James White is a young earth creationist
"Of course, the very idea of any dinosaurs still being alive sounds crazy to those who believe the evolution theory. They have been told that dinosaurs died out ›millions of years ago‹ and that ›no man has ever seen a dinosaur‹. However, because thousands of dinosaur-like creatures have been reported from remote places throughout the world, there must be something out there! To the Bible believing Christian, the idea of dinosaurs living with man in the past, or even some still living today, is scientifically possible. Christians know that God made all the animals, including dinosaurs, about 6000 years ago. "(Gibbons and Hovind 1999, 34)
1 This quote can be found in Claws, Jaws, and Dinosaurs, the first book to combine creationism and cryptozoology.1 It exemplifies the intersection of the two subjects: reports about mysterious animals, especially surviving dinosaurs, are intended to prove the young creation of the earth and to refute alleged dogmas of the theory of evolution ›scientifically‹. Through this strategy, creationism (understood here as the belief in the divine creation of the world in its current form, cf. Kaden 2012, 3) can claim the socio-cultural authority of science and at the same time try to adopt contrary positions as ideologically bound delegitimize. Since cryptozoology (understood here in the broadest sense as the search for only anecdotally known animals) itself is not scientifically recognized, the actors here create an idiosyncratic reinterpretation of the fields of science and religion and their relationship to one another.
2Creationist cryptozoologists are a little-known and little-researched phenomenon in contemporary religious culture. Critical analyzes have so far taken place almost exclusively in non-fiction books from the field of the skeptic movement.2 The only occupation with the topic that endeavors to be neutral are the rather popular online articles by the American religious scholar Joseph Laycock (cf.Laycock 2010; 2014). This article is intended to provide an empirical overview of the topic for the first time. The way of argumentation and scientific understanding of creationist cryptozoologists are to be examined in order to clarify how they try to legitimize their literal understanding of the Bible in relation to the scientific worldview. The research question is: Why and how do creationists practice cryptozoology? To understand the context, some concepts of the two subjects are presented first. In the main part, selected writings by creationist cryptozoologists are presented in detail and interpreted as religious source texts (cf. Tanaseanu-Döbler and Döbler 2011). For the sample, four authors were selected as representative, who claim to combine both disciplines and have published their arguments the length of a book.3 The analyzed texts are then compared with one another. It turns out that from the great similarities a creationist-cryptozoological position that goes beyond the respective individual case can be reconstructed.
3Until the 19th century, the biblical story of creation was considered a historical account of the origin of the world and of life: the earth was created by God and shaped over the millennia by the flood and other catastrophes. In the 1830s, Charles Lyell (1797-1875) introduced this one catastrophism a geological Actualism (engl. uniformitarianism) (see Ferngren 2012, 63; Wilson 2000). He had recognized that the surface of the earth was shaped in the past by the same forces that can still be observed today. Accordingly, the world must actually be many millions of years old. The old age of the earth was a prerequisite for Charles Darwin's (1809-1882) theory of evolution published in 1859. Among scientists sat down Old earth and biological evolution soon followed through, but many Christians countered the latter with salvation-historical and moral arguments. While most intellectual anti-evolutionists had no problem with the old age ('old-earth creationism'), only a minority insisted on a 'young-earth creationism'. 4 This trend mostly referred to that of George McCready Price (1870 -1963) propagated in 1923 flood geologyaccording to which the distribution of rock strata and fossils was the result of the Flood. A very popular variant of flood geology was developed by John C. Whitcomb (* 1924) and Henry M. Morris (1918-2006) in the 1960s. This as creation science or. scientific creationism This direction sees itself as a scientific alternative to actualism and evolution, and often describes the latter as the pseudo-scientific legitimation of atheism (cf. Kaden 2015, 13-15, 22). For many creationists science is an important authority, only the truth of scientific knowledge is judged by its compatibility with revelation (cf. Harrold et al. 2004, 72).
