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Children of the Ark in a Satanic battle: Christian Creationists, who reject Darwinism and believe dinosaurs walked the earth 4,000 years ago, are meeting in Hertfordshire. Andrew Brown reports

ONE HUNDRED fundamentalist Christians from all over Europe have gathered at a conference centre in Hertfordshire to discuss their abhorrence of evolution.

The conference books stalls sell 1:720 scale models of Noah's Ark, books explaining that belief in evolution 'is simply the continuation of Satan's long war against God', and a pamphlet called Anglo-Saxon Dinosaurs which argues that the monsters Beowulf slew were in fact dinosaurs: Grendel was a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and a Pteranodon killed the hero.

It is extremely important to Creationists to prove that dinosaurs were around recently since they believe, on biblical evidence, that the earth can be no more than about 10,000 years old.

In Europe, the Creationists are a minority, but in the southern states of the United States they are a force to be reckoned with.

The constitutional separation of church from state in the US means that Christian fundamentalists in America must pretend to have rejected evolution on scientific grounds to get their theories into the school system.

'Christian' textbooks on sale at the conference set children such problems as: 'Using your own words, explain in several sentences why eohippus and other fossils cannot be used as evidence for evolution.'

But for Dr David Tyler, one of the conference organisers, and a senior lecturer at Manchester Polytechnic, the claim that Grendel was a Tyrannosaurus Rex went a little too far.

'There are many ideas among Creationists, and not all of them are ones I can personally endorse.' Dr Tyler does, of course, believe that Noah's Ark existed, and that there were dinosaurs on it, four or five thousand years ago.

'All the fossilised nests of dinosaurs where the eggs are still present must be from after the flood. Some people will argue that a global flood came after the dinosaurs, but I can't find evidence for that.'

The few scientists present at High Leigh, near Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, find Darwinian evolution, and every other part of modern science that contradicts the Bible narratives, unacceptable on theological grounds.

Dr Sigfried Scherer, a microbiologist at the Technical University of Munich, says: 'One of the major reasons I have to question evolutionary theory is the function that it gives to death. Death in evolutionary theory is necessary; death is good. This runs contrary to my own experience as a human being, and to what the New Testament teaches.'

Questioned about the difficulty, for a scientist, of believing, in the teeth of all the scientific evidence, that the world is only 10,000 years old Dr Scherer replied: 'I am a Christian, and I decided to believe the Bible. For me it's not a difference. If I believe Jesus was resurrected physically, why not believe he could make the world in three days?'

Dr Tyler said that a Christian evolutionist would have to believe that man had evolved from ape- like creatures.

'So death would be instrumental in the origin of man; and this runs contrary to what we read in the Bible about death being the punishment for man's sin.'