“Soft Tissue” Found in Dinosaur Bones

For fossils as old as dinosaurs (over 65 million years), the conventional wisdom has been that no original organic material could remain. If the delicate structure of soft body parts is discernable, that is only because these parts were converted to some type of inorganic mineral in the fossilization process. However, over the past two decades, paleontologist Mary Schweitzer has rocked our world by presenting visual evidence of soft tissues recovered from the interior of dinosaur bones, and biochemical evidence indicating that these are in fact the remnants of the original cells and structures from within the dinosaur bone pores. For instance, here is a network of blood vessels, containing little round red things that look like red blood cells:

High magnification of dinosaur vessels shows branching pattern (arrows) and round, red microstructures in the vessels. Source: Schweitzer, et al., “Soft-Tissue Vessels and Cellular Preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex”, Science, 307 (2005) 1952 [6].

High magnification of dinosaur vessels shows branching pattern (arrows) and round, red microstructures in the vessels. Source: Schweitzer, et al., “Soft-Tissue Vessels and Cellular Preservation in Tyrannosaurus rex”, Science, 307 (2005) 1952 [6].

Young earth creationists have widely cited these findings as evidence that dinosaur fossils cannot really be millions of years old, and so the rock layers (radioactively dated to more than 65 million years of age) cannot really be millions of years old – – and so the whole old-earth dating edifice collapses. There have been some responses to these young earth claims by mainstream scientists, but many of these responses are sketchy or outdated. I read through most of Schweitzer’s papers on this topic, and reviewed the key findings from them in a 25-page article, which I posted as “Dinosaur Soft Tissue”, along with other long essays at the top of this blog window.  If you want lots of facts and literature references, that is the place to go. For those who do not want to wade through all that information, here are some key takeaways:

TISSUES AND PROTEINS IDENTIFIED IN DINOSAUR BONES

These remarks pertain mainly to thighbones from two dinosaur specimens, a T. rex (approx. 68 million years old) and a duckbill hadrosaur (approx. 80 million years old). In both cases, the fossils had been buried in sandstone (which may help wick away destructive enzymes from the corpse) and the fossils were analyzed within a relatively short time after excavation, which minimized degradation from sudden exposure to a new set of environmental conditions.

After dissolving away the mineral portion of the bone with weak acid, various types of flexible structures have been recovered. They conform to the microscopic pores of the bone in which they had resided, so they are mainly viewed under a microscope. These structures include transparent, branching hollow vessels corresponding to the blood vessels found in modern animals (e.g. ostriches), and also what look like modern osteocyte cells. Various biochemical tests have indicated that these structures are composed of animal protein, showing that they derive from the original dinosaur tissue, as opposed to being merely biofilms produced by microbes which invaded the bone pores.

An electron microscopy study by Thomas Kaye indicated that what looks like red blood cells in the dinosaur blood vessels are not cells at all. They are little clusters of iron oxide.

The proteins which have been identified include collagen, actin, and tubulin. These are known to have structures which are resistant to degradation, especially when they are crosslinked. Tests indicate that these proteins from the dinosaur bones are indeed highly crosslinked, which appears to be a key aspect of their longevity.

Iron from blood hemoglobin can be highly effective in promoting this crosslinking and in general passivating the reactive groups on the proteins. Schweitzer’s group performed a dramatic experiment to demonstrate this effect, using modern ostrich blood vessels: the blood vessels which were incubated in a solution of hemoglobin (extracted from the red blood cells of chicken and ostrich) showed no signs of degradation for more than two years. In contrast, the ostrich vessels in plain water showed significant degradation within three days, which is more than 240 times faster degradation than with the hemoglobin. The osteocyte cell remnants from dinosaur fossils are essentially coated with iron-rich nanoparticles.

Beside the effect of iron, being in contact with the mineral walls of the pores, and being sealed in tiny pores, away from the enzymes and other body chemicals, can act to preserve remnants of the original proteins. Also, if soft tissue is initially dried out before it decays, it undergoes changes that make it more stable even if it is later rehydrated. Thus,  several plausible mechanisms are known to help explain the preservation of these flexible tissues, and there are likely other factors yet to be discovered.

