3.419 Moses and the dinosaurs (245)

Fri, 1 Sep 89 20:09:09 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 419. Friday, 1 Sep 1989.

(1) Date: 1 September 1989 (17 lines)
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: do dinosaurs compute? did Moses?

(2) Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 08:47:47 CST (37 lines)
From: "Robin C. Cover" <ZRCC1001@SMUVM1>
Subject: RE: 3.415 MOSES & DINOSAURS

(3) Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 10:33:00 EDT (17 lines)
From: DEL2@phoenix.cambridge.ac.uk
Subject: Re: [3.415 Moses and the dinosaurs? (35)]

(4) Date: 31 August 1989, 10:53:13 EDT (9 lines)
Subject: Moses and Dinosaurs

(5) Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 10:16:36 EDT (44 lines)
From: Steve Mason <SHLOMO@YORKVM1>
Subject: Pentecostal Roofers and Biblical Dinosaurs

(6) Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 16:15:51 EDT (29 lines)
From: Geoff Rockwell <rockwell@utorgpu>
Subject: Re: 3.415 Moses and the dinosaurs? (35)

(7) Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 19:42 EST (47 lines)
From: F5400000@LAUVAX01.BITNET
Subject: Did Moses give his pet dinasaur Dr. Ballard's?

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 1 September 1989
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: do dinosaurs compute? did Moses?

Ok, this is a fascinating topic, but have you taken a look at the volume
of mail in this shipment of Humanist alone? Let's take this up
elsewhere, and leave Humanist to computing in the humanities -- and to
humanistic subjects that generate only a small amount of discussion
(like displaced hearts).

Consider the whistle blown, or the last trumpet blasted, depending on
your brand of imagery -- and how much authority you wish to invest in
your self-effacing editor.

Willard McCarty

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------40----
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 08:47:47 CST
From: "Robin C. Cover" <ZRCC1001@SMUVM1>
Subject: RE: 3.415 MOSES & DINOSAURS

I have heard some bizarre theories among religious fundamentalists, but
"Moses among the dinosaurs" is a new one. The roofer may be thinking of
Biblical allusions to the Leviathan, which is now widely recognized as a
mythological creature. Ugaritic myths from 14th century (B.C.E)
describe the slaying of this seven-headed creature in terms that find
remarkable reflex in biblical texts. The Psalms depict the Leviathan
monster as multi-headed (Psalm 74:13-14), an anti-theocratic foe slain
by God in high antiquity, history and in the eschaton. An excellent
discussion on Leviathan as mythological is found in John Day, "The
Alleged Naturalization of Leviathan and Behemoth" (=Chapter 2 in _God's
Conflict with the Dragon and the Sea_; Cambridge, 1985) pp. 62-87. We
also have depictions of the multi-headed monster in Mesopotamian

As for modern "scientists" who try to maintain alternate (young)
chronologies for the age of the earth, you might (if you're brave) draw
a deep breath and look at the publications of the fundamentalist
Creation Research Society. I can dig up the address for you. They have
dozens of PhD's who publish on thermodynamics (the second law was
introduced by fiat at the time of Adam's sin), molecular genetics, earth
sciences, etc. I think their point of departure is a literalistic
interpretation of biblical genealogies (which to most scholars are
obviously compressed and stylized) and exploitation of anomalies in the
geological record and in the biological world. As for radiometric and
geological clocks used by most scientists to date the universe: these
were pre-set by God so as to create the "illusion of age." (Right) The
agenda reminds me of Emanuel Velikovsky, who could (willy-nilly) move a
late biblical chronology by a several decades -- never mind thousands of
secure data which lock in the chronology. But these early earth
"creation scientists" have quite a popular following. They will even
show you places in Texas where human and dinosaur footprints can be seen
imprinted together in ancient mud.
----------------------------Original message----------------------------
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------25----
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 10:33:00 EDT
From: DEL2@phoenix.cambridge.ac.uk
Subject: Re: [3.415 Moses and the dinosaurs? (35)]

An off-the-cuff response to creation and evolution. There is a
creationist society at least in the UK, which produces much
literature on the subject. Try the Warden of Rutherford House,
Edinburgh, Scotland, for details.

The classic attempt to state the position suggested by your
pentecostal friend, I would have thought, would be the
book *Omphalos* by Gosse (?c1850). He argued that, just as
a tree created *de novo* must come complete with rings, and
therefore *look* seveal years old, so must a world. Hence for
all we can know to the contrary the Jurassic (and everything else)
is but five minutes in the past! I believe it was quite
influential in some circles.
(4) --------------------------------------------------------------12----
Date: 31 August 1989, 10:53:13 EDT
Subject: Moses and Dinosaurs
Subject: Moses and Dinosaurs
It would really be stretching it, but the Pentecostal gent might be
using the "giants in the earth in those days" business of Gen. 6:4 as
evidence of dinosaurs, unless maybe he is interpreting Leviathan (Jb.
3:8) as an early example of the Loch Ness monster, an aquatic dinosaur!
Roy Flannagan
(5) --------------------------------------------------------------47----
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 10:16:36 EDT
From: Steve Mason <SHLOMO@YORKVM1>
Subject: Pentecostal Roofers and Biblical Dinosaurs

1. In response to Kevin Cope's query: it may surprise many to know that, yes,
the roofer's ruminations are quite representative of a major segment of our
society. Such people are convinced that the scientific community has wilfully
manipulated the data of evolution in order to justify an atheistic world-view.

