‘Jurassic Park’ series shows human and dinosaur coexistence wouldn’t work too well

"Jurassic World" press photo, copyright Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment.

The highly anticipated dino-epic (which really should be an adjective, and a commonly used one at that) “Jurassic World” was released domestically a couple weeks ago.

As the film starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard continues to gobble up box office records, the critical consensus has crystallized into pretty much exactly what you would expect (and hope for) from a summer blockbuster with this kind of pedigree and deep-seated fan base: big, fun, dumb and visually spectacular.

Unfortunately, there was one pundit Rotten Tomatoes neglected to take into account, and he’s a “top critic” for sure: our friend, Ken Ham.

Ham gives his take on the movie he claims he was “talked into going to see” in a blog post, “Dinosaurs Not for Kids,” that was posted the same day as “World’s” nationwide release.

In his intro, he explained that his reasoning for adding his two-cents’ worth was “in case [he] was asked to comment on it by the media and AiG supporters,” and because he knew people would be asking about it because he’s such a world-renowned authority on all things dinosaurian.

And I believe him. I’m sure that really was the reason, and his coincidentally timed post had nothing to do with, say, siphoning off a wedge of the tidal wave of Google searches for “Jurassic World” and “Jurassic World review” and “Jurassic World please Google I am dying to know what Ken Ham the young earth man has to say about this movie.”

This is a short post, so I won’t excerpt any of Ham’s critique here. Please feel free to click through and read the whole thing if you’re so inclined. But — spoiler alert — he didn’t like it.

This, in and of itself, is not really surprising, since Ham seems to hate most things that don’t proceed from or directly benefit him. However, I can’t help but find part of his criticism a little odd.

Now, don’t get me wrong: There are a plenty of scientific and biological inaccuracies — not to mention good old-fashioned bad writing and plot issues — to which critics of these films can object. And they have.

But one aspect that no one has ever seemed to have trouble believing is one of the film series’ most basic underlying premises: that dinosaurs would be really good at killing people.

Any child can tell that dinosaurs are big, bad, scary killing machines, which is why these films have such universal appeal. (Well, also the groundbreaking special effects. And the score. And this guy.)

And this isn’t limited to just the carnivores, like T. Rex and Velociraptor (though these chicken-sized dinos were probably a little less formidable in real life than they are on screen). Even the larger herbivores would have done a lot of damage: You’re talking about what is essentially a cow, but 60 feet tall and weighing approximately as much as a Boeing 737.

What this all has to do with the purpose of this site is that young-earth creationists like Ham and his group, Answers in Genesis, assert that — not all that long ago — humans chilling in the same general area as these terrifying beasts was about as uncommon as crossing paths with a squirrel on your way to work. In fact, your ancestors might have ridden a dinosaur to work, according to Ham.

They believe dinosaurs frolicked with humans in the garden of Eden, shared space with cows and chickens and other prey animals on Noah’s ark, survived the flood (which neatly sorted every one of their relatives into lower rock strata than species still alive today), only to go the way of the dodo bird — conveniently — just before the onset of more reliable modern record-keeping techniques.

I appreciate movies like “Jurassic World,” because they demonstrate — perhaps more powerfully than other, equally effective techniques (like, I dunno, five seconds of rational thought) — how ludicrous and utterly laughable this notion really is.

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Tyler Francke is founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached at tyler@godofevolution.com.

  • Seth

    I remember when the first movie came out and the same point about velociraptor was made. They really should have called them utahraptors, but I guess the name doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    More germane, when did the dinos die out? They must have been on the ark, otherwise Noah wasn’t doing his job properly. Yet now they are all gone. What was the extinction event that caused this? AiG’s answer is, not surprisingly, not very informative: https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/when-did-dinosaurs-live/what-really-happened-to-the-dinosaurs/

    • There was a lot of science that Crichton flubbed in the books to make the dinosaurs more menacing. For example, there is no fossil record evidence that Dilophosaurus spat venom or had a neck frill – yet, that is the most recognizable thing about the Dilophosaur now a days.

      • I always thought it was funny that Crichton/Spielberg (never read the book, so I’m not sure exactly who is responsible) made Velociraptor bigger than real life, and Dilophosaurus much smaller.

        • That was all Crichton. He wanted the Velociraptors to be the real villain of the book, but he still wanted the Dilophosaur to be unique so he made the Raptor bigger and the Dilo smaller and gave the Dilo venom spit. He did a similar thing with Carnataurs in The Lost World by giving them nearly-perfect chameleon-like camouflage. Crichton made up most of the science in that book by taking real science and dramatizing it for the sake of an interesting read and to fit the theme that we literally have no idea what to expect bringing these creatures back to life. I think that paleontologists who complain about the lack of scientific accuracy in these movies are missing that point.

          Also, you should read the book – I just finished listening to it again through Audible and am thinking about getting The Lost World with my next credit.

          • Cool! Maybe I will. We used to do Audible but discovered Overdrive through our library. You should see if your local library does it. Basically the same thing as Audible, but free. I’m listening to Eric Metaxas’ “Bonhoeffer” right now.

          • I may look into that, my copy of that book disappeared after my big break-up at the end of last year and I’ve been wanting to finish it.

    • Of course not, it’s their usual “just so” non-answer. And it fails to address the point that is the primary thrust of this post: namely, how humans and dinosaurs could have possibly coexisted without the opposite group going extinct from the one that really did.

