TOM SAYS: I am confused when the Bible talks about God creating the world in 7 days but there is no evidence of humans living with dinosaurs.
THE RELIGION GUY ANSWERS:
This problem arises if “creationism” controls Bible interpretation. That term has come to identify those Protestants whose strictly literal reading of the Bible’s Book of Genesis requires a “young earth.” That is, if God created the cosmos and all species 10,000 years ago at most, then humanity and dinosaurs must have lived at the same time.
“Creationism” is a common but misleading label because multitudes who worship God as the creator of all nature also accept standard geology’s vastly longer time frame, based on radiometric and other dating techniques of the past two centuries. By this reckoning, dinosaurs first inhabited Earth some 230 million years ago and became extinct 65.5 million years ago, eons before humanity appeared. The most recent report last November said a dinosaur find in southwestern Alberta, Canada, may be 80 million years old.
“Old earth creationists” believe scientists’ long chronology readily fits with faithfulness to the Bible’s account of origins, but criticize Darwin’s theory of evolution. A third camp of self-identified Bible believers embraces both an old earth and “theistic evolution,” seeing Darwin’s scenario as God’s method of forming species while opposing contentions that evolution was random and without purpose or a Creator. This three-sided debate mostly occurs among conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Protestants.
Modern-day Jews, Catholics, and most Protestants accept the planet’s long chronology. In fact, during the century after Darwin so did most evangelicals, fundamentalists, and biblical “inerrantists,” even William Jennings Bryan of “Monkey Trial” fame. There’s more detail in The Religion Guy’s July 28 “Religion Q and A” item on young earthism: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionqada/2014/07/why-do-some-protestants-teach-a-young-earth-chronology/.
Young earthers long argued there was proof of human footprints alongside the dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park along the Paluxy River in Texas. Though some bitter-enders still say that, the claim is widely viewed as equivalent to the celebrated Piltdown Man hoax. An analyst with the hardline Answers in Genesis, known for its Creation Museum in Kentucky, considers the evidence “ambiguous” so creationists shouldn’t rely on it.
Well, then, how do young earthers explain why there’s no fossil evidence of human remains alongside dinosaur remains? Writing for Answers in Genesis, mechanical engineer Bodie Hodge admits human and dinosaur fossils are “yet to be found” within the same geological layers. He argues that fossilization was rare, “especially of humans who are very mobile,” and the human population prior to Noah’s flood was small, perhaps hundreds of thousands. He also figures humans would have avoided living alongside such scary beasts. Thus “it is very easy for creatures to live at the same time on earth but never even cross paths” and it’s plausible the two species overlapped though we lack evidence.
But then there’s the highly technical issue of dating methods, which the organization addresses at http://answersingenesis.org. Further resources: “Old earthers” are prominent among professionals in the American Scientific Affiliation who affirm “the divine inspiration, trustworthiness, and authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct.” ASA articles archive: http://network.asa3.org/?page=PSCF. Biblical arguments for “theistic evolution” are posted at http://biologos.org.
Hodge begins his discussion by taking aim at “non-Christians and compromised Christians” who embrace scientists’ vast time frame, saying they reject “the plain reading of Genesis.” To him, the “fundamental debate” is whether “we start with the Bible” or with “the changing theories of imperfect man” found in mainstream science. However, many conservative theologians believe the Bible teaches that truth comes to us both from “special revelation” (the Bible itself) and “general revelation” (the evidence in nature), and since God is the author of both they cannot be in conflict. Therefore, the argument runs, if facts firmly established by science seem to contradict the Bible then our interpretation of Scripture must be mistaken. A classic example is the medieval church’s belief based on the Bible that the sun revolves around the earth, which Catholic astronomers disproved in the 16th and 17th Centuries.