Paradigm lost

The 2001 book The dinosaur hunters by Deborah Cadbury chronicles the way that people desperately tried to fit their ideas, observations and calculations into the powerful Biblical paradigm for the creation of the world, and the gradual emergence of a geological alternative based on the interpretation of physical evidence.

It’s been around for quite a time,
The Bible’s ancient paradigm.
Just look inside: the message is
In black and white in Genesis.

God’s universe-creating phase
Lasted, scriptures say, six days;
And Mankind was, we are informed,
By God’s own handiwork last formed.
But Eve and Adam went astray,
So Noah’s Flood swept all away –
The very first Catastrophe!
So is there evidence to see?

“No!” fundamentalists exclaim,
“You don’t need evidence. It’s plain
The Bible is the Word of Truth,
And God’s dictation needs no proof”.
The paradigm was very strong,
So no-one dared say it was wrong.
The things they saw, instead, they sought
To fit the view that they’d been taught.

Thus, hippo bones in Kirkdale’s cave1
“Showed clearly that the Flood’s great wave
Had swept these beasts from tropics distant
And smashed them up”. They were insistent2,
And scientists of great distinction
Declared: “The Flood had caused extinction”.
And, as the timescales seemed quite wrong,
They argued that “God’s ‘days’ were long”.

But in the Earth, a canny Scot3
Saw something cyclic: was it not
Erosion, settling in the ocean,
Then uplift? Eternal motion –
‘”No prospect of a start or end”?
Such views do paradigms upend!
Where now is Adam in this plan?
If Earth kept altering, did Man?

Were creatures not made at one time,
But changed, transmuted, down the line?
Was that the path that Man had trod?
Was he not specially made by God?

As fossils came to light, they made
The problem harder to evade,
For Genesis says in God’s plan
All creatures should be ruled by Man;
Yet giant lizards Mantell4 found,
Exhumed from Cuckfield’s ancient ground,
Were alpha-beasties of their day,
Long before the mammals’ sway.

The parsons could not reconcile
That awkward fact – the giant reptile
Which Mantell brought to prominence –
With Man’s God-given dominance.

They tried: “The fossil record shows
How God had made, in several goes,
The Earth more fit for Man to dwell in.
That must be what the Bible’s telling”.
The Reverend Buckland5 said, “What’s more,
These creatures red in tooth and claw
Made sure that death came very quick
To what they killed: God’s clever trick!’

Meanwhile, in France, George Scrope6 had found
A valley in volcanic ground
Which sat on top of gravels. That
Among the pigeons put the cat!
For if the Flood had dumped the gravels
On its Earth-encircling travels,
It could not simultaneously
Have shaped the valleys that we see.

Charles Lyell7 concluded, “There’s no doubt
That river action carved them out,
Its fluvial fluxions rearranging
All the land, which keeps on changing”.

And Lyell went on, “What I propose is,
To free up science from old Moses.
Our science needs no God, or Flood:
That paradigm is now a dud”.

It’s been around for quite a time,
The Bible’s ancient paradigm.
But it’s a poor theology
That disregards geology.

1: Kirkdale is near Kirkbymoorside in the Vale of Pickering, North Yourshire, UK
2: But by 1822, William Buckland (shown entering the cave) had concluded that the cave was a pre-Flood hyaena den
3: James Hutton MD (1726–1797)
4: Gideon Mantell MD (1790–1852)
5: William Buckland DD FRS (1784–1856)
6: George Julius Poulett Scrope FRS (1797–1876)
7: Charles Lyell Kt FRS (1797–1875)
[Images: Genesis:; Kirkdale cave: Wikipedia; Iguanodon: Dinosaur Isle; Charles Lyell: Wikipedia]
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