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Dippy original 750AT
Norwich Cathedral’s Dippy and the Genesis deluge

Following the news last month that well over 100,000 people have been to visit “Dippy” the Diplodocus at Norwich Cathedral, Matthew Pickhaver explains why he believes that Dippy helps to throw light on the biblical story of the great flood.

Since Dippy the Dinosaur arrived at Norwich Cathedral some interesting articles have been written – or talks given – in response, mostly from a similar perspective. But alongside the ‘Diplodocus in the nave’ I believe there is also an ‘elephant in the room’! This is the iconic skeleton’s obvious connection to a large-scale flood event such as that described in Genesis.
Dippy morrison 750ATEarlier this year, in anticipation of Dippy’s visit, I made a five-minute video called ‘Dippy and the Deluge’. It begins with some background about the skeleton and its discovery: it’s both a plaster cast copy and a composite – the original consisting of the bones of at least six individuals dug out of the Morrison Formation in the western US, pictured right.

I then describe features of this sedimentary rock layer that are consistent with rapid burial by a watery catastrophe, including:   
•             Concentrated fossil bone beds with animal remains highly fragmented and jumbled.
•             Dinosaurs alongside invertebrates, fish, amphibians, smaller reptiles and mammals.
•             Bones sorted by size. 
•             Signs of tissue still attached to bones.   
•             A large number of other sauropods besides Diplodocus, without evidence of the substantial vegetation required to support such a population in one location.
•             Material from volcanic eruptions, a long way from any trace of volcanoes.
•             Evidence of mudflows caused by volcanic eruptions and water.
To see these features illustrated, you can watch the video at this link.
Besides such mass burials, there are many other ways in which dinosaur discoveries in general help to reinforce an historical reading of Genesis:
•             When first appearing in the fossil record in the upper Triassic, dinosaurs are already specialised into about twenty diverse but distinct groups, and widely distributed across separate continents. Lacking transitional forms, this record fits the rapid successive burial of ecosystems by a global flood better than slow burial over long ages.        
•             Increasingly, soft tissue such as muscle fibres and proteins are being extracted from dinosaur fossils or actual non-fossilized bones. It is difficult to see how such tissues could survive for millions of years so this is a challenge to conventional dating.
•             Many dinosaurs are preserved with their heads thrown back and tails arched – a position that indicates that drowning was the cause of death. Others have been preserved while fighting each other or sitting on nests of eggs, again suggesting very rapid burial in water. 
•             Job 40:15-24 is thought by some scholars to describe a sauropod or at least some sort of dinosaur. And cultural dragon myths found all over the world have been cited as evidence that mankind and dinosaurs did at some point exist together.
Dippy model 750ATAs for the question of dinosaur extinction, the radical climate change that would have occurred after a global flood provides an alternative hypothesis for their demise: the gymnosperm plant communities that herbivorous species had previously thrived on greatly decreased in quantity and variety, which in turn impacted higher up the food chain too.
Dippy’s visit then is a Gospel opportunity – in fact, I like to think of dinosaurs as ‘evangelizards’! Rather than icons of molecules-to-man evolution, as reminders of the Flood they point us to the reality and necessity of a Holy God’s judgement of sin. Yet as well as reshaping the physical world, the Flood also ushered in the era of grace we are still living in, which has at its centre the cross of Christ.
Jesus certainly taught that the Flood was historical (e.g., Luke 17:26-27) and calls us to repent and trust him if we’re to be part of the New Creation he will usher in at his equally real return.

The Dippy exhibition continues at Norwich Cathedral until October 30.

The top picture shows the original Dippy skeleton in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and is courtesy of Matthew Pickaver. The other two pictures, of the Dinosaur National Monument visitor centre in Utah, located on Morrison Formation outcrops where Dippy's bones were excavated, and the Natural History Museum model of a Diplodocus model, are courtesy of Paul Garner.   
Read our most recent story on Network Norfolk about Dippy here.

BCT logo 320Matthew Pickhaver BSc(Hons), PGCE, works for Biblical Creation Trust, which you can find on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and at www.biblicalcreationtrust.org



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David Griffith (Guest) 04/10/2021 22:19
The biblical flood "of the whole Earth" can only happen in a goldfish bowl sphere with solid walls, which is consistent with the limited concept of the universe held at the time when travel, science, space, evolution and telescopes had not been discovered or revealed by God. Being simplistic about God's world is to diminish the Creator, verging on blasphemy.
Joe Hubbard (Guest) 05/10/2021 16:25
To comment on David Griffith’s comment - even secular scientists agree that the vast majority of the Earth was flooded at some point in its supposed 4.5 billion history, so I’m afraid that your idea of a global flood only being plausible in a ‘goldfish bowl sphere’ is entirely false. There is already enough water on the Earth’s surface to completely cover the entire globe over a mile deep.

And while it’s true that some principles of modern science had not been revealed by God, we can be assured that what He did reveal is truth, otherwise you are believing that God is a liar - which is all-out blasphemy.

We must remember the words of Solomon - ‘Every word of God is true, so not add to His words, lest He rebuke you and prove you a liar’ Proverbs 30:5-6
Richard (Guest) 06/10/2021 07:42
I’m sorry, but this article is both scientifically and theologically flawed.

As a practising research scientist, these creationist views do enormous harm to Christianity’s credibility and the spread of the gospel.

The genesis account was never meant as scientific writing. Even Augustine wrote about the harm caused by taking it as such, around 415AD:

"Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.... Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by these who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion." (chapter 19, book 1)
James Knight (Guest) 06/10/2021 07:54
This is a disgraceful article that distorts the truth, and dishonours the gospel, and the reputation of the faith.

It is shocking to see a writer proclaim that humans and dinosaurs were on the earth at the same time. Dinosaurs died out around 65 million years ago, and prior to that were on the earth for about twice that length of time. Humans only came along about 200,000 years ago.

So sad to see this kind of nonsense published.
Andrew Lee (Guest) 07/10/2021 16:44
A welcome article. There is much to affirm a plain, literal reading of Genesis: e.g. the use of the waw consecutive (typical of Hebrew narrative); the reference to 6-days of creation in Exodus; and Jesus' reference to man being at the beginning of creation etc. Useful in this context is 'In Six Days' edited by John Ashton: a compilation of 50 PhD-level scientists and their reasoning for believing the Genesis account. Ultimately, as Paul makes clear in 1 Corinthians 2, the 'natural' man cannot understand the things of God; only those who have received the Spirit from God.

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