Cliff's Edge-Choose Your Farfetchedness
We have been so propagandized by the narrative of cave men with clubs that the idea of a superior race in far antiquity seems like science fiction.
Look, dinosaur fossils are real, which means that dinosaurs were as well. The company line (the company being the scientific-industrial complex) proclaims that after billions of years of random mutation and natural selection, a microscopic proto-life morphed into dinosaurs. Then 65 million years ago a giant asteroid nosedived into the ground and, filling the atmosphere with soot and ash, blocked out the sun, killing off dinosaurs in the process.
Another option, derived from Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy, offers a different explanation.
Scripture teaches that Adam and Eve were formed “in the image of God” (Gen 1:27, KJV). Freshly-minted, without a fleck of sin, corruption, or death, they were created in the likeness of the One who made space and time and every subatomic particle in it, a universe so vast that Hubble’s most squinting photos are like a blind man’s cane probing air.
What was this first couple like, images of such a wise and powerful Creator? Whatever they were, we must be dismal and distorted echoes of them, akin to the Berlin Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s Ninth contrasted to a moonshine high hillbilly strumming “Yankee Doodle Dandy” on a hacksaw.
The ages of the antediluvians alone highlight the chasm. “When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. After he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Jared lived a total of 962 years, and then he died. . . . Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died” (Gen. 5:18-20, 27), and on and on. Siring children decades after any of us, or anyone whom we have ever known would have been long dead—this mighty race possessed a physical stamina and vigor beyond what we can ever imagine. (The cheap and easy route, of course, is to dismiss the biblical texts as mythological.) The numbers show that these supermen enjoyed at least 10 times the physical prowess of us, their progeny of runts.
If so superior physically, what about mentally, being thousands of years closer to the “image of God” than we are? Genesis 6:4 depicts some antediluvians as “heroes of old, men of renown (literally: “men of the name”). Whatever that means, if we talk about the wisdom that comes with age (50, 60, 80 years), imagine what these “men of the name” accumulated in 800.
The New Testament gift of prophecy (1 Cor. 12:10) manifested in the ministry of Ellen White offers unparalleled light here:
“Notwithstanding the wickedness of the antediluvian world, that age was not, as has often been supposed, an era of ignorance and barbarism. . . . Could illustrious scholars of our time be placed in contrast with men of the same age who lived before the Flood, they would appear as greatly inferior in mental as in physical strength. As the years of man have decreased, and his physical strength has diminished, so his mental capacities have lessened. There are men who now apply themselves to study during a period of from twenty to fifty years, and the world is filled with admiration of their attainments. But how limited are these acquirements in comparison with those of men whose mental and physical powers were developing for centuries!
“It is true that the people of modern times have the benefit of the attainments of their predecessors. The men of masterly minds, who planned and studied and wrote, have left their work for those who follow. But even in this respect, and so far as merely human knowledge is concerned, how much greater the advantages of the men of that olden time! They had among them for hundreds of years him who was formed in God’s image, whom the Creator Himself pronounced “good”—the man whom God had instructed in all the wisdom pertaining to the material world. Adam had learned from the Creator the history of creation; he himself witnessed the events of nine centuries; and he imparted his knowledge to his descendants. The antediluvians were without books, they had no written records; but with their great physical and mental vigor, they had strong memories, able to grasp and to retain that which was communicated to them, and in turn to transmit it unimpaired to their posterity. And for hundreds of years there were seven generations living upon the earth contemporaneously, having the opportunity of consulting together and profiting each by the knowledge and experience of all.”[i]
“There are many inventions and improvements, and labor-saving machines now that the ancients did not have. They did not need them.”[ii]
“There were many giants, men of great stature and strength, renowned for wisdom, skillful in devising the most cunning and wonderful works; but their guilt in giving loose rein to iniquity was in proportion to their skill and mental ability.”[iii]
“In the antediluvian world there were many wonderful works of art and science. These descendants of Adam, fresh from the hand of God, possessed capabilities and powers that we never now look upon.”[iv]
Not quite the Flintstones, were they? But we have been so propagandized by the narrative of cave men with clubs that the idea of a superior race in far antiquity seems like science fiction. But this speaks only to how easily humans can be locked in and limited by the intellectual and cultural myths of a specific age; it says nothing about what humans were like in far antiquity.
And dinosaurs? We have a few cryptic statements from Ellen White.
“But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere.”[v]
“Every species of animals which God had created was preserved in the ark. The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood.”[vi]
“There were a class of very large animals which perished at the flood. God knew that the strength of man would decrease, and these mammoth animals could not be controlled by feeble man.”[vii]
Not much here, and one could wish we had more, but still, it’s something. (See www.whiteestate.org/issues/amalg.html, which argues that Ellen White was talking about the amalgamation of animals with animals, and humans with humans, not humans with animals.)
For starters, the species that God had created was preserved in the ark. What didn’t make it, she wrote, was (at least) this “confused species,” not the direct creation of God but the “result of amalgamation,” which must have been crossbreeding, or the like—acts condemned as “a base crime.”
Now if these “very large animals” were dinosaurs, and were the result of amalgamation, then we have the answer of sorts about where they came from and why they’re extinct. Farfetched? Of course. But 50 years ago the idea of a smartphone and all that it does would have been deemed farfetched, the stuff of science fiction. So what makes us think that we can know today what this long-lived race of beings before the flood could or could not do?
Also, unless you believe that God created dinosaurs in the first six days, the company line is pretty farfetched itself, eh? Billions of years ago—what? We’re supposed to believe that organic chemicals, all by themselves, arranged themselves into living cells that could reproduce themselves, and all on their own, too. And then over long ages of hit-and-miss, we’re supposed to believe that from this one living cell myriads of new and fantastically complicated life forms sprang up—plants, whales, birds, and eventually, humans—a cornucopia of living things, including (early on) dinosaurs (about 700 species of them, in fact). From a single cell to 70-ton Brontosauri; what a transition that must have been, and all by chance, too.
Yet our age has been so programmed by this model, told it over and over and over until it’s become cultural hardware (as, for 1,800 years, the concept of an immovable earth). This scenario is so entrenched, so accepted, that it’s not even questioned but assumed true, regardless of how dizzyingly farfetched.
Even more farfetched is to claim that the Lord Jesus (“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made” [John 1:3]) did it, then left us an account about a six-day creation and Him resting on the seventh that is so far removed from what really happened that it makes those who believe it into buffoons.
Sure, it’s easy to mock the amalgamation model. You believe in some 900-year old wizard who conducted genetics experiments in technologically advanced laboratories prior to Noah’s flood? or the like. Both models are farfetched, yes. One model, though going beyond what Scripture teaches, doesn’t contradict it (and fits nicely with the Spirit of Prophecy, too); the other nullifies not only Genesis but Paul (Rom. 5; Heb. 11:7), Peter (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5), even Jesus (Mark 10:6).
Yes, dinosaur fossils are real, which means that dinosaurs were too. It’s hard to envision any scenario about how they got here that, from our narrow and limited perspective, isn’t farfetched. So in the end, the question is: Which farfetchedness do we choose?
Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. His latest book, Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity, is available from Pacific Press.
[i]Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets(Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1890), pp. 83, 84.
[ii]Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts(Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1945), vol. 4a, p. 155.
[iii]White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 90.
[iv]Ellen G. White, Conflict and Courage(Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1970), p. 34.
[v]Ellen G. White, Spirit of Prophecy(Battle Creek, MI: Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Assn., 1870), vol. 1, p. 69.
[vi]Ibid., p. 78.
[vii]Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts(Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1945), vol. 4a, p. 121.
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