Replies to Critics

A Critique of Trent Horn’s Video “An Embarrassing Young Earth Creationist Argument”

By: Ademar Rakowsky

00:00-00:29 Horn opens by recounting and playing a clip of a discussion between Kennedy Hall and Taylor Marshall about the legend of St. George the Dragonslayer, with the claim being made that the legend as well as other medieval depictions of dragons are actually of dinosaurs that survived Noah's Flood, a claim that other Young-Earth Creationists also use to discredit the molecules-to-man evolutionary hypothesis. Horn thinks that this claim can cause harm.

00:30-01:30 Horn says that one can be a faithful Catholic whether one believes in the theory of evolution or not or whether the Earth revolves around the sun or not because the Church does not officially teach on evolution or on scientific matters in general.

-- There are two major issues here that he does not consider:

-- First, the Church does not have to officially or explicitly teach about every subject/doctrine in order for that subject/doctrine to be true and necessary for one to be a faithful Catholic. Much of the Deposit of the Faith is implicit: for example, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was not officially proclaimed until 1854, yet in Catholic Liturgy, Eastern and Western, it was strongly implied and arguably held by the faithful to be true the whole time from the beginning. Official teaching is generally made when there is confusion about a particular doctrine and requires clarification.  Moreover, the fact that one was technically free not to believe in the Immaculate Conception until 1854 does not change the fact that the overwhelming weight of Tradition supported the doctrine.  The last authoritative Magisterial document on evolution, the encyclical Humani generis of Pope Pius XII, affirmed that the Bishops must teach that everything in Genesis is true history and that every word in the Bible is true, whether it speaks of faith and morals, history and natural science, or anything else.  Thus, Humani generis leaves the heavy burden of proof on anyone who questions the literal and obvious sense of the sacred history of Genesis, not on those, like the members of the Kolbe Center, who defend the traditional literal historical interpretation.

-- Second, by being the guardian of the Truth proclaimed by Our Lord, in Scripture overall, and consistently by the Church Fathers and Doctors, the Church sets the interpretive parameters for the data that the natural sciences present. Divine Revelation and sound Metaphysics permit only theories that are consistent with them. Evolution fails on both counts. The consensus in the Church from the beginning is that:

------- all of Creation occurred in Six LITERAL Days as written in Genesis; St. Augustine’s minority interpretation proposing an instantaneous creation of all things was never condemned, but it was not taught to the faithful all over the world as was the six-day creation interpretation of the overwhelming majority of the Fathers.

------- all KINDS (not species, which are variants within a kind) of creatures, including man, were created within those Six Days;

------- our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created to have dominion over all of Creation: the world and universe were created for them and their descendants;

------- the entire universe was created centered around the Earth;

------- initially, the world, the surrounding universe, and all the creatures in the world, were created in harmony, under the dominion of Adam and Eve, who were, as body-soul composites in their nature, in harmony with God, in Whose image and according to Whose likeness they were created;

------- in this initial harmony, there were no natural evils: neither death nor illness nor the assorted negative natural phenomena, that range from nuisances to outright natural disasters, that are nowadays considered normal;

------- our first parents were BLESSED to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it: it was a blessing to be embraced and carried out with joy;

------- Adam's Fall, following Eve's, resulted in the disfigurement of human nature, passed on to his descendants as Original Sin and its effects because he was the head of all mankind;

------- all of Creation, being under Adam's dominion, was likewise disfigured, but not destroyed, disease and negative natural phenomena being among the deleterious effects;

------ Adam and Eve and their nearer descendants lived lifespans considerably longer than modern man does;

------- some sixteen centuries after Creation, Adam and Eve's nearer descendants engaged in conduct so wicked and irremediable that God had to put an end to it by the worldwide cataclysm known as the Great Flood, sparing only the righteous Noah, his wife, three sons, the sons' wives, and representatives of every kind of air-breathing creature, by having Noah build and then place everyone on the Ark; and

------- the post-Flood world is very different from the one that existed before, and, among the many differences, has humans living much shorter lifespans.