4In the 1950s and 60s, the studied zoologists Bernard Heuvelmans (1916-2001) and Ivan T. Sanderson (1911-1973) published a series of books in which they compiled reports on mysterious animals Amateurs, the sea serpents, ape-men, surviving dinosaurs and others Cryptids wanted to track down. In order to scientifically establish a new subject on this basis, the International Society of Cryptozoology (ISC) founded. The now inactive ISC existed until 1998 Cryptozoology out, a peer-reviewed journal. Today the scene is highly fragmented and is often seen by the public as the ›pseudoscience of the monster hunters‹. Leading cryptozoologists such as Loren Coleman (* 1947) and Karl Shuker (* 1959) continue to follow the Heuvelman model, distance themselves from supernatural explanations and see their work as a branch of scientific zoology. In the following I would like to refer to this direction as ›classical cryptozoology‹. The most important database of cryptozoology are eyewitness reports, plus photos, footprints and other types of indirect evidence. Central is the principle of cumulative evidence, the idea that an accumulation of clues becomes evidence. Following the »statistical method«, cryptozoologists create a phantom image of the animal on the basis of the most frequently mentioned properties (Magin 1995, 80). In the case of narratives by non-Western informants, cryptozoologists often try to sort out elements that appear to them to be ›superstitious‹ (cf. Meurger 1990). Finally, a new way of inferring is drawn from this catalog. Cryptozoologists usually follow this prehistoric survivor paradigm, i.e. the tendency to recognize long-extinct species in cryptids (see Hill 2014).
William J. Gibbons
5Probably the most productive author at the intersection of creationism and cryptozoology is William J. Gibbons (* 1958). Gibbons is best known for his six expeditions in search of Mokele-Mbembe, a type of sauropod that is said to be found in the swamps of Central Africa. Following in the footsteps of Roy Mackal (1925-2013), he began his career initially purely cryptozoologically motivated and organized his first expedition to Africa in 1985 (cf. Gibbons 2010, 58-82). In the Republic of the Congo, he and his companions met an American missionary who helped the classic cryptozoologist Mackal to look for recent dinosaurs. Gibbons spoke to him about the spiritual crisis he was in. A little later he had a nightmare experience. Gibbons freed himself by invoking Jesus and then converted to Christianity (cf. ibid., 63-66). The numerous eyewitness reports he collected between November 1985 and May 1986 convinced him that dinosaurs still existed in Central Africa. In 1992 he set out on his second expedition (cf. ibid., 85-102), this time pursuing a missionary goal in addition to the cryptozoological one and actively participated in the conversion of the locals (cf. ibid., 96).
6Kent Hovind (* 1953), founder of Creation Science Evangelism, contacted Gibbons in 1999. Together they wrote what is probably the first book in which creationism and cryptozoology are combined (cf. ibid., 105f). Claws, Jaws, and Dinosaurs is a richly illustrated booklet with which children should be given an insight into cryptozoology in accordance with creationism. The "author's note" sets the tone right from the start:
»In this book, we have attempted to introduce you to the wonderful world of cryptozoology, the science of hidden animals. From the Loch Ness Monster to the Dodo of Mauritius, there is a whole world of mysteries to enjoy. It is our hope and prayer that there will come a new generation of Godly, Christian explorers, who will endeavor to venture forth to find and present these amazing mysteries of Creation to an unbelieving world. "(Gibbons and Hovind 1999, 3)
7Hovind's introduction then explains that while cryptozoologists do good research, their evolutionary ideology gives them wrong results:
“Nearly all of the authors who write on the cryptozoology topic do great research on living dinosaurs. [...] I believe these authors are right to say some dinosaurs may still be alive, but this does not prove they survived for millions of years. These authors seem to be blinded by the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution, which is actually a religion, not a scientific theory, has been a great hindrance to scientific research in many fields, including cryptozoology. [...] The Bible teaches that God made the world fully formed and fully functioning about 6000 years ago. […] About 1650 years later, Noah built the ark and took some of each kind of animal on board, including the dinosaurs. He probably took babies or young ones in order to save space, weight and food. After the great flood, most dinosaurs died off due to climate changes and man’s hunting. "(Ibid., 6)
8The difference between 'Christian science' and 'evolutionary pseudoscience' is emphasized several times in the course of the book.6 The authors regard the theory of evolution as the creation of Satan (ibid., 56). That living dinosaurs refute the theory of evolution is considered obvious in the scene. It is important to understand that by "evolution" creationists do not necessarily think of the synthetic evolutionary theory of current biology. Many passages of the book can only be understood if one knows how the authors argue in the conflict with their opponents. For example, the thesis is put forward that the discovery of the Russian Bigfoot would refute human evolution (cf. ibid., 48). At the beginning and the end of the work, the reader is advised that all human beings are sinful and that only Jesus can save from hell. Apart from the religious message, the book is a typical introduction to cryptozoology: the most common cryptids are presented with their best-known eyewitness accounts. Indirect evidence is considered sufficient evidence, criticism of the method is presented as exaggerated.
