As most of you know, I debunked a rather poorly-conceived video on YouTube in which humanist Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State attacked the up-coming Ark Encounter attraction. Lynn condescendingly referred to the Ark Encounter as the ”Ark Park” and offered mockery and misinformation. Here’s how Lynn described it:
“…I got into a tiff over what I thought was a humorous video Americans United posted on our Facebook page and on YouTube. It had to do with the ongoing squabble AU is having in Kentucky over what we see as the misuse of state tax resources to help subsidize a theme park focused on Noah’s Ark.
The main force behind the effort is Answers in Genesis, a religious entity led by Ken Ham. When I debated Ham earlier this year on CNN, he affirmed that his group is a ministry, that the park would present the claim that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that there were dinosaurs on the ark. Oh, there might have been unicorns too. Ham was a bit fuzzy about that.
The legal issue is whether a rebate of sales taxes constitutes funding of religion. But that’s kind of dry, so to help people understand the issue, I made a video featuring a toy ark, some plastic animals, some dinosaurs and a stuffed unicorn. I explained the problems government support of the project posed – mainly, it put the state in support of bad science and funding of a religious mission.
The video was a hit on YouTube – and then the blow-back began. First, the Rev. Tony Breeden of the group DefendingGenesis.org weighed in on why I am a “false” minister. He also did a point-by-point refutation of the video. He claimed the dimensions of my ark are “Biblically inaccurate” and also didn’t like my stuffed unicorn… Breeden did, however, encourage people to watch my video. The number of hits increased.
Ham also joined the fray. He complained that I had placed a “full blown adult sauropod on my ark when everybody knows that “younger, smaller animals would make more sense.” He then spent a good bit of time attempting to explain why the tax rebate isn’t really a subsidy. Ham also linked to the video. This meant even more hits for me. (It’s closing in on 7,000 views as I write this -thanks, guys!) “
Note that Lynn had to resort mocking a straw man of the Biblical Ark in order to smear the Ark Encounter [and Creationism in general] as “bad science.” And why did he do this? To push his views of the Separation of Church and State. The Bible says that no man can serve two masters and Lynn’s ultimate loyalties are obvious in his efforts to undermine religious expression in America, such as recently when he posed as an authentic clergyman to chastise a Texas governor for the “sin” of calling for prayer for this nation. In Lynn’s world, the ends justify the means. It doesn’t matter if you’ve totally misrepresented your opponent’s views so long as people buy your propaganda. As an authentic minister of the Gospel, I am interested in the truth; this is apparently not the case for the “rev” Barry Lynn.
It seems that none of the Ark Encounter’s opponents are interested in the actual facts at hand, whether we’re speaking of possible tax rebate incentives or what Creationists actually believe. In fact, a minister from West Virginia is so blinded for his zeal for his interpretation of the Establishment Clause that he actually said he’d rather Kentucky open up a porn shop with state money than the Biblle-affirming attraction in question!
Take the following quote from a fellow who takes issue with the fact that I ”plunged into that controversy, defending the Ark Park and its view of history along with the presence of dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark.” After quoting a section from an article of mine, How Could Dinosaurs Fit on the Ark? on the Noah’s Ark: Beyond Flannelgraph site (a site that answers children’s actual questions about the Ark and the Flood), he opines:
“As Rev. Breeden says, “dinosaurs came in all sizes.” There were also lots of extraordinarily different species, as you can see from visiting any natural history museum. If one pair of, say, sheep-sized dinosaurs survived the Ark trip and multiplied, how could they have been the ancestors of all those species of dinosaurs, from tiny to huge, plant-eaters and flesh-eaters, even some with wings and some living in water? Wouldn’t that be called evolution? And very fast evolution, if we accept Rev. Breeden’s chronology.”
He appears to be a bit confused.
At no point have I ever espoused the curious notion that all dinosaurs, pterosaurs, mososaurs, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs and what-have-you came from a single pair of distilled dinosaurs aboard the Ark. And neither does any other creationist.
In the first place, only winged creatures and air-breathing land animals were taken aboard the Ark, so marine reptiles often associated with true dinosaurs would not have been aboard any more than sharks were.
This Ark Encounter critic cites several articles I have on dinosaurs and the Ark from the Beyond Flannelgraph site; I wish he had also looked at Were Dinosaurs on the Ark?, where I explained that God told Noah to basically bring aboard two of every kind of creature. We certainly do not think that dinosaurs represented a single baramin, or created kind. As I explain in “After Their Kind: Baraminology and the Bible:”
“The Bible states that God created plants an d animals “after their kind” and told them to befruitful and multiply “after their kind.” [Gen 1:12,25] This implies variation within fixed limits, which Mendel confirmed in his studies on heredity and which we observe in nature. A dog is still a dog, be it a dire wolf, fox, English bulldog or chihuahua. We can say then that canines are a “created kind.” Baraminology is an exciting new field which studies such “created kinds,” or baramins. God created the original wolf/dog baramin and gave it the potential to adapt to various environments and conditions. Thus, Adam did not have toname all of the different varieties of canines, like wolves, hyenae, foxes, etc; Adam simply had to name the original canine baramin. The same applies to other animals: He only had to name the original feline, ceratopsian dinosaur, horse, chicken and so on.
