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‘Schweitzer’s dangerous discovery’

by and Jonathan Sarfati

That’s the title of an article in Discover magazine1 about Dr Mary Schweitzer’s discoveries of fresh dinosaur tissue (which we’ve earlier reported on—Dinosaur bone blood cells found, Creation 16(1):9, 1993; Sensational dinosaur blood report! 19(4):42; 1997; Dino soft tissue find, 27(4):7, 2005). There was a very similar article in Smithsonian magazine a month later, which even mentioned our Creation magazine citations.2

Why “dangerous”? A sub-heading (our emphasis in bold font) explains: ‘When this shy paleontologist found soft, fresh-looking tissue inside a T. rex femur, she erased a line between past and present. Then all hell broke loose.’

Photos by M. H. Schweitzer4504-trex-soft-tissue
  1. The arrow points to a tissue fragment that is still elastic. It beggars belief that elastic tissue like this could have lasted for 65 million years.
  2. Another instance of “fresh appearance” which similarly makes it hard to believe in the “millions of years”.
  3. Regions of bone showing where the fibrous structure is still present, compared to most fossil bones which lack this structure. But these bones are claimed to be 65 million years old, yet they manage to retain this structure.

The ‘line’ referred to is the supposed 65 million years that dinosaurs are reputed to have been extinct. The Discover article described how the fresh dino tissue had ‘electrified’ creationists, ‘who interpret Schweitzer’s findings as evidence that Earth is not nearly as old as scientists claim. “I invite the reader to step back and contemplate the obvious,” wrote Carl Wieland [CMI—Australia’s Managing Director; his article ‘Still soft and stretchy’ prompted atheist-inspired criticism from long-age compromisers] last year. “This discovery gives immensely powerful support to the proposition that dinosaur fossils are not millions of years old at all, but were mostly fossilized under catastrophic conditions a few thousand years ago at most.”’

The Discover article went on to document the unwillingness of many in the scientific community to believe the findings. Even to the point that Dr Schweitzer ‘was having a hard time’ trying to get her work published in scientific journals.

“I had one reviewer tell me that he didn’t care what the data said, he knew that what I was finding wasn’t possible,’ says Schweitzer. ‘I wrote back and said, ‘Well, what data would convince you?’ And he said, ‘None.’”3

Schweitzer can understand why so many are skeptical. “If you take a blood sample, and you stick it on a shelf, you have nothing recognizable in about a week,’ she says, adding, ‘So why would there be anything left in dinosaurs?”

Why indeed? Unless of course they haven’t been extinct for millions of years, and their remains were preserved quickly by an unusual event. Schweitzer says of the moment she found dinosaur red blood cells in the 1990s: ‘I just got goose bumps, because everyone knows these things don’t last for 65 million years.’

Smelly bones

Schweitzer recounts how, after that first discovery, she noticed that a T. rex skeleton (from Hell Creek, Montana) had a distinctly cadaverous odour. When she mentioned this to long-time paleontologist Jack Horner, he said “Oh yeah, all Hell Creek bones smell.”

Astonishing, isn’t it? So ingrained is the notion among paleontologists that dinosaur bones must be millions of years old that the ‘smell of death’ didn’t even register with them—despite the evidence being right under their noses.

Evangelical Christian?

The article author wrote that Schweitzer is an “evangelical Christian”.1 However, he is only one of many non-Christians to invoke a professing Christian as a ‘useful idiot’ to undermine the Christian faith.

It’s important to understand that both words, ‘evangelical’ and ‘Christian’, have definite meanings, but it’s rare for atheists to use them honestly. For example, the great 20th-century physician-turned-preacher Dr D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that an evangelical must (by definition) accept “creation, not evolution’, ‘the fact of the historical fall of the first man, and that it happened in the way described in the third chapter of Genesis,” and “assert the fact of the flood.” This is actually a corollary of the definition that evangelicals accept the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture.

Schweitzer’s stated attitude to Scripture actually reflects a liberal, rather than evangelical approach to the Bible.4 However, she says she goes to ‘pretty conservative churches’ to hear about the Bible and God, and rightly notes that in liberal churches they will talk more about politics rather than the Bible and God.5

Rather than accept the biblical account of a rapid creation, she still believes in millions of years, “That makes God a lot bigger than thinking of Him as a magician that pulled everything out in one fell swoop.” Schweitzer also said, that her ‘faith’ (in what, we are not told) had deepened. “My God has gotten so much bigger since I’ve been a scientist. He doesn’t stay in boxes.”

However, such trite slogans are irrelevant. The important thing is what God said He did, not what someone thinks ‘their’ ‘god’ could have done! And the founders of modern science, who believed that they were ‘thinking God’s thoughts after Him’, didn’t deny His recorded thoughts.

And although Schweitzer says, “I see compassion in the world around me”, we also see the Fall—including in T. rex skeletons! That is the insuperable difficulty of trying to marry Christianity and long ages. Note that we don’t claim that one can’t be a Christian and a long-ager. Many people are saved despite ‘blessed inconsistency’—there is no hint in the Bible that the ability to hold mutually contrary thoughts in the same skull is an unforgivable sin. See also:

The article also claims that Schweitzer has suffered ‘religious attacks’ from biblical creationists, although of course not demonstrating that there was any ‘attack’. It is actually not the first time that Discover has resorted to emotionalism as a substitute for argument—see Feduccia v Creationists.