1:30-3:24 Horn says that Evangelization means proclaiming the good news of the Gospel and that a loving God created the world. He also adds that using the findings of natural science can help with that. He also asks that bad creationist natural science not be used for evangelization.

-- On the surface, all that appears good, but proclaiming the Gospel also entails taking into account what Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament say, as well as the words of Our Lord referencing the Old Testament: these include His statements about Adam and Eve as well as Noah and the Great Flood. Horn does not take that into account: a convert or prospective convert will have questions about those statements of Our Lord, and they need to be answered in accord with what the Church has consistently taught from the beginning, in summary (from above): Six literal Days of Creation, Adam and Eve's Fall, and a cataclysmic worldwide Flood to halt the worldwide serious sinfulness of Adam and Eve's nearer descendants, etc.

-- Second, what he doesn't mention is that natural science, what is commonly understood as "Science" nowadays, is rather fluid in its conclusions: what is considered certain today may, after new data is encountered or a different paradigm applied, may come up with different conclusions.  An example of this is the human appendix, long thought (because of false evolutionist presuppositions) to be a vestigial organ, but now understood be an integral part of the human lymphatic system.

-- Third, while Horn is correct in asking that bad creationist science not be used to evangelize, he does not consider that there is good creationist science that can be used.

3:25-3:45 Horn, in saying that ancient and medieval depictions of creatures claimed to be dinosaurs are actually depictions of dragons.

-- In fact, the term "dinosaur" was coined in 1841 by Richard Owen, taxonomist and anatomist for the London Zoo. Until that time, all creatures of a dinosaurian sort, whether depicted in art or encountered in skeletal form as fossils, were called "dragons."

-- An interesting and very well illustrated book by Vance Nelson, "Dire Dragons," pictorially correlates many examples of dragons/dinosaur depictions around the world with now known species of the same.

3:46-4:51 Here, Horn denies that the Stegosaurus depicted in a stone bas-relief in a temple monastery of Ta Prohm, is actually a Stegosaurus, but says that the vertical plates coming up from the creature's back are decorative petals, that its head is far too small, and it may even be a mythical creature. He also points out that no Stegosaurus fossils have been found in Cambodia.

-- A cursory look at the bas relief panels of the temple depicting animals (see here) shows that the decorative petals are OUTSIDE the various panels, not inside: this is even true of the petals around the panels that he does show and highlight on the video.

-- A Stegosaurus' head IS small.

-- Also, one has to take into account the stylization that an artist would use in his depictions of creatures.

-- Finally, the absence of fossils of a given creature in ancient rock does not mean that the creature in question didn't live there later, Fossils form by rapid burial. Stegosauri living in the humid tropical conditions of Cambodia would, upon dying, rapidly decay and be scavenged, leaving no traces.

4:52-6:17 Horn contends that the 1500 AD Chinese depiction of a dinosaur in painted form is a mythical creature, and gives the mythical creatures of phoenix and minotaur as examples to support his claim that the Chinese depiction is just a mythical beast.

-- One just has to compare the image with the form of the Coelophysis to see the similarity. This similarity extends to the relative size of it to the man in the painting.

-- The tufts that the depicted creature has are plausible because there are many species of dinosaur that have feathers or hairlike feathers.

Tomb of Bishop Bell, Carlisle Cathedral

6:18-6:53 Regarding the two dinosaurian-appearing behemoths depicted on a brass plate on Bishop Bell's 15th century tomb in Carlisle Cathedral in England, Horn says: "This looks like two lions or cats fighting."

-- A good look at the picture (attached) shows that the creatures are not cats. The left one has a non-feline club on its tail, though one could argue that the body is cat-like. The right one has the very non-feline body curvature of a sauropod. Both have long, narrow necks that no species of cat possesses.

6:54-7:19 Horn then suggests that the twosome may be mythical creatures, but then asserts that one thing we know they're not is giant sauropods, and then proceeds to give the example of the fifty-foot long cetiosaurus, the fossil of which was found in England, and also wonders, if these creatures existed down to the time of Martin Luther, why were they not written about?

-- Horn neglects to consider that the depicted sauropods may have been small in size.

