"Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark?"—A Book Review

The title of this book alone was enough to make me want to read it. Anyone who has spent much time around flood apologists has heard the suggestion that to fit more animals on the ark, especially the larger animals like dinosaurs, they were included as babies. This very suggestion, as pointed out by the author early in the book, is one of the things that makes it hard for scientists to take creationists and flood geologists seriously. This anecdote represents the central theme of the book, the dilemma faced by many Christians that evolution and the age of the earth, as determined by modern geology, are at direct odds with a belief in a creator God.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/arts-essays/2023/baby-dinosaurs-ark-book-review

The title of this book alone was enough to make me want to read it. Anyone who has spent much time around flood apologists has heard the suggestion that to fit more animals on the ark, especially the larger animals like dinosaurs, they were included as babies. This very suggestion, as pointed out by the author early in the book, is one of the things that makes it hard for scientists to take creationists and flood geologists seriously. This anecdote represents the central theme of the book, the dilemma faced by many Christians that evolution and the age of the earth, as determined by modern geology, are at direct odds with a belief in a creator God.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/arts-essays/2023/book-review-baby-dinosaurs-ark-bible-and-modern-science-and-trouble-making-it-all

I will put it simply…for me…YEC puts God in a box that is human made.


I often have wondered about why SDAs continue to insist on the 6000 year time frame, when that makes absolutely no sense. Why does it matter HOW God made the universe? aren’t His ways inscrutable? Is God a lesser god if it took billions of year? Genesis tells us God created the Earth (a tiny speck on the edge of an ordinary galaxy lost in an ocean of galaxies), and tells us that in a way that ensures that the message was understood by both Bronze age people and space age people: it used poetry. So we are told the central truth: God is the creator. HOW He created it, does it really matter? and could we really even begin to understand it? In light of this, I think what matters is Author, not method. Sure, the Sabbath is gong to come up because of the creation reminder, etc. But 7 days or 7 billion, if you want to use the Sabbath as a reminder, that also should not change anything.


Yes, Genesis fails in science. It also fails as history, as do many of the stories found in the Bible. Apologists must continually back into allegorical readings in order to somehow maintain at least “spiritual” authority for the Bible. Of course some remain intransigent and blindly ignore the findings of archaeology, historical data, and probabilities.

The mantra “The Word of God cannot be wrong…or at least it can’t be that wrong” rings more and more hollow as contrary evidence washes over it like a Biblical flood.

Thoughtful people must reassess their premises and face the reality that the Bible anthology is consistent with fully human origins (in content and in formation), trying to make sense of their place in history, and writing stories to illustrate their beliefs. Their insight doesn’t exceed the information available to them in their time and place, and the stories have more in common with myth and legend along with imagination than with actual events and probable causes.


If the HOW and the WHEN in the stories are falsified, why would one not question the Whether? There is no reason to accept the “we are told”. When an account fails so spectacularly, trying to preserve a kernel of truth in an otherwise false narrative seems a bit of a stretch doesn’t it? This is an apologetic attempt at preserving some level of credibility for an otherwise bankrupt claim; that El or Yahweh, the tribal gods of the Hebrews created the universe, or in the NT Jesus did it. This is a fallback to an unknowable claim totally lacking in evidence. To apply Hitchen’s razor, “That which can be asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence.”


I would disagree. Moses asked for a name but he was given no name. God was still there. Genesis tells us that God created the Earth not HOW God did it. How could it? how could we ever understand it? But I see that BartwillRuth, you are not a believer, so this argument does not apply to you, since no argument will convince you otherwise. I was talking to believers who struggle with the need to see a literal interpretation to something that we as humans could not understand. But still believe. Pax et bonum.

I’ve recently been watching Dr Joel Baden’s Online Bible Study, from Yale University’s Divinity School.

He correctly points out that treating the Pentateuch as a history or science text is a genre error, and that to get the most from any text - including the bible - one needs to first correctly understand the genre of the text one is reading. He’s quite enlightening.

There doesn’t appear to be a lecture series for Genesis, but there is for Exodus, and another for Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Here are two links for your enjoyment, one for Yale’s youtube channel, and another direct link to the first of the Exodus lectures, where he touches on a more correct understanding of the genre of the Pentateuch.

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Interesting. Are you suggesting that there are different epistemological standards for believers? No, arguments alone will not convince me of anything. Present evidence and argue from that and I will listen.

