We’re used to the familiar creationist trope of dinosaurs coexisting with humans, and we all remember the photo of P.Z. riding on a Triceratops at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. At least those creationists have the decency to admit that dinosaurs were real, and that the fossils are real remnants of animals that once existed.
Well, you may not know that there’s an even loonier subset of creationists who flatly deny the existence of dinosaurs: one might call them Dino Denialists. You can read all about them in a nice piece by Don Prothero at skepticblog. Prothero links to a website from this bizarre sect, “Dinosaurs: Science or science fiction?”
Besides the usual attacks on radiometric dating and refutations of other creationist arguments that Biblical references to behemoths actually refer to dinosaurs, this site makes the bizarre claim that all the dinosaur fossils were fabricated by scientists. Now even if that were possible (where is this factory that’s so busy turning out thousands of dino fossils?), why would scientists do it?. Prothero gives an explanation from the Dino Denial site:
What would be the motivation for such a deceptive endeavor? Obvious motivations include trying to prove evolution, trying to disprove or cast doubt on the Christian Bible and the existence of the Christian God, and trying to disprove the “young-earth theory”. Yes, there are major political and religious ramifications.
The dinosaur concept could imply that if God exists, he may have tinkered with his idea of dinosaurs for awhile, then perhaps discarded or became tired of this creation and then went on to create man. The presented dinosaur historical timeline could suggest an imperfect God who came up with the idea of man as an afterthought, thus demoting the biblical idea that God created man in His own image. Dinosaurs are not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
Highly rewarding financial and economic benefits to museums, educational and research organizations, university departments of paleontology, discoverers and owners of dinosaur bones, and the book, television, movie and media industries may cause sufficient motivation for ridiculing of open questioning and for suppression of honest investigation. [DP: That’s a real laugher! Most paleontologists are poorly paid and cannot even get a job in paleontology!]
Prothero, a crack paleontologist and author of both popular and technical books on the paleobiology, then proceeds to take the argument apart. I’ll let you enjoy his critique, but here’s one snippet:
There is a long section, using quotes out of context from the Berkeley evolution website, that claims that scientists dreamed up the whole thing as a big scam to undermine religion. Never mind the fact that all the early dinosaur discoveries were made by religious people such as Gideon Mantell, Rev. William Buckland, Mary Anning, and Richard Owen, and many later paleontologists (like Edward D. Cope) were also quite religious. This writer knows how to clip little bits of simplistic web histories out of context, but doesn’t know enough history to know the difference.
This is Lying for Jesus, just as Holocaust denial is Lying for Hitler. I really can’t fathom the mindset of people who can entertain theories like this, fabricating completely ridiculous theories to circumvent the most convincing empirical evidence. I suppose it differs only in degree, but not in kind, from the mindset of people like Ken Ham or William Dembski.
h/t: Grania Spingies