In 92000 Gibbons undertook his third expedition, this time to Cameroon (cf. Gibbons 2010, 109-127). The following year he broke up with a camera crew of the Discovery Channels again to Cameroon (cf. ibid., 127-147). In the meantime, his search for Mokele-Mbembe was strongly motivated by religion: While the team of the first expedition still consisted of atheists and agnostics, Gibbons only selected those cryptozoologists who were also staunch Christians (cf. ibid., 66, 127f). After his return he published an article in Acts & facts, the newsletter of Henry Morris founded Institute for Creation Research (Gibbons 2002). The text is framed in a creationist manner, describes Gibbons previous expeditions and places them in the endeavors of earlier Mokele Mbembe researchers.7 In October of the same year he set out on his fifth expedition. This time he was officially on the road as a missionary in Cameroon and helped to plant new churches (cf. Gibbons 2010, 155, 165).
10With Missionaries and Monsters Gibbons published his second book in 2006. In the introduction it says:
"As my research into the study of mysterious or unknown animals continued, I discovered that missionaries have made many of the most fascinating monster reports on record. This should not be surprising, as they continue to journey deep into remote jungles of the world to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to unreached tribes. It is perhaps significant that many of the monsters encountered by missionaries closely match the descriptions of different species of dinosaurs. As a Christian and a young-earth creationist, I find that such reports make perfect sense with the Biblical account of creation. "(Gibbons 2006, 9)
11The premise described here is not really adhered to in the following. The book mainly presents the usual sightings of known cryptids, only a minority of the eyewitnesses are missionaries or clergy. The focus is clearly on dinosaurs. Their central position becomes clear in the introduction to the chapter "Dragons and Dinosaurs":
“According to the theory of evolution, dinosaurs became extinct around 65 million years ago […]. The theory further postulates that as human beings did not evolve from a primitive ape-like ancestor until around 4.5 million years ago, no human could possibly have seen a living dinosaur. How true is this widely held belief? Today, we have available evidence which tells a remarkably different story on the question of man-dinosaur cohabitation, and of a time when dinosaurs were raised by humans, served as transport (possibly), as work animals, and were even hunted down for food . Early translations of the Holy Bible mention dragons throughout the Old Testament. "(Ibid., 49)
12Missionaries and Monsters is less religiously colored than the previous cooperation with Hovind and, in direct comparison, also more cautious and factual. In 2009 Gibbons set out on his last expedition to date (cf. Gibbons 2010, 191-203). As part of the television series Monster quest he visited Cameroon again. The following year he published his most extensive book. In Mokele-Mbembe: Mystery Beast of the Congo Basin he presents his own expeditions and those of other cryptozoologists. We learn interesting details: Gibbons and his companions see a UFO twice and several of his companions report true dreams (cf. ibid., 139, 179, 201). Although his creationist views are always present in the background, he is primarily concerned with cryptozoology. There are only a few derogatory remarks in the direction of evolutionary theory, he accuses it of racism and brainwashing (cf. ibid., 70, 85). He describes his argumentative opponents as "armchair skeptics":
»I am constantly amused by the armchair skeptic who in all probability has never set foot in Africa, yet remains steadfast in his opinion that mokele-mbembe is a mere myth. Either countless tribal groups spread over a vast geographical area, […] had collective nightmares about exactly the same kind of ›mythical‹ animal, or mokele-mbembe is [a] living creature. "(ibid., 205)
13 This shows again the absolute trust in eyewitness reports. At one point Gibbons admits that Mokele-Mbembe is described as an outdated reconstruction of sauropods. In his assessment, however, the sighting reports are to be weighted higher than what paleontologists deduce from fossils (cf. ibid., 219).
