Dinosaurs, Dragons, and the Bible at the Creation “Museum”

Secular media enticing children
"Secular" media enticing children with images of dinosaurs.

Every Thursday, Answers In Genesis (AiG) features a live video on their YouTube channel. Last week (October 3, 2019) was a video titled Dinosaurs, Dragons and the Bible. The speaker this week was Mr. Bodie Hodge, a mechanical engineer, and perhaps more importantly, Ken Ham’s son-in-law. Hodge isn’t as polished a speaker as his father-in-law, but was well received by his live audience. He has a blue-collar, down-to-earth style, mixed in with occasional banal jokes.

A few scenes that showed part of the audience indicated more than 100 people at the Creation “Museum” watched the presentation; the YouTube video stats indicate thousands have watched it online. The in-person audience appeared to be dominated by older people; lots of grey hair.

Hodge presented the standard young earth creationist false claims about dinosaurs that you may be familiar with. He illustrated most of his talk with innumerable AiG cartoons produced by their in-house artist, Dan Lethia. Below is my summary of the talk. I won’t bother to try to refute everything said; I encourage you to watch the video to see, first hand, the level of young earth creationist (YEC) pseudo-reasoning in dinosaur paleontology.

Of course, Hodge tries to make disagreements about dinosaurs due to most scientists having a “Secular viewpoint” as opposed to his “Biblical viewpoint,” which, of course, is the only one supported by God. Hodge thinks there is something sinister about paleontology being presented to children and the general public and illustrated his feelings with the cartoon that opens this post. Apparently, the guy in the bow tie is supposed to be AiG boogeyman Bill Nye, smirking with possible evil intentions.

Hodge is upset that the world doesn’t teach a biblical view of dinosaurs and [gasp] neither do most churches! Old earth creationists, too, are apparently anathema to Hodge and AiG. Hodge states: ‘’A lot of Christians are just taking the world’s ideas and they are bringing it over and mixing it with their Christianity.” And later, “There are only two religions in the world, God’s and not God’s.” AiG’s view seems to be that only their view of religion has a lock on God. So if you disagree with AiG, you better have a nice asbestos suit to wear into the hereafter.

Hodge then lays out the YEC version of history with dinosaurs created on day 6 according to Genesis 1:25. He goes onto a hilariously silly tangent about carnivores originally having been vegetarians, with Tyrannosaurs being vegetarian until Adam and Eve were cursed. This is illustrated with a Tyrannosaurus eating watermelon and other fruits and vegetables.

Dinosaur eating fruit
Dinosaur eating plate of fruit...
Dinosaur swallowing watermelon
... and swallowing watermelon whole.

According to Hodge, after the events of Genesis 1:30 animals were changed and possibly redesigned so some could eat meat. Hodge claims, “Lots of animals with sharp teeth don’t eat meat,” and illustrates this with pandas eating bamboo. He also gave examples of lions that learned not to eat meat in captivity. His photos show some rather skanky looking lions.

The next section of the talk was a discussion of dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark. The creationists have invented their own biological classification system called bariminology (Hodge didn’t use the term) to limit the number of animals on the Ark. YECs like to discuss animal “kinds,” a poorly defined to undefined biblically derived term that is used to group large taxonomic groups into only a few ancestral forms that were on the Ark (thus saving a lot of Ark space). Tellingly, no one would have suggested “kinds” as concept except as a mechanism to save space on the creationist’s Ark. Thus, only two of the dog kind are on ark and they lead to modern wolf, dingo, coyotes, and the domestic dog (but somehow this isn’t hyper-evolution). When applied to dinosaurs, there are only two Ceratopsians, and Sauropods are represented by only 2 juveniles, so they required only a little space. The incredible “Research “ done by AiG’s super-duper creation scientists indicates only 36 to 85 dinosaur kinds on Ark, and thus only 72 to 170 individuals. All dinosaurs outside the Ark died and rotted or were buried in sediment-rich water.

At about 25 minutes 40 seconds into the talk, Hodge makes the most incredible bullsh*t claim: “You go down to Texas where you see these big trackways where dinosaurs, for millions of years [and] for all these layers, were only walking in one direction: UP. It’s fascinating when you think about that. You keep going where those dinosaurs were heading and you find those dinosaur graveyards in places like Colorado and so forth.” The paleontological world certainly wants to see the incredible creationist “research” that this claim is based on. In the meantime we can all laugh at what looks like an off-the-cuff, made-up claim.