WIDE VARIATIONS IN TISSUE DECAY RATES

There are plenty of other examples of wide difference in the rates of tissue degradation, besides the ostrich blood vessels cited above. For instance, raw meat may spoil in a few days at room temperature, but will keep for weeks in a refrigerator, and for years if it is frozen or (in the case of country hams) if it is treated with salt and smoke. All the flesh can decay off a human face within a month if a body is left outside. However, this chap found in a Danish peat bog looks pretty fresh after more than 2200 years, demonstrating a difference of more than 25,000 (1 month versus 2200 years) in decay rates:

Tollund bog-man. Source: Wikipedia, “Tollund Man”

Tollund bog-man. Source: Wikipedia, “Tollund Man”

Thus, protein and soft tissue decomposition rates vary enormously, depending on the conditions. Some academics have done lab studies of protein degradation using accelerated conditions of high temperature and high acidity, but it is not valid to extrapolate those results to proteins locked in the pores of dinosaur bones. The reality is that we don’t know, with any precision, how fast proteins degrade under the conditions found in dinosaur fossil bones. So it is incorrect to claim that we know that it is impossible for soft tissue to survive in any form for 80 million years. And so the whole young earth case here falls apart.

In contrast, the rates of nuclear decomposition of elements have been measured over and over again, and found to be essentially invariant. As discussed in the main article there are a few conditions where nuclear decay can be accelerated, but these conditions are known and predictable, and do not apply to the rock layers in Montana where these dinosaur fossils were found.

Thus, it is absurd and insupportable to set aside the radioactive dating of these rock layers because some partly degraded soft tissue has been found in dinosaur fossils from those layers. That is probably the key conclusion from that long article on soft tissue in dinosaur fossils.

Some other topics covered there include the dinosaur-bird connection, the significance of trace indications of DNA, and Mary Schweitzer’s views on this controversy. She happens to be a devout evangelical Christian, who weathers defamatory emails from her young-earth brethren. She seems to handle that with grace, and finds that her view of the Creator has been enriched, not diminished, as she learns more about the complexities of the natural world.

The main driver for folks to hold to a young earth perspective is that they have been taught that this is the only faithful way to handle the Bible creation story. However, that is not the case:   the Reasons to Believe site here lists about 40 well-known, impeccably conservative Christian leaders and writers that endorse or are at least open to an old-earth perspective. These include names like Gleason Archer, Michael Behe, Chuck Colson, Norman Geisler, Hank Hannegraff, C. S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, C. I. Schofield, Lee Stroble, and B. B. Warfield. Billy Graham wrote, I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. … whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God.” A hermeneutical case for an old earth interpretation of Genesis is made by Reasons to Believe, and by the Christian geologists at Old Earth Ministries.

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About ScottBuchanan

Ph D chemical engineer, interested in intersection of science with my evangelical Christian faith. This intersection includes creation(ism) and miracles. I also write on random topics of interest, such as economics, folding scooters, and composting toilets. Background: B.A. in Near Eastern Studies, a year at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a year working as a plumber and a lab technician. Then a B.S.E. and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. Since then, conducted research in an industrial laboratory. Published a number of papers on heterogeneous catalysis, and an inventor on over 80 U.S. patents in diverse technical areas.
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16 Responses to “Soft Tissue” Found in Dinosaur Bones

  1. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:

    Quick easy read with reference to the much more thorough long version.

    Much appreciation, Dr. Buchanan.

  2. Thanks (Eye on the ICR provided similar material in one or more blog posts in the latter part of 2013). Others have said that ‘soft tissues’ should be pretty much the ‘norm’ if dinos were still around less than 4,500 years ago.

  3. I would have put “Soft tissues” in quotation marks; otherwise you risk your title being quotemined and yourself presented as supporting the YEC claims. Reblogging tomorrow.

