By Christopher Cudworth
Walking in from the patio where a few potted plants looked dry if not already dying from September fade, I chanced to place a wet foot on the patio step and was struck by the iconic look of a footprint on the porch step.
How many footprints we leave in a lifetime. And how few ever remain. Except…
In Glen Rose, Texas there are fossilized tracks that appear to show humans and dinosaurs walking together. But it is a deception.
Tracking the truth
The remarkable existence of fossilized tracks is miracle enough to inspire awe. But what attracts some people to the tracks is their insinuation that humans and dinosaurs existed on earth at the same time.
It isn’t true. Even creationists with a bent for twisting scientific discoveries to their ideological purposes have largely admitted that the fossilized tracks in Glen Rose were all made by dinosaurs, not human beings.
The dinosaurs that made those tracks were primarily sauropod (brontosaur) theropod (bipedal meat eater) and ornithopod (bipedal plant-eater) types of dinosaurs that made footprints in sufficiently soft soil and were subsequently fossilized so that we can see them today.
Some of the tracks were softened by mud collapse, erosion and the gradual infill that so often happens in wet environments. The tracks affected by wet conditions only appear human because the longer toe marks of the dinosaurs were closed in after they were imprinted in soft soil. That appearance encouraged some people to effectively blur the truth behind the creatures who actually made those tracks. Some young-earth creationists tried to contend that the softer footprints were made by humans, thereby “proving” that humans and dinosaurs once co-existed on this earth. Creationists chose to blur the science to clarify their own ideology. In other words, they lied.
The race is on
Of course blurred beliefs are often the stuff of Hollywood legends as well, because movies are all about fantasy even when the stated purpose is biography. Artistic license is the principle foundation of film, unless it is a documentary. Even then the bias of race or culture or worldview is still in force. Then there is the basic premise of entertainment for entertainment’s sake. There are no ethical rules there.
For example, the entire Jurassic Park movie series shows people running alongside genetically re-created dinosaurs. Some of the “running with dinosaurs” footage resembled a 10K race. The only thing missing were the race numbers and the high entry fees so typical of modern day running races.
Of course if humans did leave footprints today they would most likely be made with a pair of Nikes, adidas or other popular brand of shoe. What would intelligent life 60,000,000 years from now make of that? Of course the minimalist shoe community is trying to take us Back to the Future by going barefoot. Is it all about the tracks we make, in the end?
Fantasy, not reality
There has never been, nor will their likely ever be, direct competition between human beings and dinosaurs for space on earth, unless you consider birds to be dinosaurs, and might be right about that. But be assured, the whole idea of human beings running around with T-Rex in pursuit has never happened. Ever.
It’s takes multiple layers of literal hubris to bury the facts of evolution beneath the opaque gauze of creationism. It also takes a gross sort of panache to co-opt scientifically generated images of dinosaurs to illustrate the displays at an abomination such as the so-called Creation Museum that denies nearly every facet of modern evolutionary theory.
Proto and post-paganism
Of course the entire enterprise (and that is what it is) of creationism is a science of denial designed to specifically to harness the power of tribal authority that prevents people from thinking for themselves. That is one of the things tribal religion does really well, dragging belief back into a form of proto-or post-paganism that converts faith into dogma and then turns it into a realpolitik focused on control, and nothing else. Creationism is no more about God than it is about the fears of people who cannot bring themselves to get a grip on the world as it is.
Even the Creation Museum website admits as much, with its opening tagline of “PREPARE TO BELIEVE” as a not so subtle suggestion that you’re going to have to set aside your intellect in order to embrace what you are about to encounter. If you are adequately determined to impose the importance of human beings on everything that ever happened in earth history, then the human footprint is paramount to define the existence of dinosaurs too. They literally cannot exist without it.
It’s a very sad and limiting worldview because there really is such fantastic wonderment available through science that portrays human beings in a much more realistic context
With even a modest appreciation for the function of metaphor in scripture you come to understand its prevalence throughout the Bible (and other holy books) and also its use by Jesus Christ in all his parables and teachings. The mystery and wisdom of scripture are not lost in translation when metaphor is used to help us comprehend meaning. Much of what we know about God is transmitted through organic imagery, and the organic fundamentalism of the bible becomes eminently clear when you become aware of its role as a catalyst for understanding the creative force of God. When you do that, science no longer becomes a threat to scriptural truths and the bible remains a ready resource for guidance, hope, sustenance and salvation.
Appreciating our own tracks
Why is all this important to those who run and ride? We engage in activities that leave little more than footprints or tire tracks for our troubles, yet when we look back at our tracks on the beach, in the snow or after a puddle on an otherwise dry street, there is a certain pleasure in seeing our existence manifested by the tracks we leave behind. There’s even a popular Christian philosophy about footprints in the sand. You can take it or leave it depending on your own faith background, of course. But many people take great comfort in the idea of not being alone.
It’s all about the power of truly being. If it’s true that we all really matter in the eyes of God, then our footprints are daily praise that we appreciate being here among the living. Even if we don’t have dinosaurs for company. But we do have the birds.
Thanks to http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/paluxy.html for information used in this article.