Not all of these people are roofers. The Creation Research Institute in
California (where else?) admits only members with at least a MSc. You can prob
ably find out more about this think-tank through your local chapter of Inter-
Varsity Christian Fellowship. The Creationists might even send out one of
their number for a public debate on your campus, with your most rabid evolution
ist! (In such debates, they try not to invoke the Bible at all.)

2. I can't imagine the biblical data the roofer had in mind for dinosaurs in
Moses' time. Could he have been thinking of the Book of Job (which fundies
often consider very early, even pre-Mosaic)? In Job 40:15-41:34, of course,
you have a vivid description of Behemoth/Leviathan, who sounds rather like a
(Hannah-Barberian) dinosaur.

3. Finally, yes, there have been myriad attempts to reconcile prevailing
scientific theory with traditional biblical dates. ("Without manipulating the
texts"?? -- that is surely too much to ask of anyone. In my field, it is axio-
matic that one person's obvious reading is another person's manipulation.) My
personal favourite is the "ideal time theory", launched by Philip H. Gosse
(1857), according to which God created the world a few thousand years ago, but
made it look as if it had been around much longer (hence the fossils, etc.)
Gosse used the analogy of Adam's navel. He must have had one, nu? But he got
it without actually having gone through the birth process. So also the cosmos.
Then there's the "gap theory", which posits an indeterminate time lapse between
Gen 1:1 (the earth's beginning) and Gen 1:2 (God's creating of our world). Or
the age-day theory holds that each of the creative "days" in Gen 1 represents
a geological age (after all, "a day is as a thousand years"! -- 2 Pet 3).

The real shame in all of this is that most fundies have a genuine,
even passionate concern for the truth. Many of them read avidly but, alas,
only in restricted veins. Since works of modern biblical scholarship are either
unknown to them or appear to be pedantic and self-indulgent, the temptation is
great to demonize the academic world as a bastion of unbelief.
Especially in biblical studies, there is an urgent need for the academy somehow
to engage the real word of Pentecostal roofers and other biblical dinosaurs.
Steve Mason
(6) --------------------------------------------------------------34----
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 16:15:51 EDT
From: Geoff Rockwell <rockwell@utorgpu>
Subject: Re: 3.415 Moses and the dinosaurs? (35)

_The Plain Truth_, which is commonly available around Toronto, often
contains articles that come close to the opinions you mentioned. I know
I have read about Biblical evidence for the upcoming apocalypse there.

What is interesting is how people in different castes are exposed to
different theories and opinions as acceptable truth. If you hang out in donut
shops, never enter a library, and read the National Enquirer, you will find
such opinions less remarkable. They are common currency. Marxist-Feminist
thought appears, by contrast, unlikely, if only because it is taken seriously
so infrequently. What is even more disturbing is the anti-intellectualism of
certain papers and sub-cultures, that delegitimize any opinions that come
from the egg-heads. The Toronto Sun regularly tells its readers how
useless and out of touch academics are - hence there is no need to listen to
their ideas.

We are partly to blame because we in turn delegitimize and ignore
intellectual movements that seems to far fetched to even criticize. How often
do philosophers lower themselves to criticize religious fundamentalism?
Look at the sarcasm in this note - have I anywhere suggested such opinions
are worthy of careful reading? Is it a professional philosopher's job to
deconstruct popular opinions?

Geoffrey Rockwell
(7) --------------------------------------------------------------54----
Date: Thu, 31 Aug 89 19:42 EST
From: F5400000@LAUVAX01.BITNET
Subject: Did Moses give his pet dinasaur Dr. Ballard's?

Re Moses' pet dinasaur:(See inquiry by Kevin L.Cope)
1. The viewpoint you discovered stuck to your roof is far from new;
since the mid-nineteenth century various people have tried to
reconcile the Bible with scientific theory. I am not sure how
many people would subscribe to it, but I have heard enough
variations on this theme to be convinced there are indeed quite a
few people who find it tempting.

2. Much of the evidence (and indeed the principle source of
difficulty) is to be found in the first few chapters of Genesis,
but the usual point of departure is to cite the Psalm text "A day
of the Lord is like a thousand years" (an echo of this is to be
found in the film *O God* if you look for it.) This then gets you
off the hook about creation in six days. Mind you six thousand
years does not really help that much, but at least it is a
beginning and you can expand it with, "Well perhaps the Psalmist
could not count in billions". [Your roofer must be a purist who
sticks at six thousand.] Then you have a look at Genesis chapter
one and you point out that there is a progression in the order of
creation with humanity [described curiously enough in non-sexist
language even in the Hebrew] as the culminating achievement.
Frankly I do not think this approach will wash, but it is
certainly a well-trodden path for those who would like to persist
in their belief in the factual irrerancy of the Bible and yet are
not willing to tell science to go and boil its head. (There are
many difficulites, but a look at the order of creation will
quickly show some of them, such as vegetation appearing before the
creation of the sun, etc.) Your roofer has obviously read some
exposition of this theory. Remember that for him, Moses is the
author of the first five books of the Old Testament, so any
description of a monster (e.g. Gen.1.21) could be read as a
description of a Brontosaurus. Biblically, however, Moses' own
experience of dinasaurs is a non-starter, for he was not one
of the long-lived ancestors of the early period; his date of
birth is firmly placed in the time of the Egyptian state (and if
he wrote Exodus, surely he would know).

3. There have been attempts to argue that fossils are merely the
remains of animals killed off in the flood Noah is associated

John Sandys-Wunsch, Thorneloe College of Laurentian University