Dinosaurs: Marvels of God’s Design is the latest book on my shelf that works to harmonize the fossil evidence of dinosaurs with a Creationist view of the earth and its age. The challenge for Dr. Tim Clarey is that he approaches the issue from a perspective that is outside of the normal scientific view. Given the publisher of this book is Master Books, Dr. Cleary works with the Institute for Creation Research, these presuppositions are clearly on the table.
Knowing the purpose of this book, let us evaluate it from there. Clarey (who I keep mistyping as “Clearly,” and the spell-check doesn’t catch that) aims to provide the “science of the Biblical account.” The fundamental problem with this aim is found in the definition I learned of science. There is, and will be, great difficulty in finding either replicated results from Clarey’s work or other scientists from outside his circle. The trust factor is strong here, as is the confirmation or dis-confirmation bias.
On to the material: we are looking at a full-color printing in a hardcover book. It feels durable and will hold up well to repeated readings and leafing-through. The print quality is good, the colors are vibrant. It looks good and feels good as a book, except for the presence of endnotes rather than footnotes. If it’s a science book, then the research aspect should be considered alongside design. Not being able to easily look up the notes is a problem.
Contents: Clarey begins with a look at the Biblical account and how dinosaurs can fit within the scope of the Old Testament. This includes a look at the Ark and other aspects of historical investigation into dinosaurs. For example, how were dinosaurs understood initially? What are some of the historical finds that suggest dinosaurs living at the same time as humanity?
From this, Clarey then builds his case for dinosaur life fitting into a timeline using only thousands of years rather than millions. This is, of course, the most controversial aspect for the book. If you approach it with a theistic view, that God makes it all work, then you’ll have no problem with this conclusion. If your view is atheistic, or that God does not make it work (either one), then you’ll disagree. I’d be surprised if those in the non-creationist views found Clarey’s view persuasive. It supports those who hold the idea in the beginning, but I don’t see it working well to change minds.
As is frequently the case, the strength of the Creationist argument is the holes in the evolutionist argument. For example, Clarey points out the difficulty with soft tissue finds in dinosaur fossils. This is a still-debated point, but is a problem for the view that those fossils are 65 million years old. Does that overcome the other evidence? That is the question you’ll need to answer from what you’re able to assess.
In all, Clarey presents his case clearly. I find it well-stated and informative. Overall, I like it and will put it on the shelf with the other dinosaur books that come from the non-creationist perspective. It’s useful to put the two philosophical views together, because that’s where the difference truly is. It’s not just about the bone in the ground, it’s about the lenses through which it’s viewed.
So grab a copy and put this on the shelf with your dino stuff. It’s not perfect, but it’s worth having.
I did receive a free book in exchange for the review.