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NYT: Paleontologist/creationist believes earth is at most 10,000 years old
Published: Sunday February 11, 2007
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Monday's New York Times features a front page article on a paleontologist/creationist who believes that the earth is "at most 10,000 years old."

"There is nothing unusual about the 197-page dissertation Marcus R. Ross submitted in December to complete his doctoral degree in geosciences here at the University of Rhode Island," Cornelia Dean writes.

"His subject was the abundance and spread of mosasaurs, marine reptiles that vanished at the end of the Cretaceous era about 65 million years ago," the article continues. "The work is 'impeccable,' said David E. Fastovsky, a paleontologist and professor of geosciences at the university who was Dr. Ross's dissertation adviser."

"But Ross is hardly a conventional paleontologist," Dean writes. "He is a 'young earth creationist' -- he believes that the Bible is a literally true account of the creation of the universe, and that the earth is at most 10,000 years old."

The article continues, "Today he teaches earth science at Liberty University, the conservative Christian institution founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell where, Dr. Ross said, he uses a conventional scientific text."

"We also discuss the intersection of those sorts of ideas with Christianity," Ross tells the Times. "I don’t require my students to say or write their assent to one idea or another any more than I was required."

According to a biography found online by RAW STORY, Ross "is greatly interested in issues surrounding the creation-evolution controversy and the intersection of geology with the Biblical events of creation and Noah's Flood."

Excerpts from article:


For him, Dr. Ross said, the methods and theories of paleontology are one “paradigm” for studying the past, and Scripture is another. In the paleontological paradigm, he said, the dates in his dissertation are entirely appropriate. The fact that as a young earth creationist he has a different view just means, he said, “that I am separating the different paradigms.”

He likened his situation to that of a socialist studying economics in a department with a supply-side bent. “People hold all sorts of opinions different from the department in which they graduate,” he said. “What’s that to anybody else?”

But not everyone is happy with that approach. “People go somewhat bananas when they hear about this,” said Jon C. Boothroyd, a professor of geosciences at Rhode Island.

In theory, scientists look to nature for answers to questions about nature, and test those answers with experiment and observation. For Biblical literalists, Scripture is the final authority. As a creationist raised in an evangelical household and a paleontologist who said he was “just captivated” as a child by dinosaurs and fossils, Dr. Ross embodies conflicts between these two approaches. The conflicts arise often these days, particularly as people debate the teaching of evolution.