from binding to each other. Peptides are merely really short versions of proteins, so the scientists essentially cheated and the RNA replication process was not exclusively RNA-based. Nor was it very efficient or reliable. As fate would have it, the famous study also contained some major errors and could not be replicated. Thus, the famous—now infamous—paper had to be retracted. The authors—one of them a Nobel Laureate—later confessed, “In retrospect, we were totally blinded by our belief” and “we were not as careful or rigorous as we should have been.”6
So not only did this so-called RNA World study cheat by using peptides, meaning it really wasn’t just an RNA World, but the research was misinterpreted and unrepeatable. This led to its complete retraction. Even if the study had been a success, the conditions surrounding it were carefully engineered by humans in a state-of-the-art laboratory—a classic case of intelligent design, not an example of purposeless random evolutionary processes.
  1. Thomas, B. 2011. Historic 'Primordial Soup' Study Yields New Data, But Not New AnswersCreation Science Update. Posted on April 25, 2011, accessed January 5, 2017.
  2. Lehman, N. 2015. The RNA World: 4,000,000,050 Years OldLife. 5(4): 1583-1586.
  3. Gilbert, W. 1986. The RNA World. Nature. 319:618.
  4. Bernhardt, H. S. 2012 The RNA world hypothesis: the worst theory of the early evolution of life (except for all the others). Biology Direct. 7:23.
  5. Jia, T. Z. et al. 2016. Oligoarginine peptides slow strand annealing and assist non-enzymatic RNA replication. Nature Chemistry. 8 (10): 915-21. DOI: 10.1038/NCHEM.2551.
  6. Stern, V. 2017. “Definitely embarrassing:” Nobel Laureate retracts non-reproducible paper in Nature journal. Posted on December 5, 2017, accessed January 10, 2018.
*Dr. Jeffrey Tomkins is Director of Life Sciences and earned his Ph.D. in genetics from Clemson University.
Article posted on January 15, 2017.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Beautiful Story

Army atheist yells, ‘God save me’, as shells explode

This article arose from an exchange of information between CMI’s translations facilitator Roger Griffiths and John T. Tolbert, an evangelist working with several language groups in Asia, primarily Vietnamese.
Published: 12 December 2017 (GMT+10)
John and Beverly Tolbert on the mission field. Click for larger view.
John recalls, as a five-year-old, looking up at the sky, and realizing there must be a God. At 17 years, he joined the US Army, which was engaged in the Vietnam War. During basic training, an older colleague, hearing that John believed in God, gave him Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth, which lampoons the Bible. John says, “Not having read the Bible, I fell for it, and became an atheist.”
In March 1969, he arrived in Vietnam and became an interpreter of Vietnamese. That period in his life had a huge impact, because he discovered that when the shells were falling around him and people were getting killed, “I was running for the nearest bunker praying, ‘God save me’!”

Looking for life’s purpose

Honourably discharged in April 1970, John returned to the US and immediately enrolled at the University of Delaware. He was constantly discouraged by the fact that he did not know the purpose of life, or even if it had a purpose. If anyone sat down next to him at a bar, within minutes he would ask, “What do you think the purpose of life is?” No one had a satisfying answer.
John was so turned off by the Vietnam War that he decided to study political science. In the introductory course, he was enamoured with the reasoning and eloquent language of some Supreme Court opinions. Something about ‘truth’ captured his heart and he na├»vely thought the study of law would lead him to the ‘truth’. So, after he received his B.A. in political science, at the age of 24 he decided to go to law school.
John says, “While a law student, I went to a Christmas Eve party. I left it about 2 am, drove out to the countryside, and parked near a big field. I walked out into the field and just stared up at the sky and the blinking stars. It seemed like a cold, lonely universe.” Then, as John thought about God, he began to cry, and called out, “God, I know you are there. Why can’t I know you? Send me a priest to tell me about you.”
Nothing happened. No meteors flashed through the sky. Dejectedly he walked back to his car and drove home. But God had heard that prayer.