-- Bringing up the finding of a fossil of a large cetiosaurus in England is a non sequitur: the presence of a fossil of a sauropod in ancient rock does not mean that sauropods of a different sort or size did not exist later.

-- Regarding these creatures being written about, there are at least three logical possibilities if one assumes that they existed in late 15th century England:

First, writings about them may not have survived the chaos of the English Reformation. Second, they may have been considered either too common or too revolting to write about. Third, they may have been very few and very elusive, thus not a subject of common writing.

7:20-7:52 Horn then talks about there being much medieval and later writing about wolf hunting in England until the wolves' extinction there in the 1700's, and says nothing was written about hunting "giant sauropods that were twice as big as a London double-decker bus."

-- Again, a non sequitur is made, that of the absence of writing about hunting GIANT sauropods being evidence for the absence of sauropods of ANY size in England in centuries past. Again, the writings may not have survived the ravages of time, the sauropods did not necessarily have to be large, and they may have been very few in number and/or elusive.

-- Another non sequitur made is the criterion that these creatures were hunted, thus their being quarry for hunters would prove their existence: they simply may not have been desired game and thus not written about in accounts about hunting.

7:53-9:19 Horn then talks about Hugh Owen, Director of the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, and how Hugh used the aforementioned dinosaur depictions and other similar data as evidence for the existence of dinosaurs in the recent past, and he includes a clip of LifeSiteNews' John-Henry Westen interviewing Hugh, wherein Hugh tells Westen, using the female pronoun, that Grendel, in Beowulf, was some kind of a T. Rex dinosaur whose arm Beowulf tore off, killing the creature.

-- Horn corrects Hugh's incorrect pronoun and points out that Beowulf used a sword (not true: discussed below) to kill Grendel. While accuracy is important, these two errors are irrelevant to the point Hugh is making.

-- Horn then says that it's silly to say that a human killed a T. Rex, and shows an illustration of a man next to a very large T. Rex. This is a non sequitur because any cursory internet search for theropod dinosaurs would reveal that there were species of T. Rex-like dinosaurs that were small and close to humans in size.

-- Also he does not at all address Hugh's point that those dinosaurs surviving the harsh [(by Antediluvian standards) post-Great Flood] environmental conditions and also posing any kind of a threat to both human beings and livestock, were hunted down.

-- He also does not address Hugh's categories of dinosaur existence evidence that he presented in the Westen interview: we find all over the world very accurate drawings, sculptures, mosaics, and cave paintings of all different kinds of dinosaurs.

9:20-9:26 Horn then brings up Bill Cooper's book, "After The Flood" as the source of Hugh Owen's idea about Grendel.

-- Horn, however, does not at all address the detailed linguistic arguments for Grendel being a dinosaur that Cooper presents in the chapter (Chapter 11) in his book dedicated strictly to "Beowulf."

-- Nor does Horn point out, as is written on page 150 of Cooper's book, that, prior to killing Grendel, Beowulf was already renowned among the Danes in Hrothgar's court for having killed various hazardous monstrous animals making the local sea lanes hazardous for the open Viking boats, and a number of these creatures are described.

-- Has he even opened Cooper's book?

9:27-9:47 As proof that Grendel is not a T. Rex, Horn states that: Grendel is not specifically described in "Beowulf," he is a descendant of Cain, he is larger than any other man, and his Mother is said to be in the form of a woman. He further asserts that Grendel and his mother are probably a hominid or human-like monster, but definitely not a pair of T. Rex's.

-- On pages 149-150, Cooper writes in his book that "[T]he monster Grendel preyed on the Danes for twelve long years (AD 503-515). Are we seriously to believe the that these Danish Vikings, whose berserker-warriors struck such fear into the hearts of their neighbours, were themselves for twelve long years rendered helpless with terror by a hairy dwarf, even a 'giant' one?" The hominid explanation just doesn't wash.

-- On page 154, first full paragraph, we read how the Danes considered monstrous creatures to be Cain's descendants, and that they also attributed demonic qualities to these creatures for the havoc they wreaked. [Let us recall that the Danes are fearsome Vikings.]

