The most many of us know about dinosaurs is what we have learned from Jurassic Park. The main lesson? Don’t try to bring the extinct back into existence. However, for Dr. Matthew McLain, a recent addition to our faculty, the existence of dinosaurs is his profession.
While pursuing his PhD, he and a group of paleontologists spent their summers covered in dust and digging under the Wyoming sun. During this time, they found a bone covered with large bite marks. After a thorough analysis they discovered the bone and teeth marks belonged to a Tyrannosaurus rex. McLain, through this find, discovered and proved what many paleontologists had already suspected, that this dinosaur of the Cretaceous Era was a cannibal. McLain dedicated an entire section of his dissertation to the cannibalistic nature of the T rex and presented the find to The Geological Society of America in 2015. The discovery, McLain remarked, got a lot of media attention.
The most widely accepted view among paleontologists and geologists dates the origin of the dinosaur to be 231 to 243 million years ago. McLain holds a different perspective, one few fellow paleontologist’s hold. As a creationist and Christian who believes in the inerrant Word of God, he is convinced that true science supports the Genesis account of a literal six-day creation as revealed by the Creator Himself.
Q: How did you come to believe in a literal six-day creation?
A: It was something my parents infused in me since I was young. I remember reading dinosaur books and trying to tell my parents that certain fossils were over two hundred million years old and they were saying “no, no they’re not”. When you are that young you just believe your parents. I was taught in church that Creation was correct, and as I studied God’s Word, I became convinced that it really did teach a literal six-day creation. The more I studied science throughout school the more I understood a six-day creation was not contradicted by science. It really depends on your paradigm. There are a lot of challenges in science for someone with a young-earth viewpoint, but I have also seen many former challenges tackled by good creationist science. A lot of people think that the point of creationism is to prove the Bible right, but the Bible doesn’t need that from us. Evidence is important, but the proof alone won’t convince us – it’s a work of the Spirit of God. Jesus talks about that in Luke 16. The rich man wants Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brother, but Abraham tells him that they have Moses and the Prophets, and that even if someone came back from the dead, they would still not believe.
Q: How rare is a Creationist Paleontologist?
A: When most evolutionary scientists find out I am a creationist they either walk away or try arguing with me. Most paleontologists are antagonistic towards the creationist viewpoint. Some call us the “unmentionables”, they won’t even say the word “creationist”. However, most evolutionists have never really met a qualified creationist paleontologist or geologist. Some even deny our existence as if we are unicorns or fairies. The best thing I can do is be the best scientist I can be so that I bring glory to God by contributing to the scientific community and demonstrating sound scientific practice and reasoning.
Q: So as a Christian, scientist and educator - what is your goal?
A: I talk about this with fellow creationists all the time and there are a few different goals. The first and overarching one is doing excellent scientific research and being above reproach. Currently, I’m working on papers that I want to get published in secular journals. Second, it’s important to connect with other like-minded creationists and to present correct and factual thinking. Part of that involves going to creation conferences and speaking through other means like books and papers. Third, is communicating to churches and schools what creation is and what it is not. Many don’t understand how to look at both science and religion and understand that when they are presented correctly, they agree.
The Battle for the Beginning, a book written by our president, Dr. John MacArthur, deals with this very concept: the battle with evolutionists and even quasi-creationists. The former deny the Bible’s authority and the latter claim the inerrancy of the Bible yet compromise on the first three chapters of Genesis, saying it is an allegory rather than a true historical account. In Scripture, God has revealed to us all the essentials of life and godliness, this all starts with the creation account. If this account is shaky or unreliable, who is to say the rest of the Bible is not? However, we know the Bible is true in all it declares. It is a rock solid foundation. “There is absolutely no reason for an intelligent mind to balk at accepting it as a literal account of the origin of our universe,” MacArthur states, “the conflict is not between science and Scripture, but between the Biblicist’s confident faith and the naturalist’s willful skepticism. Only an honest look at Scripture, with sound principles of hermeneutics, will yield the right understanding of the creation and fall of our race”.
Many students have been indoctrinated to blur the lines between fact and hypothesis as if intellect and faith must be bifurcated. Actually, many of the philosophers who laid the foundation of Western thought and culture interpreted the world through a lens of a faith based system: Plato, Aristotle, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, René Descartes and Albert Einstein, to name a few.
Dr. McLain repudiates this bifurcation, teaching his students how to be faithful to Scripture and a stalwart scientist, sacrificing neither faithfulness nor scholarship. He accomplishes this not only through a personal commitment to Christ, research labs, lectures and homework, but also more…interactive and theatrical means, as well. Last semester, in true college professor form, he was seen standing on the second story of the science building wearing his graduation robe with his doctoral tam and tassel, portraying Galileo. He dropped two objects of different mass to his students below presenting a visual demonstration of the motion of falling bodies. We are excited to welcome Dr. Matthew McLain to The Master's University family. Creationist Paleontologists are as rare as the fossils they find and we have one of the best.