John’s ‘priest’ arrives

John began to practise law in Delaware. One day, he was assigned a new client, a church pastor, and so met his ‘priest’. John observed that the pastor always brought a Bible with him, and prayed before making decisions about the case. What surprised John was that the pastor clearly seemed to think that someone was listening at the other end.
John was aware that the Bible taught a six-day creation, which was contrary to everything he had ever been taught. “So in my arrogance, and belief that I was smarter than the pastor, I decided to challenge him. One day when he came to my office, I picked up his Bible and said, ‘How can you believe in the Bible, when it’s wrong in the very first chapter’?”
He smiled, and said, “What do you mean, Mr Tolbert? Evolution?”
John replied, “Yes, evolution. Six-day creation. Noah’s Ark.”
“Come on!” He said, “You’re a lawyer, right?”
John said, “Yes.”
Then, he asked John a question that changed his life. He said, “Do you always form conclusions before you’ve studied both sides of the evidence?”
John was stunned, and said, “Are you saying there is evidence for a sudden creation, and against evolution?”
He said, “Quite a bit. Do you have an open mind?”
John replied, “Yes, I do.”
He said, “Ok. Next week I’ll send you some books written by PhDs in their fields, who don’t believe in evolution. They believe in a sudden creation by God, just as Genesis says.”
Sure enough, the next week, two people from his church brought a stack of books on creation and evolution. One of them was Beverly, whom he would marry three years later. But at that time, he was only interested in seeking ‘truth’.
As John read the books, he says he realized three things:
  1. Evolutionists, when pressed, seemed to admit that there was very little evidence to support their conclusions.
  2. The Genesis account of Creation and the Fall provided a serious, cogent explanation for the existence of the universe, and in many ways accounted for the sometimes horrible world in which we live.
  3. Genesis 3 provided the best explanation he had ever encountered concerning how there could be a ‘good’ God and a ‘terrible’ world.

Checking the sources

One morning in 1980, John took the books to the public library and began looking up the footnotes in the original sources (NatureScienceSmithsonian, etc.). As John put it, “There was no distortion, twisting or misquoting. I slowly pushed my chair back from the table covered with all the original source materials, and said to myself, ‘Evolution is the biggest fraud that has ever been perpetrated upon the world. I have been deceived’.”
John then began to study the Bible, and about two to three months later, got down on his knees in his apartment and said to Jesus: “You are who I have been looking for, for 25 years. I am yours.”
“And that’s how I got saved,” John said. “It was obvious to me that the Scriptures taught a sudden creation in six 24-hour days. As a lawyer, I could reach no other conclusion. I had become convinced of the total reliability and inerrancy of the Bible.”
“I also was convinced that creation was recent,” John said. “Jesus said that ‘from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female’ (Mark 10:6), and He spoke of the blood of all the prophets shed ‘from the foundation of the world’ (Luke 11:50).”

Evangelism and translation

In 1999, a church in Maine called him to be their pastor, and in 2002, John and Beverly commenced eight years service in Vietnam with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE). In 2010, they moved to Taiwan to work among the Vietnamese there.
In addition to this evangelism work, John also leads a team of 10 Vietnamese native-speakers helping to translate the website (an apologetics site that also holds to six-24-hour-day creation) into Vietnamese. He has also helped proofread a portion of the articles translated into Vietnamese and featured on CMI’s website
In 2010, John wrote a 20-page tract called The Ancient Path, which has been printed in Vietnamese, Burmese, Chinese, and Nepali, with over 1,600,000 copies distributed. They are also working on getting it translated into the native tongues of some people groups in Asia that do not yet have the Scriptures translated. It answers the most common objection to Christianity in Asia—that Christianity is a Western religion.
John advises, “Virtually all Asians believe that Christianity is an American or Western religion. The idea of ‘sin’ clashes with ‘karma’, and so we have to deal with Buddhism and Hinduism. Most Asians just think that the universe ‘has always been there’. So in evangelism, starting with ‘the beginning’ is crucial (Luke 24:27).” The Ancient Path does this effectively, with pictures.

Inspired by this article?

John, who has been reading CMI’s articles for years, says this is “because they are so well-reasoned and well-documented”. He says, “There is no reason to abandon the historical and traditional view of Genesis 1. There is an infinitely powerful God who loves us, who created the entire universe in six days and then stopped creating. It’s as simple as that!”
John and Beverly are people who believe what God says, take Him seriously, and respond by using their talents to point others to God. It leaves a question for us: how are we using our talents to do likewise?
If you are fluent in a language other than English, perhaps you could help multiply CMI materials by becoming a voluntary CMI translator. Contact

