Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dinosaurs on Noah's Ark?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006. Last night I read a new book for (smart) children from Pacific Press, "Dinosaurs: Where did they come from . . . and where did they go," by Elaine Graham-Kennedy, Ph.D., from the Geoscience Research Institute in Loma Linda. The book is well-written and beautifully illustrated with photos on every page. And it's fun to read. I expect it will soon be found in nearly every Adventist elementary classroom above the second grade, and probably most secondary school libraries. But the book, which is carefully non-sectarian, deserves and will probably find a much wider audience. I plan to loan a copy of the book to the Grace Brethren elementary school my grandson attends in Simi Valley, Calif., and I expect the school will order several copies.

Of course the book won't please everyone. At a time when the creation/evolution, faith/science debate is often polarized and emotional, Kennedy insists that both science and scripture must be taken seriously and she speaks respectfully of those with different views. Some of the most radical Creationists will object to her declarations that dinosaur bones, eggs and tracks are real and that they are found all around the world. And, of course, others will not agree with the author in her bedrock assumption that the Genesis stories of creation and the worldwide flood are literal accounts of historical events, and that the truth about dinosaurs must be in agreement with those stories.

But the majority of her readers will welcome everything in the book. Dr. Kennedy never seems dogmatic. She suggests reasonable answers to dinosaur questions, but says much is not known and leaves room for other understandings. She points out that dinosaur remains are found in only the Mesozoic layers of rock and that no human remains have ever been found in the same rocks as the dinosaurs. But she makes it clear she believes dinosaurs and humans coexisted; we just haven't found the evidence yet.

This may be the first book from Pacific Press to accept the notion that the lower layers of rock are older than the upper layers, though she suggests the difference in age may be only days or weeks. Thus, the dinosaurs in the lower (Triassic) layer may be those killed during the first few days of the flood, while those in the upper (Cretaceous) layer may be those killed later in the same flood. Or maybe not.

Kennedy believes dinosaurs were created by God and placed in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Why? Because the Bible says everything was created by God. She suggests those pre-sin dinosaurs, even the T-rex, were peaceful vegetarians and might have been quite beautiful. She points out that most dinosaurs ranged in size from a large dog to a giraffe, so pairs of most dinosaur species could have fit on Noah's ark. And it is clear that she believes many dinosaurs were on the ark, though she admits there is no proof they were or were not.

She doesn't know why or when dinosaurs became extinct but suggests some species may have disappeared before the world-wide flood, some during the flood, and some (the species preserved on the ark) in the centuries after the flood.

And along the way, she tosses in many little-know facts about dinosaurs.

If you would like a copy of this book for your kids, or for yourself, the ordering information is in the book: call 1-800-765-6955 or order online at AdventistBookCenter.com. Price: $15.99