Hodge moves on to the geologic time scale and the age of the dinosaurs. A geologic timescale is shown at 27 minutes, showing that the AiG creationist range of the Flood covers late Precambrian time to well into the Cenozoic Era.

Hodge falsely claims geologists and paleontologists use circular reasoning to date rocks, with fossils dating rocks and rocks dating fossils. See here for a good discussion of why the creationists who make this claim are wrong.

Hodge claims Noah’s Flood was about 4,350 years ago based on tallying up genealogies in Bible. The earth is 6,000 years old, and James Ussher’s 17th century calculation was right.

Hodge then repeats a conspiracy theory [approx 28 minutes 50 seconds] that is in signage on the third floor of the Ark Encounter:

If you are out in the world and you propose this idea [that Noah’s Flood is responsible for much of the rock record] in Scientific American or Science Magazine, or National Geographic, they say "No, no, no, you can’t have a global flood, that destroys millions of years, you can’t do that." "Can I have a global flood on Mars?" "Sure go for it."

The next part of Hodge’s talk discusses how dinosaurs were described in the Bible in Job 40 and called behemoth. Other bible verses mention Leviathan, which breathes fire. Amazingly, Hodge briefly discusses the bombardier beetle and the chemical burns it can produce as somehow supporting fire-breathing animals. “If the Lord could do this with a bug, could he do it with a Leviathan? Yep, he sure could.” Hodge then brings up other bible verses that mention “fiery serpents.” The word dinosaur is not in the Bible because it was invented in 1841, but dragons are mentioned in the King James Bible 22 times. Hodge claims all dinosaurs could be called dragons, but not all dragons can be considered dinosaurs because marine and flying reptiles as well as some serpents might also fit. Dragon legends exist until about 1500, then start to drop off in numbers and end in the 1800s.

Either through naivety or dishonesty, Hodge repeats the hoary tale of ranchers shooting a pteranodon as was described in the Tombstone Epitaph, which published a news article on April 26, 1890.

The story is a rather obvious 19th century newspaper hoax and, tellingly, does not include a photograph. Interestingly, Hodge embellishes the article in his retelling of the yarn [38 minutes 50 seconds]:

In the 1800s there’s a few accounts, published in the Tombstone Epitaph, where these ranchers shot and killed by the descriptions is a large pteranodon. It was a pretty good size. From wingtip to wingtip it was about 60 feet and they actually cut samples off and sent it off to laboratories in New England and different places. I mean they really did a lot of proper study on this thing.

Note that he reduces the wingspan from 160 to 60 feet and is somewhat more specific, while yet still being vague, about where samples were supposedly sent.

He then cites a 1902 Encyclopedia Britannica article on “sea dragons” and oddly cites a 1910 Encyclopedia Britannica article that says they don’t exist. (Huh??? How is this evidence for their existence?!) Then, bizarrely, a dictionary that describes dragons as “now rare” is also given as evidence. What spectacular evidence! Apparently, in Hodge’s mind, the fact that past peoples considered dragons to be plausible is evidence that dragons were real. Further “evidence” includes tales of St. George and the dragon, innumerable other dragon legends in Great Britain, the fact that dragons are depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, numerous statues and stained-glass windows. In Hodge’s mind, the fact that the Leicestershire Art Museum (co-founded by Alfred Russell Wallace) has a tile mosaic of a dragon is evidence of real dragons. Considering these artworks as evidence for dragons is bizarre, but Hodge pushes on with more paintings, including the Wiston Dragon mural painted on a church wall circa 1300. And the Welsh National Flag is also “evidence.” Then we are treated to European royal seals and crests. Chinese symbols are also brought up, including the Chinese zodiac found on restaurant place mats. Amazingly, this Chinese restaurant placemat is presented as a slide in Hodge’s talk.

Chinese restaurant menu
Menu from Chinese restaurant "proves" existence of dragons.

Pre-Colombian Moche culture pottery also has some bizarre artwork depicting unusual animals. Since we can’t always positively identify the animals, they must be dragons. Several ancient historians also mention dragons, so they must be real. Hodge needs to submit all this incredible information to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology as soon as possible…so we can laugh at the rejection letter and go to a Chinese restaurant afterwards.

