Pterosaurs in the Bible

Yes, you read that correctly.

Jason Colavito just posted about this piece of wacky Bible interpretation. It’s a good post, made entertaining by the fact that the notion of pterosaurs in the Bible comes to us from Ken Ham’s creation ministry. It’s biblical paleobabble like this that discredits the serious scientists who believe in creation from contributing to the discussion. They don’t want to be put in the same category as Ken Ham. Who can blame them?

At any rate, if you read Jason’s piece, which links to Ben Stanhope’s blog where Ben posted about a trip to Ken Ham’s creation museum, you’ll discover that some of the wackiness relates to the “flying serpents” mentioned a couple times in the Old Testament. Scholars have known for some time, based on word study (especially the noun seraph) and comparison of the biblical material with Egyptian material, that there are likely two explanations for the language: (1) the “fiery seraph” likely speaks to the spitting cobra (“fiery” = the burning sensation that comes when you’re unlucky enough to get sprayed or bitten); and (2) when cobras are ready to strike the flanges of skin on either side of their head spreads out, giving the impression of “wings” – hence “flying seraph”. Egyptian has the same word (seraf) for this type of serpent, which was also conceived of as a cosmic throne guardian (recall the cobra motif in Egyptian iconography).

A good scholarly article on the above (if you have access to scholarly journals via a library membership to the ATLA or JSTOR databases) is:

Philippe Provençal, “Regarding the Noun SERAPH in the Hebrew Bible,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 29:3 (2005): 371-379.

Note that “SERAPH” in the article title is actually in Hebrew characters, so you probably won’t be able to use it as a keyword search term. I just used English characters here.

Sorry Ken. No pterosaurs in the Bible.

But let’s hope Project Pterosaur has better luck!

projectpterosaur

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Poof! The Magic Creationist Dragon Disappears

Readers know I have no axe to grind against the idea of a creator. I know two many scientists with PhDs teaching at research universities to think that the idea of a creator is impossible for a modern scientist to embrace. And I’ve read enough good evolutionary theory to know that evolutionists needlessly caricature creationism as an idea, painting it with a broad brush as the sort of hackneyed creationism discussed below. Creationists promoting this sort of thing should be ashamed — both of their intent and their inept science, whichever applies.

Paleobabble readers will enjoy the recent lengthy and meticulous exposure of pseudo-paleontology: the case of this “dragon” skeleton. As the item at the link notes, a “dragon” skeleton (cast as a “late living pterosaur” to promote the idea of recent creation) displayed in Rome is nothing of the sort. It’s a good read, but the real pummeling is to be found in the electronic paleontology journal that published the expose.

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