Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

Monday, October 27, 2008

I know, I know, it's kind of late in life to be going through a dinosaur phase, but at least I can blame it all on my daughter. She had wanted to visit Dinosaur National Monument as part of her earlier and much more normal dinosaur phase, and I was obligated to drive. While in Vernal, Utah's Field Museum of Natural History we ran across a really cool book and map set called Cruising the Fossil Freeway, by Kirk Johnson and illustrated brilliantly by Ray Troll. After negotiating on the internet for a much more price-friendly copy than what was offered in the museum gift shop, the book arrived and Alex dove in with a love only a dinosaur-enamored kid could have. She sat at the dining room table with the map spread out and the book before her, indexing places and events and fossils, and Jurassic dreams of her own.

I'm already a map nut, and I deeply admired the map with Ray Troll's excellent artwork. He has a funky style all his own. Then there sat the book, inviting me to read it because the pages were festooned with the same kind of work, and a fun travelogue of a paleontologist and an artist trekking the American West's famous and obscure (but still great!) bone sites. Who wouldn't catch the fever with such paper pathogens?

There is a catch to all this, of course. The whole Noah's flood/what the heck were those dinosaurs thing always sticks in the craw of Bible-believing Christians, because we get all those pagan paleontologists telling us how it really was, according to the infallible scientific method (TM). As a result, all this time I am carefully thinking about the data of paleontology and how it fits into the biblical record, which actually is infallible. One bolt came out of the divinely-created blue: the K-T Boundary!

Alex, Rene', and I went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science today, which has a really excellent exhibition on dinosaurs right now. There was a display on the K-T Boundary (Cretaceous-Tertiary... they can't even spell it right...), which is THE place in the fossil record, that one narrow band of rock at which the dinosaurs die, and a few modern critters supposedly make it because of their evolutionary superiority. Scientists speculate wildly about what this boundary represents. There is an intriguing bit of evidence: in the rocks of the K-T Boundary there is wildly unusual amount of iridium, an element that normally does not occur in the outer part of the earth's crust. However, it is found with greater frequency in asteroids and in the inner part of the earth. Two possibilities are obvious: an asteroid smacked into the planet like a big grapefruit hitting a mack truck travelling at thousands of miles per hour, or somehow a whole bunch of Iridium got ejected from the inner part of the earth.

Genesis 7:11 says something remarkable that fits the iridium mystery like a rocky glove: "In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened." That's right, the fountains of the deep were broken up. The Hebrew verb there is baqa', which the Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicons defines as "cleave, break open or through." God did a geologically violent act on that day when He opened those fountains from below the surface of the earth, something that we can hardly fathom from our comfy armchairs in the 21st century. Great rifts on the surface opened, and water spewed out, enriched with iridium from the depths of the earth. That iridium now remains in a narrow band of geological strata (umm, rocks) that flashes a neon advertisement for the miraculous judgment of God, antediluvian tough love and then some. But of course it might also have come from an asteroid, which is the more acceptable version for the Any Answer but the Bible's crowd.

Now I'm thinking something more along these lines. There are asteroids, meteors, and comets out there, spewed into space and captured by the sun's gravity by some violent act in the past. Could any of those objects have started at earth, made gravity-leaving velocity, and gone out into space, bearing lots of iridium? That's worth a google or two, isn't it.

But no, I think that God killed the dinosaurs. Not with an asteroid, but with a flood.

No comments: