Do Fossil Finds Contradict the Bible? Essay Sample
- Word count: 2250
- Category: evolution
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Do Fossil Finds Contradict the Bible? Essay Sample
Europeans had been digging up strange-looking bones along lakebeds and riverbanks for hundreds of years before the 18th century (Strauss). Many of the finds confused the Europeans since they could not wrap their heads around where the bones were coming from. The intact skeleton of the marine reptile, Mosasaurus, was incredibly important as naturalist Georges Cuvier identified it as belonging to an extinct species (Strauss). From this point on, rational scientists realized they were dealing with creatures that lived and died millions of years before humans appeared on earth (Strauss). This lead to many scientists trying to answer questions about these ancient creatures, especially when they actually lived. Even still, less open-minded people stuck to a strict creationist viewpoint. Although there have been many fossil finds that would contradict what the Bible says about when they lived, God has already answered the questions for us with His word directly.
In 1676, a partial femur of a Megalosaurus was discovered in England. This bone was massive and unfortunately, 17th century theologists couldn’t fathom a huge, reptile like animal from a time before theirs (Strauss). A professor from Oxford University identified it as the femur of a human giant but in 1824, William Buckland gave this genus its distinctive name. It took another twenty years for the famous paleontologist, Richard Owen, to convincingly identify the Megalosaurus as a dinosaur (Strauss). In 1820, the Iguanodon, which was first investigated by Gideon Mantell, was identified as the second dinosaur to have a formal genus name. Its numerous fossils stirred up a debate about whether or not these extinct reptiles actually existed (Strauss). Georges Cuvier and William Buckland made a joke out of the situation exclaiming that the bones belonged to a fish or rhinoceros. Richard Owen had another perspective that basically hit the bulls-eye on the Cretaceous (Strauss). This began to spark the idea that the control of dinosaurs on land near the end of the Triassic period was then seen to have been as accidental as the replacement by therian mammals at the end of the Cretaceous (Sereno).
The first near-complete dinosaur fossil to be dug up in the United States was the Hadrosaurus (Strauss). For this reason, it is more historically important than in the paleontological field. It was discovered in New Jersey and it is now the state dinosaur, as there have been very few fossil finds discovered on the east coast. It was soon found to be linked to a huge family of duck-billed dinosaurs and was named by the American paleontologist, Joseph Leidy. Yet, it had still been debated by experts on whether or not the original fossil qualifies its own genus as two years later, Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, which shocked the world as it explained theories on evolution. Evidently, the next few years were good to Germany as they found a series of profound discoveries in limestone deposits of Solnhofen. This is where they found the beautifully preserved fossil of the Archaeopteryx, which lead people to believe it as the missing link between birds and dinosaurs as it was only a pigeon sized dinosaur (Strauss).
In the late 18th, early 19th century, most of the dinosaur fossils that were being discovered belonged to small ornithopods or marginally larger theropods (Strauss). The Diplodocus paved the way for the age of the giant sauropods when it was discovered in western North America in 1877. This age caught the attention of the public’s imagination much more than the prosaic age of the Megalosaurus and Iguanodon (Strauss). A few years after Diplodocus was found, paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope found another early theropod that he named Coelophysis. Although, it didn’t make a significant impact on society until he found countless Coelophysis skeletons mixed together at a fossil site called Ghost Ranch in New Mexico (Strauss). This discovery lead to two significant findings as people attempted to uncover the lives of these creatures. He concluded that small theropods, like ornithopods, usually traveled together in herds and many dinosaurs were often caught off guard by flash floods that would kill large groups of the animals.
Jack Horner may be well known for inspiring Sam Neill’s character in Jurassic Park, but he is also quite famous in the paleontology field as well (Strauss). In 1975, he found the nesting grounds of a mid-sized hadrosaur named Maiasaura in the American west (Strauss). He discovered some very well preserved fossils of this dinosaur and discovered that they also traveled in vast herds. Yet, the fossilized nests in Montana’s Two Medicine Formation also revealed something else. It was quite prevalent that at least some dinosaurs had active family lives rather than separating as baby, juvenile, and adult Maiasaura fossils were found. This was an important discovery for paleontologists, as many believed that almost all dinosaurs abandoned their young once they hatched.
An astounding series of dino-bird fossils were found in 1997 in China’s Liaoning quarry (Strauss). This region of northeastern China must have been a beautiful ecosystem to live in during the Cretaceous period, as it is rich with dino-bird discoveries. More importantly, it seems to have been a peaceful lake where creatures lived and died where they sank to the bottom of the lake and eventually became preserved by the silt and even volcanic ash (Strauss). The Liaoning quarry provides a valued idea of a 130-million year old ecosystem as if seen in slow motion. The early dino-birds that lived there during the Cretaceous period were more on the dinosaur end and some were also found as being more on the bird end when speaking on terms of structural makeup. “A notable exception was the evolution of birds from small-bodied predatory dinosaurs, which involved a dramatic decrease in body size” (Sereno). These discoveries lead paleontologists to rethink their thoughts of when dinosaurs evolved into birds. The well-preserved fossil of the Sinosauropteryx contradicts the first impressions of primitive feathers for dinosaurs (Strauss). However, after a more delicate examination of the fossil, it was found that the Sinosauropteryx was only distantly related to the other famous feathered dinosaur, Archaeopteryx (Strauss).
