Marge “What’s that?”
(Homer thinks a moment)
Homer: “…a DINOSAUR!”
-The Simpsons: Dog of Death
Funny as Homer’s example is, he actually makes a profound point. Not that no one can buy a dinosaur, but that everyone would want to buy a dinosaur, if only they could. But alas, all the money in the world cannot buy even the smallest dinosaur. They are gone.
Everyone loves dinosaurs. It’s a fact of life. Have you ever once encountered someone who says “I hate dinosaurs! They’re so big and scary and dead…”? Of course not (if you have, you have my sympathies. If you are that person, I will pray for your soul).
Why, though? Why this strange yearning for creatures that had already been dead for millions of years when Adam and Eve left the Garden? No one has ever seen a living dinosaur. Everyone would like to.
Some might say it’s only the mystery of things that we haven’t seen, the appeal of the unknown (I thought we hated and feared the unknown; make up your minds, people!). But this doesn’t seem to be the case, since this longing only extends to the dinosaurs. Only a select few humans ever saw the Woolly Mammoth, but most people can take the mammoth or leave it. No man ever saw the Indricotherium, but who even knows what an ‘Indricotherium’ is?
|It's one of these|
It’s only the dinosaurs that fascinate and inspire us. It’s only the dinosaurs that we long for with this strange and poignant desire that makes us cherish the fossilized bones that are all we have left of them. It’s only the dinosaurs that cause children to wrestle with impossible Greek and Latin names and sends men out into the wilds to sift through rock and sand in the hopes of finding just a fragment of their remains.
It is my personal view (not the official teaching of the Catholic Church) that God always intended man and dinosaur for each other. They belong together; the paragon of animals, and the most magnificent of beasts. What we have today with dogs, horses, and so forth was what we were always meant to have, but even more so, with dinosaurs. They are more than our companions or servants: they were to be our counterparts in the world of beasts. We were meant to be together.
|What could have been|
Yes, I realize that sounds silly, but honestly I do think that there is a deep connection between us and them. Since they are dead, we don’t know what it is, but we feel it; we sense a great longing and awe when we look upon their bones, as though they stir a long-forgotten memory that remains just beyond our reach.
I also believe that this desire to see dinosaurs points to an important truth about the human person. Namely, we have a strange habit of looking back. We turn our eyes to the road already travelled and sigh that we shall never pass that way again. Involved in this backwards-gazing habit is the sense that we’ve left something very wonderful behind; something we would give anything to possess, but which we can never get back. In short, in longing for dinosaurs we long for Eden.
(Were there dinosaurs in Eden? No, they were going to be reintroduced after Adam and Eve passed the fruit test. Great job, guys!).
Ever since Man lost his innocence, he has longed to regain it. Everyone has dreamt of Utopia: the perfect world where none would suffer and all would be happy. Some have even tried to put their vision into practice. Best case scenario is that it peters out after a few years, but more often it ends in the gulag. It’s like trying to revive the dead; it may seem like a good idea, but you just can’t make it work.
|Just ask this guy|
We can’t create a perfect world anymore than we can bring the dinosaurs back. It’s beyond our power, and trying will only bring disaster. Eden is gone, the dinosaurs are gone, and neither is coming back.
At least, not yet. We cannot restore what is lost, but for God all things are possible. We are promised a new Heaven and a new Earth, in which every tear will be wiped away. Then the dead will come back to us. Then Eden will be restored, better than ever. Then, as was intended from the beginning, man will behold the dinosaurs.
Vive Christus Rex!