Ropen – Is it a Myth or Fantasy?

On August 22, 2014, in Sighting in Papua New Guinea, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Why do critics of these investigations proclaim so ardently the religious beliefs of cryptozoologists who interview eyewitnesses of apparent pterosaurs? The latest skeptic to join in criticizing online reports of ropens and other non-bat featherless flying creatures—that appears to be a biology professor in Minnesota, although I will not mention his name here. His blog post he titled “There are no living pterosaurs, and ‘ropen’ is a stupid fantasy.”

That professor made many mistakes in his post, including the end of his first paragraph: “There’s just one fanatic.” He was referring to me, Jonathan David Whitcomb. Nothing is said about the following brave cryptozoologists who have explored remote jungles in Papua New Guinea, putting their health in jeopardy, perhaps even risking their lives:

  • Garth Guessman
  • David Woetzel
  • Paul Nation
  • Jacob Kepas

Other names could be mentioned, but the above explorers have searched for living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea during the past ten years, and each of them is a dedicated believer in the Bible and in literal understanding of important passages in Genesis. I too believe that Adam and Eve were the first humans on this planet, with no non-human parents before them (meaning NO ape-like ancestors of humans), and I too believe in a literal worldwide flood. In addition, we all believe that the ropen is a Rhamphorhynchoid pterosaur, NOT a myth or fantasy. Ropens are for real.

So why was I singled out by that biology professor in Minnesota? Three of my associates (Guessman, Nation, and Kepas) have explored in Papua New Guinea more than I have. I will not go into details about my gospel faith here, but one religious principle of which I am often aware is this: “Where much is given, much is required.” I have been given a great deal, including the time, health, and opportunities to write blog posts (and traditional web pages), books, and one scientific paper in a peer-reviewed journal of science. Because of those generous gifts from God, I have been able to write well over a thousand blog posts, in the past eleven years, about many aspects of modern pterosaur investigations. The quantity of my online writings can catch the attention of a critic.

I feel it’s time to quote what I’ve already written in my nonfiction books:

Last paragraph of the introduction in Searching for Ropens and Finding God

Believe what you will about modern dragons, about living pterosaurs, about giant glowing ropens. But the power of the testimonies of the eyewitnesses I’ve encountered, over the past ten years, including many credible natives I met on Umboi Island, makes that flying creature as real to me, almost, as if I had stared a ropen in the face. How can I deny the credibility of the eyewitnesses I have interviewed? With no other reasonable explanation, I now believe in modern dragons, in living pterosaurs, in giant glowing ropens.

Title Page of Live Pterosaurs in America (third edition)

Since the two ropen expeditions of 2004, in Papua New Guinea, more Americans have learned of the living-pterosaur investigations and the many resulting eyewitness interviews. Many web pages have sprung up, many of them by explorers themselves. But despite other web pages, by scornful critics who never went anywhere and never interviewed anyone, those two expeditions, and those that preceded and followed them, are causing an awakening, opening human minds in the birth of a new perspective: Universal pterosaur extinction has been an assumption; some pterosaur species are still living.

From the preface of Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea

I believe in living pterosaurs and hope they will soon be officially discovered. More important, I believe in you, that you can soar above dogmatic assumptions about extinctions. I hope that you already understand that we are more than a by-product of culture: Our existence transcends the boundaries of the human cultural assumptions that have shaped our beliefs.

Now is the time for us to listen carefully, to think clearly, and to act accordingly rather than simply react when a cultural belief is contradicted: now, not after the official scientific discovery of modern living pterosaurs.

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The following Americans have searched for ropens or eyewitnesses in PNG: Whitcomb, Woetzel, Nation, Guessman, and Blume

Some of the Americans who have helped in the ropen searching and investigations in Papua New Guinea, since 2003 – Thank you to them and to their families and friends who supported them

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Pterosaurs, “No Evidence,” and Poop in the Freezer

One critic, a biology professor in Minnesota, insists there is “no evidence,” in my writings, for any living pterosaur. What does he mean? . . . If I were to respond, in one posting, to all his negative comments about my writings, my religion, and my personal motivations, it would be a long posting indeed.

“Don’t Get Strung Along by the Ropen Myth” – a Reply

Notice the Smithsonian blog post by Brian Switek, dated August 16, 2010: not one reference to an eyewitness sighting report. Switek says “such anecdotes,” without mentioning what he is talking about. He says much about the religious beliefs of Blume and Woetzel, as if that counts against their ideas, but why does he say nothing about what caused those expeditions: eyewitness reports?

Ropen – Is it a Pterosaur?

How often we’ve been taught that all dinosaurs  and pterosaurs became extinct millions of years  ago, as if that were proven! But what if some are  still living? Before you dismiss the concept of a  modern pterosaur (in particular, of a long-tailed  featherless Rhamphorhynchoid), consider the many  eyewitness testimonies of those flying creatures.

Pterosaur Experts

. . . Guessman recognized that this relates to the stiffening extension rods of Rhamphorhynchoid vertebrae: all but a few vertebrae are locked into stiffness; the few that are flexible are near where the pterosaur’s tail connects to the body.

