Like nearly every little boy I know; I grew up fascinated with dinosaurs. In museums, the only thing I wanted to see were the fossils and the reconstructions of life-size dinosaur skeletons. I devoured any dinosaur book I could find. I was enthralled with the Discovery Channel programs about them. The only thing that could have made my childhood fascination with dinosaurs complete was if the Lego company had come out with a line of dinosaurs. Much of their fascination came from their size and the mystery surrounding their disappearance. Was it an asteroid? Rapid climate change? Super volcano eruption? A combination of those or other unknown factors?
As I got older my fascination didn’t wane, but I became aware of a problem. The popular story surrounding dinosaurs and how long ago they lived was at odds with the account in the Bible of the world’s beginning. Even as a child I began to be aware that they couldn’t both be true and so for a time I lived with this sort of cognitive dissonance. Everything seemed to point to the fact that dinosaurs had lived millions of years ago. And yet I also believed that God created the world in six days, no where near that long ago. My struggle continued until a T-Rex came along and settled the debate.
Let me begin by saying that it was not my faith in Jesus that was destroyed by a T-Rex fossil; but my faith in science. Or, to be more precise, it was my faith in the vaunted objectivity of science that was destroyed. But first, some definitions.
FAITH: One of the greatest definitions of faith in the Bible comes from the book of Hebrews. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.
Another picture of faith is given in the encounter that Jesus has with one of his disciples after his resurrection. The other ten disciples had already seen Jesus in the flesh, but Thomas wasn’t there. When they delivered the incredible news that Jesus was alive Thomas didn’t believe. He refused to believe. He said, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into his side, I will never believe.” Eight days later Jesus came and stood before Thomas. Jesus said, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas proclaimed, “My Lord and my God.” To which Jesus responded, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:19-29)
SCIENCE: Now this is how Webster defines the word “science,” and it’s a pretty basic and standard definition. “Science is knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.”
The problems all began with a T-Rex bone in 1991. “In 1991, [a scientist by the name of Mary] Schweitzer was trying to study thin slices of bones from a 65-million-year-old T. rex. She was having a hard time getting the slices to stick to a glass slide, so she sought help from a molecular biologist at the university. The biologist, Gayle Callis, happened to take the slides to a veterinary conference, where she set up the ancient samples for others to look at. One of the vets went up to Callis and said, ‘Do you know you have red blood cells in that bone?’ Sure enough, under a microscope, it appeared that the bone was filled with red disks. Later, Schweitzer recalls, ‘I looked at this and I looked at this and I thought, this can’t be. Red blood cells don’t preserve.’ Schweitzer showed the slide to Horner. ‘When she first found the red-blood-cell-looking structures, I said, Yep, that’s what they look like,’ her mentor recalls. He thought it was possible they were red blood cells, but he gave her some advice: ‘Now see if you can find some evidence to show that that’s not what they are.’
Instead, Mary discovered collagen consistent with blood vessels along with red blood cells, in the thigh bone of that juvenile T. rex in Montana. ‘What we found was unusual, because it was still soft and still transparent and still flexible,’ she says. Her discovery excited much controversy in the evolutionary community, as it seems quite impossible that anything could preserve something so chemically fragile for millions of years. Evolutionists date the first dinosaur in which Schweitzer found the soft tissue to 68 million years ago. Many insisted the material she had found must be microbial contamination because no known process could account for such long preservation of organic material in bone, the molecules of which tend to be readily broken down and particularly for the preservation of its pliability and elastic qualities. In ongoing studies, Schweitzer has discovered soft tissue and confirmed the presence of collagen in other dinosaur specimens alleged to be 145.5 to 199.6 million years old.” “Dinosaur Shocker,” Smithsonian Magazine, May 2006.
All of that left one large question; how could soft tissues survive for millions of years? “Schweitzer and her team noticed that iron particles are intimately associated with the soft tissues preserved in dinosaurs. But when they chelated – or removed the iron from – soft tissues taken from a T. rex and a Brachyolophosaurus, the chelated tissues reacted much more strongly to antibodies that detect the presence of protein, suggesting that the iron may be masking their presence in these preserved tissues. They then tested the preservation hypothesis by using blood vessels and cells taken from modern ostrich bone. They soaked some of these vessels in hemoglobin taken from red blood cells, while placing other vessels in water. Two years later, the hemoglobin-treated soft vessels remained intact, while those soaked in water degraded in less than a week.
“We know that iron is always present in large quantities when we find well-preserved fossils, and we have found original vascular tissues within the bones of these animals, which would be a very hemoglobin-rich environment after they died,” Schweitzer says. “We also know that iron hinders just about every technique we have to detect proteins. So iron looks like it may be both the mechanism for preservation and the reason why we’ve had problems finding and analyzing proteins that are preserved.” For more information click Here Since her initial findings, soft tissue has also been observed, not just in well-preserved dinosaur bones, but in what some call “junk” fossils as well.
So, here is the problem. Many people were rightly disconcerted about the discovery of soft tissue in fossils. That discovery called into question the popular narrative that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. And so, when Mary discovered the preservative effects that iron can have on soft tissue in a lab setting over a short period of time they jumped at that life-line. But in doing so, they made an incredible leap of faith. The conclusions reached by some scientists that want to extrapolate the results of a two-year experiment into millions of years isn’t science. Its faith. Remember the definition of science is “knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation.” Based on the tests performed indicating the possibility of iron acting as a preservative, at best an honest person could conclude that, under strictly controlled laboratory conditions iron has a preservative effect over the spans of a few years. To extrapolate that observable and repeatable finding, into millions of years isn’t science. Its faith. It’s the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. Perhaps those big old bones aren’t as old as we were led to believe…