Thomas Fretwell – ‘Prehistoric’ Preachers: Dinosaurs as “The Gateway Drug to Atheism”: What is Their Real Message?

Dinosaurs have the power to captivate audiences, both young and old. They have fuelled people’s imaginations for generations. The veil of mystery surrounding them only adds to the intrigue. Where did the great beasts come from? Why did they go extinct? Such questions fuel the passion of a million would-be paleontologists still under the age of ten! It is no overstatement to say that almost every child, and adult for that matter, has heard of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex. Hollywood has cashed in on the public’s fascination with dinosaurs over the years, producing the Jurassic Park franchise. The most recent instalment, Jurassic World, was released in 2015. In addition to this, multiple documentaries and cartoons exist making use of the best CGI to bring the message of these ‘Prehistoric Preachers’ to a new generation.

Given their popularity, it is important to understand the message being communicated through these fascinating creatures. In an interview for the Huffington Post, David Krentz, the character designer for the 2014 big-budget 3D movie Walking with Dinosaurs, commented that,

“I have always said that dinosaurs are the gateway drug to science for kids.”

The thing about gateway drugs is that they lead to something else, in this case ‘science’. In this context, the term is clearly referring to a naturalistic interpretation of science—concerning events that happened in the past—not the observational science done in laboratories today. One blogger, writing for The Meaning Without God Project, phrases it even more candidly:

“Dinosaurs were my gateway drug to Atheism. And while I was still six or seven years away from reaching the conclusion that God either didn’t care about us or didn’t exist, the Dinosaurs had shared an important secret—that the Bible can be wrong.”

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