Pterosaur Sightings and Religion

On February 1, 2013, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

On occasion I receive a dismissive remark from a skeptic of our research of pterosaur sightings, something like, “How can a living pterosaur prove that the earth is 6,000 years old?” I do not speak for my associates but for my own position regarding the relationship between modern pterosaurs and the Bible, and my position strongly supports a few points of Young Earth Creation but not all points. I suggest looking a little deeper, especially deeper than dismissive critics have done.

Evolutionary Boundary

At the turn of this century, I spent about half a year testing Darwin’s General Theory of Evolution through mathematical simulations. My intention was not to manufacture a direct refutation of the “molecules-to-man” kind of evolution but to force one small step of such an evolutionary process, so that it might be shown the plausibility of many steps (a microbe evolving into a human would indeed require many steps). I was surprised at the result: Even in the ideal mathematical environment, with an initial population of ten to the twenty-nine power, Darwin’s Common Ancestry idea is impossible: Natural Selection itself prevents that kind of evolution from even beginning to get a foothold.

Pterosaur Sighting Investigation Begins

About three years after beginning my mathematical experiment, I started to investigate reports of dinosaur and pterosaur sightings. Paul Nation (of Granbury, Texas) got me focused, in 2003, on eyewitness reports of possible pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea, and I have passionately pursued reports of those featherless flying creatures until the present.

Evolution and Pterosaurs

During the past eight years, I have written three nonfiction books about sightings of modern pterosaurs, with generally only limited references to the General Theory of Evolution (GTE). In particular, Live Pterosaurs in America (in three editions) and Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea make almost no mention of evolution or religion, pterosaur sightings themselves taking up much of the content. So how does GTE relate to the concept of extant pterosaurs? It’s a bit complicated, but we can look into one aspect, to some extent.

Without evidence for ancient life forms different from present life forms, what do we have? Without fossils of dinosaurs and pterosaurs, Darwin probably would never have thought about the possibility of universal common ancestry. Without any evidence for old-life different from present-day life, how easy it would be to connect Darwin’s ideas with fairy tales! In other words, if each basic type of organism is descended only from basically similar ancestors, Darwin’s concept of common ancestry is an obvious fiction, hardly different from any other fairy tale.

Living Fossils

I know that critics sometimes bring up the Coelacanth, a “living fossil,” as one of the exceptions. They assume that the modern existence of that “ancient” fish offered no evidence at all against the General Theory of Evolution and that the discovery of a living pterosaur would also have no influence against it. But how many exceptions can we discover before the truth becomes obvious? After the discovery of many extant dinosaur and pterosaur species (or discoveries that they have lived within the past few thousand years), it would be obvious that they are not exceptions: Organisms living within the past few thousands years are basically in the same forms as those we know from fossils. In other words, there would be no need to imagine small simple organisms evolving into large complex ones.

I don’t refer to the purpose of those atheists who feel a need for an origin-explanation devoid of God; I refer to objective scientific investigation. But in the real world of human thought, most adults are attracted to some kind of origin philosophy, regardless of whether that frame of mind links to labels like “science” or “religion,” “evolution” or “God.”

To be truly objective regarding a discovery of an animal previously thought extinct for millions of years—that means admitting there is one less animal that existed only in the distant past. The Coelacanth alone is one living evidence against the General Theory or Evolution, regardless of how many scientists have ignored that fact and have clung to Darwin’s origin philosophy.

So is the Universe 6,000 Years old?

I believe in miracles recorded in the Bible. I know that God can do things that are beyond our present comprehension. But why believe that the creation mentioned early in the book of Genesis refers to the creation of galaxies that were beyond the vision and comprehension of those who have, for many centuries, read those verses of scripture (before telescopes)? How much more reasonable for God to inspire Moses to write a brief summary of those creative events related to this earth! And why would God create the universe in six 24-hour periods of time, when his work with human societies has taken, sometimes, centuries?

Regardless of the age of the earth as a globe of matter, life on this planet, especially those more intelligent forms like humans, need not have ancestors that lived millions of years ago on this earth. Adam and Eve were actual persons who lived thousands of years ago, regardless of the assumptions of those who assume that the account in Genesis could not have happened. But that’s a deep subject, far beyond the significance of sightings of living pterosaurs.

Bible, opened to page with picture

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Pterosaur Sightings in the United States

With clear sky and a still-full moon, the landscape was brightly lit [sighting in Ohio]. A creature swooped down—an obvious “pterodactyl”—gliding gracefully over the hood of her car. She watched it fly into some dense underbrush of trees.

Scientific Evidence for Living Pterosaurs

. . . no hoaxes played any significant role in the sighting reports. Any major hoax involvement would have caused at least one obvious peak in wingspan estimates.

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