  4. Reblogged this on Eat Your Brains Out; Exploring Science, Exposing Creationism and commented:
    A refutation (with link to schlarly critique) of one of the more annoying recent creationist claims, which they continue to promote in the face of rebuttals from the very scientist whose work they are misdescribing

    • For the record, my introduction now reads “An analysis (with link to full scholarly critique) of this deceptive and slippery claim, which creationists continue to promote despite rebuttals from the very scientist whose work they are misdescribing. The red “blood” colour is merely iron oxide; the preserved structures are not soft but mineralised; and the only preserved organics are fragments of notoriously tough connective proteins, stabilised by cross-linking over time. (I would add from my own scientific experience that the microcomposite bone-collagen structure will add further stabilisation)”

      • Sounds good overall. However, I don’t think that “not soft but mineralised ” is completely correct here. It is true that when paleontologists talk of “preserved soft tissue” they usually mean that the soft parts, with their forms intact, got converted to minerals. However, with some of Prof. Schweitzer’s demineralized remnants, they are stretchy organic stuff (e.g. see a clip in the middle of the video that is linked to in my long article, showing them playing with stretchy blob under the microscope). That has given some traction, albeit unjustified, for the YEC claims.

      • Thanks. I am changing “mineralised” to “part mineral”. Then I’ll do my homework properly and see if that expression, in turn, needs fine tuning. This fits in nicely with my remark about microcomposites.

  5. gothboyuk says:

    My Sedimentary Geology lecturer was (and possibly still is) a born again Christian with whom we had many hours of wonderful discussion relating Young Earth, Creationism & religion to known scientific evidence. Not once did he say that anything but science was correct. It was a great learning environment and one that most Geologists probably miss out on. It’s always a boon to know both sides of a coin before it is flipped.

    Excellent piece of writing.

  6. I re-edited to “encased in bone mineral” (my earlier presumption of part mineralisation goes beyond the evidence), and added the words “and the scientist responsible (Mary Schweitzer, who happens to be a devout Christian) has herself protested [link to the Biologos/God and Nature interview that you cite] against the use of her data to promote an indefensible Young Earth agenda.”

    To the other reasons you give for trusting radiometric dating, I would add this: we have known since the work of Gamow in 1928 that radioactive decay is an example of quantum mechanical tunnelling. For its rate to have been different, one or more fundamental quantities such as Planck’s constant or the unit of charge would have had to be different, and if that had happened, then the whole of chemistry would have been different and we wouldn’t have these rocks anyway.

    Thanks for an excellent piece of writing and literature research.

  7. John says:

    decay rates vary depending on conditions? Absolutely. Likely other factors to be discovered? Ok we are always learning. Lack of soft tissue being used for decade to prove young earth impossible? http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evidence_against_a_recent_creation
    see #18. Hmmm. Just like we were assured that DNA was mostly ‘junk’ as an evidence against intelligent design.

    Dr. Schweitzer accused or error and her character and abilities attacked upon initial discovery. Why? http://discovermagazine.com/2006/apr/dinosaur-dna She had to ‘ignore the dogma’ to make this discovery.
    http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2014/07/24/scientist-alleges-csun-fired-him-for-discovery-of-soft-tissue-on-dinosaur-fossil/

    We are to believe that increasing samples (though few want them to be found) of up to 500 million years old are preserved. Half a Billion years. That is not plausible, I’m sorry. We have be told for years it could never last that long, now it is declared that is MUST last that long. Go ahead and say ‘maybe we’ll find an answer’ but don’t expect me to drink the elixir and just move along like the rest of the flock with unquestioning trust.

    The problem is really not with who is right and wrong – since we know that there are ‘likely other factors to be discovered” – but it’s that those in power won’t let those with an opposing view play in any reindeer games. Agree or be expelled, then the only recourse is to bow or join organizations where they are mocked. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dinosaur/blood.html It’s insidious, bullying, intolerant, anti-freedom, anti-debate. The find of the century in paleontology is hardly known by the public, not discussed in schools. But dress it up nice, then bury it. Fittingly.

    • John,
      You make some good points, though I would disagree with some others.
      You are right about RationalWiki #18 being out of date. My comment on dino DNA: It is now routine to recover long clear DNA sequences from many kinds of fossils, but typically from ones dated by conventional geology to less than about 2 million years old. If dinos were the same age as other animals (e.g. 6000 yrs), then long clear DNA sequences should also be available from their nice big bones. But it is not so – the best Mary S. could come up with is some stains, which react to short fragments of DNA, on a few cells, showing the DNA to be highly degraded. This is consistent with dinos being much older than, say, mammoths.

