The Friday Column: Watchtower and Dinosaurs
avatar

close-up_dinosaurs_turok_dinosaur_comics_tyrannosaurus_rex_desktop_1024x742_hd-wallpaper-991803You are eating dinosaur.

I was sitting next to a Palaeontologist in a chicken restaurant.

Look at the scales on the chicken’s leg, pure dinosaur. Did you know T.Rex had feathers?” asked Prof. Octávio Mateus, from the University of Nova de Lisboa.

He had been invited to speak to a regional Archeological group, in the Algarve, Portugal, about his life’s work. Professor Mateus had traveled the world to excavate the ancient extinct creatures that have captured our imaginations for over a hundred years: Dinosaurs.

I must admit, my knowledge of dinosaurs is quite limited. I have watched Jurassic Park, I know that children love dinosaurs, but my own childhood dinosaur memory is the front inside page of the green New World Translation of the Bible. The map of the world on the inside cover had a drawing of a dinosaur (not to scale) placed firmly in Africa. (Portugal is part of Tarshish on the map.)

 

7370_421488598048293_3032862786982753528_n

So what could an ex JW who knows very little about dinosaurs ask an internationally respected Palaeontologist? You got it!

“So err, were all the dinosaurs wiped out in a huge world-wide flood, you know, like the Bible says?”

“No,” he replied, “It was not one event that produced extinction but a process over millions of years. In the Algarve, it is was volcanic action and possible meteor strikes, but not a flood.”

I explained why I asked the question and how one particular organisation is certain that dinosaurs were wiped out in a global flood. I also told him I was looking forward to his presentation that would follow after lunch.

The man born in a dinosaur nest

12660299_10153820152449526_1995401764_n

Professor Prof. Octávio Mateus

Prof. Octávio Mateus is an engaging, funny, enthusiastic teacher. I say teacher, not only because some of his students were in the audience, but because of how much I learned in the hour or so he spoke with the archeological club.

The Professor likes to say of himself “I was born in a dinosaur nest.” When one knows of the Professor’s history, his meaning becomes clear. Archeology is in his genes; his parents researched the Lourinhã Formation, a rich source of Portuguese fossils and dinosaur eggs.

The professor discussed with us the ancient geological periods in which the dinosaurs lived, the Triassic period (beginning 250 million years ago) then the Jurassic period (ending 150 million years ago), and ending with the Cretaceous period (ending 65 million years ago). Then he want on to tell us that parts of the Algarve region of Portugal are a rich source of dinosaur finds, such as a toothy 2-metre long Salamander; Metoposaurus algarvensis.

supersal

About 210 million years ago, this beast swam and walked across the land very near to where I was sitting.

The research that uncovered Metoposaurus algarvensis was led by the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, with the collaboration of other institutions including the New University of Lisbon, the Lourinhã Museum Portugal and the universities of Edinburgh, Birmingham and the Museum of Natural History in Paris.

The results were written up in the Journal of Vertebrate Palaeontology and published in March 2015.

salamanderskullsImages of remains found in the Algarve excavation were displayed on the screen. They looked like two brown bumpy toilet seats. Paleoantologists believe that Metoposaurus algarvensis ate fish and became extinct due to volcanic eruptions and increasing lack of access to lakes and other bodies of water. The recent dig in 2014 found nine specimens of this kind of dinosaur in a four square metre area. The quantity and quality of this find bode well for even greater discoveries when the team return for a future dig.

While Prof. Mateus was presenting, I had some flashbacks of images. I recalled the Photo-Drama of Creation. I remembered images of the ark with dying dinosaurs.

In the week after Prof. Mateus’ talk, I Googled around some of the issues he raised with some questions. I discovered, joy upon joy, that at the same time as the 1914 Photo-drama of creation was wowing and converting, “Gertie, the Dinosaur,” was produced as one of the first animated films.

Created by Winsor McCay. It features the sauropod dinosaur Brontosaurus. (McCay also created Little Nemo, a weekly fantasy cartoon adventure).

The early  Bible Students / Russellites peddled a teaching in 1914 in the Photo-Drama of Creation, “that each of the Seven Days of the Creative Week was a period of seven thousand years. This, seven times seven thousand, equals forty-nine thousand (7×7,000=49,000) years, ushering in a grand Jubilee Epoch.”

 

Dinosaurs: What does Watchtower think?

Jehova's+Witnesses+Dinosaurs+Photodrama+of+CreationThe Photo-Drama of Creation was an early example of a multi-media presentation; combining as it did moving pictures, full colour slides and audio. It stands to this day as an impressive technological achievement for its era, but is also notable for being, shall we say, a less-than-scientifically-accurate account of the field in which Prof. Octávio Mateus has become such an expert.

In fact, scientifically speaking, it was a mess, peddling as it did Russell’s teaching “that each of the Seven Days of the Creative Week was a period of seven thousand years. This, seven times seven thousand, equals forty-nine thousand (7×7,000=49,000) years, ushering in a grand Jubilee Epoch.

Russell’s teaching put the age of the Earth at less than 49,000 years old, and thus radically shifted the age when the dinosaurs had roamed the Earth from hundreds of millions of years ago, to just a few thousand.

The Brooklyn Eagle newspaper said at the time that Pastor Russell’s “Advertising methods had already attracted a good deal of attention to himself, and while many referred to him as “the crank preacher of Allegheny,” his unusual lectures and effective publicity methods drew good-sized crowds to his Bible House on Arch Street.”

Russell told the audience who came to watch the photo-drama that, “these Christians were fortified against the creeping infidelity of the modernist movements.” Early converts lapped up Russell’s chronology and the “seven days” continued to be 49,000 literal years right up till fairly recently.

How recently?

Fellow Friday columnists, John and Jane Redwood sent me the text from the 1975 Awake, where Witnesses were assured of certain “facts.”

12510227_421493041381182_1547770582906989096_n

 

Even as recently as 1982, Watchtower published artwork portraying a wrathful God destroying people, animals, insects….and dinosaurs.

12484781_421488354714984_3304938438537517680_o

In 1982, I was already on my way out of the Watchtower religion. Yet I carried with me the instilled teaching of 7,000 year creative days and of 6,000 years of man’s existence. Of course over the years, those beliefs have been eroded. I think I may have caught a rerun of “When dinosaurs roamed the Earth” on the Discovery Channel.

But I wonder what old time JW’s make of the time scales and the changes in teaching?

In recent years they have become very vague on the subject, seemingly unwilling to engage with the question of the age of the dinosaurs, but tacitly appearing to admit that their age was far greater than had previously been stated.

Now, it’s true to state that Watchtower is not the only organisation contesting the accepted scientific view of the age of this planet, and of the flora and fauna that have existed upon it. Today, many other religions and groups raise similar objections to the findings of these scientists

But Watchtower is notorious for demanding extreme actions from its followers that these other organisations mostly do not, such as the denial of life saving treatment, the forgoing of higher eduction, and the covering up of child abuse. On top of this, it demands that its followers never question any of its teachings on pain of shunning. An organisation demanding that amount of blind loyalty needs to have a flawless track record in the accuracy of its teachings to maintain any credibility at all.

Dinosaurs: What does an expert think?

65978.adapt.768.1I sent the quote from the 1975 Awake and the image from the 1982 Creation book to Prof. Octávio Mateus and asked if he would be willing to comment in reference to this teaching.

He said,

The image and text attached is misleading because it mixes facts and leads to wrong conclusions. Most, but not all, sedimentary rocks are deposited as sand, silt, mud, gravel or clay transported by water or carbonated precipitated in the ocean. Less common, the sediments are transported by wind. Therefore, most fossils are indeed remains of animals covered by sediments being water-transported by river, lakes, or seas. However, this does not mean there was any flood.

Moreover, in the case of desert animals, fossil-bearing sedimented were wind-transported. In those cases, the death and fossilisation did not involve any water. Stratigraphy shows that fossils are a natural consequence of animals being covered by sediment and petrified during the course of millions of years. We have an enormous amount of evidence showing that earth is billions of years old.

Watchtower would probably say, “well yes, we now admit the earth is older than 42,000 years and counting. It is just man that has been around for 6,000 years.”

Yet this is not the point.

The point is: When Watchtower finally admitted that the Earth was far older than 42,000 years old, this was not as a result of divine revelation, or some deeper understanding of the scriptural text. It was as a direct result of the scientific evidence being so overwhelming that Watchtower had to back down.

The God of the bible did not enlighten them. The science of the world proved them wrong.

That should tell you something.

susannah-signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links

Live Science.com article on Professor Octávio Mateus and his team uncovering the remains of Metoposaurus algarvensis. 

Dinosaurs – What do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe?

Bookmark the permalink.

172 Responses to The Friday Column: Watchtower and Dinosaurs

  1. Alexandria R says:

    I forgot to add, according to BBC news Grooved timbers preserved by the saltwater are thought to be the remains of 8,000-year-old log boats, and point to the site once being a sizable boat-building yard, says Garry Momber, of the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology. Anyone standing there when the water came would have been torn apart by the force of the water. It’s an interesting thought the story of the flood may have started that way.

  2. Winston Smith says:

    I don’t want to open up a big debate here, as this is certainly not the forum for it. But I just want to say that i think most hardcore creationists have never studied the evolutionary theory with an open mind. As a JW, I certainly did not do so. They often simply pick and choose portions of scientific discovery to try to support a literal biblical creationist theory and ignore the discoveries that negate such an outlook. Such was the lessons learned from the JW Creation book.

    Once I was free of the JW mental shackles, my mind was free to give the topic an open hearing. I found that the theory of evolution is a viable, feasible scientific concept that is the best explanation for the paleontological, geological, and archeological evidence that exists. To blindly ignore such evidence, or to pick and choose only certain pieces of it while ignoring others, is to reject reason and logic.

    Having my mind free from the JW dogma also allowed me to realize that accepting the scientific evidence for evolution did not negate beief in a creator. Rather, it could even be used to reinforce such belief. As one commenter mentioned, the factors on this planet that make life possible seem to indicate a divine purpose. Evolution could simply be the method God used. And why ignore the beauty of God’s work through evolution simply because of some preconceived notions. There are, in fact, many hardcore evolutionary biologists who are also devout Christians.

    I highly recommend this book on the subject:
    “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-What-Fossils-Say-Matters/dp/0231139624

    That’s my two cents (sense). Feel free to reply, but I will not engage in an evolution vs creation debate. This is not the forum for it.

    WS

    • Evolution is obviously true. Why do I say this?? Well would Jehovah create anything so ghastly & ugly as Stephen Letts?? Mr Letts I believe has Evolved from a Slimey Snake! His eyes are snakelike & skin reptilian … Case closed ? Who needs more proof for Evolution than that !

      • anonymous4 says:

        & the rest of the GB just forgot to evolve. lol

      • Holy Connoli says:

        @ Winston Churchill. In my opinion that wasn’t a cool thing to say about a persons looks. even I done as a Joke I believe nasty comments directed personally to me one hitting below the belt. If we do that we start to become like the WT itself. I think ur purpose hear is better served by bringing out he false teachings and Truth about the WT personal attacks on a persons looks. Just my opinion.

        • @Holy Connoli. I take your point & you are obviously a kind & caring person.
          But I do think the GB members are fair game to be mocked because of the terrible shocking trauma they have caused families to be broken up & devastatingly divided because of shunning just because we might disagree with their interpretation of one of their doctrine which might have changed since we were baptised. So yes I take your point & I wouldn’t normally mock someone’s facial features but mocking Stephen Letts & the rest of the GB is minimal compared to the utter havoc & chaos & heartbreak & emotional destruction of families these evil men have caused .
          Having said that I do respect you Holy Connoli as a commentator here as you do have good knowledge & experience & you do seem to be a genuinely decent person . Hope my comments haven’t caused any offence to you . Take care

    • Phil says:

      It was an Awesome article and much appreciated. Like Winston, I too used to try and fit Evolution and creation together like that. Like you I saw that there was just to much evidence for evolution to take the pure Creation route. God must have started it. However it just pushes the problem further back. The WTBTS and other religions tell us that the evidence for creation is seen in the incredible design we see around us (Not totally true as there are many flaws found in nature). However the problem with that is if we must have a creator because we must be designed then our creator who must be even MORE incredibly designed than us must also have a creator. So where do you stop.
      A rumor in physics circles speaks of an Astrophysicist who gave a talk about the Universe. At the end an old lady stood up and said she didn’t believe any of it cus she new ‘the earth was supported on the back of a turtle.’ The physicist jumped on this with the rebuttal ‘So what is the turtle supported on?!’. ‘Its turtles all the way down !!!’. She replied!
      Once you get free of the influence of false dogma and baseless teachings. Open your mind to all possibilities and study the evidence. Question everything and learn!!

  3. Twmack says:

    The odds of everything being right for life here
    are indeed astronomical, but so is winning the lottery.
    English lottery 45,000,000 to 1. But someone does
    eventually win it.

    There’s billions of star systems out there with planets,
    and while most of them don’t have the right combination
    it looks like we’ve won the jackpot.

    Enjoy your luck. Don’t waste it, waiting for another pot
    of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    • Phil says:

      Agree totally. Don’t get trapped by the WTBS false probability statistics. The Universe has billions of galaxies in it, each with billions of stars and therefore billions upon billions of planets. Statistically there must be many planets just like earth. Earth is not that special. And don’t get me started on the multiverse hypothesis 😀

  4. Wip it says:

    We are all driven by the “Why question, why am i here, what is the purpose & so on, & i guess in the early days the JW do answer those questions quite well, i do believe we were made by a higher source, not sure if i actually believe that to be a God, but yes something put us here.
    Dinosaurs are real & were here millions of years ago, the JW will tell you not to watch those evolution shows, because it will poison you.Its interesting regarding the view point of the JW against TV, News etc, they believe anything said about other religions, but anything said about JW is a lie

  5. Doc Obvious says:

    When I was a sophomore in biology class, I tried to place the creation book with my teachers and they refused the book in its entirety. I realize now that the creation book misquoted several scientists. The book was not a good resource at all. I feel sorry that I tried to place a book that had no real foundation.

    • Winston Smith says:

      I wrote a term paper in high school using the creation book as a primary source. Looking back, I am embarrassed to have done so.

      WS

  6. friendofJW says:

    No, the watchtower is not wrong about evolution being wrong. It’s a fallacy to correlate their being wrong about certain doctrinal and organisational matters to being wrong about evolution. Before Darwin, man has always seen Gods hand and design in nature. I credit the book Darwins Doubt by Stephen Meyer for the initial change in my worldview away from Darwinism.

    • Winston Smith says:

      I disagree with your reasoning. First of all, it is creationist fallacy that the theory of evolution began with Darwin. The concept predates Socrates and the first full-fledged evolutionary scheme is credited to Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s “transmutation” theory of 1809. Darwin’s contribution to the theory of evolution was the means of natural selection.

      Second, humankind had many wrong perceptions of the state of nature prior to the Age of Enlightenment. Example: a flat earth that is the center of the universe.

      WS

    • Phil says:

      I also disagree with your reasoning. If the WTBTS can be shown to be wrong on aspects of Bible doctrine, Bible History, Bible interpretation and Bible proficy, which it has, and these are subjects it claims to be expert at. Then it can certainly be wrong about Scientific matters which it definately is NOT expert at. If a person or organisation frequently gets it wrong on thier chosen subject then I would suggest they should be concidered unreliable on all subjects.

  7. friendofJW says:

    @A4 It’s anyone’s guess. I tend to believe God set everything (Evolution, whatever) in motion (like with a Big Bang).

    The problem with God setting evolution in motion is the theory of evolution is a fully natural explanation, where variations in local living groups leads to consolidation of variants, elimination of non used groups leading to long term change aka evolution. The theory has no need of the God hypothesis.

    • Winston Smith says:

      “The theory has no need of the God hypothesis.”
      I agree. The process of evolution neither necessitates nor eliminates the concept of a creator. It is merely a process that is well represented in our scientific findings.

      Many processes seem perpetual. The planetary motions and the water cycle are two examples. Does God step in every time water vapor needs to condense? We can’t say for sure, but apparently not. The natural universe shows a consistency: things set in motion that seem perpetual. Is it not reasonable that evolution is simply another of those processes?

      WS

  8. anonymous4 says:

    @ Winston Smith

    Re: Evolution & God not necessarily being mutually exclusive

    Reminds me of a comedian who said something like, “I can appreciate the view of hardcore atheists/evolutionists. But can anyone be 100% sure there is no God? I mean, how hard have u looked? Have u checked China?”

  9. Summer says:

    Where exactly can one find the 2016 survey???

    I see 2011 thru 2015 but no 2016

  10. Caroline says:

    Nobody can prove one way or the other how life began on the earth and people can “believe” anything they want to believe but it’s when they judge everybody else around them as either being good or bad or stupid because those around them do not share their particular “belief” is where the problem lies.

    Once a “belief” is supported by evidence and proof, it no longer is a belief but a fact, and when people don’t believe facts, then they are stupid to fight over it without looking it up and they make fools of themselves when they are proven wrong.

    It is arrogant of people to insist that they have to know how life began. Sometimes we just have to be content with not knowing. All religions make people feel that since God made them, then they owe their life to that god but nobody ever asks their religious leaders how they can “prove” that God, any god is real.

    • Winston Smith says:

      Good points Caroline. And while some scientists have proposed ways that life could have begun without divine intervention (e.g. the Miller–Urey experiment), the process of evolution is not part of those theories. Rather it is simply a process that the evidence points to having occurred AFTER early life first began.

      It is a shame that religion always opposes new scientific discoveries. I think of Galileo’s conflict with the Church over a heliocentric solar system, a fact which today is virtually undisputed. It’s the same with evolution. In both cases, religion saw scientific discovery as a threat to its power and influence. Imagine, however, if religion had enbraced science, how far along we would be. But as history shows us, science eventually wins out. Perhaps in another century or so, the evolution-creation debate will be a thing of the past.

      WS

    • @ Caroline .. ‘People can “believe” anything they want to believe but it’s when they judge everybody else around them as either being good or bad or stupid because those around them do not share their particular “belief” is where the problem lies’ .
      I like this point you make in your last comment as you are so right in this analysis. It is when people like the Watchtower stop freedom of speech by shunning & cutting off friends & family because of a difference of opinion that it gets frightening & suffocating. & the difference of opinion can be based on true facts & honest concern of manipulation of people’s minds,energy & money for an organisation who has changed their interpretation of prophecy many times .
      I find it very sad really & heartbraking .

  11. david says:

    love all the info you are providing,keep up thr good work.

  12. FriendofJW says:

    I follow the intelligent design community of Michael Behe, Stephen Meyer, William Dembski, because their research shows biology to be the result of a mind. There’s really no two ways about it. The majority of biological evolution is the result of intelligent processes inherent in biological life itself. The majority of evolution theory is filling in the gaps with creative story telling based on an hypothetical.

  13. Caroline says:

    https://youtu.be/3R1fwrvPM4w

    The movie Regilious by Bill Maher is really good and the clip here is the end, well worth watching.

    • AnonymousL0pht says:

      There is a part of this video clip that should clarify part of issue atheists and agnostics, and believers too, have with organized religion and mystical thinking. Usama Bin Ladin is aggregated in with religious “fanatics” but facts show this terror-bringing guy was trained by US agents then became a renegade political activist, using religious platitudes as a disguise for his “ends”.

      And, thus, it is always about being “controlled” or manipulated to meet the “ends” and “goals” of some one, or group of individuals seeking authority and influence over others. These groups always put individuals under the influence of an external, unknown or invisible, authority.

      And, yet, I always find it fascinating that out of this mystical thinking developed/arose skeptical and objective thought.

  14. Bryan says:

    I wouldn’t trust the scientific “experts” either.

  15. As a professor at University of Sao Paulo (USP), we recently held a dinosaur exhibition for school kids and open to the public in general. We had a couple of people traveling together and then openly id themselves as JW. They were nice and thanked us about the show and also found it very interesting. I also started researching their website where I could find a broadcasting channel (tv.jw.org).

    I understand that if we, as scholars, offer materials open to the public in general, no matter what religion they belief, information might bring some light to people. Keeping a grudge about them because of former thoughts, just don’t bring any good to anybody.

    • Susannah says:

      Thank you for commenting Professor. JW’s are usually nice and generally do say please and thank you. Part of the training to recruit members is to be interested, polite and friendly in the first instance. The teachings are non negotiable. High control belief systems damage families and friendships on a number of levels. No doubt as a researcher you will read widely and not rely on one source of information in determining the facts about JWs.