In 1980, my Christian school showed a documentary made by Films For Christ Association. The documentary was called Footprints In Stone. I still remember the opening sequence. A group of men were building a dam to stop the flow of water in a river. The exposed riverbed showed footprints in limestone. They triumphantly pointed out human footprints next to dinosaur footprints. They offered this as proof that Science was wrong, there weren’t 65 million years between dinosaurs and humans, and that human beings lived alongside dinosaurs.
There you have it, absolute proof that the Bible is true, that the Genesis account of creation is true, and that evolution is a lie. You would think with such dramatic proof available almost 40 years ago that the whole idea of evolution would have been destroyed. What happened? Was it evil scientists suppressing the truth? Was it an Illuminati conspiracy? Perhaps it was a massive New World Order cover-up.
It was none of those things. It was bad science, over creative imaginations, and claims that couldn’t withstand the scrutiny that dealt a death blow to this example of creationist proof.
The supposed man tracks were found in the Paluxy River at Dinosaur Valley State Park in North Texas. Dinosaur tracks were found there in 1908. The man tracks were first reported in the 1930s. Unfortunately, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, locals excavated dinosaur tracks from the local riverbed and sold them. Many of the dinosaur tracks sold were fakes. Man tracks began to pop up in local shops for sale as well. However, these weren’t just ordinary man prints; they were the footprints of giants!
Clifford L. Burdick, a mining engineer and central figure in the Creation Research Institute, tracked down the fake giant footprints and pronounced them real. he published his findings in an article entitled “When GIANTS Roamed the Earth” in the Seventh-day Adventists’ Signs of the Times (July 25, 1950).
Creationists have been trying to prove that there really were human footprints in that riverbed for a long time. Stanley Taylor brought a film crew to the Paluxy River to make the film Footprints In Stone. However, they added shellac and other enhancements to bring out the features of the “human” footprints. In other words, they altered the tracks to make them look human. Again more fakery! In the film, the experts are all young earth creationist. No paleontologists or geologist were invited. If they had been invited, they would have pointed out that supposed human footprints, without enhancements, were dinosaur footprints that had suffered erosions.
So what’s left? Local old-timers who remember fake fossils from a tourist trap, altered footprints, and another bit of pseudoscience that proves what Fundagelicals want to believe. The documentary doesn’t convince anyone who wasn’t already convinced. However, it does harm the reputation of Christians. It shows our lack of commitment to truth, and our willingness to make up facts to suit our own narratives. If Christians just make things up—- is it any wonder that non-Christians question the credibility of our faith?
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