Jonathan David Whitcomb
The American Jonathan David Whitcomb is one of the most influential actors in the field discussed here. Born in 1949, he converted to Mormonism at the age of 22. In the 1990s, he said that his eye disease was cured by the laying on of hands. As a Mormon and old-earth creationist, he stands in contrast to the other writers in the field, having over 350-page Searching for Ropens and Finding God but probably the most extensive book on creationist cryptozoology. Similar to Gibbons, Whitcomb has also specialized in a cryptid: living pterosaurs, especially the ropes from Melanesia. The Ropen is a bioluminescent pterosaur with a wingspan of about 15 meters. These beings were of creationist interest even before Whitcomb: Between 1994 and 2002, Carl Baugh (* 1936), director of the Creation Evidence Museum of Texas, three expeditions to the island of Umboi, which belongs to New Guinea (cf. Gibbons 2006, 76-78; Whitcomb 2014, 5). Whitcomb got in touch with this young earth group and toured the island himself from mid-September to mid-October 2004. Since then he has been collecting eyewitness reports from pterosaurs from all over the world and publishing his findings in books and on websites. On the 2006 published Searching for Ropens followed Live pterosaurs in America (2009) and Live pterosaurs in Australia and in Papua New Guinea (2012). In the following, I will concentrate on the main work Searching for Ropens, since Whitcomb developed his theories in it.
15 Whitcomb claims to have written his book for two reasons (cf. Whitcomb 2014, 44): First, to prove the literal truth of the Bible. Living pterosaurs would not only upset the evolutionary view of the world, but would also be identical to the "fiery flying serpents" mentioned in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.Second, to discourage depressed people from suicide. To find Ropen was his great hope; if he succeeded in this, others could also find hope again. In terms of content, the book offers an extensive collection of eyewitness accounts and defends Whitcomb's theories against critics. Through his own expedition we learn how God sends him a guide and he preaches to the locals (cf. ibid., 51, 58). He made the religious motivation of his cryptozoological work clear from the start:
"Expect to find references to the Biblical fiery flying Serpent and the Flood of Noah. I added ›finding God‹ to the title of this third edition to avoid offending those wanting only cryptozoology, readers who would be offended to discover they had purchased a book that promoted religion. Yet this is not mainly about religion, not in the usual sense. It's less likely to take you to church than into the lives of ordinary persons who have encountered extraordinary flying creatures, and into the lives of Christians who have risked their health, even their lives, in search for living pterosaurs. Our disbelief in the General Theory of Evolution has freed us to search far and near, and for years, with a firm belief that God’s purpose will prevail. "(Ibid., 8)
16The reference is justified, after all, classical cryptozoologists often distance themselves clearly from creationists.8 The topic of “prejudices” runs through the entire book. The author repeatedly asks not to reject his theories just because they come from a creationist. In particular, he calls on science to free itself from Western restrictions:
»And why should we doubt natives? Human experience lives at the foundation of all human societies and at the foundation of science; why single out experiences of those of another society as unreliable? […] Since Westerners had been so confident that all those creatures had long ago become extinct, native accounts could be ascribed to superstition or misidentification, not whithstanding the universal extinction of all species of pterosaurs is a Western assumption, not a scientific fact. [...] Automatic dismissal of an eyewitness report of a live pterosaur - that usually comes from dogmatically protecting ones philosophy or the universal-extinction assumption of our culture; it does not come from protecting science, at least with what I consider any reasonable definition of ›science‹. I censure nobody, however, for simply doubting such creatures still fly, for it defies an entranched Western belief: It defies generations of extinction indoctrination. "(Ibid., 9f)
17 This argument repeats itself over and over again. The qualitative and quantitative evaluation of inspection reports is then also Whitcomb's main method (cf. ibid., 104), supplemented by thought experiments. As a former legal videographer Whitcomb also relies on his ability to evaluate interviews. He is aware of the anecdotal content of his sources, but is balanced by the principle of cumulative evidence:
“The evidences for living pterosaurs are cumulative. In court, it's natural for evidences to accumulate on at least one side; the jury decides the case based on all the evidence. This appears to have escaped the notice of skeptics and those critics who ridicule persons who promote living-pterosaur investigation. What do objective readers think when they encounter the testimony of [eyewitness] Duane Hodgkinson? The strangeness of the description of a giant pterosaur-like creature might raise eyebrows (their doubt is caused by a lifetime of indoctrination into standard models). Yet they begin to believe when they begin to encounter similar reports. The number of more-credible sightings makes the case. "(Ibid., 334f)
After evaluating all the reports known to him, Whitcomb finally comes to the conclusion that several species of pterosaurs still live around the world, including Europe and the USA. They are seen so seldom because they are nocturnal. The species has not yet been officially discovered because God wants to test people:
“God has blessed us with much success in learning from eyewitnesses. So why has no modern pterosaur been officially discovered after many years of searching and prayer? I have found, over the past ten years, a deeper purpose: God has been testing us, allowing all of us to discover the truth in eyewitness testimonies. Loving our neighbor includes listening to our neighbor, and how dearly we need friendships whith those who appear different on the surface! «(Ibid., 318)
19The American entrepreneur David ›Dino Dave‹ Woetzel accompanied Gibbons to Cameroon in 2000 and in 2004 traveled to Umboi shortly after Whitcomb. He founded the website in 1999 genesispark.com, on which he wants to prove his young earth creationism by gathering evidence of the coexistence of humans and dinosaurs. He subdivides it into scriptural, historical, paleontological and cryptozoological evidence. In one of his web articles, he speculates what makes cryptozoology attractive to creationists:
“Creationists have been strongly represented in the cryptozoologist ranks, particularly in the serious search for a dinosaurian creature. The reason for this, I believe, is twofold. First, biblical creationists are more inclined than their counterparts in the mainstream scientific community to believe that such creatures still exist. It is more plausible to envision dinosaurs existing in remote regions if one believes they co-existed with man just a few thousand years ago […]. Secondly, the creationists are quite interested in finding an extant dinosaurian creature because of the value that such a find would have in the origins debate. "(Woetzel 2014)
Woetzel wrote it in 202013 Chronicles of Dinosauria. Dinosaurs & Man from Creation to Cryptozoology, a high-quality children's book in which he summarizes the positions on his website. It tells a Christian story of the dinosaurs: from creation to the flood to today, based on the sources mentioned above. He begins the book by stating that views about the origin of the world determine the entire worldview. Then Woetzel explains why he ascribes such importance to dinosaurs in particular:
"[T] he Bible indicates that God approves of our contemplation of the mighty beasts He created. In Job 40:15, God commanded his servant to such consideration: ›Behold now behemoth…‹ Shortly thereafter the Lord explained His reason for commending this. Job 41:10 states: ›None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?‹ The mighty dinosaurs should draw our attention to the Almighty Creator unto whom we will all give account. [...] But evolutionists have co-opted the public attraction toward the great reptiles to sell their theories of origin. […] As a young man I was distressed with such evolutionary propaganda when I attended a local museum of science. Always the dinosaurs are portrayed as having died out millions of years before man evolved. [...] One of the goals of my life became to reclaim the terrible lizards to the glory of our incredible creator. [...] Perhaps one day soon God will allow us to capture one of these magnificent creatures, forcing even the most ardent skeptic of the Genesis account to concede that one has coexisted with dinosaurs, just as the Bible has said all along. «(Woetzel 2013, 6-7)
21 Woetzel is referring to the second talk of God in Job's book: Job struggles with God, who speaks directly to Job and shows him two mighty monsters with Behemoth and Leviathan. As the creator of the world, God himself is much more powerful. Other authors also see dinosaurs in these "mythical beasts", but only Woetzel says explicitly that cryptozoology enables job-like proof of God's creative power. Accordingly, it is unbearable for him when evolutionary biological and geological theories are popularized using the example of dinosaurs. For him, cryptozoology is a way to substantiate the literal truth of the Bible:
