Kipling's Just So Stories Flickr

How To Think: Kipling’s Just So Stories

Just So Stories

Just So Stories (Photo credit: @notnixon)

Years ago my parents got a book on cultural literacy for us to study. We didn’t have to take tests, but Dad delighted in reading the bits that told how woefully ignorant people were without knowledge of certain literature and historical events. How would we know what someone was talking about if we didn’t know the context of the phrases and keywords they used? So, we learned just enough Shakespeare, Lord of the Flies, and many others to be well-educated whether we liked it or not.

Original woodcut illustration for The Just So ...

‘The crab that played with the sea’ by Rudyard Kipling

One such cultural reference I often run into while reading Creationist articles is Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories.”

You can read the whole book with Kipling’s original illustrations HERE. Many of the stories deal with how animals got to be the way they are. You will quickly notice that the expected vocabulary of an upper class child in 1902 was far greater than today’s!

Why are we so fond of mentioning an odd set of fantasy stories from 100 years ago? Because the kind of reasoning that Kipling used to “explain” animals’ appearance and behavior happens all the time. Except, nowadays, the scientists expect us to believe their inventions are true history.

Pakicetus inachus, a whale ancestor from the E...

Pakicetus inachus, a whale ancestor from the Early Eocene of Pakistan, after Nummelai et al., (2006), pencil drawing, digital coloring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A prime example of this is the Evolutionary account of the development of whales.  First, have a look at what Berkeley has to say about how they believe whales came into existence.  You will notice right away that they don’t dare claim any other animal as the “direct ancestor” of the whales. In fact, when you examine their lovely opening diagram, none of the “direct ancestor” connections are filled in; they are all lines where something is assumed to have existed.


Oh, wait! We meant THIS is the real ancestor of the whale

Even some of the skeletons shown, like Pakicetus, aren’t at all what Berkeley makes them out to be. Berkeley knows quite well that all we actually have of Pakicetus is its skull, but do you find that out on the whale evolution page? Hardly. If they were honest with the facts, people would laugh at them.

Creation Ministries International has taken on another of the supposed transitional forms leading up to the whale which Berkeley mentions. Their article, Rodhocetus and other stories of whale evolution, isn’t too long and has a great drawing showing how much guesswork went into the artist’s version. They also discuss the different stories Evolutionary biologists have come up with to get from land mammals to whales.

As you can imagine, we Creationists enjoy writing about whales. In fact, the Institute for Creation Research even mentions “just so” stories in their main article on Scientific Roadblocks to Whale Evolution.

Here are more articles talking about the impossible puzzle God set for us when He created whales:

ICR: Ways That Whales Display Their Creator

Answers in Genesis: Another Whale of a Tale: Creationists Without a “Whimper”?

AiG’s long, detailed article comparing the story of whale evolution to the story of truck evolution: Walking Whales, Nested Hierarchies, and Chimeras: Do They Exist?

And some articles talking about “Just So” stories in Evolution:

A Just-So Story for Every Occasion at Evolution News and Views

“Just So” Stories of Evolution by Creation Moments (you can listen or read the transcript)

Proposed evolution scenarios are just-so stories (a discussion of statements by Talk.Origins) at CreationWiki. The blue boxes are the original statements and the white are the Creationist responses.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:21 

People knew God, but they did not honor him as God, and they did not thank him. Their ideas were all useless. There was not one good thought left in their foolish minds. They said they were wise, but they became fools. Instead of honoring the divine greatness of God, who lives forever, they traded it for the worship of things made to look like humans, birds, animals, and snakes. Romans 1:21-23 Easy-to-read Version

Dire Dragons book cover

Book Review: Dire Dragons

Dire Dragons book cover

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This review is being pulled from the archives because I’m excited to share the book has a new sibling. Somehow I’m going to get my hands on Untold Secrets of Planet Earth: Fossils, ’cause if it’s anything like as good as the first book, I want it!

I told you yesterday I picked this book up straight from Creation Today (who also gave me a great fellow-helper discount, so when you buy your copy, please get it from them so they can recoup their losses.) When we were all settled into our rooms that evening I finally had a chance to look it over. It took quite a while before I was finished!

