Walking with Dinosaurs (or, Paying to Watch Them Walk…)

Well, I took the family to see “Walking with Dinosaurs: the Live Experience” last night at the Scottrade Center in nearby St. Louis. While expensive (at least to me; the office troll does not go to many shows), the show was fun. Actually, seeing Boy #2 as he kept turning to me silently with that “Dad, this is great!” expression on his face took the pain out of my pocketbook a little. And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discounts that lowered the cost by 25% were nice, too.

The “free walking” animatronic-style, life-sized dinosaurs were rather well done, I think. I don’t know how advanced the technology is or if this show could have been done some time ago, but I thought the dinosaurs’ creators did a marvelous job and that they looked, and generally moved, quite realistically. (The supports under the dinos that are really doing the moving and such were not nearly as distracting as I had considered they might be.) And the actors in the fantastic Raptor suits and such did a good job, I believe. The sound system was, I thought, fantastic. If the roars and grumblings were coming from the Scottrade Center’s sound system and not from the dinos, themselves, I couldn’t tell; the synchronization with the dinos’ mouths and the “illusion of origination” (if it was an illusion) was great. I greatly doubt that the dinosaurs moved as fluidly as they would in “real life,” yet they moved much more fluidly than I was expecting. Also, my wife and I thought that the set design, itself, and the changing-with-the-era “stage foliage” was creative and well thought out.

While I didn’t find it completely possible to suspend all disbelief and imagine there really were live dinosaurs roaming around on the floor, at the same time while watching them I did find myself able to better imagine what it would be like seeing the creatures face-to-face — or, rather, face-to-knee-cap, as it would more likely be. The presence of the human “paleontologist” on the floor with the dinos added a good bit of scale to the creatures; without him it would have been harder to comprehend how truly large they were, given the utter lack of experience we have with creatures of such enormous proportions.

The soundtrack during the show was not too bad. Being a soundtrack fan, I wouldn’t have minded buying a copy, but after the show diving into the mass of people at the “official merchandise” stand was not something I was interested in attempting, especially since I wasn’t even sure if they were selling CDs. Actually, I didn’t even buy a $20 program. I told the kids they could cut pictures out of the newspaper if they wanted a commemorative book. (“Dude, you’re cheap…”)

[I might mention, too, that based on the reactions of our 3.71-year-old, the show was not too scary for most young ones. Well, I’d call it Not-Scary-But-With-Potential. Depending on your child’s disposition and where your seats are located, your outcome might be totally different. We watched Boy #4’s face last night for signs that it was too much, but the poker face was hard to crack for info. No nightmares last night and positive feelings about it today, so I take that as a good sign.]

You can check out the show’s website here: www.dinosaurlive.com. Worth the price? Please forgive me for demurring. As mentioned above, the office troll doesn’t have much experience on which to base such a conclusion. But glad we went? Yes. Or more accurately, glad we took our kids.

Now, that said, the show was chock full of evolutionist assumptions. Really, that should surprise no one. The supposed God-like creative powers of Evolution are duly lauded and worshiped by the script writers. My kids are used to that by now and are quick, themselves, to point out to me when a narrator is overstepping his bounds, so I wasn’t too worried about that. But I will admit that understanding the proper time frames of Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and understanding that the Scripture does indicate that there was a “world that was” before the “world that is” is a big help in settings like this. (Some of what I’ve written on that can be found in the posts collected under the “Life on Mars” tag, listed in reverse order with the first post at the bottom.)

Also, there is obviously one piece of equipment that the Scottrade Center desperately needs to install: A flash-detecting, camera-vaporizing chemical laser. (Actually, I guess a missile system might be more realistic.) Even given the pre-show announcement that there should be no flash photography during the show, you would have thought the days of elementary school and “opposite day” were back and that the announcement had been meant to encourage flash photography. Really annoying. Don’t ask me to sort out which part of me is more annoyed, the righteous indignation part or the self-righteous indignation part — I’m still working on that. But one good self-targeting SDI-technology chemical laser could have fixed that problem. (Really, people: were your kids watching you as you disregarded the rules just because you didn’t like them? Have fun when they get to high school!)

One more comment: the only dinosaur to be greeted with stadium-wide applause upon her appearance was the adult Tyrannosaurus Rex. The T-Rex still continues to be the star of the dinosaur world after all these years. Do you think the other dinosaurs ever feel like having a T-Rex in the show just sucks all the oxygen out of the arena for the rest of them? Wow — the cat fights and backbiting that must go on in the dressing rooms, I can only imagine.

