[Originally published as The Power of Presuppositions]
I have been to dozens of secular natural history museums that display dinosaurs and other fossil lifeforms from the rock record; one of these was the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding, Utah.
Blanding is a small town of about 4,000 souls located some 70 miles south of Moab, Utah on Highway 191. The museum is very well done, and I think it fair to say is one of the main tourist attractions in the Blanding area. The museum was founded in 1992 by Stephen A. Czerkas and his wife Sylvia Czerkas. Stephen passed away in 2015 at the age of 63 from cancer, and his wife continues to direct the museum operations today as far as I know.
Stephen Czerkas was a well-known sculptor and talented artist of dinosaurs and other creatures for the motion picture industry. The Dinosaur Museum has an impressive section that displays posters and other exhibits with the title, “Dinosaurs and the Movies.” Over time, and due to his involvement with dinosaur sculptures, Stephen became more interested in vertebrate paleontology and, by the mid-1980s, was involved in publishing original articles on dinosaurs for general consumption.
I never met Stephen Czerkas, but I see now that we had a couple of things in common:
- Firstly, an interest in vertebrate paleontology without having any formal university training in the subject,
- and secondly, until 1984, the same belief that organic macroevolution was a fact.
In 1984 I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and chose to believe the Bible to be the Creator God’s accurate and authoritative word to mankind.
So, beginning in 1984, Stephen Czerkas and I began interpreting the universe with entirely different worldviews. His worldview required him to believe that evolution was a fact, while my worldview drove me to know that evolution was not a fact. We actually had opposite sets of presuppositions about reality.
In February 1999, Stephen and Sylvia raised $80,000 to purchase a Chinese fossil that came to be known as Archaeoraptor. This fossil was touted in the November 1999 issue of National Geographic magazine as the missing evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. At the time, it was clear that Stephen held to that which most secular paleontologists believed — that dinosaurs had evolved into birds.
As a biblical creationist, I know that dinosaurs did not evolve into birds because the Bible says that birds were created by God on Day 5 of Creation Week, and the dinosaurs (land animals) were created on Day 6. With these facts taken presuppositionally, one can see that a scientific study of fossils shows us that, in reality, there is variation within kinds but no evolution from one kind to another kind.
Nevertheless, in 1999, Stephen Czerkas held to the prevailing secular view that birds had evolved from dinosaurs. But, as many reading this article already know, Archaeoraptor was quickly shown to be a fraud — a fossil made up of the parts of several different animals in order to look like a missing link when it was no such thing. And, since the Czerkases were the main instigators for the whole idea of promoting Archaeoraptor as a missing link, they took a big hit from the secular scientific community as the scapegoats for the fiasco. I can imagine that the Czerkases were really hurt by the whole thing, even though they were not the only ones involved in promoting the mistake. They certainly were not the ones who initiated the idea that dinosaurs evolved into birds or that macroevolution is reality.
I have noticed that the post-scandal articles always seem to mention that Stephen did not have a university degree, as if a university education would have precluded him from making a mistake like the Archaeoraptor fiasco. In contrast, I submit that these types of errors are made by many university-trained secular scientists because their faulty atheistic presuppositions naturally drive them to error.
Within a few years of the scandal, Stephen began writing that he no longer believed that dinosaurs evolved into birds. The “big mistake” evidently drove him to change his view to match the views of ornithologists like Alan Fedducia, who are extremely reluctant to accept dinosaurs as the ancestors of birds. Stephen wrote that he believed that “birds and dinosaurs are related, but only indirectly in having remote distant common ancestors that were arboreal.”
Note that the commonality in both of the main secular views about this topic is the presupposition of macroevolution is a fact. That particular presupposition is powerful, and even a scandal as monumental as that of Archaeoraptor was unable to save Stephen Czerkas from it. He had too much invested in evolution to consider the truth.
A major way that evolutionists fool themselves into believing they see evidence for evolution is by lining up created things in an order of increasing complexity. At the Dinosaur Museum in Blanding they have numerous displays demonstrating this fallacious idea. Here we see a display of animal arms that are shown in what is described as an evolutionary order.
To the biblical creationist, this is seen as simply variation within a kind or similar design in different animals.
Another example at the Dinosaur Museum is this depiction of the evolution of the feather.
Scientific inquiry shows us that each of the many components of the flight feather is irreducibly complex and could not have developed over time from a more simple form. Evolutionists are either attempting to intentionally fool the general public, are unintentionally fooling themselves, or the most likely answer is both.
Another tool used to fool people into believing there is evidence for evolution is the use of cladistics. Here below is the cladistic display showing the way Stephen Czerkas originally understood the evolution of birds on the left and what he changed to believe on the right. Neither way is correct because both cladistic diagrams are driven by the lie of evolution.
For more on Archaeoraptor and other examples, read Jerry Berman’s Evolution’s Blunders, Frauds, and Forgeries.