Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs!

The "Clash of the Titans" at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History between Apatosaurus (right) and Saurophaganax.

Over on Alise Wright’s blog, guest poster David Nilson tapped into something I’d been realizing myself these past few months. He describes reading Evolving in Monkey Town and realizing for the first time that he could be a Christian and accept the scientific findings about how God created the world:

A couple days after reading the book I took my wife and daughter to a nearby waterfall to splash in the water in the baking July heat. I remembered as a kid looking at the aquatic fossils in the rock shelves around the falls, believing they were laid down by The Flood just like my books said, the books that showed Stegosaurs climbing a ramp onto the ark. I smiled to myself, embracing this world again, realizing I could reignite my love for science while still loving God. In fact, the two were connected; to hold a piece of coral millions of years old in my hand could be an act of worship.

Emphasis mine. I really recommend reading his whole post.

Rachel Held Evans’ book didn’t play a role in whether I could accept evolution as compatible with faith in Christ, and I didn’t have a thunderclap moment of realization; for me, the truth dawned slowly. I’ve already discussed how important a role Christianity Today and the BioLogos Foundation played.

But the same freedom Don felt is the freedom I now feel. A freedom to learn freely and uninhibitedly, to embrace what scientists learn about how God orders his creation. It’s incredibly liberating.

And it comes at a great time. My older daughter loves dinosaurs; the first animal noise she ever made was to roar like a dinosaur. When she received birthday money from my grandparents, she passed up all the big flashy toys at Target and chose instead an armload of rubber tyrannosauruses, dilophosauruses, stegosauruses and triceratops. Which she now mothers like little dolls. (Sometimes nurture only goes so far before nature takes over.)

Her love has reawakened my own fascination with dinosaurs from childhood. I’ve been gobbling up the latest research (Tyrannosaurus might have had feathers??), and for the first time I can watch a documentary without those nagging conflicts every time they discuss how many hundreds of millions of years ago these enormous reptiles lived. It truly is freeing.

But it’s freeing in a much better sense than simply my own peace of mind. Like Don, I feel a new freedom to worship. Because understanding for the first time what evolution is and how it’s worked has given me an entirely new insight into the God who I believe set it in motion and guided it.

It’s allowed me to better understand the grace of God and how much room it has for the messiness of this world.

Think about how much disaster God tolerates from us without turning away. I made a mess of my life until about a year ago, and he was right there when I finally threw my arms up and asked him to rescue me. In his name, people have committed atrocities ranging from the Crusades to 9/11. People professing to follow his son have bombed people in Northern Ireland, massacred children in Norway and spewed hatred for minorities, gays and Muslims in this country.

Yet he is always calling to us, asking us to turn away from our failings, come out of the dark and grasp his hand. He is asking us to evolve from desperate wretches into fully loved sons and daughters of God. And it takes a long time. There is trial and error. It’s messy.

Evolution is God’s design for each and every one of us. A move from unformed to formed. From rebellion to obedience. From chaos to order.

And I praise him for that!


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