10 thoughts on “Walking with Dinosaurs (or, Paying to Watch Them Walk…)

  1. Hi, Mr. Smith!

    Of course, you COULD all have just visited http://www.youtube.com/rakkav, checked out my Playlists, and found what appears to be a pretty decent hand-held video of the Experience. With a big enough monitor, it could’ve been rather impressive for you and a lot cheaper. Anyway, from the video the Experience looks as if it was everything you describe it as being, pro and con. (Talk about evolution as the opiate of the people…but I too was much impressed by the animatronics and not too badly distracted by the hydraulics or whatever that made them work.)

    Yes, T-rex continues to be the diva of the dinosaur world, despite the discovery of several carnivores that are longer or heavier or both. (Well, strike that: a T-rex was discovered recently that — according to the Web site that mentions the datum — may have been 20% larger than the previously largest found, potentially putting T-rex on top of the food chain again.) T-rex still holds the crown for the most powerful bite among carnivores, I understand.

    Cat fights? Backbiting? I’m reminded more of WWW Smackdowns and what precedes them; every last one of those carnivores looks bad to the bone.

  2. Michael Buis

    Hi Wallace,

    Thanks again for answering detailed question (Gods Church) for my son and I which I have passed onto him for our mutual discussion

    I have a question that may relate to your coming program on ‘Is this the only day of Salvation?’

    After the thousand years of Christs’ reign on the Earth will it be that after the Earth is remade that human beings will continue to be born, live and die and be resurrected to live in Gods’ Kingdom for Eternity,

    I am new at this, however I have read that ‘of his Kingdom their will be no end’ and a Kingdom needs subjects. Also Gods’ Spiritual law will be the same forever. As commandments relating to murder & adultery relate to phyical beings would this help to confirm this premis?

    Thanks again I enjoyed your story about the dinosaurs.

    Regards, Michael Buis

  3. Craig

    Oh groan! Just read this post and almost fell off my chair in finding that it is currently playing in Toronto through Sunday. If only I had of known about it a month ago. I guess I will just have to wait for the sequel to appear on reality TV —”Dancing with Dinosaurs.” LOL

  4. “Evolutionist assumptions?” “God-like powers of evolution?”

    How about substituting “reality” and “power of time and numbers” instead?

    If you really do not believe dinosaurs existed, or roamed the Earth more than 65 million years ago, or evolved, then I have to tip my hat to you for taking your kids to see it. But I wonder what other parts of reality you’re teaching them to ignore if you’re telling them the scientists have it all wrong. And I worry what other parts of scripture you’re distorting for them, too.

    Gee. I hope you’re not a preacher.

  5. Greetings, Mr. Darrell —

    I’m almost too amazed to believe I read you correctly… Are you saying that unlike all other scientists (and, frankly, all other humans) who have ever lived, evolutionists make no assumptions whatsoever? Wow! They’re more amazing than I thought!

    And if you like, I will happily make 75% of one of the substitutions you suggest: How about “God-like powers of time and numbers”? After all, time and numbers work so successfully for individuals in multi-level marketing, surely they are powerful enough to create all life as we know it from a few good chemicals here and there. When I received my theoretical mathematics degree I must have missed the “god-like powers of numbers” class, but I do readily admit that they are powerful little guys!

    Forgive me — I had my tongue stuck in my cheek. Seriously, if you read my post and came to the conclusion that I do not believe in dinosaurs, then I should apologize for miscommunicating. I do believe that dinosaurs existed, I have no problems with the 65 million years ago timeframe, and evolution is an acceptible idea if it is taken simply to mean change and not carelessly assumed to possess the God-like powers of virtual creation-ex-nihilo previously alluded to — so if I communicated anything other than that, I shall try to communicate more clearly next time.

    And rather than teaching my children that “the scientists have it all wrong,” I am teaching them that scientists are human, and that while scientific pursuit is a wonderfully marvelous human endeavor that has greatly enriched our lives and our understanding of the world, it is still very much a *human* endeavor. Its practice reflects part of the beauty of Proverbs 25:2 and Romans 1:20, while its abuse reflects the tragedy of Psalm 53:1 and Romans 1:21-23.

    In particular, even though they are relatively young I am already teaching my children about the theory of evolution, including the more recent neo-Darwinistic concepts & thought, punctuated equilibrium, et al., thank you very much. But I am also teaching them to be critical thinkers and to examine the assumptions behind every belief system — yes, including those behind that of their father and the one I pray that I will successfully impart to them.

    So, I will assume (there’s one of those nasty things, again!) that I wrote my post a bit sloppily, thus setting the stage for your conclusion (or, I will grant, your suggestion) concerning the status of my belief in dinosaurs. However, if your statements were hasty extrapolations based on your own assumptions and the limited evidence you had at hand… Wow. I hope you’re not a lawyer. 🙂

    (By the way, I assure you all of the above was written with more affection than may be communicated on the surface.)

    Thanks for taking the time to write. It really is appreciated!

