Coppenger talks dinosaurs, Noah’s ark, age of the earth at Baptist Press

Communications Staff — June 13, 2012

Mark Coppenger, professor of Christian apologetics at Southern Seminary, presents his view of dinosaurs and the age of the earth in his June 12, 2012, Baptist Press article, “Did Noah’s ark have dinosaurs?”

Coppenger, who is also director of Southern’s Nashville extension center, suggests that the idea that Noah kept dinosaurs on the ark is plausible for four reasons: 1) the ark’s size was more than three football fields in length and approximately 45 yards tall and 75 yards wide; 2) Noah brought aboard animals only according to general kinds, so this would not require every dinosaur species to be present on the ark; 3) if size was an issue, juvenile or baby dinosaurs would suffice; and 4) the dinosaurs’ behavior would not be any more difficult than Noah, with God’s help, controlling other animals’ behavior.

So, why do some Bible-believing Christians still find problems with this scenario? Coppenger explains that whether one holds to uniformitarianism or catastrophism determines where one places dinosaurs on the historical timeline, particularly in reference to mankind. Typically, Christians who agree with the majority of scientists that the earth is an estimated 4.5 billion years old hold to a uniformitarian perspective, whereas Christians who hold to a young-earth position tend to hold to a catastrophist perspective. He writes:

Where you stand on this dispute depends in part upon your view of the behavior of the universe back through the centuries. If you take a “uniformitarian” view, you argue that the patterns we see now (such as radioactive decay or sedimentary rock formation) are reliably constant, and so we can extrapolate from our current experience back through the millennia to make claims about the fossil record, often postulating some form of God-directed evolution.

Those who embrace “catastrophism” beg to differ, saying that Noah’s flood is a perfect example of how God has engineered great upheavals in the order of things, an event reflected in Psalm 104:5-9. They also say that death and decay – including the destruction of dinosaurs – didn’t occur until after man sinned (Genesis 3), and that, besides, there may well be references to dinosaurs in the Bible (though the word, “dinosaur” didn’t appear until the 19th century).

Noting that this discussion is no trivial matter, Coppenger concludes that, in spite of their differences on these matters, Christians can cooperate toward fulfilling the Great Commission. However, they should agree that “God is Lord of the universe and that He can form, alter and dispose of it exactly as He pleases,” and that any position that is not consistent with Scripture they should discard.

The entire article is available at the Baptist Press website.

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