The author, Vance Nelson, is a bona-fide fact-checker guy. I don’t know if you are aware of the basic personality gifts the Holy Spirit has handed out to everyone, but I can usually spot a “teacher type” within a few seconds. This guy oozes carefulness and thoroughness, yet I didn’t find his writing dull or dry (a pitfall of a lot of us teachers).

Here’s the premise of the book:

  • Examine a historical artwork that could be showing a dinosaur.
  • Double check to be sure it’s not a forgery
  • Locate a known dinosaur that looks similar
  • Have an artist do a rough position sketch from the artifact
  • Have another artist who’s never heard of the artifact do a CG model of the dinosaur in that position for comparison

The book is gorgeous. It’s not published by Master Books, but a brand new group called Untold Secrets of Planet Earth. They’ve done just as good a job of presentation as Master does, even including a book mark ribbon. If you go to Vance Nelson’s WEBSITE, you can have a look at a number of spreads from inside to see for yourself.

After explaining his technique for ensuring unbiased dino portrayals, Nelson goes back to the roots of paleontology. He shows documents of the first scientific studies which freely use the word “dragon” to describe finds in the mid-1800s.

Then he does something I found absolutely brilliant. He completely dismantles the modern notion that ancient people knew about dragons because they were paleontologists, too. There are some people who have been forced to recognize the ancients knew about dinosaurs, but they want to cling to the “dinos died out millions of years ago” line, too. Adrienne Rogers has written a couple of  books to keep such people’s brains from tearing apart: The First Fossil Hunters and Fossil Legends of the First Americans.

Turns out you have to be pretty devoted to the consensus storyline to fall for those ideas. They just don’t fit the facts. My favorite point Vance Nelson makes on this debate is the examples of early dinosaur reconstructions from the 1850s. Here’s what modern models show with our study of muscle connections and stuff:

Megalosaurus ('Great Lizard', from Greek, μεγα...

Megalosaurus (‘Great Lizard’, from Greek, μεγαλο-/megalo– meaning ‘big’, ‘tall’ or ‘great’ and σαυρος/sauros meaning ‘lizard’) is a genus of large meat-eating theropod dinosaurs of the Jurassic Period of what is now southern England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s how they showed them in the 1850s:

Reconstruction of Megalosaurus and Pterodactyl...

Reconstruction of Megalosaurus and Pterodactylus by Samuel Griswold Goodrich from Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nuff said!

Then, the rest of the book is filled with examples of authentic artwork from around the world. Everything is arranged by country with a beautiful map spread before starting in. Nelson usually opens with some info on how he found out about the site, had trouble getting there, or just the history of the artwork. By the time you actually see the comparison between art and dino, the tension has already built up, so you really want to know how the two compare.

A few of the art pieces I recognized from other creation sites, but, as he points out, most of the examples he uses are new to the dino/dragon debate. You will not be disappointed.

The last thing I’ll mention is that I learned about a lot of dinosaurs I didn’t know in this book. He also shows several baby dinos which I’d never seen before except in Land Before Time. It seems the artists on that film were fairly accurate. 🙂

It’s not a cheap book, but one every family with at least one dino or art lover in it should save up for!

And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen. Psalm 72:19 

Kudos to Nelson’s graphic designer, Jeff Chiasson. His work makes this book a pleasure to look through even before the information starts to flow!

We’re all Space Aliens! Not!!

Meteor Deep from Igdir

Meteor Deep from Igdir

From the archives:

I was going to do a post talking about Study the Word’s statistical probability of Abiogenesis happening.  But, it turns out that Sir Fred Hoyle, the mathematician who claimed that life is sure to happen if you just give it 4.5 billion years, isn’t too popular with mainstream Evolutionists.  They can’t deny his numbers, but they dare not admit that Earth should only now be forming its first microbes.

However, with Sir Hoyle’s help, scientists have again picked up the ancient belief in life from space.  This theory now has an official title, called Exogenesis (life from outside), or more popularly Panspermia which means “life everywhere.”  This doesn’t mean that they believe in space-travelling aliens dropping off protozoa on earth, but that the specialized ingredients for life came from meteorites and such.

