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The mysterious origins of a creationist myth

Ken Ham was doing an interview, and he was asked a difficult question: “How did men get the dinosaurs to not buck them off of their saddles when people rode then? Were the dinosaurs more domesticated and well behaved because there wasn’t as much sin back then?” Good one. The creationists do tend to smuggle in a lot of rather unbiblical stuff into their mythology while simultaneously claiming to be strict literalists, so I’d like to see how they came up with that story, too.

Ham’s answer: Gosh, I don’t know. Where did you ever get that weird idea?

I don’t know where people get the idea that people rode dinosaurs. I mean, there’s no evidence in the Bible that that is so. When Job was looking at Behemoth, the description there… there’s nothing to do with people riding dinosaurs. We don’t know how people interacted with dinosaurs.

Go read the post, it’s hilarious. Where did people get that idea? From Ken Ham. He publishes books with illustrations of people riding dinosaurs, and he’s got a fiberglass dinosaur with a saddle on it in his “museum”.

He also distributes powerpoint slides for educators, loosely defined, to use in the classroom. Like these:

dinocart

dinoriding

It’s rather disingenuous of him to declare that he doesn’t know where these wacky ideas come from, isn’t it?

Comments

  1. Rich Woods says

    It’s rather disingenuous of him to declare that he doesn’t know where these wacky ideas come from, isn’t it?

    I don’t think being disingenuous has anything to do with it. I think he just can’t keep track of all his lies.

  2. abelundercity says

    I’d ride an ankylosaurus (I assume that’s what the artist is going for there) all the live-long day.

  3. cuervodecuero says

    Saddle him with it and put the spurs in.

    Even to the believers, when the books of the kids are sitting right there in front of them during such question periods and the author’s name is present, isn’t that a level of cognitive dissonance too far?

  4. anteprepro says

    Step one: Deny facts.
    Step two: Make shit up.
    Step three: Deny that the shit is made up.
    Step four: Make new shit up.
    Step five: Deny that step two and three ever happened.

    This seems to be a consistent strategy. It operates on the principle that the average audience member has a memory span in terms of minutes rather than days, and has the intellectual muster to research the last few hours instead of the last few years. Obviously, working under those assumptions…it works as damned well as it needs to work.

  5. Brain Hertz says

    I’m reasonably sure that dinosaurs and blue jeans do not overlap in time.

    …or, you know, dinosaurs and people.

  6. glodson says

    In his defense, I wouldn’t want to try and ride this guy either.

    Of course that has as much to do with dinosaurs as the bible. But I like that he denies his own idea. And this doesn’t address all the other dinosaurs that weren’t behemoth sized. Like most of them.

  7. busterggi says

    Sure, put in a marker to click to the article but warn us next time NOT to click farther. Aauugghhhh, “missionary lizards” – I can’t unsee it!

  8. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Oh my glob I’m laughing so hard. I don’t know how to explain this, but I’m actually seeing these pictures in comic sans font. I know that makes no sense, but it’s true!

  9. microraptor says

    Hey, this might actually be honesty on Hammy’s part, in that he honestly has no idea how he comes up with his junk.

  10. swampfoot says

    As I get along in years (45 now, came out as an atheist at age 18) I have found it to be universally true that every christian I meet is a goddamned liar. And I don’t mean about the little, inconsequential shit either. They lie at the drop of a hat. They lie about what they’ve stated in the past, they lie about their positions when caught out or proved wrong.

    It’s become a huge red flag when dealing with people, it puts me on my guard. I think William Burroughs had a quote about it: “If you’re doing business with a religious son-of-a-bitch, get it in writing. His word isn’t worth shit. Not with the good lord telling him how to fuck you on the deal.”

  11. yazikus says

    So a little while back I was talking to a client at work and mentioned that I enjoy the kids show The Dinosaur Train, at which point she started muttering about those “nasty, evil dinosaurs”. Naturally confused I asked her what she meant. She explained to me how dinosaurs were the result of ancient humans getting too cozy with science and interbreeding animals, that they were “amalgamations”. Also, that is why god sent the flood. To take out the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were understandably not happy about that so they called up their fallen angel pals to launch an epic attack against the ark as the rain began to fall.
    This woman has always seemed nice and smart, holds down a full time job, has a small business. And completely believes all of that. Little did I know its actually a SDA teaching.