At the Fall, the earth was cursed, leading to thorns, disease, death and suffering. Originally vegetarian [Gen 1:30], some animals became predatory or venomous sometime afterward, before or after the Flood. This potential was coded into their genes by the Creator. Natural selection, as a conservative force, weeds out harmful adaptations and uses this God-given genetic potential to allow animals to adapt and survive in a Fallen world. The Bible promises that in the future, all will be restored to its Edenic state. [Isaiah 11:6-8]
At the Flood, God sent 2 of each unclean created kind [and 7 of each clean kind] to the Ark. There were only about 55 kinds of dinosaurs. For example, varieties of the ceratopsian dinosaur kind have different arrays of neck frills, horns and knobs, but Noah would have needed only 2 individuals from this baramin. Likewise, Noah wouldn’t have needed to bring horses, donkeys, zebras and now-extinct three-toed horse varieties, but only 2 members of the equine kind. John Woodmorappe has calculated that there were probably about 8,000 animal genera [including now-extinct animals] aboard the Ark. Upon leaving the Ark, they again multiplied after their kind [Gen 8:16-19] into all of the varieties we see today.”
A Biblical kind is generally, but not always, analogous to the family taxon, not a species, so the number of dinosaurs species is irrelevant to the question. While there are a lot of dinosaur names, there are only about 50 kinds of dinosaurs [eg. sauropods, ceratopsians, anklyosaurs, etc]. For that matter, pterosaurs may be distilled to 2 basic kinds: rhamphorhynchids and pterodactylids; if we take into account Darwinopterus, it’s possible that pterosaurs represent a single baramin. As mentioned, canines give a good idea of the sort of variety possible within one created kind: a dog is still a dog, be it a wolf, English bulldog or a weiner dog. We believe that Noah took these distinct created kinds of animals, including different dinosaur kinds.
Nor do we believe that the variety of dinosaurs we see in the fossil record occured after the Flood. To the contrary, we believe the the fossils are the result of the Flood; in other words, the fossil record shows us what animals were alive at the time of the Flood. As the sediment [mud and dirt] rich waters of the Flood buried the animals, they became fossils. Dinosaurs fossils show us that dinos were alive at the time of Noah, before the Flood took the ones that weren’t aboard the Ark.
After these 50 some pairs of dinosaurs left the Ark, we believe that they went slowly extinct (likely due to changes in climate and other factors [an Ice Age, for example]), like many other creatures have, but that man retains memories of these creatures, albeit embellished and mythologized. Memories of dinosaurs as dragons take on some fantastical elements as the real creatures begin to fade from observable ecology. Evolutionists claim dinosaurs and man are separated by millions of years. Yet there are dragon legends the world over, like the apocryphal Bel & the Dragon, St. George and others. An Irishman described a possible stegosaur, “a beast having iron nails on its tail,” hundreds of years before such fossils were uncovered. Petroglyphs all over the world, like those made by American Indians and found at Angkor Wat, testify to the co-existence of man and dinosaurs as the Bible says.
But guys like Barry Lynn, Rob Boston, Joel Watts and this newest commentor aren’t really interested in what we actually believe or don’t believe. Their ideological commitments cause them to dismiss their opponent’s position off-hand. This puts them in a curious position where they find themselves disagreeing over things they don’t fully understand; which is ironic because PZ Myers claims this should be a characteristic of creationists rather than evolutionists!
Interestingly enough, the Bible predicted such willful ignorance in 2 Peter 3:3-7:
“ 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. “
Yet may not want to remember that the heavens and the earth were created by the Word of God, that the entire world perished in the Flood of Noah’s day by that same Word, or that this world is sustained by God’s Word until Judgment Day. Many of them do not even like to retain God in their knowledge [Romans 1:28]. But men are without excuse for their willful ignorance, for though they suppress the truth in unrighteousness, God is evident in His Creation and in His Word [Romans 1:18-23], which is true from the beginning [Psalm 119:160].
You know, the Apostle Peter [undeniably a true minister of the Gospel] declared that we do not follow cleverly devised fables [2 Peter 1:16], but that’s not what Bible doubters like Barry Lynn believe. They believe that parts of the Bible, especially Genesis, are exactly that: cleverly devised fables from which we glean moral or religious truths. Folks like Jonathan Dudley, Joel Watts, Barry Lynn and double-minded believers like Dr.Jay Wile are declaring from our pulpits that we do in fact follow cleverly devised fables when it comes to the Creation Week, Adam and Eve, the Great Flood, the Tower of Babel and Jonah and the Great Fish. Yet, as I preached this past Creation Sunday:
“Jesus affirmed the truth and authority of God’s Word, mentioning Creation, Adam and Eve, Abel, Noah and Jonah as matters of fact. Though some object that religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth, Jesus refuted this false dichotomy when He asked Nicodemus, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” [John 3:12] If you can’t trust the Bible when it speaks of earthly things like Creation, the Flood and Babel, how can you trust the same Book when it speaks of heavenly things like salvation, heaven and all that?
The entire matter comes down to who we hold as our ultimate authority: God’s Word or man’s word. Jesus warned us that “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other” [Matthew 6:14].”
Europe was once vibrantly Christian. Yet by the days of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Christianity was on the “down-grade.” Alarmed by this trend toward liberalism and Bible-doubting [in the guise of legitimate textual criticism], he dared to name churches and ministers who’d compromised and gone on the down-grade. Rather than listening to the heedings of the “Prince of Preachers,” the Baptist Union censured Spurgeon as slanderous and divisive. They felt that peace was to maintained at all costs.
And what a terrible cost. Today, Europe is a spiritual wasteland where Christianity is concerned. Heedless of history, modern-day compromisers would lead America down the same path to apostasy and irrelevance. Make no mistake: It is not those who affirm Biblical Creation who cause folks to fall away from the faith – it is those who teach them that they can’t trust what it says to begin with!
We must support Bible-affirming efforts like the Ark AEncounter, and we must more earnestly contend for the faith once delivered over modern Bible-doubting revisions. Pray for true revival before it is too late!
-Rev Tony Breeden