Here’s a sample of what they’re saying from Physics of the Universe, “An alternative to Earthly abiogenesis is “exogenesis”, the hypothesis that primitive life may have originally formed extraterrestrially, either in space or on a nearby planet such as Mars. Such ideas have had many eminent supporters over the years, including Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule, and the astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle among others. These theories may go some way to explaining the presence of life on Earth so soon after the planet had cooled down, with apparently very little time for prebiotic evolution.”

They know how ridiculous belief in Abiogenesis is, but ANYTHING is better for them than believing in a Creator God!

You could do a web search and find page after page of links to stories about Panspermia.  Here are a couple to give you a taste:
KT Meteor The Australian News: Life came from outer space, says NASA “NASA scientists had previously found a disproportionate amount of the left-handed form of isovaline, an amino acid, in a meteorite sample. The latest study confirms that the previous sample was not a one-off. “This tells us our initial discovery wasn’t a fluke, that there really was something going on in the asteroids where these meteorites came from that favours the creation of left-handed amino acids,” said Daniel Glavin, from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The scientists believe that early in its history Earth was bombarded with meteorites containing left-handed amino acids, which led to the genesis of life about four billion years ago.”

The Independent: We’re all aliens… how humans began life in outer space “Charles Darwin solved the mystery of life’s wondrous diversity with his theory of natural selection. But even he was flummoxed by the ultimate mystery of mysteries: what led to the origin of life itself?  In trying to answer the problem, scientists have turned to the stars, or at least the “builders’ rubble” of meteorites and comets left over from the formation of our solar system some five billion years ago. These space rocks, they believe, could help to explain why life began here on Earth.”

News Wales: Red rain may prove life came from outer space   “Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and his colleague, the late Sir Fred Hoyle, argued that life on earth was originated by comets. Although greeted with scepticism at first, this theory is becoming recognised as eminently plausible.  Recent discoveries of complex organic molecules in comets and interstellar dust clouds have provided striking evidence of life originating on a greater cosmic scale than just on Earth. Microbiologists are also finding properties of bacteria that show they can survive the harshest conditions of space.

ABC Science: Life elements came from outer space  “A meteorite found in Antarctica adds extra impact to the theory that the essential building blocks of life on Earth came from outer space, say US scientists.”

What does all this mean?  As the Independent points out, one of the biggest flaws of the theory of Evolution is how do you get the whole process started in the first place?  The belief in non-life producing life goes against everything we’ve ever seen.

And after all that, they still want to make fun of our crazy belief in God!

A 3D ultrasound taken of a fetus at 17 weeks.

A 3D ultrasound of a baby at 17 weeks.

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. 

Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.  For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Psalm 139:13-20

NASA-Galaxy Cluster Aardvark at a zoo, Wikicommons

Aardvarks: Unique, Unchanging, Cool


Aardvark (Photo credit: Marie Hale)

Did you know the aardvark is a Living Fossil? Not only do they show up low in the fossil record for a land animal, they haven’t changed much since then.

Are we surprised?

You hear about aardvarks a little more than echidnas (outside of Australia) perhaps because their name works so well in dictionary searches, but do you know very much about them?

We’ve found enough fossils to know aardvarks used to come in more varieties than we see today and lived in a much wider area (fossils have been found in Africa, Europe and Asia). It’s a good thing for Africa’s ecology that some survived to repopulate it.

English: Aardvark (Orycteropus afer) range

Aardvark range

Aardvarks are known for two things: their taste for ants and termites and their digging skills. It’s said they can smell a lion coming and dig a hole big enough to protect their up to 5 ft [150 cm], 150 lb [68 kg]  body by the time it gets there. That’s some fast and powerful digging!

Aardvark dens can be up to 30 ft [9 m] long with the largest having several round rooms and multiple entrances. Their ears are designed to fold back to stay clean and out of the way as they climb inside. They spend the hot day curled up inside and head out to search for food in the evening.

But most aardvarks travel for days searching for food, so they’ll dig a quick burrow wherever they end up and settle in for a night or two.  When they move on, other creatures move in. This is one of the main reasons they are considered important to the ecology of Africa.