      Re “Just like we were assured that DNA was mostly ‘junk’ as an evidence against intelligent design.” – – Sorry, but human DNA IS mainly junk. The “80% functional” headlines we saw a few years ago from the ENCODE project were merely a publicity stunt. See here for the gory details:
      https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/junk_dna_design/

      Mark Armitage being fired for creationist views – if it happened like he said, I hope he wins his suit. I think his views are incorrect, but my understanding is that he was sort of dropping broad hints to students about the youthfulness of his soft tissue find, not pompously hectoring students in the manner of atheist biology professor David Barash at U. Washington:
      https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/biology-professor-brags-about-bullying-religious-students/

      Re more and more examples found of soft tissue up to hundreds of millions of years old – – the great thing about real science is that eventually hard data triumphs over cherished viewpoints. There is always a new generation of researchers coming along willing to challenge orthodoxy. Mary S. was initially scorned, but now she has proven her case. Now we know more about potential tissue preservation mechanisms than we did a decade ago. YE creationism allows no such reconsideration.

      Re “Agree or be expelled, then the only recourse is to bow or join organizations where they are mocked. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/dinosaur/blood.html It’s insidious, bullying, intolerant, anti-freedom, anti-debate. “ – – The talkorigins article you link to there is strongly worded, but basically fair in detailing the bald-faced lies broadly spread by YE creationists about “red blood cells and hemoglobin” being found by Mary S. Instances like these are why YE creationism is scorned by practicing scientists, and is a disgrace to the Christian faith which is supposed to be based on integrity.
      FYI, my story is here: https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/evolution-and-faith-my-story-part-1/

      Best wishes in your journey…

  8. Pingback: Evidences for a Young Earth | Letters to Creationists

  9. Pingback: Really Recommended Posts 10/9/15- Gospels, Domestic Abuse, Dinosaurs, and more! | J.W. Wartick -"Always Have a Reason"

  10. Wayne says:

    The preservation experiment of Schweitzer using a haemoglobin concentrate can hardly be extrapolated to real life scenarios. This experiment may have extended the preservation of the sample over 200 fold but to then wave your hands and say hey presto we have the answer to prevention of decay over 70 to 80 million years is naive in the extreme or dare I say deceptive to the general public. Science should be about avoiding extravagant claims based on limited laboratory data. Of course this didn’t stop the media and Hollywood (latest Jurassic Park movie) casually assigning this iron mechanism as the truth behind the preservation of the proteins etc. The public mustn’t be allowed to think about anything that challenges the evolutionary paradigm after all.

    Fact is her findings of soft tissue and preservation of cellular structure on histology were a big shock to the scientific establishment. Just look at the whole “it’s biofilm stupid ” spiel that was brought out before she published evidence of the vertebrate nature of the proteins found. Let me predict that more evidence of soft tissue from fossils all over the world will follow as will evidence of intact DNA from these samples in due course of time and instead of challenging the ancient earth paradigm it will be assumed that some mechanism (the miraculous iron again?) has preserved these proteins and strings of nucleotides ignoring the laws of physics and chemistry that prohibit such preservation over such time scales. Nothing can challenge the evolutionary axiom.

    You say Scott that evolution is no threat to the Truth of Christianity. I would heartily agree because Truth will always triumph over lies. You say that Paul just tacked on to his arguements in Romans the fact that Adam was the federal head of humanity whose act of disobedience plunged this world into the chaos of pain suffering and death that we see around us. I would say his arguements that Christ is the second Adam only makes sense if the first Adam was a real person – do you believe Jesus was a real Person? In Adam all men die – both physically and spiritually – in Christ all who come to Him in faith are made alive spiritually and at the resurrection to follow, physically as well.

