Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Write-Up: Dinosaurs, by Dr. Tim Clarey

Dr. Tim Clarey.  Dinosaurs, Marvels of God’s Design: The Science of the Biblical Account.  Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2015.  See here to buy the book.

Tim Clarey is a young earth creationist, who serves at the Institute for Creation Research.  According to his profile at the ICR’s web site, he has a Ph.D. in Geology from Western Michigan University.  He was also an exploration geologist for Chevron, and he taught geo-science at Delta College in Michigan.

Clarey presents a young earth creationist perspective on dinosaurs.  This perspective is that God created the dinosaurs on Day 6 of creation, when God created the other land animals (Genesis 1).  According to Clarey, this means that the dinosaurs were on earth thousands of years ago, not millions, and Clarey challenges the reliability of scientific dating methods that point to an older age for the dinosaurs.  Clarey believes that all of the dinosaurs were originally vegetarian, and that the carnivorous ones became carnivorous only after the Fall of Adam and Eve; these dinosaurs had a vegetarian diet on Noah’s Ark, however.  For Clarey, the dinosaur fossils were the result of the catastrophic Flood in the time of Noah, and this accounts for phenomena better than uniformitarian and evolutionary explanations.  According to Clarey, Noah took some dinosaurs onto the Ark, and Noah was able to fit them on the Ark because the average size of dinosaurs was about the size of a bison, and Noah took the bigger ones onto the Ark before they hit their growth spurt; the dinosaurs on the Ark, in short, were not huge, so they could fit.  For Clarey, humans and dinosaurs inhabited the earth at the same time, and this is evidenced by stories about dragons and representations of creatures that look like dinosaurs.  Clarey believes that dinosaurs became extinct after the Flood: before the Flood, Clarey argues, there was a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that suited the cold-blooded dinosaurs, but the environment was not as warm after the Flood.  Clarey also criticizes evolution in the book: he states that there is no evidence of transitional fossils when it comes to dinosaurs, and he disputes the idea that dinosaurs evolved into birds.

That is Clarey’s perspective.  Does he try to support it?  He does.  He argues that organic material found in dinosaur bones, and carbon-14 dating, indicates that the dinosaurs are thousands, not millions, of years old, since organic material would not last for millions of years.  He believes that phenomena demonstrated in the fossil record—-animals dying suddenly (and at various stages of life), dinosaurs being mixed with marine creatures, footprints indicating that dinosaurs were fleeing from something, and fossils of herds found together, etc.—-are consistent with a catastrophic Flood.  In arguing against the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs, Clarey notes differences in the breathing apparatus between birds and dinosaurs, and Clarey also states that “Birds with real feathers are found in rocks much deeper and buried before the most birdlike dinosaurs” (page 125).  In conventional science, deeper in usually earlier, so, for Clarey, the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs fails even on conventional scientific grounds.

Did Clarey interact with other points-of-view, or alternative explanations?  He did refer to alternative explanations.  He mentioned the view that the carbon-14 dating of material in dinosaur bones may be due to corruption of the sample.  He said that scientists have proposed ways that organic material could have been preserved in dinosaur bones for millions of years.  He referred to the view that ancient people may have developed their ideas of mythological creatures after finding dinosaur fossils.  He also said that scientists have attributed certain examples of fossilization to local catastrophes (i.e., floods) rather than a single global Flood in the time of Noah.  Did Clarey go into a lot of depth in refuting these ideas, or answer many of the objections to Flood geology that scientists have made?  Overall, he did not, but some of his discussions were more in depth than others.

Did Clarey attempt to provide a young-earth creationist interpretation, or way to account for, the evidence often cited in favor of uniformitarian, evolutionist explanations?  He did, at times.  One argument against humans and dinosaurs co-existing is that human fossils have not been found with dinosaur fossils.  Clarey tried to account for this by saying that humans and dinosaurs lived in separate places: dinosaurs were on the low ground, whereas humans and various other mammals were on the high ground.  Clarey also tried to account for fossil layers, which mainstream science says demonstrate chronological successions of life and evolution over millions of years.  Clarey, as a young-earth creationist, does not think that one fossil layer on top of the other means chronological succession, for he believes that the animals in all of these layers existed at the same time and were destroyed by the Flood.  Clarey sought to explain the fossil layers by saying that the Flood could have buried one ecosystem on top of the other, and that marine creatures would logically be deeper in the ground than creatures that were able to find higher ground in the time of the Flood.  For Clarey, that explains why fossils of marine creatures are deeper in the ground than dinosaurs and mammals.

Some of Clarey’s proposals may be original to himself; many things that he says have been said by young-earth creationists before.  Young-earth creationism is rejected by most scientists, and there are many web sites out there that respond to young-earth creationist arguments from an evolutionist or uniformitarian perspective, and that highlight problems in Flood geology: www.talkorigins.org, www.thenaturalhistorian.com, www.ncse.com, and www.edward-t-babinski.blogspot.com are sites that come to mind.  These sites, and others, provide a lot of arguments and rebuttals, and I will not rehearse all of them here.  Many of them demonstrate that there is more to the story, or more nuance, than what young earth creationists present.  I would like to highlight some anti-young earth creationist arguments that I found particularly compelling.  One argument asks why, if dinosaurs are young rather than old, it is such a rarity that we find organic material inside dinosaur bones?  Another argument maintains that the young-earth creationist view that more developed animals could run to higher ground in trying to escape the Flood does not work, for there are fossils of developed animals that are rather deep in the ground, and fossils of marine animals that are higher up.  Plus, one can observe development in marine animals from one strata to another.