      I mean, admittedly, early humans survived some pretty bad-ass creatures, sabre-toothed cats, mammoths, etc., but nothing like friggin’ Gigantosaurus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giganotosaurus#/media/File:Largesttheropods.png

  • Ah, come on, man Velociraptors were a little bigger than chickens. Not as big as that are in the JP movies but, hey. Those things are genetically engineered theme park monsters!

  • myklc

    Are we forgetting that dinosaurs, like all other carnivores prior to the flood (or the Fall, I get them confused), were vegetarians?
    Tut-tut. 😛

    • Oh, that’s right. I forgot: Their fearsome teeth and razor-sharp claws were for shredding salad and slicing open coconuts.

      • Ken Ham omits to realize humans would been nothing but fecal matter with traces of bone and hair after a dinosaur made a meal out of them.

  • Chris Mason

    In regards to how the velociraptors are depicted in this series, there’s an explanation from the book in case you haven’t read it. I’ll quote from wikipedia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velociraptor#In_popular_culture

    The “raptors” portrayed in Jurassic Park were actually modeled after the closely related dromaeosaurid Deinonychus. Paleontologists in both the novel and film excavate a skeleton in Montana, far from the central Asian range of Velociraptor but characteristic of the Deinonychus range. A character in Crichton’s novel also states that “Deinonychus is now considered one of the velociraptors”, which suggests that Crichton used the controversial taxonomy proposed by Gregory S. Paul, even though the “raptors” in the novel are at another point referred to as V. mongoliensis. Crichton met with the discoverer of Deinonychus, John Ostrom, several times at Yale University to discuss details of the animal’s possible range of behaviors and appearance. Crichton at one point apologetically told Ostrom that he had decided to use the name Velociraptor in place of Deinonychus because the former name was “more dramatic”. According to Ostrom, Crichton stated that the Velociraptor of the novel was based on Deinonychus in almost every detail, and that only the name had been changed. The Jurassic Park filmmakers also requested all of Ostrom’s published papers on Deinonychus during production. They portrayed the animals with the size, proportions, and snout shape of Deinonychusrather than Velociraptor. [Emphasis mine]

    • That’s very interesting, Chris. Thanks for sharing! I didn’t know all that, but now that I do, I kind of wish Crichton would have just left it Deinonychus. I think that sounds plenty menacing.

      • Chris Mason

        You’re welcome. I’m a bit torn on what he should have gone with. On the one hand, I’ve gotten used to calling them “raptors.” On the other, I am the type who prefers accuracy, so I can’t really say one way or the other. I just tell people that the book explains it as saying that Deinonychus are considered to be a type of raptor.

      • I had used the cult horror film Carnosaur to illustrate human-dinosaur coexistence. I had a few atheists dropping their jaw to what I call the Roger Corman defense as I asked Hovind has he seen Carnosaur because that is what would happen to Noah if a dinosaur was on the ark.

  • ashleyhr

    I have just commented here – the links within may be of interest:
    http://www.ibj.com/articles/53491-maurer-creation-museum-pleasant-but
    This is the awful Jeanson piece:

    Forgot also to point out the further lie by Nathaniel Jeanson that “carbon dating … rejects the evolutionary [timescale]” (it can only date objects up to around 60,000 years old thus it is NOT even used to ‘prove’ evolutionary timescales – as this Jeanson person must KNOW).

    Do AiG job adverts say “a willingness to lie blatantly is a pre-requisite for our researchers”?

    The Jeanson article is both crude and utterly appalling. It has a ‘rushed’ look to it.

  • ashleyhr

    Why do these websites MANGLE or HIDE links?!

    Pl see Ken Ham’s blog of 2 July which takes you to the Maurer article at ibj.com entitled ‘MAURER: Creation Museum pleasant, but …’ (where my comment appears). My other – attempted – link is Jeanson’s ‘Creationism backs Science’ propaganda at ibj.com.

  • Getting science and theology from movies is not recommended. But seeing the straw man arguments and ridicule on this site, I can see that cinema must be a primary source for your material.

    • Hmm, criticizing my supposed use of straw man arguments and ridicule with … a straw man argument and ridicule. Some folks might call that hypocrisy.

      Naturally, we don’t measure up to the rigorous intellectual standards of the Question Evolution Project and Piltdown Superman, but that’s a pretty high bar.

      Besides, the point of this post doesn’t really rest on a movie series, just simple logic. But I can understand how you got confused.

      • Since you lowered the bar, I thought logic was off the table. Then you reply with an ad hominem.

        • Since you lowered the bar, I thought logic was off the table.

          Logic was never really an option once you entered the conversation, pal.

          Then you reply with an ad hominem.

          That’s right, I did. And now I just did it again.

  • Tony Breeden

    Tyler, that’s just your interpretation ;] https://siriusknotts.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/jurassic-world/

  • ashleyhr

    Breeden’s blog of 9 July reveals the strong anti-science bias of young earth creationists: “Nevertheless, if he [Francke] did not arbitrarily hold all-natural science as his ultimate authority over the revealed word of God in Genesis [though he inconsistently allows for the supernatural elsewhere in the Bible], he would realize that the all-natural story of origins proposed by modern science is nothing more than science fiction parading about as historical fact.” So if you read Genesis ‘correctly’ you must unilaterally decide that naturalistic science’s discoveries about the past and our history are all ‘fiction’. Very scientific.