Ken Ham, Creationism, Dinosaurs, Dragons, and Feathers
Uber science denier Ken Ham, recently became extremely angry at the Washington Post, for mistakenly saying that he believed that dinosaurs were wiped out by Noah’s flood. However, he doesn’t reject the idea that the biblical world wide deluge occurred, just that it wiped out the dinosaurs. Ham and Young Earth creationists in general, believe that humans and what the scientific community refers to as “non avian dinosaurs” lived side by side. ( Yes creationists, birds evolved from dinosaurs and birds are actually dinosaurs, no matter how much you may deny it. ) Ham is confident that they survived the flood. Buddy Davis is certainly not Ken Ham, however he writes for Ham’s, Answers In Genesis. Back in 2010 Davis wrote a page on that website, “Dinosaurs on the Ark,” which he concluded by saying,
The Bible states that two of every kind of land animal and seven of some went onto the Ark. It doesn’t say two of every species went onto the Ark but “kinds.” There are thousands of species of dinosaurs, but there are only about fifty families of dinosaurs. And since the biblical kind is thought to correspond to the family level in most cases, there would have been only about one hundred dinosaurs on the Ark—not thousands.
For instance, there are many different long-neck sauropods, such as Brachiosaurus, Camarasaurus, Saltasaurus, and Diplodocus, but only two needed to go onto the Ark if they were just one kind. This fact dramatically reduces the estimated number of dinosaurs on the Ark. Also, even though some dinosaurs grew to be large creatures, the average size was only about the size of a large sheep or bison. Even the largest dinosaurs were quite small when hatched. The Lord may have selected younger (and therefore smaller) representatives of some of the larger kinds, so there was plenty of room for all of the dinosaur kinds aboard the Ark.
If dinosaurs sailed on the Ark, where are they today? Different animal species become extinct every day for various reasons. After the Flood, the environment and habitat were drastically changed. Many dinosaurs may not have been as suited to the post-Flood world because of these changes. Interestingly, it appears that some of the dinosaur kinds that did survive a long time after the Flood became known as dragons. Dragon legends abound all over the world.
We can confidently build our understanding of dinosaurs—like everything else in life—on the truth of God’s Word.
Unfortunately for Davis and Ham, if “God’s Word” is the Bible, the truth of the matter is, we can not “confidently build our understanding of dinosaurs” on it. There is in fact, regardless of whether God exists or not, no good reason to think that the Bible is “his word.” Even ignoring the multitude of reasons that the flood could not have happened, and the fact that the ark couldn’t have saved life on Earth if it did, we have no good reason to think the ancient “dragon legends” are in any way eye witness accounts of living breathing, non avian dinosaurs. In many cases we don’t even have a good reason to think they are describing any real animal for that matter.
Take for example, the classic epic poem of Beowulf. Now I know what you’re thinking, surely even Young Earth creationists understand that that poem is a work of fiction right? Well, it appears some of them may genuinely believe that it’s a true story. I’m joking right? No, unfortunately I’m not. Recently Rob Boston, writing for Americans United, pointed out,
Charles Wolford of Louisville magazine recently journeyed to northern Kentucky to visit Ark Encounter, a tourist attraction built by Australian evangelist Ken Ham. Ham built a large replica of Noah’s Ark (complete with steel beams, lights, electricity, heating and air conditioning) and is charging people to visit.
During his visit, Wolford met with Andrew Snelling, a geologist who works at the park. A central tenet of Ham’s brand of young-Earth creationism is that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, a contention that, from the standpoint of mainstream science, is akin to asserting that hurricanes are caused by giants blowing on the ocean. Wolford asked Snelling what happened to the dinosaurs – and got an unexpected answer.
“Dinosaurs went extinct after they left the ark,” Snelling replied. “After the flood, we had the Ice Age. We had a radically different world. Some creatures weren’t able to adapt. But most cultures in the world have some legend about dragons, and these dragons are actually a good description of dinosaurs. The Chinese, for example, their dragons are depicted on scrolls pulling the chariots of emperors. And there was a story called Beowulf in which the king slays a dragon, and this happened in Norway.”
At this point, Wolford asks, “So you take Beowulf to be evidence of dinosaurs existing?”
Snelling replies, “Yes. It was an eyewitness account.”
That last statement is one of those things that is so ridiculous that it makes me want to unleash the epic facepalm video.
Never mind that unlike dragons, including the dragon in Beowulf, no living animal is known to have the ability to breath fire. Not only is there no evidence that non avian dinosaurs could breath fire, but we have no good reason to think that they might have had such a fantastic ability. Now certainly the ability to breath fire would be advantageous, as either a way to hunt down prey, or as a defensive mechanism against predators. One problem would be through, that the fire breathing creature itself would have to be fire proof to take full advantage of this ability, otherwise it would risk burning itself, its mate, or its young to a crisp. Also a predator that could breath fire would risk destroying its prey’s habitat and food source, and if the animals it hunted starved to death, it would eventually starve as well. Plus if Beowulf was an “eyewitness account,” and not just a tale of make believe, than I want someone to give me a scientific explanation as to how the monster Grendel could survive multiple sword blows from other warriors, only to be done away with by Beowulf’s bare hands. I’m guessing that Snelling ignored that part of the tale.
Beyond that, there isn’t much description of the Dragon in Beowulf, and what little there is, doesn’t make the creature sound anything like either an avian or non avian dinosaur.
The vast majority of depictions of dragons, look nothing like dinosaurs. Dragons, in ancient legends rarely bare a slight resemblance to any real animals.