In 2000, a Brachylophosaurus was discovered in the woodlands of North America. Although, this wasn’t the first fossil of this dinosaur to be found, it was by far the most spectacular find of these species (Strauss). He was named Leonardo by the excavation team and was close to being a complete fossil that had been mummified over thousands of years. This teenaged hadrosaur happened to be found during a new age of technology in the paleontology field with new advances in X-rays and MRI scans. Researchers unloaded these rays on him in order to attempt to figure out the internal anatomy of the dinosaur as they had a very well preserved fossil. Of course, there have been mixed results about these theories but many of these techniques are still being used on dinosaur fossils in far less undamaged conditions (Strauss).
Scientists say they have found fossils near the Colorado-New Mexico border that prove some dinosaurs survived the mass extinction that most researchers believe was caused by a meteor impact 65 million years ago (Cernansky). James Fassett, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, says there is evidence that a population of sauropods still lived for another 500,000 years in the San Juan basin after the catastrophic event (Cernanksy). These dinosaurs are a class of giant leaf-eaters such as the brachiosaurus. The bones of hadrosaurs other species were found together in a sandstone formation that dates to the period after the extinction (Cernanksy). “To prove that the bones he found were indeed older than the extinction and eliminate the possibility that they had not simply been incorporated into newer rocks, Fassett points to his discovery of 34 bones from a single hadrosaur: If they had been washed away from their original location, they would almost certainly have been separated, not found together” (Johnson).
He also investigated the rocks surrounding the bones and studied magnetic polarity, which is a good date indicator. Techniques like this give evidence of how the fossils date to an after extinction. He found that older rocks in the region contained different amounts of rare metal elements than the dinosaur bones in the same area (Cernansky). This suggests that the bones did not settle in those samples of rock or they would contain more of the same elements. Therefore, Fassett says there are several possible explanations for how a cluster of dinosaurs could have survived the fallout from the meteor impact (Cernansky). The worst effects of the asteroid may have passed by the time unborn eggs hatched as the fossils found belonged to egg-laying dinosaurs or the survivors of the collision could have also been living somewhere further to the north when the meteor hit which would have eventually driven them south by the frigid weather caused by the asteroid collision (Cernansky).
Even still, the recent findings certainly won’t settle the controversy for good as every few years someone else claims to have found the reason of the mass extinction. Scientists often date fossils such as dinosaur bones and those termed as “early man” thousands, or even millions of years before the creation of Adam and Eve (cgg.org). Even though it’s understood that this subject generates interest, it is not up to the church to enter a field that properly belongs to geologists, paleontologists, and anthropologists since often times, theories of dating fossils directly contradict the Bible (cgg.org). Although, none of the concrete facts discovered by science contradict the Bible as opposed to some theories. The Bible states that Adam was created about 6,000 years ago after a duration of time where angels were given rule. Unfortunately, this ended in warfare between God and the angels, and God was torn, as he did not create the world to be a chaotic wasteland. Whatever physical life forms lived during that period of time would have died with the time as God came to a point of re-creation (cgg.org).
So God restarted his creation process and on the fifth day of creation, “God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:21). God then created man on the sixth day. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:27-31)
Therefore, directly translating the Bible, any fossil dated any later than 6,000 years ago would be pre-Adam and Eve. However, there is no question that the straightforward teaching of God’s Word leads us to believe that dinosaurs and man coexisted. God Himself declared, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11). The pattern of God’s six-day creation and Sabbath rest is an example for His followers to set aside a day of rest and worship every week. “Dinosaurian creatures were created on the sixth day alongside man” (Genesis 1:25) and the two co-existed after that (genesispark.com).
“The Bible is God’s revelation of knowledge that man cannot discover by himself” (cgg.org). The Bible deals with the 7,000-year plan made by God for all people and only has minor glimpses of what occurred before and what shall come after this period (cgg.org). It contains spiritual knowledge concerning the purpose of life and the origin of His creation. We know that Adam and Eve were the first humans made in the image of God. This gave them the ability to make the wondrous functions of the human heart and mind possible. Adam and Eve were created for the purpose of enlarging the family of God and spreading his extraordinary works directly. “This is the important knowledge about human life, which can be learned only from God’s revelation, not from the fossil record” (cgg.org).
Cernansky, Rachel, “80beats.” 80beats. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/05/04/controversial-fossil-find-suggests-some-dinos-survived-the-asteroid-cataclysm/>.
Johnson, John, “Some Dinosaurs May Have Survived the Great Extinction.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 02 May 2009. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.
Sereno, Paul C. “The Evolution of Dinosaurs.” The Evolution of Dinosaurs. N.p., 25 June 1999. Web. 12 Dec. 2012.
Strauss, Paul, “10 Famous Fossil Discoveries.” About.com Dinosaurs. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://dinosaurs.about.com/od/dinosaurdiscovery/tp/majorfossils.htm>.
“How Does the Bible Explain Fossil Ages Over 6,000 Years (Genesis 1:2)?” How Does the Bible Explain Fossil Ages Over 6,000 Years (Genesis 1:2)? N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/BQA/k/200/How-Does-