  12. Richard Smith says

    From the “Missionary Lizards” article:

    Since scientists study only the fossils of dinosaurs (not living specimens), and since fossils are the bones of dead things, Christians can use dinosaurs to explain the origin of death.

    Always look on the bright side of life…

  13. Sastra says

    “I don’t know where people get the idea that people rode dinosaurs. I mean, there’s no evidence in the Bible that that is so.”

    Oh, come on, Ken. Get real. Even if we didn’t have your lovely illustrations, human nature would still be human nature, even back then. Don’t you think a bunch of the younger folks would take one look at those behemoths and think “Hey … I’m gonna try to RIDE that!?” Then there would be dares and bets and getting a little drunk and whoa and you know the rest. So do we.

    Don’t be coy.

  14. Acolyte of Sagan says

    busterggi
    31 January 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Sure, put in a marker to click to the article but warn us next time NOT to click farther. Aauugghhhh, “missionary lizards” – I can’t unsee it!

    That’ll teach ya not to trust PZ. A sick sense of humour that bloke has.

  15. Bjarni says

    Maybe it’s just the illustration style, but for a brief moment I thought they were Pokemon?

    It’d make about as much sense I guess.

  16. dean says

    “I’m reasonably sure that dinosaurs and blue jeans do not overlap in time.”

    Those are chaps. Mr. Ham just had the decency to not show the rider from behind.

  17. says

    @12: Except the artwork in Dinotopia is waaaayyy better.
    (Totally hokey book, but damn my inner child loved it. The sequel, however, was a letdown.)

  18. aziraphale says

    Well, obviously, that first slide shows one of Noah’s sons collecting wood for the Ark. Have you no imagination?

  19. F [nucular nyandrothol] says

    Since scientists study only the fossils of dinosaurs (not living specimens), and since fossils are the bones of dead things, Christians can use dinosaurs to explain the origin of death.

    LOLWTF?

    Then again, the idea “the origin of death” deserves its own separate WTF. (I mean, that sounds like one of the 80s another-excuse-to-print-another-Marvel-limited-series gigs.)

  20. Acolyte of Sagan says

    The origin of death is life. Without life, there could be no death. And I worked that out without looking at a single dinosaur bone. Am I a fucking genius or what?

  21. vaiyt says

    A creationist giving “I don’t know” as an answer? But I thought God gave them all already?

    A creationist saying “there’s no evidence”? When did that ever stopped them?

  22. sharkjack says

    @26 I scimmed the two pages to see what kind of nonsense creationists on home turf are cooking up, this last quote really says it all

    We moeten proberen om al onze kennis te vergelijken met wat de bijbel ons leert en inzien dat de bijbel geen wetenschappelijk werk is, maar wel nauwkeurig en juist is wat betreft de beschrijving van dingen die in onze maatschappij onder de wetenschappelijke noemer vallen

    Translated into English

    We have to try to compare all our knowledge to what the bible teaches us and realise that while the bible isn’t a work of science, it is accurate and correct about things that fall under what our society calls science.

    It’s really quite honest about something most moderae christians just sort of dance around awkwardly. Still, it’s completely out of touch with reality.

  23. robster says

    Perhaps the good people of the Bronze-Age/Iron-Age fellowshipped with the dinosaurs and corraled them outside the church on the OK corral. Before they got the recipe for the crackers and red wine from the dead baby jesus perhaps they considered frying bits of dinosaur to be the tasty bits of baby jesus for Sunday brunch consumption. The strange ol’ Kenster should know all this, or at least make it up.

  24. says

    huh, I just realized that some of the drawings in my own gallery could be taken the completely wrong way… I’ve drawn quite a few pics of kids riding/interacting with dinosaurs, now I’m wondering if I need to add a disclaimer for any creationists who come across my work. Something like “THIS IS NOT A DEPICTION OF REALITY, YOU IDIOT.”

    Actually, that might explain the nutty religious person who emailed me a few months back asking me to illustrate her book (for free, of course) …something about a unicorn going to school and finding Jesus.