Aardvark and juvenile. Deutsch: Erdferkel mit ...

That pig-like snout is extra interesting. It has lots of long hairs to help keep out dust plus flaps of skin to cover them during furious digging. An aardvark’s eyes don’t work too well, but their nose sure does. They walk in a zigzag up to 120ft [36m] sniffing for moving ants or nests. When they find a nest and start digging, they close the flaps to keep bugs from crawling in. Although, one website says they just snuffle any insects that make it up there for dessert. Eeew!

Usually, aardvarks collect their lunch with their tongue. It’s over a foot [30 cm] long and covered with gooey saliva. When the ants or termites try to escape through the hole in their nest, they get gobbled by the 1,000. Some aardvarks have been known to eat over 50,000 bugs in a day.

Aardvarks can break open a cemented termite nest better than a man with a pickax could do it. But, they only eat termites when there aren’t enough ants. During the rainy season, the termites are safe, but the ants have much to fear.

When things dry out, another resident of central Africa gets some vital help, the aardvark cucumber. This unusual plant grows its fruit underground where it would be hard to find for most animals, but that’s no problem for the aardvark! After eating the pulp and seeds whole, another habit of this animal kicks in. They are neat and clean and make sure their stinky gets covered up well. It’s like they were programmed to be the plant’s gardeners!

An aardvark mom gives birth to a roughly 4 lb [2 kg] baby after about 8 months of waiting. The little one stays with its mother for 6 months (if it’s a boy) to 2 years. Girls stay with their mom until a new baby comes along; then, it’s off to the solitary life of the typical aardvark.

Aardvark’s are specially designed to fit in well where they live. They are a little piece in the giant web of life God planned for filling the whole world. Let’s praise and honor the One smart and powerful enough to create them and set them in place!

Lord, all living things depend on you.
    You give them food at the right time.
You give it, and they eat it.
    They are filled with good food from your open hands. Psalm 104:27,28 Easy-to-read Version

Just wait til you see the quotes I’ve collected, too!

Besides the websites already linked, the zoo keepers journal has lots more information about aardvarks

Astronomy Book Review: The Work of His Hands

One of the most important concepts to understand is how many great science people recognize and love their Creator God. Every field has well respected members who see no problem between their work and their worship.
Colonel Jeffrey Williams is a shining example of this in one of children’s favorite areas: he’s an active astronaut!

The Work of His Hands by Colonel Jeffrey Williams

The Work of His Hands Amazon affiliate link

by Colonel Jeffrey N. Williams published by Concordia Publishing House

Colonel Jeffrey Williams quote[2014] My dad is really hard to shop for. It’s not that he “has everything”, but he does have everything he wants. In fact, what he really wants can’t be bought, especially grandchildren!

So, last Fall, when Grandpa asked me what I thought would make a good present, I felt for him. But, this time I had the answer. Dad loves astronomy and Jesus. I’d just heard about this book and thought of buying it for him myself. How much more special coming from his father!

Sure enough, Dad loved his present. He’s even let me borrow it for a while so I could read it and tell you about it.

Have you ever wanted to be an astronaut? Ever imagined being strapped into a rocket shooting towards outer space? What would it be like floating around in a spacecraft and having to strap everything down to keep it from drifting away?

What  about being stuck in the International Space Station (ISS) for months on end?

Colonel Williams does an amazing job letting us know what it feels like being an astronaut. He doesn’t cover the years of training much, but from the weeks leading up to the launch he gives us an insider view of the emotions they go through. The text is easy to read and more about the relationships and thoughts he experienced than the “techie” stuff he was doing.


Of course, the highlight of the book is its photographs. The book is a smaller sized coffee table book with glossy pages and a hardbound cover displaying them to full advantage. Things are divided into subjects so you can look at amazing cloud formations one time and city-scapes another. Whole sections are pictures with just enough captioning to know what you’re looking at and where.

Most of the photos were taken by Col. Williams himself. There aren’t any pictures of the stars or nebula in here, Col. Williams kept his focus on our home, the “spacecraft” Earth. If you’ve ever had a window seat on an airplane, you already know how fascinating earth can be from up above. It’s only better from the ISS!