    Would you say that Christ was incorrect or mistaken when He referrenced humans being present ” at the beginning” of creation when speaking to the doctrine around marriage in Mark 10 v 6. Or was the Lord of all Creation, the Word of John 1, through whom all was made that has been made, mistaken when He referenced the Flood of Noah and the reality of Sodom and Gomorrah (Matthew 10 v 15 and Matthew 24 v 37). These are all part of Genesis and Christ in Whom you have placed your faith, referenced these events as fact, rooted in history. If you believe Christ was mistaken in these matters because somehow He laid aside His omniscience then the kenotic heresy is knocking at the door. His unity with His Father and the Holy Spirit not to mention His absolute Deity would prohibit Him telling untruths. And saying that He knew the truth about creation and deliberately chose to perpetuate a creation myth to His “primitive” Hebrew audience is to charge God with deception. A Christ who is anything less than fully God is unable to save anyone.

    Jesus said the Truth would set us free. If His death only accomplished spiritual restoration then why did His death have to be physical. He died physically because the curse upon Adam was physical as well as spiritual death. If evolution is true then death is a good thing because it is the means (along with differential reproduction and random mutations) of life’s upward journey towards complexity and so is in part responsible for the immensity and awesomeness of the created world. God must then approve of death and suffering if He has used this to remove the unfit to make way for the fit. He must also approve of cancer and disease as these have been part of the millions of years as testified to in the fossil record. If this is the case then what is there to look forward to in the new heavens and new earth that God has promised because death is part of Gods creative repertoire. Why is death described as the last enemy (1 Corinthians 15 v 26). Why does Isaiah describe the new creation as a place where the carnivorous order of nature as it is now is reversed (11 v 6). If this is the natural order is part of God’s “good” creation why are we to be rescued from it?

    Finally Jesus said by their fruits you shall know them. He was referencing true believers and the qualities they display as opposed to the rotten fruit or spiritual unproductiveness of the unredeemed. However let’s apply His saying as a spiritual principle to assess the source and results of a philosophy. This is justified I believe if one takes it as truth that the Source and results of a believers salvation is Christ and Christ like living respectively. What are the fruits of evolutionary philosophy? Does it lead people to God or away from Him? Let’s be honest as Dawkins has said evolution has made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist. Evolution has made more atheists than any other philosophy. Furthermore when its foundational principles are applied at a sociopolitical or economic level its “fruits” take on horrific implications – just look at National Socialism in the 1930s or the atheistic communist regimes of the 20th century.
    Evolution and its propagation through the foundational elements of society (political, educational, scientific establishments etc) have eroded the concept of humans special place in Gods creation, having been made in His image, and convinced people that God doesn’t exist and so they are free to indulge all their desires because they will not be held accountable to a Holy God. If death and suffering are God’s creative tools they conclude that He is culpable for their situation rather than realising it is our sin that has landed us here. Thus God is derided and blasphemed rather than approached in humility and repentance and gratitude for the lengths He has gone to to make things right through His Beloved Son Jesus and His death on the Cross for their sins.

    It must be remembered that the foolishness of God is wiser than mans wisdom (1 Corinthians 1 v 25). The message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1 v 18) but to those being saved it is the power of God. Further the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 3 v 19). As for me I will take God at His word and if that makes me a fool in the worlds eyes so be it! Evolution is the prevailing philosophy of the day. You may say it is just a scientific theory substantiated by evidence and so is neutral. I would say any belief system that strays into determining a persons behaviour towards their Creator and how they choose to live out their existence has crossed the boundary into the area of philosophy/worldview and so must be judged in that light. It is the wisdom of today’s world and stands in opposition to Gods Truth in His Word. As for me and my family we will serve the Lord and the start of that is rooted in believing what He has plainly said in His Word. Jesus said something very interesting about the time of His return…. Luke 18 v 8 ” However when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Faith and belief are interchangeable words in scripture. If we cannot believe what God has clearly stated in His Word and receive His Truth with the humility and simplicity of a child then Christ will not find faith in us when He returns.

  11. Wayne,
    I will respond to several points in your long and thoughtful comment.

    ( 1 ) Re Mary’s hemoglobin experiments — That is only one piece of the explanation. She listed a number of other factors in preservation, as I discussed. Neither she nor I claimed that iron was the only or the main factor, so this should not be over-weighted.