  25. Abdul Alhazred says

    On the one hand, there’s nothing in the Bible about dinosaur domestication.
    Sure it would be implausible even supposing there were dinosaurs around.
    And the original religious reaction to the discovery of dinosaurs never was quite so silly.
    .
    But kids love friendly dinosaurs.
    You gotta keep the kids interested. :)

  26. Lyle says

    I’m reasonably sure that dinosaurs and blue jeans do not overlap in time.

    Clearly you know nothing about 19th century miners.

  27. left0ver1under says

    Ham is so used to having an audience of ignorant rubes that he forgot that not all people are. He’s used to speaking to idiots who will never fact check anything he says, they simply take it as “gospel”. And now that somebody actually has checked, he fumbles.

  28. Stardrake says

    Oh, come on, Ken. Get real. Even if we didn’t have your lovely illustrations, human nature would still be human nature, even back then. Don’t you think a bunch of the younger folks would take one look at those behemoths and think “Hey … I’m gonna try to RIDE that!?” Then there would be dares and bets and getting a little drunk and whoa and you know the rest. So do we.

    Not to mention them damn kids and their dino-tipping! Get outta my meadow or I ‘ll turn loose the bullosaurus!

  29. Stardrake says

    Blockquote fail–but at least the quote is distinctive….( It was Sastra @20–proper credit is due!)

  30. Owlglass says

    Also from the “Missionary Lizards” article:

    When dinosaurs are used to spread the gospel, they become ‘missionary lizards’. Evidence of Creation [...] From Genesis 1:24–31, we can glean that dinosaurs were created on Day 6 [...] Tyrannosaurus rex—“Tyrant lizard.” 40 feet (12 m) long. Weighed 7 tons (6.4 metric tons) [...] These missionary lizards uphold the authority of Scripture [...]

    “Tyrant Missionary Lizard” upholding the authority of scripture, or did Rex side with Satan? I was curious and did the research. Their portrayal differs somewhat from the mainstream views as advocated by “experts” like Myers or Dawkins.

  31. weatherwax says

    “I’m reasonably sure that dinosaurs and blue jeans do not overlap in time.”

    If blue jeans were good enough for Jesus, they’re good enough for America!

  32. Crudely Wrott says

    A better question to ask, assuming for the moment that humans and dinosaurs were ever coexistent, would be: How the hell did people get dinosaurs to stand still long enough to get the saddles and bridles (don’t forget the bit that goes in the steed’s mouth!) on them in the first place? (Shades of Lilliputians tying down Gulliver. Of course, he was unconscious at the time.)

    Follow up question: How did humans know how to make saddles and bridles that fit (did they sneak up with Craftsman’s measuring tapes? (I know Sears has been around for a long time, but, sheesh)) in the first place?

    I could go on but it would just make my head hurt more than it already does.

  33. says

    Following the linkies to the Hamster’s site:

    After the Flood, these dinosaurs probably went extinct for a vareity [sic] of reasons, just as animals become extinct today. The Flood greatly changed the earth’s habitat, and it may have changed it so much that many of the dinosaurs could not successfully survive the harsher environment. The post-Flood Ice Age also probably contributed to their demise.

    OK, let me get this straight, Ken. Your all-knowing, all-powerful and loving GAWD ™ had Noah and his family shovel tons of dinosaur shit for no fucking purpose ’cause thos dino’s were all gonna die out anyway?

  34. microraptor says

    Sure, why not? After all, he’d drowned everyone else in the world for not meeting his arbitrary criteria of goodness. Might as well drive home the fact that he’s a total power-tripping jerkass by making the people he bothered to allow to save themselves shovel a bunch of extra dinocrap so they don’t make the mistake of thinking that he’s a nice god or anything.

  35. alkisvonidas says

    That first panel…
    Denver?!

    (No url. If you know what I’m talking about, you’re old.)

  36. Bill Openthalt says

    …something about a unicorn going to school and finding Jesus

    … impaled on its horn.

    Would you be so kind to illustrate my highly educational children’s book titled

    Atheist Wizards vs. Christian Vampires

    It’s a cross-over between Harry Potter and Twilight, with a sprinkling of LOTR, and features Ratzo as the evil wizard (who happens to have one single humongeous eye). All the vampires are card-carrying Baptists, and most importantly, good triumphs over evil. Maybe.

