Medieval Dinosaurs Too Incredible for Materialists
Window dressing on the rock wall of a medieval church stirs unbelief, anger among anti-creationists.
At the outset, we are not going to claim with absolute certainty that these carvings are dinosaurs. But look at the photo included in an article for CMI by David Lewis. If you didn’t know where it came from, or when it was made, what would you think?
Gemma Tarlach sure thought they were dinosaurs. In her June 1 blog entry for Discover Magazine (written independently of the CMI article and apparently without knowledge of it), she startled her mostly-secular readers with a shocking headline: “FOUND: Medieval Dinosaurs!” (exclamation point hers).
But she knows that they can’t be dinosaurs. The builders of this remote 15th-century chapel in the Caucasus mountains of Georgia could not have known about dinosaurs, which were only identified by English scientist Richard Owen four centuries later. Everybody knows that dinosaurs had gone extinct 65 million years ago—according to the materialist consensus.
Like Lewis, Tarlach hiked to the remote site herself and took her own pictures.
After hiking up to the famous Church of Tsminda Sameba, sitting pretty at an altitude of nearly 2200m in the Great Caucasus, I couldn’t help but notice something a little odd about one of the carvings on the 15th century belfry.
The two critters scampering across the stonework bear an uncanny resemblance, in my opinion, to prosauropods, semi-quadrupedal herbivores that preceded the fully quadrupedal, longer-necked behemoths of the sauropod tribe. Or maybe they’re a rendering of Pulanesaura, one of the first sauropods.
The artist may have intended to represent one of the salamander species endemic to the region (I don’t know; no one seems to have the answer), but I prefer to believe they’re dinosaurs. What do you think?
She didn’t have long to wait. The comments came in hard and fast, “explaining away” the evidence with various speculations, often vitriolic against creationists who might be tempted to use the figures to support their views. It’s stylized otters. It’s salamanders. It’s dragons. Anything but dinosaurs. When the responses got out of hand, she called for a time out. “It’s a curious carving that, as I said, probably depicts some endemic salamander but looks like dinosaurs. That’s all. Just a quirky, funny thing I saw on vacation. Oh wait…I’m on vacation. That’s right. Peace out.”
This is more a story about sociology than science. The responses reveal something about human nature: observations that don’t conform to a worldview must be discarded! That’s Maier’s Law in action: “If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.”
The carving is a “brute fact,” but brute facts don’t exist in a vacuum. Many questions must be asked and answered. Who carved it? When was it carved? Was it a later addition after the 19th century? Was it modeled after a mythical creature from local folklore, or from something the artist actually witnessed? Is there any way that fossils could have caused medieval artists to reconstruct what they thought the creatures looked like? Those are fair questions, but Tarlach and some others clearly saw dinosaurs as a first impression. It posed a Groucho Marx dilemma: who would they believe, the materialist consensus or their lyin’ eyes?
This is not the only anomalous evidence of recent dinosaurs. Creation ministries have long pointed out indications that ancient people witnessed the extinct beasts from their writings and depictions (e.g., dragon legends, the book of Job, various carvings). Some of the artifacts and manuscripts are more credible than others. Given the multiplicity of indications, from so many different continents (e.g., China, North America, Europe), the overall impression seems strong enough to persuade an unbiased observer that at least some of them are clearly dinosaurs. And then there’s all that soft-tissue evidence (e.g., 6/09/15).
Exercise: Read the comments after Tarlach’s article and evaluate the effectiveness of creationist responses. Would they influence a materialist positively or negatively? How could they be improved?