'No Dinosaurs In Heaven' Explores Shifting Debate Over Evolution

(RNS) A new documentary examines the evolving battle over teaching evolution in American classrooms as tactics have shifted from a hard-nosed debate to a more subtle fight in the name of “academic freedom.”

The film, “No Dinosaurs in Heaven,” follows Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education, down the Colorado River as she refutes creationist theories that the Grand Canyon is only a few thousand years old and shows evidence of the biblical flood.

It also charts the story of its director, Greta Schiller, as she studies to become a science teacher and is assigned a biology professor who refuses to teach evolution because of his religious beliefs.

“I made the film to convey three major ideas,” Schiller said. The most important, she said, is “that science is a way to understand the natural world and is not inherently in conflict with a belief in God.”

Good for her.

I haven’t seen the film, but I have noticed an increasing tendency for people to fall for an absurd false dilemma as if the only two options out there for understanding the origins of life on earth:

  1. Dawkins Darwinism, or
  2. 7 Day Creationism.

This idea that these are the only two options under consideration is, itself, more absurd than the thumping of the most opinionated fundamentalist. God clearly is a rational being and there is no reason that he would not use processes that the human mind might not be able to at least partially comprehend over time, being made in His image and likeness, after all!

From the Catholic Answers Library:

"The Time Question

“Much less has been defined as to when the universe, life, and man appeared. The Church has infallibly determined that the universe is of finite age—that it has not existed from all eternity—but it has not infallibly defined whether the world was created only a few thousand years ago or whether it was created several billion years ago.”


I’m curious as to how the Church can state this infallibly. This is a matter of science, not faith or morals.

I suspect the Church may consider a matter of faith. But it gets into all sorts of philosophical and theological issues that I’m not sure are considered. For example, infallibly declaring the universe is of finite age also infallibly implies that the universe has an end. This is because a universe with a beginning and no end is of infinite age. It is also implicitly defining time as some type of fixed, existing entity, when time can simply be a figment of our imagination.

How is “universe” defined here?

And where is this infallible determination stated?

Because it has been divinely revealed that God created the universe in Scripture. We’ve come to recognize the possibility that the details in the narrative may be poetic description as God may well have been rather prudent not to reveal technological details about how he created the universe (we tend to make tech progress a lot faster than the maturity to usee it well). Anything that is created has a start point.

“God created the universe” and “The universe is of finite age” are two different ideas. The universe could be of infinite age, and yet still created by God.

"Many thought ID was discredited in a 2005 court case, Kitzmiller v. Dover, the first challenge to teaching ID in public schools, when a Pennsylvania judge ruled ID is a form of religious creationism and therefore cannot be taught in public schools.

But evolution proponents say creationists have returned to the trenches to refine their attack. Where they once asked teachers to
“teach the controversy” – one that most scientists insist does not exist – they now promote their ideas in the interest of “academic freedom.”
“Now they are not talking about balancing evolution with a religious idea, but about balancing evolution with evidence against evolution,” Scott said. “Of course, scientists are unaware of any evidence against evolution. It seems only the creationists who can come up with a list.”

Exactly, since the majority of biologists are materialists they will not come up with a list.

The infallible doctrine that the universe is finite is, in fact, a matter of faith, as well as science (on a side note, science is a matter of faith in itself). If the universe were infinite, people could validly say, “there is no need for a Creator.” Of course, we Catholics know this is illogical and irrelevant to life.

Humans have had faith that God created the universe before science ever even determined that the Big Bang took place. So of course it is a matter of faith. I don’t see how the universe could be of infinite age, anyway. Like the Father has begotten the Son for all eternity, God would have had to “beget” the universe from all eternity; and in a way would it not be somewhat like a fourth person? God is a Trinity because He is essentially Love and love is fruitful. The universe has no inherent morality, as far as I’m aware. So, my logic leads me to believe that the universe, as it is the totality of time and space, could not be infinite.

It is a fundamental contradiction to assert that something is both of infinite age and has a creator. Anything that was created has a moment at which it was created. See?

God, on the other hand, is of infinite age (i.e. age doesn’t apply to Him) AND he has no Creator. Logically consistent.

No it isn’t. Some with a beginning but no end is also infinite. Hence the reason I noted that if the Church infallibly state the universe is of finite age, it infallibly implies that the universe must have and end. If it didn’t, the Church would be wrong.

:rolleyes: So, whenever anybody asks you hold old you are, you say “Infinite?” You have a begining point, but are an immortal soul. Thus, infinite age by your logic. One question; did that work with bartenders before you were 21? :smiley:

You’re assuming, of course, that such a creation occurs “within time”, as opposed to the creation itself “producing” time.

There are several ways in which something that was created, is of infinite age. One way is that that thing that is created, is one in a series of creations that are created, exist, and then disappear, followed by a new creation, new existing, and new disappearing, and so on; and with this series of creations viewed as one single “creation”. In such a case, the series of creations could have no discernable beginning and no discernable ending. And God would be the Creator of each separate moment in series of creations.

God, on the other hand, is of infinite age (i.e. age doesn’t apply to Him) AND he has no Creator.

True. And Creation would be of infinite age, and would have a Creator.

It appears we must butt heads today, eh?

Eternity isn’t just a long time. For the universe to be of infinite age (defined as no beginning and no end), it would essentially have to exist outside of time itself, predate time, for lack of better words/models. If I recall my philosophy/theology correctly, that would essentially have to deify the universe itself. I don’t buy it.

This physical world is something created, something made. Catholicism teaches that God is the originator of reason, which is why the universe generally functions according to comprehensible principles. Only God is unchanging, the same in character at any point in our puny history. This is so because our experience of Him from our specific moments of time is always contact with the same God who exists outside of time and space. Every lesson we so far comprehend about matter says that time must have been created first and THEN matter created at some point within it. The universe changes over time, so it cannot exist outside of time. If it cannot exist outside of time, then there was a singular point within time in which it came to be.


First, the question is mixing up contexts. When someone asks one age, they are referring to the physical age here on earth. Physical death always occurs (excepting Enoch and possibly Ezekiel).

Second, just because something is infinite does not mean it is infinite at a particular point in time. The time between two fixed points is not infinite, though the difference between the end points may be.

This is very easy to understand. As of today, how old it God? Since God had no beginning, the difference between no beginning and a fixed point is infinite. Now switch “no beginning” with “no ending” and you get the same result.

For something to be finite, you need a beginning and an ending point.

One question; did that work with bartenders before you were 21? :smiley:

I assume you meant to say before 18.:slight_smile:

Time is a function of change of (material) form. In practical terms, without matter, there is no time, because time is defined in terms of change of matter.

Exactly what I was saying. The universe would be likened to a “fourth person.”

You’re getting perilously close to saying that if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to here it, it makes no noise… :wink:

Time cannot exist without matter. If matter was created then that would also mark the beginning of time. If God created matter in a void, then he existed outside of time.