  37. says

    Atheist Wizards vs. Christian Vampires

    It’s a cross-over between Harry Potter and Twilight, with a sprinkling of LOTR, and features Ratzo as the evil wizard (who happens to have one single humongeous eye). All the vampires are card-carrying Baptists, and most importantly, good triumphs over evil. Maybe.

    Sounds like a bestseller! I’d be happy to help …if you’re willing to pay for it ;). Us professional illustrators have this annoying habit of wanting to be paid for our time, but for some reason, religious authors always expect me to donate hundreds of hours free of charge to help them spread the love and/or bigotry of their lord.

    …That said, if anyone has any good ideas for a skeptical/atheist/feminist/science/ethics-y storybook, I’m all ears. I’ve been looking for projects along those lines for a while now.

  38. sheila says

    All this talk of missionary lizards has given me a mental picture of two tricepterops in the missionary position.

    And now I can’t unsee it.

  39. John Morales says

    [OT]

    The Philistines were badmouthed because their deities were not Yahweh (Thou shalt have no other gods before me).

    (Baal (god of Ekron), in particular, has been (literally!) demonised; cf. Beelzebub)

  40. Roger says

    Perhaps the dinosaurs were mentioned explicitly in the Babble. The Nephilim. It makes at least as much sense as any of the other kooky hypotheses, and it neatly ties up both the problems of them being in the Garden of Eden and the sharptoothed veggiemunchers issue.

  41. Outrage Zombie says

    She explained to me how dinosaurs were the result of ancient humans getting too cozy with science and interbreeding animals, that they were “amalgamations”. Also, that is why god sent the flood. To take out the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were understandably not happy about that so they called up their fallen angel pals to launch an epic attack against the ark as the rain began to fall.
    This woman has always seemed nice and smart, holds down a full time job, has a small business. And completely believes all of that. Little did I know its actually a SDA teaching.

    Not that I’ve ever heard of. Then again, I did drop out of the church a long-ass time ago; who knows what crazy shit they’ve come up with since? They gotta keep up with all those other denominations, you know, or they’ll lose all their moneycongregants to another church that manages to dig deep and be even stupider.

    Although there was this one church class teacher who flat-out refused to believe that dinosaurs ever existed (her explanations was the typical “trickster god conspiring with satan”-thing), and family members, who taught that all the cavemen skeletons those “evil evolutionists” were always showing off were actually just abominations from before the flood, when humans decided to screw monkeys. And that’s why god had to flood everyone out. (Because, I guess, only Noah and his family weren’t doin’ the monkey? And regardless of whether you believed in the bible or not, this was somehow an appropriate story to tell to little kids?)

    Ugh. I’m embarrassed beyond words just remembering those days.

  42. Bill Openthalt says

    Ugh. I’m embarrassed beyond words just remembering those days.

    I cringe when remembering the utter horsemanure I used to believe. OK, I started to have grave doubts by the time I’d turned 12, but I continued to be an altarboy until I was 14, sang the Gregorian liturgy and played the organ every Sunday until my 21st. The creed might be crud, but the music is marvellous (I once sang the Evangelist in an amateur production of Bach’s Mattheus Passion and loved it).

  43. Outrage Zombie says

    I cringe when remembering the utter horsemanure I used to believe.

    The way I see it, my “relationship” with the church was almost exactly like my relationship with Santa Claus years earlier. When I was three, and we were putting all the stuff away after Christmas, I somehow got it into my head that if I put a drawing in the storage box with the Christmas things, that Santa would get it, and would know that it was me trying to tell him thank you for my presents. The next year, when we took out the Christmas stuff to put it up, I found my drawing, and became convinced that Santa might not be real (I had already begun suspecting: for one thing, I already knew for sure that I couldn’t fit into our chimney, and how a grown man, much less a Santa-sized man could be expected to fit was beyond me).
    Left to my own thoughts, I probably would have come to accept that, and stuck to my convictions, but suddenly, my parents and all the teachers at the preschool were all on about how I “better watch out for Santa!”, because not believing in him was also being naughty, and naughty kids don’t get presents, now do they? It still seemed silly, but I went along with it, because I couldn’t conceive of my Mommy and Daddy (and teachers and adult friends, etc) just telling me a baldfaced lie.
    And somehow, two or three years later, when I finally felt secure enough in my doubts to demand answers, and when they came clean about Santa being a complete invention (“Because he’s NICE! and also we want you to be good”), it failed to occur to me that –as Mom and Dad had proven themselves to be imperfect sources for information — maybe there were other things they, and the other adults I trusted, weren’t being completely honest about either.