    . ( 2 ) There are no such “laws of physics and chemistry that prohibit such preservation over such time scales”. Rates of biological decomposition vary wildly, depending on the conditions, as we have shown (e.g. “…this chap found in a Danish peat bog looks pretty fresh after more than 2200 years, demonstrating a difference of more than 25,000 (1 month versus 2200 years) in decay rates”). There is nothing in physics or chemistry which precludes some modified remnants of proteins enduring for 100 million years under the right circumstances.
    In case you did not look at it, the full article I wrote on dinosaur soft tissue is here: https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/dinosaur-soft-tissue/ . It has lots more technical details. The post above, that you commented on, is just a summary.

    ( 3 ) I treated the case of Paul in an article on Adam, the Fall, and Evolution (https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/adam-the-fall-and-evolution-christianity-today-and-world-get-it-wrong/ ) which you seem to have looked at:
    “Paul clearly believed that Genesis 2-3 narrative to be literally true. Of course he did! How could he not? Any pious Jew or educated Christian of the first century accepted the Genesis narrative at face value. That is what they had all been taught, and they had no reason to think otherwise.

    Unless we are prepared to claim that God would give Paul supernatural knowledge of science, beyond the understanding of his age, we must accept that Paul would share the beliefs of those around him regarding the origins of the physical world. Paul did receive some special revelation, but that was clearly circumscribed.”
    You did not provide any grounds for believing that God supernaturally revealed science to Paul, so I maintain that we must accept that Paul would share the beliefs of those around him regarding the origins of the physical world.
    As discussed in that article, the fact that Paul believed in the literal Adam and Eve story does not mean that we should believe in the literal Adam and Eve story. The fact that Paul insisted that women must wear head coverings does not mean we should insist that women should wear head coverings. As always, human reasoning is unavoidably involved in interpreting the meaning and application of the scripture. (When someone accuses you of using human reasoning to avoid the “plain meaning” of the scripture, all that means is that their human reasoning has led them to a different conclusion than your human reasoning…).

    Paul was not omniscient (see Acts 23:5; I Cor 13:12). He acknowledges that not everything he writes is an oracle of God; some is simply his opinion (I Cor 7:10-12). He does not claim that every statement in every letter is absolute truth. The fact that he was mistaken in believing in the literal Adam story does not obviate the authenticity of the revelation that he was given.

    ( 4 ) Re “If you believe Christ was mistaken in these matters because somehow He laid aside His omniscience then the kenotic heresy is knocking at the door. “ — I respectfully suggest that if you DENY that He laid aside His omniscience then the docetic heresy is knocking at the door.

    As you stated, Jesus appeared to, like Paul, assume the historicity of the creation account, which we now know is not supported by the physical evidence. There are several ways to deal with this. One reasonable explanation is that, like Paul, Jesus was not omniscient in the days of his flesh. This goes to the heart of how much he emptied himself at his incarnation of divine privileges (Phil 2:7), such that (like ordinary humans) he had to grow in wisdom (Luke 2:52). It can be fairly argued that if he were to really experience the human condition as indicated throughout the book of Hebrews, he didn’t walk around knowing everything all the time. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin“ (Heb 4:15).

    While he might receive words of knowledge from the Father as needed for ministry to others and to guide his critical decisions, Jesus did not automatically know everything. There is his clear statement in Mat. 24:36 that he did not know the timing of the Second Coming. Also, a straightforward reading of Mark 5:30-32 indicates that Jesus initially did not know who had touched him with faith in the crowd. The plain implication of Mark 11:13 is that he did not know that the fig tree with leaves had no figs until he went up close to look.

    If the Father did not reveal 21st century science to him, Jesus, like Paul, would be operating in the same ancient physical worldview as his hearers and would take Genesis as literally true. This intellectual limitation would not be sin, just as having his physical human limitations (getting hungry and tired; limited to one location) was not sin. Also, it would not compromise the authority of his teachings. He did not teach that Genesis was literally true, he merely assumed it. There is a big difference.

    On the other hand, suppose that Jesus was omniscient and knew the Genesis account to not be literally true, would it have been loving and productive for him to stand up and say, “ I tell you that the order of the creation days in Genesis 1 is messed up, and there was no global flood 2500 years ago that killed all but 8 humans” ? I don’t think so. Just as God’s original inspiration of Genesis worked within the pre-existing worldview of the Old Testament Israelites, so Jesus’ discourse worked within the worldview of the New Testament Israelites. He didn’t try to correct every wrong idea in their heads, just the crucial beliefs at the time. We should be impressed here by Jesus’ wisdom and communication skills here, instead of disputing over “error.”

