me and pterosaur

I am an unapologetic science geek. I love science museums, especially the paleontology wings. Pterosaurs are my favorite.

I teach Biology in a large public university.

I am the author of Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark? The Bible and Modern Science and the Trouble of Making It All Fit (Eerdmans Publishing) and A Study Guide for Baby Dinosaurs on the Ark? (Eerdmans).

I love to speak and write at the intersection of science, culture, and faith, and I love the perfect storm of all three at once.

Janet Royal Tyrell

Dr. Janet Ray is currently an adjunct professor at the University of North Texas in the Department of Biological Sciences. She holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Texas, a M.Ed. in Gifted Education from Hardin-Simmons University and a B.S.Ed. in biology from Abilene Christian University.



9 responses

  1. Hello Janet,

    I have come across your site almost by accident. Thank you for it and the way you are dealing with the issues of Christianity and Science. There is a serious problem when there is no room to properly work in Science, especially the biological sciences and with some who promote YEC (Young Earth Creationists) etc.

    Re the distribution of H. sapiens across the world, I am often stunned by the ignorance of (yes I am only 5 generations Australian and 6 Generations American and have talks with my US cousins), many in the USA and European of the history of humans in Australia and of the significant time they have been here. > 65,000 BP.

    While the DNA of the Australian Aboriginal peoples has not been fully sorted out, it will be interesting to see how humans got here, and with whom did they mate with and where.

    Couple this with the range of unique to Australia species of life here, and I as a retired Agricultural Weeds Scientist find it hard to understand the extremely hard line that the YEC group (heretics?) has taken.

    RE rapid evolution – keep a track of the rise of herbicide resistant weeds in our crops. Also the breakdown of disease resistance in crops as well. We lost a novel highly effective herbicide in as few as 7 applications – one each crop, just one application in 3- 4 years, and in the process found that other new at the time products which killed the weed in a different way also then failed to work. Back to the Lab! let’s try X-Rays next. Yet the story of the Garden of Eden suggests that as we are not God, we cannot anticipate what will happen so do not be surprised if your innovations fail. That story talks about weeds – plants which must innovate to succeed.

    Get an Agriculturalist to explain some of the range of systems some weeds use to remain in the system.

    Me just a Creation Scientist who attends a Baptist Church. God Created, now one of the biggest games in town is How was it done. Next, how should we as humans care for Creation.


    John Holmes,

    Perth, Western Australia

  2. Hi Janet,
    Thanks for your blog. I stumbled across it while researching a piece (aka, running down a fascinating rabbit hole) for my graduate thesis (MA applied theology). I am at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Reading your blog with great interest. My own background is in systems engineering, then youth ministry, education and theology. I was the director of a youth theology summer academy at an Anglican seminary (Episcopal, in USA-speak) for about 15 years.
    My thesis doesn’t have a snazzy title yet, but it is examining contemporary discourses in science and theology and how those might impact Christian education and faith formation with youth and young adults. I’m probably not palatable to the majority of scholars in this field in that I am trying to push the boundaries a bit on how we actually approach Christian Education in a postmodern, technological and pluralist society (eg, I take John Polkinghorne to task for engaging the discourse as a crypto-apologetic for orthodoxy). I emerge somewhere in the land of process theology (Whitehead, VanHuyssteen, and lately, Suchoki).
    Interesting to read how you encounter these engagements with your students, particularly your most recent post about tinkering (nice ‘complete the sentence’ question!). Will continue to read, thanks.
    Happy to share stuff too, if you’re interested.

    Judy Steers

    PS – is the photo of you and (allosaurus?) on your ‘About’ page from the Royal Tyrrell Museum?

    • Hi Judy!
      Thanks for reading! And Yes! I would love to follow you – I am also a theology nerd! How do I find your twitter/blog?
      And YES again! It is the Royal Tyrrell! I visited last summer and I’m in love. I spent two days there and it was not enough.

  3. Hi Janet, This weekend I enjoyed reading your article “We don’t have to squeeze dinosaurs on the ark.” I see you have invested a lot into this topic. I’m sure your familiar with the fact that the “new earth theory” did not take root until the 18th century, in the wake of Darwin, and the “old earth theory” arose in response.

    Judaism has rarely bothered to consider that the days of Genesis 1 were ever meant to be read literally, as did the early Christian leaders. Writing in the 4th century, St. Augustine critically wrote that anyone who tried to read Genesis as a literal account was fooling themselves.

    You may also be familiar with the “forming and filling theory.” The key to this rests in the Hebrew. Reading Genesis 1 in Hebrew reveals a crucial key that gets lost in English translations. Genesis 1:2 says, “the earth was formless and empty.” This phrase jumps out in Hebrew: “v’ ha’eretz heytah tohu v’ bohu”: “and the earth, it was without form and empty.” That rhyming phrase, “tohu v’ bohu” jumps out, signaling a key.

    What happens on the first three days? God forms the heavens/skies, then waters, then land. On the next three days, God fills the heavens/skies, then waters, then land. God forms, then fills. It is not a scientific description, but rather display’s God’s plan and control. As has often been cited, the Bible is not designed to teach us about science, but about our relationship with God. God is creator, forming and filling the universe and setting all things in motion.

    Most Christians do not buy into the literal reading of Genesis, though this is a tenet of fundamentalist Christians. Most believe, as the United Methodist Social Principles state, that “Science reveals God’s handiwork in creation.” Faith does not require leaving your reason behind. In fact, if one is willing to invest in doing the homework and understanding the depths of Scripture, faith is imminently reasonable.

    • Hi Jon,
      Thank you for your kind words about the article! I hope you read the book – it releases September 9.
      This is a topic of great interest and passion for me. I am familiar with the “formed/filled” idea. It was one of the first ideas I read about when I began questioning in earnest.
      I also find Pete Enns’ (and others) perspective of Genesis as the retelling of the story of Israel (paradise/promised land, disobedience, exile) to be explanatory.
      Unfortunately, a significant percent of Christians believes a literal Genesis, and this causes lots of problems in science education – Texas fought that battle just a few years ago. I believe that evolution denial leads to broader science denial – climate change and even Covid misconceptions, for example.
      Again, many thanks for your comment – it is an important discussion that I love having!

  4. Hello Janet!
    My name is Heather Murphy and I am program chair for a book club of about 40 women who meet in the vicinity of White Rock Lake in Dallas. I read with great interest in a recent article in the Dallas morning News and was hoping you might be free to come speak at one of our gatherings in the fall. Please email me at Murphsirf@sbcglobal.net or text me at 214-929-5480 to discuss the possibility further. Thank you so much for your consideration.

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