  44. Ogvorbis says

    Damn.

    I have a bad case of 12-year-old-boy when it comes to seeing things in images.

    The second image. The one of the boy riding the Ankylosaurid. Look at the tail. The bony club on the tail. Every Ankylosaurid tail I have seen photos of (the fossils (I aintent that olde!)) the club is smaller at the proximal end and larger at the distal end. It looks like the creator (!!!) of that image got the club backwards.

    Look at it.

    Closely.

    Is it just me, or does the juncture between tail and club look like a large cylindrical object being forced into something that, were it painted, say, pink, would look an awful lot like human buttocks?

    Does Hamm know he is distributing dirty pictures?

  45. fastlane says

    But, but we have photos of a certain cephalopodian (sp?) overlord riding a dinosaur!! Chekmate, ahtiests!

    (Did I get enough typos and mispellings in there??) ;)

  46. Outrage Zombie says

    Is it just me, or does the juncture between tail and club look like a large cylindrical object being forced into something that, were it painted, say, pink, would look an awful lot like human buttocks?

    It does now. As if just plain looking awful weren’t bad enough.
    For having so much love for their “missionary lizards”, Ham and his like sure can’t draw them for shit.

  47. Bill Openthalt says

    I have a bad case of 12-year-old-boy when it comes to seeing things in images.

    Marvelous! Don’t change a hair. A dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste :-) .

  48. theoreticalgrrrl says

    I thought Satan buried fake dinosaur bones in the ground to test our faith. (Seriously, some people believe that). I like this one though, it’s way funnier.

  49. Alex Watson says

    Perhaps Ken Ham was sat in front of The Flintstones for too long at a formative age?

  50. cuervodecuero says

    At the second link, scrolled down to the bottom of the page, there is a line about becoming a biblical archaeologist or a “creation scientist”.

    The air quotes around the second career choice are their doing, but I have to wonder why…

  51. theignored says

    It seems that Ken Ham is trying to spin his way out of this.

    Just scroll down to this paragraph:

    It is remarkable that bloggers, including the man who posed the set-up question of Ham during the on-line session, had found a whimsical image drawn by artists that the publisher hired twelve years ago and then faulted Ken for not remembering a saddled dinosaur in the book. Moreover, while Ham is blamed for the image’s depictions, it was actually the book’s artists who had borrowed the style of the popular “Dinotopia” books and used it as a fun illustration of humans and a saddled dinosaur. Ham, writer of the book’s text, was not the owner of the book, and it was the publisher who had hired the illustrators and who had the final say in the book’s artwork. With Ham’s comment that he doesn’t “know where people get the idea that people rode dinosaurs,” he simply did not recall the particular illustration. Ham never writes about saddled dinosaurs nor ever mentions them in his public talks. It is head-scratchingly bizarre that some evolutionists will find the most insignificant things to blog about and blow them out of all proportion so they can take yet another a shot at creationists’ beliefs.

    This is about Ken Ham being caught lying about him not having any idea where people got the idea that people once rode dinosaurs. It doesn’t matter a whit whether it was a those books or that dinosaur in the museum with a saddle on it was not supposed to be a teaching exhibit.

    The entire point was: Where did people get the idea? Even if Ham thinks that the idea is bogus, he wrote the book that had those pictures in it, and it was his museum that had the dino with a saddle on it.

    Is this a minor, “who-gives-a-shit” deal that Ham is trying to portray this as? Yes, but it is also an example of him lying. Not a foundational lie, mind you, but a lie nonetheless.

    I note that he still uses the soft tissue argument in that article as part of the “compelling” evidence that man and dinosaurs lived together.

    Uh, no. If dinosaurs were contemporaneous (I can’t fucking believe I spelled that word right on the first try!) with us and modern animals, then:
    -their fossils would be mixed in the same rock layers as animals of similar size and weight instead of it being “all dinosaur” here and all “more modern animals” here, etc.

    Actually, if one looks around in his site, he’s made a few articles just about that topic!