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More Religion than Investigation?

On April 15, 2013, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

Book Review on Amazon

On April 12, 2013, a skeptic of pterosaur sightings posted a brief review on Amazon, dismissing my recently published book Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea. At first, the review appeared to me a mistake or a dishonest attack, for my book examines many sightings of apparent pterosaurs and emphasizes four critical encounters, four pillars of cryptozoological credibility in my opinion, not just “two” reports; I thought perhaps “WS” referred to a different book, not mine. After looking more closely, I noticed the adjective “intriguing:” The critic wrote, “The book really consists of one or two intriguing reports.” But the other adjective, “really,” can mislead people into thinking my book examines no more than two eyewitness sightings, which is far from the truth.

negative book review on "Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea" - published on Amazon on April 12, 2013

Perhaps WS gave my book two stars instead of one because the reviewer found one or two of the reports intriguing; WS doesn’t say. But I’ll address some of the criticisms.

I was also struck by the title of the book review, “more religion than investigation,” for I had carefully avoided including any preaching while writing Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea (LPAPNG). This is a cryptozoology book that exhorts open-minded examination of eyewitness evidence, nothing like a book on religion. Part of one page refers to the non-religious accomplishments of a few Biblical creationist explorers, their interviews with natives in Papua New Guinea, but that hardly changes the genre of the book: “cryptozoology.”

False “Racism” Statement

I have done a word scanning of this book. The words completely absent include:

  • racism
  • race
  • aboriginal

Nobody will find any of those words in the book, for they’re absent.

The reviewer wrote the following:

He describes science . . . and even equates it with racism . . .

At first, the comment on racism lead me to suspect the person writing this review had not read my book but some other publication instead, or had read more than one author and had become confused. Never in my life have I written anything that even hinted at the idea that science “equates” “with racism.” I then scanned the book for the word “native” and found nothing supporting the critic’s words, but I found two statements almost relevant:

The natives were not trying to deceive us into believing in a fictional creature, contrary to what some American critics later proclaimed. [from the chapter “Another Expedition on Umboi Island”]

Was WS thinking that accusing natives of dishonesty is racism? I can see that possibility. But why would the critic believe that “some American critics” equates with “science?”

WS says that I complain “that scientists no longer believe in human honesty.” Where did I say that? Searching again in the book, scanning it for “lie,” (equivalent to “deceive” and related to “honesty”), I found the following in the first chapter:

On that point, I have found many rejections of eyewitness testimonies to be far from objective and far from mild-mannered. One skeptic, a non-scientist, built a whole web site to ridicule the concept of modern dinosaurs and pterosaurs, putting the words “stupid” and “lies” into the URL address of the site. [from the first chapter, “How can pterosaurs be alive?”]

Did WS overlook “non” and equate “non-scientist” with “science?” Many readers, including myself, have made that kind of reading mistake, especially when we are expecting a particular point of view in what we’re reading. Was the critic simply careless in reading only portions of the book? WS gives no material explanation and gives no example for his conclusions. Why? The more merciful explanation that I see is that WS was careless; I will not assume the worst.

My Conclusion

I sometimes write about pterosaurs and religion, but this book, Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea, has almost no religious content at all except for a few sentences about expeditions of creationist cryptozoologists who interviewed native eyewitnesses in Papua New Guinea. This is a cryptozoology book, notwithstanding WS makes no mention of that fact.

I think I know what WS meant when, in the middle of the brief review, that critic wrote, “Maybe someone will give this subject a serious treatment at some point, but this isn’t it.” I suspect WS means that the book is not a “serious treatment” and perhaps the “subject” was  eyewitness accounts of apparent pterosaurs. The critic gives no details or explanation. I respond, “Maybe someone will write a more precise review, based on the actual contents of the book, but this review isn’t it.”

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nonfiction cryptozoology book in electronic format - living pterosaurs

Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea

Preface

You will here find reports of encounters with apparent living pterosaurs, including many accounts never before published in any book. Other sighting reports are condensed from the print book “Searching for Ropens.” The ebook you are now examining is neither exhaustive nor rudimentary, but it explains most of what most Australians, and others, need to know about what might, on rare occasions, fly over their heads at night.

I believe in living pterosaurs and hope they will soon be officially discovered. More important, I believe in you, that you can soar above dogmatic assumptions about extinctions. I hope that you already understand that we are more than a by-product of culture: Our existence transcends the boundaries of the human cultural assumptions that have shaped our beliefs.

Now is the time for us to listen carefully, to think clearly, and to act accordingly rather than simply react when a cultural belief is contradicted: now, not after the official scientific discovery of modern living pterosaurs.

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Addendum:

After WS communicated with me about our differing points of view, he agreed to change the title of his review to “More scientific approach would have been more effective.” More recently, I noticed that I had neglected to include the word “cryptozoology” in the Amazon “Book Description.” I have now submitted additional words to make the genre clear. (I’m as human as anyone else.)