Colonel Williams is bold in his confidence in God as Creator. Except when he’s describing the events of his mission to the ISS in 2006, his focus is always on God. He pulls in Scripture often and is unapologetic about his acceptance of the Bible’s testimony.

Marcos Pontes, Brazil, Col. Williams, Pavel Vinogradov, Russia

He also gives us a great example of what it looks like to see all people as God’s creatures. The multi-cultural nature of the International Space program is brought out with no hint of superiority. There’s plenty of pride in who he is and acknowledgment of comfort in the familiar. At the same time there is acceptance of the unique dignity other cultures have. We see this in both the text and the fascinating pictures of farming and other elements across the globe.

Everything about the book is top quality. The reading level is within reach for a sixth grader and the concepts even younger than that. I will probably add this to my Summer reading time with my kids as it fits into science, geography, meteorology, and culture so beautifully.

For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. Isaiah 45:18 
NASA, March 10, 2016: “During his six-month mission, Williams will become the new American record holder for cumulative days in space — 534 — surpassing Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly, who wrapped up his one-year mission on March 1. Williams will take command of the station on June 4 for Expedition 48. This will be his third space station expedition — another record.”

Review: Transformed by the Evidence

Click to visit product page

Edited by Doug Sharp, B.S. and Jerry Bergman Ph.D. Published by Leafcutter Press

A year ago I told you about one of the most delightful creation books I’d ever read (after the one on Mount St. Helens). Persuaded by the Evidence is a book it would be wonderful for every family with older kids to have in their home library.

I was excited to hear the editors had just published a second book of testimonies and I could even get a review copy straight from them! 🙂

As in Persuaded, Transformed by the Evidence is a collection of stories by over 20 people somehow connected with the Creation movement. Some of the authors get rather eye-crossing with their science speak. A few turn their section into a display of the scientific evidence rather than personal experience. Plus, the book wasn’t published by Master Books and could have used a bit more editing in spots.

But, none of these dampen the impact of the accounts of people who have found Jesus as their Savior and had their lives turned upside down by recognizing God as Creator.

Several of the writers were superb in their ability to express what their lives were like before and after finding their Creator, drawing us into the process. A couple weeks after finishing the book, one lady’s transformation (they picked the right title) is still incredible to me. A missionary kid’s testimony of his parents warning him to stay away from science completely is a wake up call for us parents.

I was especially pleased by those who had gone some distance down the path towards destruction. None of them did any glorying in their sin. Usually, you were left guessing just what was so awful about their behavior. The focus was always on God and His power.

There is one account where the author is serving a life sentence for what he did. Nothing graphic, but the barest of facts are sad enough. It will be important for my kids to understand just how far evolutionary, godless thinking can take a person when they hit their teens, but I’m not going to hand them this book before then.

Many of the stories in both books would make great family reading. Dad or Mom could read through them first to find appropriate ones for their family. This would naturally lead to questions and opportunities to discuss what happened in each life and the kinds of worldview issues our kids need preparation for.

Some of the stories are just awesome reminders of the power God has to draw people to Himself.

There were several authors whose names I’d run into online but didn’t know anything about until now. The testimony of the guy who started (Grand) Canyon Ministries, Tom Vail, is amazing. I’d met Karl Priest online a while back and now know a lot more about him. I’d heard of Dr. Jean Lightner a tiny bit through Answers in Genesis and Creation Today. Now I wish I had a couple hours with her to ask questions about chromosomes and homeschooling!

If I were just building my creation library, this would be in the 2nd set of books I’d get. Like Persuaded, it is a book about people. People Jesus interacts with and draws to Himself using His natural world as a major tool.

As mentioned, I received a free review copy of Transformed by the Evidence from the editor/author. He didn’t tell me what to say, just to let you all know what I thought about it. Thanks, Dr. Bergman!

To get your own copy, check out the Revolution Against Evolution, which is run by the other editor, Doug Sharp. You can even get it cheaper as a set of both books. Or, find it at any number of places, except Christian Book Distributors- yet.

Folded Rock Layers-Zion Nation Park, Wikimedia NOAA-Ocean-Waves