Archaeologists, Egyptologists, and historians of antiquity, consider the Exodus story to be a founding myth, not something that actually happened. If there was no Exodus, there was no Moses either. The story is just a story without the evidence which should be there if it sctually happened, and in conflict with the evidence that actually exists for the origin of the Hebrews.


It would seem obvious that when discussing a topic among believers one would start with a few givens, namely, that God exists. My point here was simply to say that Genesis tells us God created the universe, not how He did it. When discussing the same issue with a non believer, the entire topic makes no sense, since we do not have a common starting point. If we go with “there is no god”, then the discussion on how to interpret Genesis is over. That is only why I said the argument I made did not apply to your line of reasoning. And as you well know, asking for proof of the existence of God is a dead end. One believes or not. Frankly, in the end, it will make no difference :slight_smile:

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I disagree. Whether or not a deity exists, there is no valid corollary proposition that the iron age provincials of the Judean hills actually received any information therefrom. There is seeming agreement that the parallel (and incompatible) stories of creation by magical voice commands and that of Yahweh walking in a garden between the Tigris and Euphrates with a man recently formed from clay and a rib woman is myth. Furthermore, the two conflated flood stories are equally mythological and at odds with geology and paleontology. We can dismiss talking donkeys and snakes. So, putting that aside, we can look at the document as a series of founding myths explaining how the Israelites came to be and why their god(s) “chose” them. Did the writers of Genesis think they were writing actual history? Maybe not. They were more likely just winging it, using bits and pieces of previous myths to cobble together their own.

So are we dealing with allegory? Myth? Legend? Poetry? Maybe all of them. Did a deity communicate to anyone this way? The writers certainly made no such claim. You are free to jump to that conclusion, but the evidence leads no further than fiction writing. Having said that, we can agree to study the text and the historical context in order to find out what the writers believed and wished to convey. The addition of a divine element is actually beside the point insofar as the determination of the writers’ purposes. The meaning which can be elicited is the same. The difference lies only in the variation:

The author’s wrote…
Yahweh told the authors to write…

Back to your statement that the conversation is over if the god concept is set aside, I would disagree. We can ask what the writers were trying to convey in composing the flood narrative. Threats and punishment for those who don’t obey Yahweh. Demands for obedience, and preservation for the faithful as long as they toe the line. We can interpret the same message. The difference is whether the message has a cosmic origin rather than ideas thought up by unknown authors. We may very well interpret the message in the same way; using objective criteria, that should be the case.

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Two reasons (1) EGW endorsed the 6000 year time frame, and many SDAs are afraid to admit she was no “inspired” prophet. (2) as you mentioned, the SDA concept of “sabbath” is rooted in the 7 literal day myth. It wouldn’t have to be, but this is how the SDA thinking goes. It’s a classic case of begging the question. Basically it amount to (a) we really, really, really want our concept of ‘sabbath’ to be true and our fragile house-of-cards-like eschatology requires our unique view of ‘sabbath’; (b) our concept of ‘sabbath’ doesn’t make sense without the 6000 year, 7-literal-day creation myth; therefore (c) the 6000 year, 7-literal-day creation myth is true.



But that’s just for starters.

The way I see it, about 90-95% of Adventist-and to a greater or lesser extent-Christian theology and eschatology are utterly dependent on the assumption that the Genesis narrative is not a myth.

Take away at least some sense of a literal reading of that first book and the concept of a beginning, an anthropomorphized god, his leading antagonist, the creation of man, the legendary split between creator and creature, the concept of original sin, the need for a messiah, the requirement for human blood sacrifice to magically atone for sin, the promise of an eventual reconciliation of all parties and the assumption of an “end” are instantly vacated and three of the world’s organized religions become like Wiley Coyote who has yet to realize that he ran past the edge of a cliff a few cels back.

So the chances of all three groups dismissing the “fact” that donkey and snakes once had vocal chords, and the ability to talk, are roughly the same as the odds that Secretariat will win The Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix next year.



This seems to be a “chicken or egg” situation. Which came first, the Genesis story, or the writer (teller) of the story? It does appear the story wins. The Sumerians beat the Hebrews by whatever many aeons.

It turns out that “Gilgamesh”, a Sumerian character had a sister who found a “willow” tree growing beside the Euphrates. She “moved” the tree to her garden, and wanted to make a throne out of it, but soon found that a demon and a bird and a third character lived in the tree. Gilgamesh to the rescue - he chopped down the tree, upon which the creatures left, and he made a bed and a throne for his sister. Of course, the other big correlation to the Bible is the the Flood story. So, it seems the Hebrews borrowed/interpreted/elaborated from their traditions, etc.