    This is an example of accommodation of God’s revelation to the limitations of the hearers. This pattern of accommodation is evidenced by the progressive nature of revelation and by Jesus’s explanation for why he set aside the Mosaic permission for divorce: “It was because of your hardness of heart that he wrote you this law” (Mark 10:9, Matt.19:8). Jesus makes it clear that God’s basic moral standard was no divorce for anything other than adultery, but that God in giving the Mosaic Law had accommodated to the limited moral character of the ancient Israelites. Thus, it should be expected that God (Father and/or Son) would also accommodate to their inaccurate physical notions.

    If you are going to lose your faith over Jesus saying things that aren’t literally true, you might want to avoid Mark 4: 31 where he states that the mustard seed “is the smallest of all seeds on earth” (which is not true), or where he tells all those stories that never really happened.

    ( 5 ) Re: Curse on Adam, death, etc. – –
    Before Galileo’s discoveries took hold, many Christians felt it was essential to hold to a literal interpretation of passages describing how the sun moves and how the earth is stationary (fixed on it’s foundations). They devised theological arguments as to why geocentrism was a vital part of Christian faith. That is what you are doing here. If you choose to close your eyes to all the evidence that animal death occurred for millions of years before humans appeared and Adam did what he did, then there is not much more to discuss here. See, e.g. https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/some-simple-evidences-for-an-old-earth/ , https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/grand-canyon-creation/
    , https://letterstocreationists.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/realistic-expectations-for-transitional-fossils/ , Etc.

    ( 6 ) Re evolution and Naziism: State control and mass murder have been around long before Darwin. Modern technology allowed genocide to be practiced on a more mass scale by Nazis and communists. The Nazi’s did not particularly favor Darwin — they did not like to be reminded that Jews and Aryans were all part of the human race. Hitler never directly quoted Darwin, nor (to my knowledge) did any official Nazi publication; but the Nazis did quote
    the founder of German Protestant Christianity, Martin Luther in his advice on the proper treatment of the Jews:
    “… to put their synagogues and schools to fire, and what will not burn, to cover with earth and rubble so that no-one will ever again see anything there but cinders … Second, one should tear down and destroy their houses, for they do also in there what they do in their schools and synagogues … And third, one should confiscate their prayer books and Talmud, in which idolatry and lies, slander and blasphemy is taught”. Let’s give credit where credit is due in describing the wellsprings of Nazi thought.

    ( 7) Re Dawkin’s quote on being a fulfilled atheist – – The onward march of science has been used for hundreds of years now by unbelievers to justify their unbelief. The physical evidence clearly supports evolution. If Darwin misuses that to justify his unbelief, so be it. The Nazis misused the laws of chemistry and physics to kill millions of people. The fact that unbelievers can misuse science does not make science untrue.
    I submit that creationism is more responsible than evolution for people losing faith in Christ. If young people are told by older Christians that a young earth and no macroevolution are essential components of Christianity, then they find out (as the evidence clearly shows) that the earth is old and today’s biota got here via evolution, then of course many of them will fall away. Millions of Christians, as with me and with Mary Schweitzer, do not find the slightest reason within evolution to deny Jesus or the Bible.

    ( 8 ) Re: “As for me and my family we will serve the Lord and the start of that is rooted in believing what He has plainly said in His Word.” – –
    I would remind you to distinguish between the Bible and your interpretation of the Bible. If you read through the Bible carefully you will find many, many statements which should not be taken literally. Thus, by selectively choosing certain passages to take literally, and not accurately engaging with the evidence that God has provided in His creation about the age of the earth and the course of biological history, you may be leading your family grievously astray. That is being foolish, not noble.

    That said, I respect your desire to be faithful to God and to be willing endure scorn in following Him.

    I have been through enough of these exchanges to know that we are not going to change each other’s minds here, so I will consider this closed. I wish you well.

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