Readers have come forward, soon after the publication of this negative review, offering support for my book. A notable comment comes from the prolific author Michael Newton, who wrote one of the most respected nonfiction books of cryptozoology ever published, Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Here is what he says about my newest book:

“Jonathan Whitcomb’s Live Pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea adds important new information to his previous works on this subject. Disputes over theology aside, ‘young earth’ creationists remain the primary dedicated field researchers pursuing reports of these most intriguing cryptids.”

Michael Newton Author of 78 nonfiction books, including many on cryptozoology

www.michaelnewton.homestead.com

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Is it Really “Science Versus Religion?”

On June 1, 2010, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

How common this misconception! The philosophy of Charles Darwin has now been labeled “science,” and any contradiction has been portrayed as religious interference with objective reasoning. The idea that all organisms now living on earth have one common ancestory—that philosophy cannot be proven, for it is against the nature of philosophies to be open to scientific proof or disproof.

What some people call “science versus religion” is actually a conflict involving two or more philosophical systems, and one of those systems is usually strict Naturalism philosophy. For example, when two persons have polar-opposite concepts of the Bible (in particular, 100% human-document versus God-inspired scripture), many conflicts of opinion should be expected, when there is a discussion regarding concepts taught in the Bible. I recommend avoiding disputations, for they normally produce a negative outcome. I do recommend that everyone try to better understand the foundations of human controversay, for this can help us all to come to more agreement in supporting truths we know in common.

Regarding reports of modern living pterosuars, why summarily dismiss them all? The official discovery of extant pterosaurs does not, in itself, force any person to abandon religious or philosophical beliefs, so personal agency is not really threatened. For those who are open minded to comparing contradictory philosophies, however, it will become apparent that literal interpretations of some verses in Genesis harmonize better with modern pterosaurs than the philosophy of Charles Darwin does.

More: “Science and Clear Thinking

Do live pterosaurs “disprove evolution?”

On March 29, 2010, in philosophy, by Jonathan Whitcomb

I sometimes encounter a criticism such as this: “A living pterosaur would not disprove evolution. It would just be another example of an ancient species that survived.” That appears simple and airtight, appearently proving me and my associates to be fools to think that an extant pterosaur would relate to the conflict between “religion and science.” One problem with that reasoning is with the word “evolution.” That word some people assume to precisely refer to gradual shifting of biological forms; few people know that the word itself is a shape-shifter. Another problem relates to “disprove,” a word appropriate to mathematics or to science (not to the popularity of a philosophy). In addition, the “conflict between religion and science” is a phrase referring to a conflict between two extremely conflicting philosophies (1); but a conflict between a general belief in God and a belief in the efficacy of sound scientific principles for making discoveries—that is nonexistent: There is no conflict.

In a conversation about biology, “evolution” may refer to different concepts. Unfortunately, those engaged in conversation often fail to realize or distinguish the differences, or fail to appreciate the significance. The limited changes in sizes, shapes, and colors for the same basic kind of organism, commonly observed changes—that kind of evolution has been observed by Darwin and many others. But that is not the kind of change needed to cause one organism to have a future descendant that will be a completely different kind of organism, for example, a mammal with a liver having an ancestor that did not have a liver.

For those who insist that a general definition of “evolution,” a definition like “gradual change over time,” is sufficient in a conversation about biology, consider Professor Peter Beach (2). Over a period of time, the opinion held by this biologist, about Darwin’s ideas about Common Descent, changed dramatically, for his original confidence in Darwin’s philosophy of unlimited common ancestry decreased until it had evaporated. His opinion gradually changed over time, and that process of thinking involved biological brain functions. But how far removed is that kind of evolution from the usual concepts! The real problem is with the vagueness of “evolution.” I suggest, to those who would communicate about the conflict between life-origin philosophies, that we be precise: Use “unlimited common ancestry” when appropriate and other phrases for other concepts. Never converse with the word “evolution” without prior agreement on what is meant by that word.

What is the problem with the word “disprove?” When this word comes up regarding extant pterosaurs (3), their relationship to unlimited common ancestry, the true subject is not scientific but philosophical. Darwin’s idea that there is no limit to common ancestors (as we trace back family trees into the past)–that is a philosophy, and a philosophy cannot be proven or disproven. How serious here is the problem in reasoning! What a problem! Those who think that they are talking about something scientific are blind to the nature of what they are trying to protect: their philosophy.

I will not dwell upon the “conflict between religion and science.” There is no such thing. What some people sometimes refer to is a conflict between strict Naturalism philosophy and the Genesis-account of Creation and the Flood of Noah, especially the philosophy of the “Young Earth Creationist” (YEC). Contrary to the declarations of some of my critics, extant pterosaurs do relate to such conficts, for those who have not already settled their hearts into a philosophy will find that modern pterosaurs fit better with literal concepts in Genesis than with universal common ancestry.

1 Opposing philosophies

2 Brave biologist: Peter Beach

3 Extant Pterosaurs in an issue of Creation Research Society Quarterly

See also Marfa Lights, New Enlightenment

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non-fiction book Live Pterosaurs in AmericaDid you know that living pterosaurs have been reported in North America, even in the United States? Read the many eyewitness sighting reports  by purchasing a nonfiction book on Amazon or from the publisherLive Pterosaurs in America.

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