"For the Bible-believing Christian, the authoritative Old Testament record settles the matter of dinosaurs coexisting with man. But it is gratifying to find extensive fossil, historical, artistic and cryptozoological evidence as well. Merely believing that dinosaurs were created as Genesis claims, however, if short of the core message of God’s Word. One must go beyond the account of creation to find the message of God’s redemption of a world that fell into sin and judgment. [...] My challenge for Christians is to employ dinosaurs as God did in the Book of Job. Let us use contemporary society’s natural attraction to these imposing reptiles to point friends and relatives to our magnificent, loving and powerful Creator! "(Ibid., 78)
22For Woetzel, it is clear from the start that absolute truth can only be found in the Bible. The knowledge of science must be measured against it:
“We can learn much about dinosaurs by studying their fossils […]. By piecing together the evidence like a detective, paleontologists can accurately reassemble the skeletons of these awe-inspiring creatures and give us a glimps into how they lived thousands of years ago, filling in details not given to us in God’s revealed Word. There are still many things that we don’t know about the dinosaurs - puzzles awaiting further scientific discoveries. [...] Some scientific theories and speculations directly contradict God’s Word and cannot be true. For example, evolutionists tell stories about dinosaurs existing millions of years before man ›evolved‹. Further, they invent theories regarding certain dinosaurs evolving into birds. "(Ibid., 14)
23The book represents a way of dealing with dinosaurs as it is classic among creationists: historical depictions of dragons are interpreted as prehistoric reptiles and are intended to refute established views about the age of the world and species (cf. Senter and Cole 2011; Senter 2013; Siebert 2013). Woetzel expands the repertoire by including cryptozoology and even moving living dinosaurs within reach:
“But the world is a big place and there are plenty of remote locations that have not been thoroughly explored. The area of scientific research that investigates reports and rumors of undiscovered animals is called cryptozoology. Until a living or recently deceased specimen is validated, we can't speak definitely to any of the great reptiles existing today. We live in the cryptozoological age of dinosaurs. "(Ibid., 58)
In 2015 Woetzel published the article "Cryptozoology & Creation Apologetics" in the journal Creation Matters. Here he explains to a creationist audience why it is worth doing cryptozoology. It is probably the most systematic argument for combining both subjects:
“Some creationists also naively believe that a dinosaur would be the silver bullet to slay the wolf of evolution. Unfortunately, the history of Darwinian theories suggests that all such evidence would quickly be assimilated into evolutionary theory. I believe that few, if any, committed evolutionists would change their minds when confronted with such a find. [...] History has shown that the plasticity of evolutionary theory permits it to accommodate nearly any scenario, making it unfalsifiable. […] Seeing Darwinists do a 180-degree turn on dinosaurs would be a very public embarrassment, resulting in a significantly greater credibility problem. They would shift from a posture that dinosaurs were so unfit that they could not survive, to claiming that some were so fit that they survived till the present virtually unchanged! [...] Natural history museums, national parks, and the many magazine articles and books that prominently display dinosaurs would require modification because they currently state that men never co-existed with the great reptiles. [...] Finding a living, breathing, dinosaurian creature similar to the specimens in the fossil record would bring into question the reliability of other Darwinian stories. If evolutionists can't get something as simple as men and dinosaurs being separated by tens of millions of years correct, how can one trust them that men and mold share a common ancestor? […] Indeed, the evidence we do have suggests that any extant dinosaurians are smaller, and arguably less fit than were their fossilized ancestors. These points to degeneration, rather than evolution. «(Woetzel 2015)
25Living dinosaurs would not only refute evolution, but would also speak in favor of degeneration since the fall of man. The article ends with a list of promising searches for cryptids.
The American Dale Stuckwish (* 1955) published his book in 2009 Biblical Cryptozoology: Revealed Cryptids of the Bible. Compared to the previous authors, Dale Stuckwish has less influence, his publication is received little in the scene. In addition, only about half of the thin and little edited book deals with cryptozoology. On the other hand, the author finds a special term for his approach: Biblical cryptozoology.