Schweitzer says, “It rips my guts out”. [This seems to be saying: ‘Your statement offends me, therefore it must be false’.]

‘These people are claiming to represent the Christ I love’ [though not loved enough to believe what He said about a recent creation (Mark 10:4–9) and global Flood (Luke 17:26–27) and the inerrancy of Scripture (John 10:35).].

“It’s no wonder that a lot of my colleagues are atheists’ [perhaps it’s because there’s not much incentive to believe the Bible when professing Christians don’t?].

‘You know, if the only picture of Christ I had was your attitude towards me, I’d run [while deploring ‘Christian hatemail’ (if there was any in this instance), it’s worth noting that the biblical Christ was hardly the innocuous wimp he is often portrayed as being—note e.g. his use of the challenge–riposte method—or else no one would likely have bothered to have Him crucified].

Smithsonian magazine claims:

She’s horrified that some Christians accuse her of hiding the true meaning of her data. “They treat you really bad,” she says. “They twist your words and they manipulate your data.”

Of course, fact-free accusations are par for the course for our opponents. Our articles make it clear that Schweitzer still has faith (by her own definition, below) in millions of years. We disagree with her opinion and interpretation of the data, not her data per se. Actually, Schweitzer herself had to admit recently:

So, that leaves us with two alternatives for interpretation: either the dinosaurs aren’t as old as we think they are, or maybe we don’t know exactly how these things get preserved.5

So now she agrees that the creationist interpretation is one of the two possible alternatives. That’s precisely the point! When CMI speakers present this data, we present this one, while pointing out that Schweitzer herself still believes in millions of years.

Further, we have defended Dr Schweitzer against attacks from her fellow evolutionists, e.g. claims that the blood vessels were bacterial biofilms and that the red blood cells were actually iron-rich spheres called framboids—see Doubting doubts about the Squishosaur.

The article continues:

For her, science and religion represent two different ways of looking at the world; invoking the hand of God to explain natural phenomena breaks the rules of science. After all, she says, what God asks is faith, not evidence. “If you have all this evidence and proof positive that God exists, you don’t need faith. I think he kind of designed it so that we’d never be able to prove his existence. And I think that’s really cool.”

Schweitzer’s stated position is an antibiblical view called fideism, i.e. nothing but blind faith (as well as the discredited NOMA, Non-Overlapping MAgisteria of the late Stephen Jay Gould, an atheist when he was alive). Certainly Romans 1:20 contradicts that fideistic fallacy, as a moment’s reflection will show. Because, if Mary Schweitzer is correct in that quote, then every atheist on the planet, including Dawkins, Gould, and Darwin, will have an excuse on judgement day:

I looked around, God, and there was no evidence of your existence, everything just looked like it made itself [evolved]!

But God’s Word says no-one will have an excuse because of what He created. The creation shows there is a Creator.

It seems that Dr Schweitzer reads her Bible (if she does!) like a materialist. Perhaps her problem is that verses like these (e.g. Romans 1:20, 8:19–22; 2 Peter 3:3–6) just never come alive for her …?

See also Loving God with all your mind: logic and creation.

There is also much naïveté about the motivations of evolutionists, as per her recent interview by the theistic evolutionary group Biologos:

I think that parents need to tell their kids that there are a lot of REASONS scientists say what they do, and virtually NONE of those reasons are to disprove God’s existence. That doesn’t enter in. [her emphasis]5

Well, some certainly are, such as Clinton Richard Dawkins! There is no accident that many leading evolutionists are also vociferous atheists—see A Who’s Who of evolutionists. But even if there is no intention to push atheism, they uncritically swallow the materialistic paradigm—see Naturalism, Origins, and Operational Science.

It is a shame that Dr Schweitzer is so entrapped in the billions-of-years paradigm that she is unwilling to abandon it in the face of huge problems, both biblical and scientific.

Published: 19 July 2006


  1. Yeoman, B., Schweitzer’s Dangerous Discovery, Discover 27(4):37–41, 77, April 2006; discovermagazine.com. Return to text.
  2. Fields, H., Dinosaur Shocker: Probing a 68-million-year-old T. rex, Mary Schweitzer stumbled upon astonishing signs of life that may radically change our view of the ancient beasts, Smithsonian magazine, May 2006; smithsonianmag.com. Return to text.
  3. Yeoman, B., Schweitzer’s Dangerous Discovery; caption of a picture of Dr Schweitzer, p. 37, top right; see screenshot, because the quote has disappeared from online versions. Return to text.
  4. Perhaps there is confusion arising from the fact that Schweitzer, though American-born, is of Germanic heritage—because in Germany, the word evangelische usually refers to any Protestant church, no matter how liberal. Return to text.
  5. Ruppel, E., Not So Dry Bones: An interview with Mary Schweitzer, Biologos Forum, biologos.org/, 21 July 2014. Return to text.

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