The devil put dinosaurs here


(* there is no Alice in Chains without Layne Staley. Don't do drugs, kids.)

This post is going to investigate one of the arguments made by Dr. Arthur A. Eggert in an article entitled "Genesis 1 and Science" published in the Wisconsin Lutheran Quarterly, Vol 117, No. 4 (Fall 2020). As this article is subject to copyright, I will not reproduce it in full, but I'll excerpt a few paragraphs under fair-use.

Overall the article is a fair articulation of the Lutheran young-earth-creationist (but I repeat myself) position with a number of "Science Background Notes" which pull in information regarding radiation, tectonic plates and such.

The only thing I quibble with (well, ok there's two things, the other being that he doesn't capitalize pronouns referring to God) is his explanation of the fossil record. Quoting his "Science Background Note 11": 

"To scientists, soil and fossils are closely related. Each of them is the product of the death of plants and/or animals. Fossils are the remains of once living plants and animals that have gone through a fossilization process since their deaths. Soil is the remains of once living plants and animals that have not gone through a fossilization process since their deaths. Both are normally a product of death and decay. On the one hand, if the Lord created soil without having it go through the death-and-decay process, then there is no reason that he could not have created fossils in the same manner. Scientifically, there is no difference."

Emphasis mine. Note how he takes the hermeneutic of science in interpreting how God may have acted. Since in the natural course of events soil and fossils are created in tandem, God could have done that, because science says so.

He's paralleling the fedora-wearing atheist argument against carbon dating: "well carbon dating says this rock is 2 million years, take that Christian!" Replies the big-brain Wojack "God made things with age." True enough - the garden of Eden was populated with mature fruit-bearing trees and sexually fruitful creatures including Adam and Eve. But it doesn't mean God needs to emulate an evolutionary process showing millions or billions of years of soil development, in lieu of ... just making soil. And I think there is a better argument regarding carbon dating.

If the earth was created for the crown of His creation, man, I think we need to be careful with this line of reasoning. If 'these words are written that we may believe' and if 'the skies declare the work of His hands' we must believe Scripture was not written to deceive, and likewise neither was nature. 

"If the Lord created soil as if it were the remains of dead plants and animals, could he not have created fossils in the same manner? We can hardly claim that God is deceiving us if he did this because he never told us to look for an analyze fossils..."

The problem is that when God said that it was all very good, nothing died. Death was not a part of the creation. We have no idea how soil works in the New Earth after the Resurrection, but it will not depend on death. Why would God put signs of death into a creation that knew not death until man sinned?

"Moreover, God might not have made the fossils as part of his creation, but he might have instead discontinued various of his kids, fossilized them, and buried them any time between the creation and when people first started digging them up."

And this is where I get to the argument that 'the Devil put dinosaurs here.' It's reasonable in a sense to think that Satan, the great deceiver of mankind, may have been given liberty by God to deceive men in such a fashion. Satan was given specific liberties to test Job, Paul tells us that false religions are the worship of demons; it's not ridiculous to think that if we find something in the fallen nature that would lead us away from God or pose a challenge to a Christian worldview that the source was not-God. (Personally, I don't believe this. But it's more reasonable than supposing God chose to invent and kill off creation and create fossils simply because He could...)

There's a philosophical argument that in theory the entire universe could have been instantiated ten seconds ago by the mind of God and we'd never know because we were created with implanted continuous memories that are congruous with our friends and neighbors, and processes are in motion in work and nature such that we can't tell our past didn't really occur. But no Christian can abide by this because if that is a case Scripture is a lie. Jesus didn't die in the flesh for our sins. God did not create the world in the way He laid out in the Bible. It's a false narrative and our faith is useless; we are dead in our sins.

I think we can make a similar argument here - God would not kill off species and plant fossils post-Creation for the sake of doing so because it's a false narrative. 

We won't know this side of heaven, but I think a much better explanation for fossils and possibly oil fields and the killing off of the dinosaurs and quite frankly a lot of other natural phenomenon including carbon dating is found in the flood. While none of us can perfectly look back in time and discern history, unlike most events the global flood was truly a one-way door. Were the reserves of rain in the sky and water in the deep physical water created and distributed on days 1-4 of creation? Or did God create them ex nihilo during the flood? I don't think the Bible gives a clear answer. I like to think it was there, and that the tectonic plates were how the water found its way up and the earth likely sunk its way down. I like the idea that prior to the flood there was a dense mist overhead that supported large animals like dinosaurs, shielding radiation and providing a moist and warm environment. And because carbon dating is dependent on the interaction of cosmic rays with atmospheric nitrogen, if the atmosphere was substantially different prior to the flood, carbon dating past the flood is impossible.

I don't think the devil put dinosaurs bones here, but I don't think God did either, except through the natural process of the flood.