»Cryptids are creatures presumed extinct, hypothetical species or creatures known from anecdotal evidence or evidence insufficient to prove their existence. Cryptozoology is not considered a true science by mainstream biologists and zoologists because of the nature of the study. But there is a truth to cryptozoology that needs revealed [sic]. It is called Biblical Cryptozoology. It is God's view of who or what these creatures are and where they came from. Because He created them. "(Stuckwish 2009, 7)
Both cryptozoologists and creationists are fascinated by the rediscovery of the coelacanth, so for authors like Stuckwish this 'living fossil' is twice as interesting:
“First point to ponder, evolutionary scientists say the coelacanth first appeard in the fossil record […] about 410 million years ago and became extinct about 65 million years ago with the so called dismise [sic] of the dinosaurs. But the fossil they found of it and the specimens they caught of it have the same skeletal characterization. [...] Surely after millions upon millions of years there should have been a change. Could it be that they only been around for thousands of years. Could it be the evidence from the coelacanth is good evidence for creation. [...] Second point to ponder, we can give God the glory for creating such a creature that survived the worldwide Noahic flood and we are able to see this creature today. My hope in writing this book is to glorify my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and give Him the thanks for creating these creatures that are found in the Bible. "(Ibid., 10)
The author does not explain what exactly is meant by biblical cryptozoology. But it can be deduced from his approach. It is a three-step process: Stuckwish first selects a biblical mythical creature, then identifies it with an extinct animal and finally shows where this creature can still be found today as a cryptid. The Behemoth is a sauropod and lives as a Mokele-Mbembe in Africa. Here is the example of Leviathan:
»The leviathan according to scripture was […]. Some sea creatures that fit the description are the ancient plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, and pliosaurs. These creatures have been seen recently in lakes and oceans around our world. The most famous creature that comes to mind that has been seen by countless witnesses is the Loch Ness Monster or Nessie for short. […] Other famous creatures that are believed to inhabit North American Lakes are Champ of Lake Champlain, USA, Ogopogo of Lake Okanagan, Canada and Manipogo of Lake Manitoba, Canada. There is also some famous laviathans that inhabit the coastal waters of North America, such as Caddy […] of the Pacific coast and Chessie in the Chesapeake bay off the Atlantic coast are but a few of these creatures. "(Ibid., 19f)
The chapter on satyrs is a bit out of the ordinary. Here the author jumps directly to Bigfoot and Yeti, and only then speculates what it might be exactly (ibid., 32f). He also does not infer prehistoric animals, but considers ghosts and aliens to be more likely candidates. The book closes with a few remarks on the subject of faith (ibid., 81): Cryptozoologists and paleontologists both went on a search because they believe in the existence of their subject. Biblical cryptozoologists suffered double social denial for believing in both the Bible and cryptids.
A comparison of the authors presented reveals both similarities and differences. Except for the Mormon and old-earth creationist Whitcomb, none of the authors make a denominational affiliation. The Junge Earth creationists combine their biblical literalism with an emphasis on individual piety, the experience of conversion (›born again‹) and the pursuit of mission. They fall into the collective category of evangelicalism (cf. Balmer 2010; Queen II 2009). More important than the age of the earth is the origin of species, especially humans. The theory of evolution is their materialistic philosophy and the basis of atheism. It must be fought because of its anti-Christian and amoral effects. The authors call for a separation of science and religion; but since the ultimate truth can only be found in the Bible, real science cannot at all arrive at unbiblical results. Evolutionary biology is therefore a pseudoscience and can be refuted with the knowledge of cryptozoology. Like classical cryptozoologists and creation scientists, the authors do not fight against science in general, but want to show that they represent the actually correct science.
31The authors concentrate on the search for cryptid dinosaurs and other primeval animals.Their discovery would disprove scientifically established views about the origin of species and the age of the earth. The authors take it for granted that recent (non-avian) dinosaurs are a bitter blow to evolutionary research: they regard the evolutionary paradigm as dogmatic. If one could refute a supposed belief such as “dinosaurs died out before humans came into existence”, the entire theory of evolution would collapse. All authors rationalize biblical mythical creatures as primeval reptiles and thus follow the cryptozoological tendency to naturalize symbolic narratives (cf. Meurger and Gagnon 1988, 11ff). Living dinosaurs would therefore confirm the Bible. The search for them thus gains relevance in the history of salvation. In any case, dinosaurs are considered by all authors to be impressive evidence of God's creative power.
