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The God Squad: Where do dinosaurs fit into faith?

February 28, 2014|By Rabbi Marc Gellman

Q: If God created the heavens, the Earth, all creatures and man in seven days, where do the dinosaurs fit in? We know from the fossil record that man and dinosaurs were segregated by millennia.— K., via cyberspace

A: I've wanted to write about evolution, creationism and intelligent design for some time, so thank you for your abiding interest in the Bible and dinosaurs that offers me this opportunity.

Young-Earth creationists believe that the world was, indeed, created in just seven days some 4,000 to 6,000 years ago. This falls 4.5 billion years short of the actual age of the Earth, and 65 million years short of the actual age of the dinosaurs.

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Francis Beckwith, professor of philosophy and church-state studies at Baylor University, in Waco, Texas, in an article in the fine journal First Things, sharpens your comment about dinosaurs by quoting scientist Kurt Wise:

"Either the Scripture was true and evolution was wrong, or evolution was true and I must toss out the Bible.... It was there that night that I accepted the word of God and rejected all that would ever counter it, including evolution. With that, in great sorrow, I tossed into the fire all my dreams and hopes in science."

Instead of focusing on whether or not Wise made the right choice, I'd rather ask if he was correct in believing that there are only two choices: creationism or evolution. One suggestion for a third choice that doesn't require throwing either faith or science into the dustbin of history is called intelligent design. ID promises a middle ground by asserting that evolution is true, but that it reflects the work of an intelligent designer, who is obviously God. God created evolution so that it could eventually evolve us.

Scientists have condemned intelligent design. Richard Dawkins wrote in his 2006 book, "The God Delusion": "Darwin and his successors have shown how living creatures, with their spectacular statistical improbability and appearance of design, have evolved by slow, gradual degrees from simple beginnings. We can now safely say that the illusion of design in living creatures is just that — an illusion."

My take on all of this is that Darwin's hypothesis was more theory than scientific fact because it can't explain the evolution of human consciousness, and that intelligent design is more religious belief than scientific fact because it can't explain how intelligent design works. Each side got some things right and some things wrong.

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