Unearthing exciting evidence for creation
Gary Bates interviews fossil researcher Vance Nelson
Vance Nelson is a prolific researcher whose work is making a significant contribution to the Christian/creationist movement. He is the author of the Untold Secrets of Planet Earth series: Dire Dragons, Flood Fossils, Monumental Monsters, and Amazon Expedition. He and his wife Korelei reside in the ‘oil sands’ province of Alberta, Canada, with their daughters, Emily, Hope, and Zoe. He has been a speaker at several CMI conferences.
Vance was not raised in a Christian home. His salvation came at age 19, in part through reading a Gideon Bible he received at school when in Grade 5. Remembering the ‘Christian story’ in it, he became convicted of sin in his life and became a Christian. He then fully came to understand the Gospel by immersing himself in Scripture, which he came to love.
When he started witnessing to his unsaved friends, Vance says:
They were quite shocked at the transformation in my life. They said that they saw a radical change in my demeanour, language, and just the topics of conversation that I would now discuss—particularly as I had memorized large portions of Scripture.
A year later he enrolled at a Bible college and obtained a Bachelor of Religion with a specialization in Christian Ministry.
His first encounter with compromise
During the 4-year degree, he became disenchanted with the college faculty’s so-called ‘scholarly view’ of Scripture. Vance already possessed a high view of the Bible: after all, it was the book that ultimately led to his salvation. But the college did not necessarily ascribe to such a view. This was particularly true in the area that Vance had become interested in—biblical creation.
Vance was discouraged that most of his lecturers did not, and refused to, take a stand on a plain reading of the Genesis creation account. He recalls that the college brought in a specialist lecturer with three doctorates who believed in ‘evolutionary creation’, which meant he essentially disbelieved everything in Genesis 1–11.
Filling a need to defend Scripture
Vance saw a need and wanted to become more equipped in defending the Bible, so he moved to Florida and attended a college that believed in biblical creation. Notably, they taught about both creation and evolution. He obtained a B.Sc. in biology which included a minor in origins. Vance explains:
Hearing the powerful evidence for creation in the classroom was motivating for me, as I now had solid evidence to support the Bible’s account of Genesis creation.
Being from Canada, where there is a smaller Christian population than in the US where he studied, he saw the need to start his own ministry, teaching about creation in local churches. He was curious about the pre-and post-Fall world—trying to imagine the incredible “very good” creation, and the creatures in it. And how and to what extent the world and its creatures might have changed due to the Fall and later the Flood.
This led him to embark on original field research, including fossil excavations. He says,
I had a desire to find out more and to contribute to our creationist knowledge. I was uncovering a lot of fossils that evolutionists claim to be tens or hundreds of millions of years old based upon their stratigraphic sequence in the rock layers. But they looked uncannily similar to creatures alive today.
Of course, the secular textbooks might even classify these fossils as different species or even genera from those living due to their perceived separation by millions of years. But Vance knew that these ‘living fossils’ he was uncovering were in fact powerful evidence for creation.
Taking it ‘on the road’
Starting in 2002, Vance and his wife Korelei built a huge travelling/mobile museum to take the creation message around the country. It featured an impressive array of Flood fossils, including dinosaurs and marine reptiles. Vance notes that visitors often say that they had no idea there was so much evidence for biblical creation. Of course, they were now seeing things from a biblical perspective that many had never considered previously.
Since childhood, Vance has always been interested in rocks and geology. And rock layers contain fossils, including those of dinosaurs. Vance was hooked! He subsequently spent years researching and excavating in many areas including the badlands in Alberta (where there are huge fossil deposits) and also in Montana in the US (well known for its dinosaur fossils). Because people are generally fascinated with these creatures of the past, Vance decided to write a book on this subject. Called Dire Dragons, it became the first in a series he called Untold Secrets of Planet Earth. And, indeed, many of the fascinating aspects in his book are normally ‘untold’. Dire Dragons specializes in featuring artefacts that suggest human and dinosaur co-existence, by providing evidence that humans had seen living dinosaurs.