-- On page 155, first full paragraph, we read that Grendel and the other creature that was assumed to be his mother because of its older appearance, were bipedal, larger than any human, but not necessarily human. Also, their appearance suggested maleness and femaleness.

-- The remainder of page 155 after and through the first paragraph of 156, we read that Beowulf, with his strong grip, wrenched Grendel's small arm off.

-- In the first full paragraph of page 166 of Cooper's book, we read that Grendel swiftly killed his prey with his mouth or jaws, which would have to have been therefore very large, and thus Beowulf's strategy of pressing himself against Grendel's chest between the arms to be out of harm's way would have made sense. This setup makes a T. Rex a very plausible candidate for Grendel...either a juvenile one or of a species that was not as large full-grown as the true T. Rex: possessing an outsized muzzle, it could not reach Beowulf tucked under its jaw.

-- At this point, it seems fair to ask if Horn has even read Beowulf?

9:48-10:33 Horn then plays a clip of Dr. Kevin Mark speaking at a 2024 Kolbe Center Conference about the human footprints among the dinosaur ones along Texas' Paluxy River. A photo of the Alvis Delk print from the Paluxy valley, depicting a dinosaur footprint intersecting a very obvious human one, is prominently projected behind Dr. Mark.

Horn claims that scientists have shown that the human Paluxy prints are the result of erosion.

-- First, Horn does not address how the very anatomically detailed Delk print could be the result of erosion. Nor does he make any attempt to declare it fake, especially given the detailed information about it visible on screen behind Dr. Mark.

-- Second, which scientists is he referring to who claim that the human prints are products of erosion?

-- Third, a subtle point, but significant, why does he label Dr. Mark as "a speaker listed as Dr. Kevin Mark" and not simply as "Dr. Kevin Mark?" Is he casting aspersions on Dr. Mark's credentials? If so, why?

-- Fourth, the author of this critique, credentialed with a BA each in Geology and Physics, an MSc in Meteorology, and an STB and STL (Sacred Theology), has personally touched and looked closely at the various human footprints from the Paluxy that are on display at the Creation Evidence Museum of Texas, and has seen no evidence of fakery nor of production by erosion. In fact, at last Summer's (2023) dig on the McFall Ranch along the Paluxy River, he was asked to evaluate the several dozen human footprint candidates uncovered during that week, and found nine to be reasonable candidates: one is attached [ATTACH], while the remaining ones were less detailed but deeper: human-foot-shaped prints that had five scallops at the broader toe end, the scallops decreasing unidirectionally in size, like human toes do. The excavation-sponsoring Creation Evidence Museum of Texas was cautious about labeling them definitively as human, given that they were not as obvious or as detailed as the Delk or other obvious prints displayed in the Museum, and given the controversy about the Paluxy human prints in general.

Scan of Alvin Delk Print

10:34-10:45 Horn claims that the Paluxy human footprint evidence is so bad that even other creationists reject it, and cites the Answers in Genesis website as an example, where these footprints are presented as evidence to be avoided. The page cited and shown here,

the pertinent section starting with the words "Evidences to Be Avoided: Paluxy River Tracks." What Horn neglects to mention are the final ones of that section:

"At this stage, we advise caution, but we also encourage researchers to publish documented findings in reputable peer-reviewed journals such as ARJ, CRSQ, etc."

In other words, properly document any legitimate findings of human footprints, and we'll consider their authenticity. It is not a blanket dismissal of the evidence but a request for airtight data from the site.

10:46-10:58 Here Horn uses a thirty-eight-year-old (1986!) quotation from prominent Creationist John Morris against the authenticity of the Paluxy human prints.

-- Aren't there more recent ones? Much more work on the issue has been done since then, as this author can attest.

-- Also, Horn only reads part of the text he highlights on screen, omitting the final clause (capitalized):

"It would now be improper for creationists to continue to use the Paluxy data as evidence against evolution UNLESS FUTURE RESEARCH BRINGS NEW FACTS TO LIGHT." (This quote is from this link.)