Is Christianity dependent on these stories, or is it able to stand on its own. Adventism seems to depend heavily on the OT snapshots of God. Christianity, as a whole, does hearken back to the “bruised heel” in the garden; and to the temple sacrifices, ad described in the “Book of Hebrews” where Christ had been prefigured by Hebrew theology. But it was written to the Hebrews. Do Christians need the “Book of Hebrews”? Do we need the OT concepts?

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Yes, Christians are absolutely stuck with OT concepts. To point out a few:

Jesus is portrayed as believing major OT stories such as Jonah, Noah’s flood, the Exodus, the Torah in all its details, etc.

Jesus is likened to the Passover lamb, but greater, a human sacrifice.

Paul found out about Jesus by interpreting the Jewish scriptures.

Jesus is said to be descended from David.

Jesus’ genealogy is detailed back to Adam through patriarchs, kings, and others in a line requiring a short timeline.

The Jesus story of the gospels was largely constructed by rewriting OT stories and unrelated “prophecies”.

Jesus is portrayed as believing that the Jews were chosen and children of Abraham.

Do Christians need the book of Hebrews, you ask? The book of Hebrews may be the most primitive example of Christianity which has survived.

So yes. Christians are not only stuck with the OT and its concepts, but also with a traditional, literal understanding thereof.


Traditionally. No other possibilities exist?

Sure, you can interpret Christianity any way you want to, but it will be far removed from its earliest iterations. You would be, in effect, creating a different religion and calling it Christianity, though it would have little in common with its inception.

Marcion (ca 144 CE) took that approach and dropped everything Jewish and OT out of Christianity, positing a hitherto unknown god who was most definitely not like the god of the Jews. It was a new religion of peace, love, and flowers, promoting vegetarianism. Maybe Adventism could revive Marcionism…


Yes, of course, the story of Jesus in its biblical context is definitely Jewish. The book of Hebrew is an interpretation of Jesus as the Christ in Jewish terms, prefigured by everything in the Jewish system.

Ok, if the Jesus - Christ - was the personification of the power behind creation, “he” would have to assume a persona that includes a nationality, and a religion; but he would have to reach beyond both. I see the book of Hebrew attempting to do that for the Jews who were completely wedded to their OT traditions. It gives Christ a context among the people he was born to.

Yes pure speculation.

Personally I believe part of the problem with religion is that it gets things backwards: it should elevate humans to the mysteries of the Divine, that which is Not Knowable, and instead we conceive of a little god with a big beard, a male entity sitting on the edge of the world, or walking in and out of buildings, or any one of a thousand ways of making god in our image. Then we kill each other over those views. Take St. Augustine’s view on what God is and is not:

For we are speaking of God. It is said, And the Word was God. We are speaking of God; what marvel, if you do not comprehend? For if you comprehend, He is not God. Be there a pious confession of ignorance, rather than a rash profession of knowledge. To reach to God in any measure by the mind, is a great blessedness; but to comprehend Him, is altogether impossible.

( Sermon 67 on the New Testament, CHURCH FATHERS: Sermon 67 on the New Testament (Augustine))

We could avoid much confusion if we accepted this. But we have to say, no, we got it, we know how it is, it is this and not that. So if we accept that God is not what we think it is, we then open the door to the great Mysteries of the Universe and the thing about those 6,000 years (which HGW got from Archbishop James Ussher, of all people!) should quietly fall by the wayside.

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I agree, but also that if you really study the 10 commandments, all three versions of them, the primary reason for the sabbath is “because you were slaves in Egypt”, presumably with no day off/no sabbath. And the instruction for how to keep the sabbath is to not work / not do your assigned task, because ~“you deserve a break today”, basically. It is not, for example, to gather and worship. No mention of that at all:

Of the three versions of the commandments, only one mentions the Sabbath:

  • Creation is mentioned as a side note in the Exodus 20 version. And, in fact, it was added to the Exodus 20 story later, according to scholars.
  • No reason for the sabbath is offered in the Exodus 34 version of the commandments.
  • In the final version of the commandments found in Deuteronomy 5, the only reason is, ~“because you were slaves in Egypt. I, your god, delivered you from Egypt - so keep the sabbath!” That’s it.

Devout Jews who are also scientifically aware typically have no issue with the fact that the earth is very old and the fact that the mutually-exclusive creation stories (there are three or four in the bible) are just stories: God gave them the sabbath for whatever reason - it does not matter - and so they keep the sabbath. Simple.

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