Do you believe in dinosaurs?

The Necklace

When I first moved to Texas in 2013, I had a necklace with a pendant in the shape of a tyrannosaurus skeleton. I wore this necklace on my first day working in my new office, which turned out to be an unforgivable mistake.

I was walking down an aisle of cubicles when I heard, “I take it you’re not a Christian.”

I turned, surprised. A middle-aged woman glared at me from her cubicle. “I am,” I replied. “And by the way, I’m Emily. It’s my first day.”

“Well it’s either Jesus or dinosaurs,” she replied hotly, gesturing at my necklace. “You can’t have both.”

“Oh… why not?” I was totally confused. Also, this was the workplace – weren’t we supposed to avoid religious discussions?

“Dinosaurs are a hoax perpetrated by devil worshippers to trick us into thinking that Jesus didn’t exist. Everyone around here knows that,” said the lady. “It’d be best if you threw away that necklace… unless you want people to think you worship the devil.”

Heads began to appear from the sides of nearby cubicles. Other coworkers nodded in agreement with this woman’s strange theory.

“Well I really don’t see the link between dinosaurs and Jesus,” I responded. “There’s no reason you can’t believe in both.”

Someone gasped in protest, but I kept going. “Let’s say God created dinosaurs and then later He created humans. There’s no conflict there, right? I’ve gone to church my whole life and never until now have I met a Christian who has a problem with dinosaurs.”

The women looked like their brains were going to explode. One of them spit, “Next you’re gonna say you believe in evolution.”

I definitely did not expect to talk about evolution on my first day working in an insurance agency, but oh well.

“Well that’s a totally separate topic,” I said, “but it also has no conflict with religion. Evolution says that species change over time. It doesn’t say there can’t be a supreme being orchestrating those changes.”

Somebody then began a rant about how I’d been brainwashed as a child. Despite my attempts at respectful conversation, this moment had obviously destroyed any prospect of a peaceable relationship with these coworkers.

It was a rough first day and I was thoroughly relieved when 5:00 rolled around. I left the office and stepped onto the elevator, where a man glanced at my necklace and frowned.

“So I take it you’re one of those dinosaur believers,” he scoffed.

I really didn’t want to relive the evolution conversation all over again, so I muttered that the necklace had been a gift and bolted out as soon as the doors opened.

How did I wind up working in such a strange environment? I wondered. Surely not all Texans were this belligerent… but I decided to find out.

From then on, every time I met a native Texan, I asked whether they believed in dinosaurs. The answers were about 50/50. Some people, like myself, had never even considered questioning dinosaurs. A few, like my coworkers, named religion as their primary reason for not believing. To my surprise, many others – including a number of young, well-educated professionals – stated that there “wasn’t enough evidence to decide”.

During my questioning, somebody recommended that I visit the “Anti-Dinosaur Museum.” This was especially interesting to me and I knew I had to check it out.

The Museum

In the early 1900s, dinosaur prints were discovered in the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, TX. Soon after, information spread that alongside the dinosaur prints was something mysterious: smaller, elongated tracks that appeared to have been left by giant ancient humans. There was an uproar and lots of research and arguing and fake carvings followed in the years to come. In 1972, the state decided to turn the area into Dinosaur Valley State Park – and soon afterward, a Creation Evidence museum was erected just down the road.

Contrary to the nickname by which I first encountered it, the museum is not anti-dinosaur. Its stance is that dinosaurs did exist, but they coexisted alongside humans. You can read more about it here and here (and plenty of other places on the internet).

A quick side note: Perhaps you are confused, like I was, about the relationship between dinosaurs and Christianity. For the majority of Christians in the world (approximately 94%, according to a study by UCLA), this is not an issue. However there is an obscure sect called the Young Earth Creationists which believes the Genesis creation story should not be read figuratively. They say that if God created the universe in exactly 6 days then there wasn’t time for dinosaurs to have existed, unless they coexisted with humans. Maybe a lot of readers knew this but I’d never heard of it until I moved to Texas.

Another interesting example of this appeared in the 1970s when several Texans reported pterosaur sightings. Immediately YE Creationists argued that the sightings proved their theories. Now apparently pterodactyl sightings are on the rise.

Anyway, I finally made it out to the Glen Rose Creation Evidence museum in 2019 and found it quite interesting. It definitely provides good insight into the local cultural, as well as entertainment value… but I don’t think it falls into the category of *science* museum. Half of the displays are paintings, and many artifacts are not accompanied by any explanation. Some of the more confusing displays include a Ford Model T, a lifesize statue of a Native American chief, and a Gutenberg Press replica.

My favorite was the model of Noah’s Ark was populated with dinosaur toys.

I would recommend it as an interesting stop for anyone interested in witnessing a unique side of Texan culture.

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