Paleontologists Target Montana Dinosaur Museum
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
The Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which opened its doors earlier this year, boasts Montana’s second-largest set of displayed dinosaur remains. The record is still held by the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. Both are located in Montana near a rich cache of world-famous fossils. The Glendive Museum stands apart, however, in that it presents dinosaurs as having been drowned and their remains preserved in the massive worldwide flood described in the Bible. This view has prompted reactionary comments from mainstream scientists.
Widely known dinosaur expert Jack Horner told the Billings Gazette, “It's not a science museum at all. It's not a pseudo-science museum. It's just not science…There's nothing scientific about it.” He also stated, “You can't have a debate about science and opinion.”1 Horner did not specify which artifacts in the museum were not scientific, nor what was unscientific about them.
The museum’s founder and director Otis E. Kline, Jr., presented two rationally testable models to the Gazette for how certain marine fossils were transported inland: “There's two ways these fossils could get to Kansas….The evolutionary way says there was an inland sea that came from the Gulf of Mexico. But the biblical creation way says it was the flood of Noah's day.”1
Mary Schweitzer is famous for having proved that some dinosaur fossils from the nearby Hell Creek formation contain soft tissues, including blood cells.2 Kline said about Schweitzer’s research, “Nothing's going to stay soft for 65 million years. You can take that to the bank. I personally think that that dinosaur probably died as a result of the flood in Noah's day, which if we do our chronology is about 4,300 years ago.”1
But Dr. Schweitzer dismissed the museum’s content without any firsthand investigation, stating, “I haven't been to the museum. But I think the whole subject of a creation-based museum combines really bad science and really weak faith….It's a misunderstanding of what is a science to begin with....If you're doing science, you have to play by certain rules. They're trying to rewrite the rules of science and call it science.”3
Significantly, both Schweitzer’s and Horner’s objections appear to be based on philosophical assertions, since no specific scientific finding or claim was addressed. And if the rules of “science” demand that certain historically possible explanations be ruled out prior to their investigation, then a rule rewrite would be appropriate if investigations are to avoid inherent bias.
Montana State University paleontologist David Varricchio likewise said, “You could call a place like that a temple of ignorance, that is kind of how I would describe it.”3 Varricchio indicated that the museum, or at least the worldview it presents, failed to acknowledge his belief that evolution explains drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis and the changing forms of virus coats. “If you don't buy evolution, then good luck with your kid not getting swine flu or something more serious.”
“I guess I kind of feel like anything that denies the science that explains that is a very serious thing,” he said.3
But he did not identify which museum displays denied the “science that explains” the changing features of tuberculosis or flu-causing pathogens, nor how these pathogens are connected to dinosaur fossils. He also did not explore how the biological processes involved with tuberculosis and flu varieties relate to the kind of big-picture evolution that supposedly transformed a dinosaur into today’s birds, which is an evolutionary hypothesis currently in vogue. Kline told ICR News that “the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum does not have displays of either tuberculosis or flu viruses.”
Regardless, drug-resistant abilities and viral coats appear to operate independently of Darwinian influences. They have been explained repeatedly as variations within kinds, quite compatible with the creation model.4,5 Adherence to broad-scale evolution is therefore not needed to interpret changes in pathogens, nor is an understanding of broad-scale evolution necessary to protect children from diseases. It is ironic that in a statement indicting creation-thinking as ignorant, Varricchio betrayed his own ignorance of the creation model’s explanations for the subjects he was discussing.
Instead of weighing the evidence for or against the creation model presented at the Glendive Dinosaur Museum, these paleontologists have resorted to poorly thought-out, ideologically oriented fall-back phrases. Whereas they repeat misguided mantras that faith and science do not overlap—“faith and science support each other very well, if you let God be God and science be science,” according to Schweitzer3—scientific arguments do not appear among their attacks on the museum.
- Healy, D. Dinosaur museum presents biblical view of origins. Billings Gazette. Posted on billingsgazette.com, October 18, 2009, accessed October 30, 2009.
- See Thomas, B. 2009. Dinosaur Soft Tissue Issue Is Here to Stay. Acts & Facts. 38 (9): 18.
- Healy, D. Paleontologists take issue with creation-based museum. Billings Gazette. Posted on billingsgazette.com, October 18, 2009, accessed October 30, 2009.
- Thomas, B. Is the H1N1 Flu Evolving? ICR News. Posted on icr.org May 4, 2009, accessed October 29, 2009.
- Antibiotic resistance does not demonstrate evolution. See Criswell, D. 2004. The “Evolution” of Antibiotic Resistance. Acts & Facts. 33 (12).
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on November 9, 2009.