I am not a paleontologist, or even a scientifically-minded person, but, even before looking at the web to see ways that scientists have responded to young-earth creationism, I had questions in my mind as I read Clarey’s book.  Clarey’s book is not just a defense of young-earth creationism, but it also aims to describe the characteristics of various dinosaurs.  One can almost get the impression in reading the book that certain dinosaurs were designed to be meat eaters: their body was structured in such a way that would enable them to catch their prey or to eat meat safely, or the T.Rex’s appetite could only be satisfied by eating quantities of animals.  The information that Clarey presents, in these cases, appears to conflict with his view that the carnivorous dinosaurs were created by God to be vegetarians.  In addition, I would submit that evolution may account for some of the details that Clarey mentions better than design does.  Clarey argues, for example, that an animal having sharp teeth does not preclude it from being a vegetarian, for we know of vegetarian animals that have sharp teeth.  Why, though, would God design an animal with sharp teeth that it does not need?  On the other hand, evolutionists point to animals who have organs or body-parts that they do not seem to use, and they believe that is consistent with evolution.

In looking at the web—-and ignoring the creationist web sites—-I do get the impression that Clarey highlights at least one controversy within the mainstream scientific community, and that concerns the question of whether birds evolved from dinosaurs.  There does appear to be some debate about that within the mainstream scientific community, as some say that certain dinosaurs may have evolved from earlier forms of birds.

I give this book four stars because Clarey does attempt to support his position and to interact with other points of view.  His love for his subject matter was also evident and endearing.  The book may also be a helpful resource on the history of research into dinosaurs and dinosaur characteristics.  Moreover, this book can stimulate thought and research, particularly if it encourages readers to find out about what other scientists think about young earth creationism, the phenomena that Clarey discusses, and the rationales for their positions.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book through Cross Focused Reviews, in exchange for an honest review.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for having read my blog, at least the blog on flood geology. Cool. Flood geology was rejected by Christian men of science in the 1800s. It was revived by several non geologists in the 1960s with the popularity of an Evangelical Christian book filled with misinformation, The Genesis Flood.

    There are geological horizons containing dinosaur nests with eggs, some already hatched. Such egg-nesting horizons sometimes lay beneath one another, suggesting it took time for dinosaurs to find mates, build nests in the same area again and again, bear fertilized eggs, incubate them, and the young hatched. And then a volcano buried the nesting area. And this happened not just once but more than once. This all takes time, not a year long flood.

    Concerning vegetarianism there are minerals that accumulate to a greater degree in the bones of carnivores than vegetarians, because the carnivores eat the vegetarians, and we find those minerals in greater degree as expected, in the bones of dinosaurs that have the morphology of appearing to be carnivores. We also find fossilized dinosaur poop containing the boney remains of the animals they ate

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    1. On your first point, I will reading a few posts along those lines on the Natural Historian blog this morning: about the time that this all took. I think that the creationist who wrote that dinosaur book was saying that the flood occurred in stages, and that was how he was trying to account for the layers. But I doubt that accounts for the evidence.

      On the vegetarianism, my impression is that the creationist who wrote that book believes that carnivorous dinosaurs did eat meat after the Fall. What puzzled me was that he seemed to be presenting their bodies as especially suited for that, which would arguably contradict his idea that they were designed to be vegetarians.

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  2. There's also dinosaur footprints found deep in the earth in coal mines with plenty of sediment beneath them, and above them. Sometimes you find a fossilized tree with its roots in situ in such mines as well as fossilized dinosaur prints at the base of the fossilized tree, meaning the tree had grown in place with the dinosaur walking around its base. And it takes a tree a long time to grow, and the dinosaur walking around its base also demonstrates, along with the tree and its roots, that that is where the level of the land used to be. So all the sediments below and above were not formed in a year by one long flood. And such evidence cannot be compared to the tree trunks uprooted by Mt. St. Helens that sunk to the bottom of Spirit lake, since they have no roots nor animals tracks around their base. "Flood geologists" also have to face multiple layers in which fossilized dinosaur nests are found, since it takes time to find a mate and build a nest, and lay the eggs on dry ground and the eggs to hatch (some of them are hatched already, meaning you have to count in gestation time as well, and multiple times at which this occurred since such formations are not all found at the same level), so that's the level at which dry ground existed, where the dinosaurs were breeding and nesting. This is not evidence of a huge year long Flood. References: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/coalprints.html http://www.allanmccollum.net/allanmcnyc/reprints/Pdfs/peterson.pdf http://talkorigins.org/faqs/polystrate/trees.html

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