There's Something About Mary Schweitzer

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 3, 2022 2 comments

by Steve Risner

I’d like to look at interviews done by Dr. Mary Schweitzer, the famed paleontologist who received notoriety when she published her observations that she had found soft tissue in dinosaur fossils. She was not the first person to find soft tissue, but she was the first one to receive a great deal of attention for doing so.

In 2005 (or 2004 depending on the source), Dr. Mary Schweitzer published work on how she looked inside a fractured thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex and discovered soft tissue still inside. Now, to be fair, the tissue wasn’t wet and spongy at the time, but it was intact. This is how Discover Magazine describes it: “…Schweitzer gazed through a microscope in her laboratory at North Carolina State University and saw lifelike tissue that had no business inhabiting a fossilized dinosaur skeleton: fibrous matrix, stretchy like a wet scab on human skin; what appeared to be supple bone cells, their three-dimensional shapes intact; and translucent blood vessels that looked as if they could have come straight from an ostrich at the zoo.” This sample was dated by secular scientists to be about 68 million years old. Since then, Dr. Schweitzer has discovered soft tissue in samples alleged to be 145.5 to 199.6 million years old!

This created a variety of responses. Even Dr. Schweitzer’s initial response was one of denial. She said, in that same article in Discover about her first thoughts, “Uh-uh. This isn’t happening. This is just not happening.” Much of the world of paleontology rejected Dr. Schweitzer’s claims. This was because, in her own words, "If you take a blood sample and you stick it on a shelf, you have nothing recognizable in about a week. So why would there be anything left in dinosaurs?" Soft tissue cannot remain after such long periods. Some scientists at the time rejected the find outright, saying she must have had contamination in the sample. Some said she rushed too quickly to get her findings published and should have taken more time. While she agreed she was in a hurry to get her findings out there, in response to this she said, “That's the saddest part about doing science in America: You are totally driven by what gets you funding.” This is all too true in the world of science today. Money and notoriety drive many scientists. Obviously, a research team needs funding to do their work, but a scientist working for money or to please a donor is less likely to be objective or to allow the facts to lead them wherever they may, in my opinion. Politics dictates truth for us, I guess. But the point is many rejected Dr. Schweitzer’s findings and some even called into question her credibility. But over time, it became undeniable. Others found similar things and, while being denounced initially, her findings have been confirmed by several other labs.

This is all very interesting in the origins debate because we know—actual science has demonstrated very well—that soft tissue cannot remain intact for even a million years, let alone tens or hundreds of millions of years. It could easily remain for the 4400 or so years since the Flood. But research published in Science and Antiqua both suggest that soft tissue—mostly collagen—can possibly survive intact for tens of thousands of years. They have even suggested it might last for a hundred thousand years, but it cannot survive for millions of years. Sixty-eight million is absurd and the almost 200 million years in one find is outrageous. Even more unbelievable is the discovery of soft, still flexible tube worms found in rock layers said to be over half a billion years old! That’s approaching the “laugh out loud” level of crazy, in my humble opinion. There are many other studies out there that confirm this. So, the publishing of this discovery was quite the thing.

A short list of other soft tissue discoveries since Dr. Schweitzer’s that cast doubt on the belief in deep time are: a 10 million year old frog that is still soft and has blood in its marrow, whole salamander muscle tissue that is allegedly 18 million years old, live bacteria from 30 million years, DNA nearly 30 million years old, pigment structures from 36 million years ago, lizard skin from 40 million years, hadrosaur nucleic acids and skin cells dated at 65 million years, mosasaur blood supposedly 67 million years old, connective tissue in a Triceratops dated at 68 million years, blood vessels in a hadrosaur believed to be 80 million years old, live bacteria in amber dated at 100 million years, skin pigment dated to 125 million years, amino acids in insects dated at 130 million years, squid ink thought to be 150 million years old, ichthyosaur skin dated to be 190 million years, live bacteria in salt 250 million years old, crinoid pigment believed to be 350 million years old, shrimp soft tissue dated to be 360 million years old, and finally tube worm chitin claimed to be 551 million years old. Research suggests these structures may be able to last for possibly hundreds of thousands of years under very good and consistent conditions. A million years would be a major stretch. We’re talking about 10 to 500 times that! You can probably see why the evolutionary believers made such a stink over her findings.

Dr. Schweitzer is a believer, and I appreciate this about her. I do find her beliefs on origins to be at odds with the written Word of God, but I cannot make any argument with her salvation. That is between her and the Lord, and I find no reason to doubt it. I think her beliefs on origins are incorrect simply because she makes claims that are clearly contradictory to the Bible—especially the Genesis narrative. I wanted to explore her stated beliefs on this and how she explains her findings. I also wanted to note how she disparages those who have taken her work and used it to support the Word of God. We disagree, but I don’t think this makes her a bad person. I don’t think this makes her a bad Christian. I don’t think this makes her a bad scientist. I just think she’s wrong on this issue. I base this on the clear teaching of the Bible. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand this. Many, including Dr. Schweitzer, mistakenly equate science with their interpretation of their findings. A discovery doesn’t come with all the facts and how it should be viewed. Scientific data and a person’s interpretation of that data are two very different things. I’ve written on that quite a lot. Long ago. And also here. And maybe here. I wrote several posts on that between 2014 and 2016 among other times.

So, while I believe it’s fair to say that Dr. Schweitzer seems to be a fine person and she holds sincere beliefs, some of those beliefs are not in accordance with the very plainly and clearly written Word of God. Let’s take a look at a couple of interviews she did trying to explain why her discoveries of soft tissue that should have long been rotted away are in line with deep time and universal common descent. She does not believe these findings support the Bible and, in fact, she thinks people who are using her work to support their belief in the Bible are being dishonest.

Dr. Schweitzer says she grew up in a conservative Christian home. When she took certain classes in college, she was blown away by the contrast between what she believed at the time and what she was taught in those classes. She said in a 2014 interviews, “I think the thing that surprised me most about that class was that I had no idea, coming from a conservative Christian background, that scientists are not all trying to disprove God in whatever way they can.” What surprises me the most about this statement is she believes that being a conservative Christian means you’re completely ignorant on things related to science. This is basically a slap in the face to Christians who have put their faith and hope in the Word of God, in my opinion.

I grew up in a conservative Christian home. While I tried to reconcile my belief in the Bible with what I was taught in college and graduate level biology courses, what they told me never struck me as surprising. I was prepared. Apparently, Dr. Schweitzer was not prepared. I believe it’s very important to raise our children to understand what the Bible says and how we should look at it to understand it while also making them aware of the ideas the world has that may challenge our understanding of God’s Word. She seems to not have been made aware of these challenges. This is not an accusation at all, but it does mean that while she believes her experience was the “normal” one, it clearly is not the only option. There are many conservative Christians who have viewed the evidence for universal common descent and deep time and find it unappealing and unconvincing. Many of those hold degrees in biology, physics, astronomy, and other related fields. Her error stems from being misinformed or uninformed and being impressed with the secularist’s version of origins—the humanist origins myth.

I’ve just scratched the surface on these interviews related to the earthquake of a discovery published by Dr. Mary Schweitzer, and I’m out of space for this blog post. We will get much further into this next time. Thank you for reading, and I appreciate any comments you may have. Until next time, be blessed.

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Anonymous said...

Very interesting read. I always stay clear of entering conversations like I have any legitimate education on the subject of carbon dating, but I have never bought the idea that anyone could accurately date anything when the words million or billion are involved.

Steve Risner said...

Thank you for reading and for the comment.
They certainly seem to claim to know a lot more than any rational person would admit to, in my opinion.