10:59-13:00 Horn rightly says in the final minutes of his video that the Creationist/Young Earth claims would not be an impediment to good standing in the Catholic Faith for either existing Catholics or for converts to the Catholic Faith who believe these claims.  He also rightly says that bad/inaccurate science is detrimental to evangelizing others regarding the Catholic Faith, and includes a lengthy apropos quote from Volume 2 of St. Augustine's "The Literal Meaning of Genesis" to bolster his point: maintaining bad Science as part of Revelation discredits Revelation in the eyes of those who would have otherwise considered Revelation seriously.  In the words of St. Augustine:

Now it is quite disgraceful and disastrous, something one should be on one’s guard against at all cost, that they [unbelievers] should ever hear Christians spouting what they claim our Christian literature has to say on these topics, and talking such nonsense that they can scarcely contain their laughter when they see them to be toto caelo, as the saying goes, wide of the mark. (Lit. Mean. Gen. I, 39(19))

This statement is continually quoted against Catholics who defend the traditional reading of Genesis, but, as our colleague Joseph Gedney has pointed out:

To cite this passage in favor of theistic evolution, one would need to assume that evolution has been proven to be a viable scientific hypothesis--which it hasn’t, but we will not go into that in this article—in order for St. Augustine’s instruction to be applicable to the origins debate. But there is a huge problem with touting this as a proof that St. Augustine believed that all revelation, Holy Scripture, and the Faith itself must bow before the demands of natural science. For if the people who make these claims actually read St. Augustine’s works instead of spouting whatever they have heard others say, they would see that in exactly two paragraphs from St. Augustine’s previous statement, he directly attacks the principal error of all theistic evolutionists:

Some of the weaker brothers and sisters, however, are in danger of going astray more seriously when they hear these godless people holding forth expertly and fluently on the numbers of the heavenly bodies, or on any question you care to mention about the elements of this cosmos. They wilt and lose heart, putting these pundits before themselves, and while regarding them as great authorities, they turn back with weary distaste to the books of salutary godliness, and scarcely bring themselves to touch the volumes they should be devouring with delight – shrinking from the roughness of the husks of the wheat and eagerly eyeing the flowers of the thistles (Lit. Mean. Gen. I, 40(20)).

But this is exactly what we are experiencing in the Church today! The mass exodus of youth out of the Church is not taking place because unbelievers are laughing at us for being “unscientific” -- although they do laugh at our pathetic attempts to reconcile Genesis 1-11 and the writings of Church Fathers, like St. Augustine, with evolution. No, the Catholic Faith is fading because we exalt “pundits” like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and Lawrence Krauss above God and the Magisterium of His Church. So now we, and the world at large, “turn back with weary distaste to the books of salutary godliness and scarcely bring” ourselves “to touch the volumes” we “should be devouring with delight”—volumes such as Genesis, and the works of the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Council Fathers in their authoritative teaching.

If we had a fraction of the love and devotion that St. Augustine had for Genesis, the Church would not be undergoing her current crisis of faith. For as St. Augustine so beautifully put it: “…[T]he authority of this text of scripture, surely, overrides anything that human ingenuity is capable of thinking up” (Lit. Mean. Gen. II, 9(5)). Indeed, ever since we began to deny the truth of the historical narrative of Genesis, we have surely been “shrinking from the roughness of the husks of the wheat and eagerly eyeing the flowers of the thistles.”

-- In short, Mr. Horn’s critique falls flat in two ways: first, in his failure to give due weight to the testimony of Sacred Tradition and authoritative Magisterial teaching that affirms the literal historical truth of the sacred history of Genesis; second, in his, at best, insufficiently researched "debunkings" of creationist evidence for human and dinosaur coexistence both from the beginning and in the recent past, and using these as examples of the bad science he's cautioning about.

In summary, Horn's video is long on persuasive rhetorical technique, but short on the research that would almost certainly turn his anti-creationist claims concerning human/dinosaur coexistence around one hundred and eighty degrees.  We hope and pray that he will investigate the evidence we present for the traditional reading of Genesis more deeply and join with us in helping to defend the traditional doctrine of creation as the foundation of our faith and as the only firm foundation for a culture of life.

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