Take Medieval Dragons for example, they were commonly depicted as having four legs, plus a set of wings. The drawing in the second image on this page, is a dragon with four legs, and four wings. That is a total of eight limbs. Not only did no dinosaur ever have more than four limbs, no vertebrate has ever had more than four limbs. Even ignoring that, most dinosaurs except birds, did not have wings. In addition, sometimes Medieval dragons had multiple heads, something that no species that we know of, living or extinct possesses.
Dragons in ancient China as well as in most cultures throughout the history of Asia were depicted as being much more like snakes with long serpentine bodies, although they sometimes possessed two to four appendages with claws on the end, or even wings like the typical western dragon. They also look nothing like dinosaurs.
The way dragons were described in ancient Egyptian culture, also makes them sound nothing like dinosaurs. In addition, like their Medieval European counterparts, ancient Egyptian dragons tend to sound like creatures that couldn’t exist in the real world. Fictional beings like dragons, usually do not follow the rules of phylogeny.
Things are not looking good for Young Earth creationists.
There’s another reason why non avian dinosaurs did not look like dragons. There is ample evidence that most dinosaurs possessed feathers.
As Dan Vergano recently reported for National Geographic, in an article titled “Siberian Discovery Suggests Almost All Dinosaurs Were Feathered,”**
Now in a discovery reported by an international team in the journal Science, the new dinosaur species, Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus (KOO-lin-dah-DRO-mee-us ZAH-bike-kal-ik-kuss), suggests that feathers were all in the family. That’s because the newly unearthed 4.5-foot-long (1.5 meter) two-legged runner was an “ornithischian” beaked dinosaur, belonging to a group ancestrally distinct from past theropod discoveries.
“Probably that means the common ancestor of all dinosaurs had feathers,” says study lead author Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science in Brussels. “Feathers are not a characteristic [just] of birds but of all dinosaurs.”
The fossils, which included six skulls and many more bones, greatly broaden the number of families of dinosaurs sporting feathers—downy, ribboned, and thin ones in this case—indicating that plumes evolved from the scales that covered earlier reptiles, probably as insulation. In addition to its feathers, Kulindadromeus also had scales, notably arched ones that appeared in rows on its long tail.
“It’s really fantastic that dinosaurs with ‘fluff’ are found outside of China,” says paleontologist Jakob Vinther of the United Kingdom’s University of Bristol, who was not on the discovery team. “The material and specimens are nothing short of fantastic; their age and sheer number are rarely to be expected.”
Kulindadromeus adds a whole new dimension to understanding feather evolution, Vinther says, pointing to the fact that the three feather types found as imprints with the fossils are different from ones found on feathered dinosaurs or modern birds.
This is bad news for Ham, Davis and Snelling, for not only is it evidence that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs, rather than popping into existence in a single day, but it gives us even more reason to doubt their ridiculous claims that dragons were dinosaurs. Dragons, ( excluding my avatar ) are usually portrayed as scaly reptilian beasts, but contrary to their portrayal in Jurassic Park, most non avian dinosaurs like velociraptors, had feathers. Even most large dinosaurs like T-Rex, probably had at least some feathers.
Like more information on why we think that most dinosaurs had feathers? Youtuber, TREY the Explainer, the person who created previous two videos that I linked to, created an excellent video on which dinosaurs had feathers. To learn more, I suggest you watch that one as well.
The only mythical creature that I know of, that had feathers and could be called a dragon, was the Aztec god, Quetzalcoatl. The way that Quetzalcoatl is described in Mesoamerican mythology, does not make him sound anything like a dinosaur. He maybe depicted as having feathers, but his body shape bears more resemblance to the traditional snake like Oriental dragons, hence the name “the plumed serpent.”
If most dinosaurs had at least some feathers, including the large predatory dinosaurs, humans and non avian dinosaurs lived together, and they called them dragons, than why do we almost never see pictures or descriptions of dragons with feathers? Why is it that medieval and ancient civilizations overwhelmingly portrayed dragons as featherless? Its not like dragons were originally portrayed as bird like creatures with feathers, and than later depicted as reptilian creatures with scales. The vast majority of depictions of dragons throughout history have been the latter.
The reason why Ham and patrons of his “Creation Museum,” most likely don’t realize that this is a problem for the claim that dragons were dinosaurs, is probably because they share the misconception promoted by pop culture that dinosaurs did not have feathers.
Young Earth creationists are not only promoting myths about evolution, the universe, and the age of the Earth, they’re promoting myths about what non avian dinosaurs were like when they were still alive. Off course in spite of the fact that they’re promoting the idea that dinosaurs looked similar to the ones in Jurassic Park, most Young Earth creationists like John Dickerson, are probably not fans of the movie. Even through the movie gets most of its science wrong, it still treats evolution as a real thing, and thus it has an “anti-Biblical view of life’s origin.”
Ham’s insistence that dinosaurs went extinct after “the Great Flood,” only makes things worse for him and Answers in Genesis. Now not only does he and his colleagues have to convince the scientific community that the flood occurred, ( which they wouldn’t be able to do if their lives depended on it ) but they have to explain where all the ancient manuscripts mentioning non avian dinosaurs went. They need to also explain why archaeologists haven’t found any depictions of feathered dinosaurs ( besides birds ) on temple walls or on pottery. They can’t argue that they were destroyed by the flood, since they expect us to believe that humans and dinosaurs coexisted for a time after the flood. Arguing that dragons were dinosaurs, is just laughable. It shows either ignorance, or extreme desperation.
**Note that I wanted to quote from National Geographic’s original source, the “Journal Science,” instead. However I realized that they make you go through hoops in order to get the necessary subscription to read the full article, so I decided not to. I really wish that scientific journals could be a bit more easily accessible, since it would make it easier to fight promoters of pseudoscience nonsense like creationism