Dinosaur Expert Criticizes Uber-Darwinists More than Biblical Creationists
One of the field researchers most identifiable with dinosaurs is Dr. Robert Bakker, a colorful individual who’s had a long friendly rivalry with an equally iconic figure of the modern dinosaur hunter, Jack Horner (e.g., 11/24/2007). Brian Switek interviewed Bakker on the Laelops Science Blog. He introduced him as “one of the most famous paleontologists working today, an iconoclastic figure who has played a leading role of rehabilitating our understanding of dinosaurs from the inception of the ‘Dinosaur Renaissance’ through the present.” Wait till you see whom Bakker considers the “greatest enemy of science education in the U.S.”
Many recognize Bakker’s cowboy visage from TV documentaries about our changing views of dinosaurs. His grizzled beard, now graying, bespeaks the passage of time that may have nuanced his views about science and theology a bit. He is no creationist but has learned to understand and sympathize with them. In fact, he turned the disgust many evolutionists feel toward creationists and aimed it at the likes of Richard Dawkins.
We dino-scientists have a great responsibility: our subject matter attracts kids better than any other, except rocket-science. What’s the greatest enemy of science education in the U.S.?
No way. It’s the loud, strident, elitist anti-creationists. The likes of Richard Dawkins and his colleagues.
These shrill uber-Darwinists come across as insultingly dismissive of any and all religious traditions. If you’re not an atheist, then you must be illiterate or stupid and, possibly, a danger to yourself and others.
Bakker was just getting wound up. He said the uber-Darwinists “seem devoid of joy or humor, except a haughty delight in looking down their noses.” Such elitism was unlikely to convince anyone, he said, especially “the majority of U.S. parents who still honor a Biblical tradition.”
Bakker said this as one who fully accepts Deep Time (millions of years) and evolution. But he holds a kind of distant respect for the Bible-believers whose Scriptures grapple with the paradox of death and suffering on the one hand and incredible beauty and design in nature on the other. His model of the right attitude is Edward Hitchcock, a pre-Darwinian Victorian who was both a minister and a paleontologist.1 Bakker has found a hero in this early bone-hunter. “Hitchcock found no easy answers” to the paradox of beauty and suffering, “But he saw a Plan nevertheless.” This has made an impression on Bakker, who himself stands in awe of “extraordinary beauty that could be made intelligible by the human mind.”
1. Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) was a Congregationalist minister who went on to study dinosaur tracks and is considered the father of ichnology, the study of impressions left by living things. In his book The Religion of Geology and its Connected Sciences (1851), Hitchcock attempted a harmonization of the Bible with long ages.
Bakker’s attitude is refreshing compared to the line-up of rabid Darwinists dominating the news, whose invective for creation knows no bounds. We can only hope that further contemplation on the paradox of design and suffering, combined with the wonder of a comprehensible and extraordinarily beautiful world, will lead him to pick up a Bible and read it anew. The historical sciences are limited in what they can teach. If we have a mind, would not the Maker of minds know more about history than our feeble attempts to divine meaning from dead things?
We also hope Bakker doesn’t get into trouble with the uber-Darwinists for his comments. His reputation seems secure, but never underestimate the wrath of the Darwin Party. If you get Expelled, Dr. Bakker, ask yourself what it is about the uber-Darwinists that makes them so vicious. Why are the Bible believers usually more pleasant to be around? Randy Olson made this point in Flock of Dodos, but he hasn’t succeeded, so far, in convincing his fellow Darwiniacs to be nice. You can’t change the leopard’s spots. The spots are in their genes. Scrubbing them is not only futile, it irritates the leopard. Darwinists will only snarl louder and bite harder at attempts to say they shouldn’t be so elitist and nasty. Is it time for a new social group? Hopefully creationists you meet will be agreeable folk, and any questions or disagreements notwithstanding, will welcome you, respect your accomplishments, and be willing to engage in stimulating conversation in a calm and rational manner.