Paleontologists Target Montana Dinosaur MuseumThis article attracted my attention more than most other Creation/evolution articles because, in the early 1990s, Mary Ann and I spent about five weeks living in a tepee on the Montana badlands outside of Choteau, leading tours for the Museum of the Rockies (mentioned in the article) at a dinosaur dig site led by Jack Horner (quoted in the article). This famous site is the home of Egg Mountain as well a fossil-laden “badlands” and a massive band of dinosaur bones found in incredible density over a large swath of land. If you watch any modern dinosaur specials you will probably find them quoting, or at least mentioning, Jack Horner, Egg Mountain, and this region. (Interestingly—and I can’t swear on its truth—we were told while there that Michael Creighton’s idea for Jurassic Park supposedly began one night around a fire pit at the sight during a casual discussion of how DNA from a dinosaur might be preserved.) The four pictures posted with this blog entry are two different ones of a bearded "me" leading tours there; some carnivore dinosaur teeth still in matrix (rock) which we found; and Art, a friend of ours who came to visit us, with Mary Ann and I in front of the tepees we lived in at the camp.
by Brian Thomas, M.S. *
The Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum, which opened its doors earlier this year, boasts Montana’s second-largest set of displayed dinosaur remains. The record is still held by the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman. Both are located in Montana near a rich cache of world-famous fossils. The Glendive Museum stands apart, however, in that it presents dinosaurs as having been drowned and their remains preserved in the massive worldwide flood described in the Bible. This view has prompted reactionary comments from mainstream scientists.
Widely known dinosaur expert Jack Horner told the Billings Gazette, “It's not a science museum at all. It's not a pseudo-science museum. It's just not science…There's nothing scientific about it.” He also stated, “You can't have a debate about science and opinion.” Horner did not specify which artifacts in the museum were not scientific, nor what was unscientific about them.
The museum’s founder and director Otis E. Kline, Jr., presented two rationally testable models to the Gazette for how certain marine fossils were transported inland: “There's two ways these fossils could get to Kansas….The evolutionary way says there was an inland sea that came from the Gulf of Mexico. But the biblical creation way says it was the flood of Noah's day.”
While living and working at the site Mary Ann and I were privileged to meet Jack Horner as well as many other wonderful men and women working there who sincerely loved what they were doing and believed the current teaching of Paleontology’s leaders wholeheartedly. They were a special group of people and our hearts will always hold a tender spot for them and for our time spent there.
At the time we worked at the site I was not a Christian, but I was well into my journey through the apologetics and trying to come to my conclusions about evolution, Creation, the Bible, Jesus, etc. Interestingly, it was Jack Horner who unwittingly played a part in my eventually coming down on the side of Creation and a young earth, leading to a belief in the Bible.
One day Mary Ann and I were privileged to take a walk through the badlands on a tour led by Jack for the staff. We got to hear him talk about a paper he was publishing and to ask him questions. One of the things he talked about was his theory of how species X (my name) transitioned into species Z (also my name). If my memory serves me correctly, they had many articulated skeletons (the bones were found together, in the animal’s shape) of both species X and Z. Struggling to understand the whole evolution versus creation thing, I asked him if we had any articulated fossil skeletons of species “Y,” which would have been the transitional species between the two.
As I remember it (understand, I am going back almost 20 years in my memory here and could well have some things wrong), he said that we really didn’t. “Why not?,” I asked. He surmised that an interior seaway which paleontologists believe covered much of the central United States back then expanded and contracted over millions of years. He theorized that species X lived on the plains when the sea was small, and was pushed into the pockets of the Rockies when the sea expanded. In those compressed pockets, he theorized, evolution was accelerated, and when the sea later receded it was species Z that emerged onto the plains. In my recollection, he thought that the reason we don’t have articulated fossils of species Y was because of both the upheaval of the mountains which would have disrupted them, and the washes down from the mountains that would have disrupted and scattered any skeletons found there.
I remember hearing that and really struggling to accept it as I began to see just how many leaps of faith (and “theories”) were required to believe the concept of evolution. I know that Jack was sincere in his ideas and fully committed to them. He hungered for truth like I did. I truly like Jack Horner (though he wouldn’t remember me from anyone else), and I truly was honored to be a part of the camp and the work. I’d welcome him to my screen porch for a cup of coffee in a heartbeat! But, it strikes me that what he shared with me in those hills was, simply, opinion—an opinion he had given a lot of thought to, and believed in, but still an opinion. Which is why, I guess, I was so struck the other day with the quote above which is attributed to him about the museum, “You can't have a debate about science and opinion.” I have now, years later, come to believe that there is more evidence for a global flood of Noah’s day, and for a young earth, then there is against it—and I can see that even then God’s Spirit was at work in me as I struggled to embrace what I would later come to believe was not true.