Next, Hodge repeats Ken Ham’s agony from early September complaining about the new USPS postage Tyrannosaurus rex stamps because the hatchling is depicted with feathers. Hodge then complains about artist representations of dinosaurs with feathers while falsely claiming “do you know what we aren’t finding? Dinosaur fossils with feathers on them.” This is ignorant and ignores many dinosaur fossils found in recent decades with feathers. Hodge inflates the credentials of Dr. David Menton, one of AiG’s In-house scientists, as “one of the world’s leading anatomists.” Here is Dr. Menton’s biography on AiG’s website. He also brings up the research of Dr. Alan Feduccia, an ornithologist who disputes the scientific consensus of bird ancestry from dinosaurs. Vertebrate paleontologists actively studying bird origins overwhelmingly think Feduccia is incorrect and not only far out of the mainstream of this field, but also emphatically wrong. Since the creationists are not doing research, they must rely on outliers from the scientific community to have someone to cite.

Amusingly, Hodge shows the audience numerous photos of some of the feathered dinosaurs he claims don’t exist and he claims they are either birds or dinosaurs. He simply refuses to accept the feathers on the dinosaur specimens. Comically, he includes Microraptor gui as a true bird. If that is the case, he would have to claim the rest of the group known as dromeosaurs are birds. Yet, immediately after this, he insists Velociraptor (a dromeosaur) is a dinosaur and NOT a bird.

Hodge then claims another way to make a transitional form (he mistakenly calls them “missing links”) is to “fake it.” He starts out, ironically if you consider some of the things he said earlier in the talk, “When people reject God and his word, why not lie about it?” Followed by “Do you think if you could come up with a dinosaur fossil with feathers on it you could be a millionaire? Do you think people are going to try it? Absolutely they are.” Naturally, Hodge brings up the composite counterfeit Archaeoraptor, which was published in the popular magazine National Geographic. Hodge neglects to mention that all papers written on it were rejected by scientific journals such as Nature. Archaeoraptor never appeared in the peer reviewed scientific literature, but is creationist “evidence” for malfeasance and ineptitude by scientists.

Hodge proceeds to misrepresent the controversy over the scales on the Middle to Late Triassic reptile Longisquama, by ridiculing scientists who don’t think they are feathers. The audience laughed at how foolish they are and how “brilliant” they think Hodge is.

Bizarrely, Hodge claims that because a theropod dinosaur specimen has been found with three partial birds as a fossilized stomach contents, somehow this finding contradicts the evolution of birds from one group of theropods. Hodge genuinely doesn’t seem to know there is anything wrong with his reasoning at this point, and his audience of non-scientists seemed to be eating it up.

The next part of the talk is a discussion of dinosaur extinction. Apparently, Hodge thinks the asteroid impact theory is incorrect because “why would it kill all the dinosaurs and not too much of anything else?” He is apparently appallingly ignorant of the subject. The numerous groups of marine and terrestrial organisms that went extinct at the same time as the dinosaurs are discussed in even the most basic papers, popular books, and technical literature on the subject. Hodge illustrates the rest of his talk with childish cartoons ridiculing various other ideas of dinosaur extinction and has a fun time making fart jokes about an absurd idea that was picked up and poorly reported by the popular press and claimed flatulence led to dinosaur extinction (by increasing the amount of methane, which is a greenhouse gas into the atmosphere). To Hodge, this incorrect idea is a massive fart joke. Near the end, Hodge claims that dinosaurs went extinct because of sin. This is because sin resulted in death and Noah’s Flood, which was followed by climate and environmental change, as well as human hunting.

Reasons for extinction: sin
Sin as cause of mass extinction of dinosaurs.

After telling the audience that dinosaurs can be used as “missionary lizards” to convert people to fundamentalist Christianity, Hodge spends the final 8 minutes or so selling AiG books and videos, followed by a short prayer for the audience.

Dinosaurs as missionary lizards
Dinosaurs as "missionary lizards."

This would be comical, but many children are learning similar things as “science” education. Kentucky is giving Answers in Genesis $1.825 million per year as part of the tax incentive sales tax rebate for the Ark Encounter theme park. Kentucky is a state without a real natural history museum. Kentuckians and their children are more likely to visit the Creation Museum or the Ark Encounter where the above is presented as science than go out of state to visit a real natural history museum.