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Noah and the Nodosaur

Dinosaurs and Dragon Legends

"Look now at the behemoth, which I made along with you; he eats grass like an ox. See now, his strength is in his hips, and his power is in his stomach muscles. He moves his tail like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are tightly knit. His bones are like beams of bronze, his ribs like bars of iron." (Job 40:15-18)
How do dinosaurs fit with the Bible’s history? They certainly existed—their fossil remains are found on every continent. And ancient historical records, including the Bible, chronicle human encounters with large reptiles whose descriptions best match dinosaurs. Could it be that these records show that dinosaurs and humans shared the earth at one time rather than living millions of years apart as evolutionary myth proclaims?
Dinosaurs certainly appear to be extinct now. Those that lived at the time of Noah’s globe-covering Flood drowned or suffocated (except those on board the Ark), as did all land-dwelling creatures with nostrils, according to Genesis 7:22. Fast-moving Flood mud quickly buried some of those outside the Ark. The mud layers covered the creatures’ dead bodies so deeply that scavengers couldn’t reach them, and the mud dried soon enough to preserve their remains as fossils faster than their carcasses could decay. Most, if not all, dinosaur fossil layers also contain fossil water creatures like fish and clams, and this fits the Flood explanation for their demise.
Although researchers have named hundreds of dinosaur species, all of them belong to only about 60 distinct families. These roughly equal the basic dinosaur kinds. That means Noah and his family only had to manage around 120 individual dinosaurs on the Ark. Could they all fit on board a vessel with the dimensions from Genesis 6? No matter how large some dinosaurs grew, the largest dinosaur egg wasn’t much bigger than a football. Even the Argentinosaurus, which could grow into a 120-foot-long monster, could have fit on the Ark if a younger and much smaller representative boarded the vessel. In contrast, many dinosaurs were small even when fully grown. For example, the compsognathids stood about as tall as a turkey. The average dinosaur size was about the same as a bison. One hundred-twenty bison would require a mere corner of one of the Ark’s three spacious decks.
We can infer from the reliable Genesis record that the descendants of the dinosaurs preserved on the Ark traveled from the Middle East to places around the globe. This makes sense when considering the unique post-Flood climate. The Ice Age occurred right after, and because of, the Genesis Flood. At that time the Middle East was tropical and regularly watered by heavy rains. This set up suitable and reachable environments for dinosaurs and other tropical creatures to fill. Various clues—such as dinosaur fossils buried alongside tropical plant fossils and the swampy setting that God describes for behemoth in Job 40—indicate many dinosaurs lived in very wet habitats.
This worldwide dinosaur migration happened only thousands of years ago. Adding the Bible’s time-stamped events from the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. back to the Flood yields a date for the Flood either near 3168 or 2518 B.C., depending on manuscript variations.1 How long did dinosaurs live after the Flood, and why are they not living today?
Although creatures like dinosaurs scattered across Earth’s surface after the Flood, the first few generations of people determined to rebel against God’s command to fill the earth. Instead, they built a tower in Babel and remained in its growing city. In response, God supernaturally compelled them to disperse by confounding their languages. When families eventually migrated to far-flung places, they encountered the dinosaurs that had been there for a few centuries. Writings, depictions, and legends from people groups across the globe memorialized many of those encounters. As humans filled the post-Flood earth, dinosaur numbers would have dwindled due to hunting and loss of habitat as the Ice Age began to wane. The changing climate alone may have ultimately rendered the earth inhospitable to many of these creatures, eventually leading to their extinction. Even so, dinosaurs must have been living at least within the last several centuries, judging by the many tales of human encounters with them.
The sheer number of names given to dragons, or dinosaurs, worldwide builds a strong argument that dragon legends reflect encounters with real creatures. Most languages, either in written or spoken form, have their own unique terms. The word “dragon” here doesn’t necessarily refer to popular images of a bulky, fire-breathing reptile that somehow flies with tiny wings. Rather, it can mean one of the many kinds of post-Flood dinosaurs, or even flying reptiles. Some languages still use words like those shown in this table. Wikipedia lists many more “dragon” names, at least some of which probably refer to actual giant reptiles including dinosaurs.3
Ancient historians described dragons as real, living creatures, listing them right alongside their descriptions of other creatures familiar to today’s readers. For example, in his book Natural History written in approximately 78 A.D., Pliny the Elder wrote that “it is India which produces the largest [elephants] as well as the dragon…and [the dragon] is itself of such enormous size as to envelop the elephants with its folds.”
During that same era, Flavius Philostratus wrote:
The whole of India is girt with dragons of enormous size; for not only the marshes are full of them, but the mountains as well, and there is not a single ridge without one. Now the marsh kind are sluggish in their habits and are thirty cubits long, and they have no crest standing up on their heads.4
Such accounts sprinkle the pages of history. Alexander the Great wrote of a large serpent his army encountered during one of their conquering excursions. The explorer Marco Polo also described one in his logbooks. Although these probably referenced giant snakes and not dragons, they illustrate that giant reptiles once lived where they are long gone today. Bill Cooper’s book After the Flood describes similar accounts from Europe. Cooper relayed a report written in 1484 by England’s first printer, William Caxton, of a singular creature:
About the marches [marshes] of Italy, within a meadow, was sometime a serpent of wonderful and right marvelous greatness, right hideous and fearful. For first he had a head greater than the head of a calf. Secondly, he had a neck greater than the length of an ass, and his body made after the likeness of a dog. And his tail was wonderfully great, thick and long, without comparison to any other.5
The creature thus described matches Job’s behemoth, which had a “tail like a cedar,” lived in a marsh where it ate reeds, and as “the first of the ways of God” was obviously quite large.6
People groups that did not maintain written records nevertheless retain oral traditions of dragon encounters. They describe the dragons’ habitats and habits and provide specific names for the dragons and the long-dead heroes who vanquished them. Towns, hillsides, and ponds across Europe still have old dragon names—such as Drachenfels Castle and the town of Worms in Germany, Grindelwald in Switzerland, Dragon-hoard (near Garsington), plus the Peak District’s Grindleford in England, and many others.
But even more evidence shows that early peoples encountered dinosaurs. Carvings, sculptures, bas reliefs, paintings, mosaics, tapestries, sculptures, pictographs, and petroglyphs all over the world depict dragons, and many of them look like specific dinosaurs. Some of the telling features that help identify these images as dinosaurian include horns, spiky skin flaps along the spine called dermal frills, long tails, long necks, large teeth, and, perhaps most importantly, legs that went straight down from the body. Today’s walking reptiles like crocodiles and lizards have legs that extend out from the sides of the body, then angle down to the ground at the elbows or knees. Dinosaur reptiles’ legs extended down, just as dozens of genuine, ancient depictions show.
Evolutionists assert that such dinosaur-looking artifacts are fakes. However, this objection doesn’t result from a rigorous analysis of the data. Instead, it stems from an argument that goes like this: “Dinosaurs died millions of years before man evolved, making it impossible for ancient men to know what dinosaurs looked like. Therefore, this artifact must be a fraud.” This kind of argument takes as true the very evolutionary history that the artifacts challenge. Ignoring evidence often leads to wrong conclusions.
The late cosmologist and atheist Carl Sagan considered the historical evidence for dragons a serious enough threat to evolutionary history that he tried to explain them in his 1977 book The Dragons of Eden. In it, he speculated that unknown human ancestor primates may have encountered dinosaurs millions of years ago. Supposedly, the “memories” of those terrifying encounters so deeply traumatized those primates that they left indelible, heritable stamps in their genes. Eons later, ancient ape-like human descendants drew dinosaur look-alike pictures from those inherited memories. But no scientific evidence whatsoever suggests that memories can be genetically inherited! Knowing this, many scientists at the time shunned Sagan’s unscientific speculation. But it is equally unscientific for those scientists to assert that myriad dragon legends are all fraudulent without even investigating the historical evidence.
If the Bible is correct that representatives of all land-dwelling, air-breathing creatures were on the Ark, and if it is correct in describing an Ice Age dinosaur in the book of Job, then it makes sense to infer that people encountered (and rid themselves of) the threatening and fearsome reptiles during the centuries after the Flood. They left us dragon legends—written, spoken, painted, and carved—from virtually every ancient culture. Genuine dinosaur encounters best explain the sheer number of dragon descriptions and their similarities across space and time.
  1. Thomas, B. 2017. Two date range options for Noah’s Flood. Journal of Creation. 31 (1): 120-127.
  2. Thomas, B. 2010. Oblivious to the obvious: dragons lived with American Indians. A review of Fossil Legends of the First Americans by Adrienne Mayor. Journal of Creation. 24 (1): 32-34.
  3. List of dragons in mythology and folklore. Wikipedia. Accessed August 1, 2012.
  4. Flavius Philostratus (c170-c247 A.D.). 1912. The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, volume I, book III. F. C. Conybeare, trans. New York: Macmillan Co., 243-247.
  5. Caxton, W. M. 1484. Aesop. Folio 138. Cited in Cooper, W. 1995. After the Flood. Chichester, UK: New Wine Press.
  6. Job 40:15-24.
Adapted from “Dinosaurs and Dragon Legends” in Creation Basics & Beyond: An In-Depth Look at Science, Origins, and Evolution.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his M.S. in biotechnology from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Cite this article: Brian Thomas, M.S. 2017. Dinosaurs and Dragon LegendsActs & Facts. 46 (7)