Recently, a grandfather purchased a children’s book on Noah’s Ark for his grandchild. He thought the book could be trusted because the author is associated with a generally conservative Lutheran denomination. (In fact, we do have some great friends in this group. I and others at AiG have spoken at various of their conferences.)
The author is Rev. Paul L. Maier, Ph.D. He is, according to a bio., a theologian and historian specializing in correlating ancient world history with the Bible, and he currently serves as third vice president of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). He is the author of numerous books and scholarly articles on the Bible and ancient history as well as several children’s books dealing with Bible history.
His children’s book I am referring to is titled The Real Story of the Flood and was published by Concordia Publishing House (CPH) in 2008. It is available through CPH and other Christian book stores.
The grandfather read through the book and thought there would be no problem giving this to his grandchild, as it seemed to summarize the account of Noah’s Ark and the Flood as given in the Bible. But then he read the epilogue!
In particular, he was dismayed to read the following:
“Wait a minute,” you might be thinking. “This is certainly an interesting story, but is it history? Did it really happen? Did all of those animals really crowd onto one ship? Wouldn’t dinosaurs crush Noah’s ark if they tried to board it?”
The answer to these questions is… Yes. But Mr. and Mrs. Tyrannosaurus Rex missed the boat. They were not around at the time. Nor were their brontosaurus, triceratops, or stegosaurus relatives. All the gigantic citizens of Jurassic Park lived and dies long before the flood. Indeed, they roamed the earth during that early era described in the first half of Genesis, chapter one.
After reading this, he gave the book to AiG speaker/researcher, Dr. David Menton instead of giving it to his grandchild! Dr. Menton has written a review of this book for the Lutheran newspaper Christian News, and I have excerpted sections of his review below. After you read what Dr. Menton has written, I will share with you a practical application for us in regard to biblical authority in our churches.
Dr. Menton (himself a grandfather) wrote the following in his review:
If Maier had ended his book without the epilogue, I could recommend the book without reservation for the young reader, but sadly, the epilogue will raise troubling questions for many Christians. In his epilogue Maier anticipates certain questions from the young reader such as “Did all those animals really crowd onto one ship” and “Wouldn’t dinosaurs crush Noah’s ark if they tried to board it?” Here, Maier should have pointed out that not all dinosaur kinds are large, that God may well have chosen smaller juveniles rather than large adults, and in any event, no dinosaur would have crushed a ship the size of Noah’s ark. Instead, Maier assures the young questioner that dinosaurs were not even around at the time of the Flood! He declares that “all the gigantic citizens of Jurassic Park lived and died long before the flood.” Maier doesn’t tell us how long he has in mind, leaving the reader to wonder if perhaps he uncritically accepts the evolutionist’s claim that the dinosaurs died off about 65 million years ago, long before the evolution of man.
To make matters even more confusing, Maier says that dinosaurs “roamed the earth during that early era described in the first half of Genesis, chapter one.” But the Bible makes no mention of the creation or existence of animals of any kind in the first half of Genesis chapter one. Indeed it is not until after verse 20 of chapter one that we are told that God created all the animals and man on the fifth and sixth days of Creation. Where then are the dinosaurs (or any other animal) in the first half of Genesis chapter one? Moreover, all dinosaurs are land dwelling creatures and since all such creatures were created on the sixth day along with man, how can one insist from Scripture that dinosaurs existed only in the early days of the Creation week before the creation of man?
Maier’s comments in his epilogue raise many questions with profound theological implications for the Bible-believing Christian. For example, does Maier accept the days of Creation as ordinary days having an evening and morning? Or does Maier perhaps consider the earth to be millions or billions of years old and if so, how does this fit into the first chapter of Genesis? Since most of what we know (or think we know) about dinosaurs is gleaned from the fossil record, is Maier suggesting that the water deposited sedimentary rock layers of the earth and their dinosaur fossils were already in place long before the flood? But if the flood were global, as Maier implies, and truly covered the highest mountains that then existed (as the Bible clearly states), it would have badly eroded and faulted any previously existing sedimentary layers and their fossils. Indeed such a Flood would globally deposit new sedimentary layers and fossils contemporary with the time of the Flood. This is why most Christians who accept the evolutionists millions of years for the age of the fossils in the geological column view Noah’s flood as being regional and not global in nature. Finally, did the dinosaurs (along with nearly 90% of all creatures on the earth according to evolutionists) die off long before Adam fell into sin? This is important because it implies that there was suffering, carnivores and death before the fall.
Raising such questions at the end of a children’s book that otherwise seems soundly Biblical is distressing. But it is even more distressing that there appears to be a jarring inconsistency between the books prologue and its epilogue, making it difficult for this reviewer to believe they were written by the same author. In the prologue Maier states that “God created a perfect paradise” and that “disease and death were not part of God’s original plan” but all that changed when “man and woman fell into sin, and a general rot set in.” But in the epilogue Maier says that dinosaurs and many other creatures lived and died in“that early era described in the first half of Genesis, chapter one” which would be before the fall of Adam and Eve into sin. Some clarification is certainly in order.
We should bear in mind that teaching children, writing books for children, and even giving books to children involve a great responsibility for all of us. We should take care lest we offend the little ones who come to Jesus.
Here are some lessons we can all learn from this book.
- Whatever book you are considering purchasing for your children, make sure you check it out carefully. Don’t just read the text before the kids read it; look at all statements the author has made in the book.
- Just because a book is authored by a Christian academic with great credentials, this doesn’t mean the author will be accurate as they should—particularly about origins.
- Many times I’ve had people tell me they “think” their pastor would agree with AiG. After all, everything he has stated from the pulpit seems to agree with creation and the entrance of sin into the world, etc. However, on speaking with these people and asking specific questions, I find that the pastor has not dealt with certain topics that would show where he really stands on the age of the earth, evolution, etc. As these people have gone back and questioned their pastor in detail, they were shocked to find he believed in the gap theory or day age theory or believed dinosaurs died out millions of years ago, and so on. This pastor was not teaching creation apologetics to the church, and yet most of the young people were indoctrinated in millions of years and evolutionary ideas at public school. In fact, such a situation does lead to the “Already Gone” syndrome that is rife in our churches (see the book Already Gone detailing research into why 2/3rds of young people are leaving the church). What he wasn’t preaching (i.e., about a literal Genesis and how to answer the skeptical questions of this age) was a serious problem!
The point I want to make is that it is not just what a book or Bible study states or what a pastor preaches. Look for what is not being said. That can be very revealing!
Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,