In their work, the authors examined mainly rely on eyewitness reports and expeditions. The inspection reports are collected and freed from what the authors consider 'superstitions'. From the stories adapted in this way, it is finally concluded which prehistoric being it must be. A certain number of reports from ›trustworthy‹ informants is regarded as proof of the existence of the cryptids. Most of the authors also went on expeditions themselves. In doing so, they sometimes endured heavy exertion (Gibbons fell ill with malaria and was threatened by armed locals). Sometimes such expeditions were supplemented by missionary commitment.
33 Not all authors have the same religious motivation. Gibbons presents himself primarily as a cryptozoologist whose work harmonizes perfectly with his religious views. For the creationist Woetzel, on the other hand, cryptozoology is only one of several means in the fight against the theory of evolution. Perhaps it would be appropriate to distinguish between creationist cryptozoologists and cryptozoological creationists, depending on where on the scale their focus is. The authors describe themselves as ›christian cryptozoologists‹, ›bible believing cryptozoologists‹ and the like. There is no common self-designation. It is also noticeable that the authors hardly make any reference to one another. That does not necessarily have to speak in favor of attempts at demarcation. In the cryptozoological literature, specific references are seldom used. Many of the texts are children's books or at least understandable for young readers - just as schools are fought over in traditional creationism to influence education.
After analyzing and comparing the positions of selected authors, some general statements can be made about the interplay between creationism and cryptozoology. The research questions asked at the beginning can now be answered.
35Why do some actors combine the two disciplines? Creationist cryptozoologists take a literal interpretation of the Bible and see the theory of evolution as an attack on Christianity. It is important to them that the creationist position is not only biblically revealed, but also scientifically proven. Evolutionary biology and geological actualism, from their point of view the pseudoscientific basis of materialism and atheism, are to be refuted ›scientifically‹ by cryptozoology. According to them, science must not be influenced by religious beliefs. But since it is clear from the outset that the Bible provides an exact description of world history, correct science cannot provide any unbiblical knowledge. Living dinosaurs in particular would be impressive evidence of God's creative power. Their cryptozoological work is of such great religious importance for the authors.
36How are the two disciplines combined? Cryptozoology is hardly an institutionalized frontier science, so it can also tie in with controversial positions and be played off against the scientific establishment (cf. Laycock 2010). Creationists agree with that prehistoric survivor paradigm and look for recent populations of prehistoric species. To discover long-extinct species would be a heavy blow to the theory of biological evolution and an ancient earth. The methodology of the authors is classically cryptozoological: eyewitness reports and other anecdotal evidence are collected and based on the principle of cumulative evidence piled into evidence. The naturalization made is also applied to the Bible and mythical creatures such as Behemoth and Leviathan are rationalized as dinosaurs. The cryptozoological hermeneutics (cf. Laycock 2014) make the Bible more plausible on the one hand. On the other hand, these mythical animals make modern cryptids more believable. Biblicism and cryptozoology are mutually supportive. Some authors undertake expeditions to search for cryptids relevant to creation. In doing so, scientific and missionary engagement are sometimes combined.
37 The present contribution was able to show how some religious actors try to legitimize their biblical literalism with the socio-cultural authority of science. Through the inclusion and exclusion of certain disciplines in and out of the field of science, this should no longer support biological evolution, but divine creation. By adopting theories and methods of cryptozoology, the authors examined present their confrontation with the theory of evolution not as a conflict between religion and science, but as a battle between 'science' and 'pseudoscience'. This strategy brings the creationist cryptozoologists or cryptozoological creationists into tension both with the established scientific community and with the classical cryptozoologists.
38 This first exploration could only provide a qualitative insight into the field. Some questions must remain open for the time being - for example, about the quantitative dissemination of creationist-cryptozoological ideas, especially among the target audience of children and adolescents. Future research could try to include the dissenting voices and place them in a broader discourse of creationism, cryptozoology, skepticism, and anti-creationism.
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