This is massively significant in terms of overturning a ‘poster child’ for evolution. Evolutionists would claim this is impossible, because there was a great age of dinosaurs that existed from c. 230 to 66 million years ago, and that the first human (Homo sapiens) did not appear until 300,000 years ago or less.
Vance travelled to some 10 countries to catalogue and photograph carvings, sculptures, tapestries, and all sorts of artefacts that look astonishingly like dinosaurs and ‘extinct’ reptiles we only know of from the fossil record. And these depictions are not just nebulous or generic-looking. Some are very detailed. CMI stocks this book and its popularity has been incredible as the images are spectacularly eye-opening for anyone who has not pondered the possibility of human-dinosaur co-existence before.
A foremost student of the Ark
Vance’s second book, called Flood Fossils, deals with three important subjects. First, it summarizes over 2,000 years of scholarship by the church and Hebrew-speaking Jews attesting to the scriptural dimensions and the specific design of Noah’s Ark as a rectangular box/chest. Vance explains further:
The Old Testament uses the word tebāh for Noah’s Ark; the New Testament uses kibōtos. Both words mean, without question, a box-shaped design for Noah’s Ark. Interestingly, the church compromised this rectangular-shaped Ark from the 1700s until today, so nearly everyone thought the Ark was a pointed ship-shaped vessel—church and world alike. Interestingly, multiple eyewitnesses throughout history have claimed to have seen a box-shaped vessel on Greater Mt. Ararat. I’m not saying it survives today—that’s irrelevant because the biblical text clearly describes its shape. However, these eyewitness descriptions align with exactly what Reformation scholars elucidated previously from the biblical text, back to the early church—a box-shaped Ark.
The second section provides compelling evidence that rocks and fossils formed rapidly during the great Flood of Noah’s time, and that they do not take millions of years to form. This is another repudiation of a cherished icon of evolution, because rocks and fossils are often cited as evidence of deep time in the geologic record.
Section three highlights modern-day items that have fossilized rapidly, such as a fencepost, a modern wig, and timber from a copper mine about 2,000 years old that has turned into metallic copper.
Vance also had dinosaur fossils carbon-14 dated. One such fossil was an Edmontosaurus toe bone (allegedly c. 70 million years old) that was sent to the radiometric dating lab of a major university in the US. In the book, there is a photograph of the lab’s report that dated it at only thousands of years old—millions of years less than is required by evolutionists!
Fascinating fossil monsters
Vance’s latest book in the series is called Monumental Monsters. This book features stunning giant fossil creatures found in the fossil record. Most of these creatures have much smaller modern counterparts alive today. It is fascinating to see a realistic depiction of a hornless rhinoceros, known as Paraceratherium, that would have been over 5.5 metres tall, 8 m long, and over 20 metric tonnes (22.046 US tons) in weight. It is the largest fossil mammal ever found. By comparison, a modern Indian rhino pales into insignificance with a maximum height of 1.8 m, length of 3.8 m, and weight of 2 metric tonnes (2.2046 US tons). Vance recognizes a general decline in the biological vigour of creatures from the time of the good creation via mutations and so on. But many of these land-dwelling animals must have been on the Ark, nonetheless. Vance says,
Creationists believe in one great Ice Age lasting several hundred years, starting soon after the Flood. Early in this time of high precipitation (rainfall, snowfall) due to the warmer oceans after the Flood, there was likely a lush vegetative environment. But at the peak of the Ice Age a few hundred years later, about 30% of the continents were covered with ice. Since plants could not have grown in those areas, animals would have been deprived of many food sources. This may have led to or hastened their decline towards extinction.
In closing …
Because I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, I tend to look at the world through the lens of Scripture. I see a broken world, marred by sin. And when I look at the natural world I see evidence of a global Flood everywhere. It makes the Bible come alive for me. Yet in my travels, I’ve listened to tour guides, and have seen the signage that misleads so many. I think the creation movement is so important in helping people see evidence of the Bible’s history all around them. They need to know the Bible is true from the beginning, from Genesis, which is the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And indeed, Vance’s research and resulting books have a novel and exciting way of helping people see just that.