    Warm regards,
    Wallace Smith

  6. Scientists generally write without the hubristic assumption that they know all the answers before the questions are asked, yes.

    Even though Descartes may have gotten it partly wrong, his starting point is where most scientists start from. Scientists do not assume that what is written in a book is accurate, especially when real measurements made in the wild contradict what is written. Nor do they assume that whoever or whatever created the world is less authoritative that what is written in a book.

    It is only preachers who claim evolution theory ascribes god-like powers to evolution, not scientists. It’s a set up of a straw man to knock down. It works well in sermons, if the choir is with you, but it fails absolutely in the real world.

    At least you know about Romans 1:20, the warning most creationists deny. Good luck.

  7. Howdy, again, Mr. Darrell —

    Thanks, again, for writing, but I’m sorry: science is not nearly so lacking in hubristic assumptions as you state. I am tempted to say that believing it is would indicate that one is either ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked — categories which Mr. Dawkins (poster child for the incredibly-gifted-yet-hubristic) has kindly delineated for all of us.

    All information is filtered through assumptions, and all theories are a combination of fact, assumption and interpretation. The line between these is often a blurry one, and the choice of assumptions inevitably affects not only the interpretation of facts, but also which facts “count,” and then even the most basic understanding of those facts. I think you would agree with these statements. Where I think we disagree is on the matter of whose assumptions are better.

    I had the opportunity to read your testimony concerning science textbooks, and you might be surprised to hear that I agree with much of what you said. (You might be surprised to hear that I originally hail from Lancaster and that my high school graduation took place in that big auditorium there in Duncanville.) In particular, I’m glad that you advocate getting to know the stories and histories of the gifted men and women who sacrificed so much to help us understand all we do. I have long advocated that a similar need be addressed in the instruction of mathematics. But in reading those stories, one will inevitably meet hubris. To varying degrees to be certain, but it’s there. And to believe that it vanishes upon the act of “writing science” is akin to the fantasy of believing in the Pope’s ability to speak without error ex cathedra.

    The hubristic assumptions behind the journals may be fundamentally systemic and less out in the open, but they are there to be sure.

    As for your assertion that scientists do not ascribe god-like powers to evolution, it is hard to take it seriously enough to even comment on it. If you really do believe that, let me know and at the very least I might buy you a copy of Carl Sagan’s beautiful masterwork “Cosmos.” As much as I delight in that landmark television program, concerning Evolution it is virtually paeanistic. (And certainly not devoid of hubris.)

    Finally, I have to congratulate you on your masterful twist of Romans 1:20. I will be telling others about that one! But if you actually believe that the author of Romans intended that verse to be an open door for the kinds of conclusions you are drawing, then I am in awe: You are more than well enough acquainted with hubris to qualilfy as a lecturer on the subject.

    Humbly yours,
    Wallace Smith

    (And, perhaps, at least a little bit “Hubristically yours,” as well. If so, I will have to repent of that…)

  8. Pingback: I am a cat and I walk in eternity « Thoughts En Route

  9. Imaculata

    Interesting review. I’ve grown up with dinosaurs myself. In fact, which boy hasn’t? So I’m really looking forward to see this show. Even though I’m well over 20’s now, the passion for dinosaurs has never faded.

    As for the “chock full of evolutionist assumptions” part. I would have hoped even adults like yourself would have picked up a few things during this show. Consider it a history lesson. Odd, yet ironic that your kids might have learned more during the show than you did.

    Apart from that, I’m looking forward to seeing this show. Sadly it doesn’t run in Europe… but then again, it’s coming to England this July. It might just be worth an airline ticket. After all, how often in your life do you get the opportunity to see dinosaurs walking live in front of you? I wouldn’t pass up such an opportunity for the world.

  10. Howdy, Imaculata, and thanks for commenting.

    I was very “into” dinosaurs, myself, growing up — costing my parents a great deal of money to keep my mind fed with info about them, I must say. (Thanks, Mom and Dad — I hope you appreciate that I am trying to follow your example!) I, too, was excited to see the show. As I said in the post, I was glad that we went — in particular, I was glad that we took the children. I’m just not sure if the price tag was justified. It’s one thing to say that you wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see dinosaurs walking “live in front of you” for the world. But that’s somewhat like saying that one would pay any price to go to Disneyland because one heard that there were mice roaming there that were taller than humans and that talking dogs could be seen in the streets. When the walking, live dinosaurs are actually cool animatronic puppets being driven around by people in little carts and the cost must be translated into actual money, earned with an actual job, judgments must be made and verdicts rendered. (By the way: No, not worth the airline ticket, unless you had other business to accomplish on your trip.)

    As for your pleasantly smug middle paragraph, I do think I picked up a few things during the show, thank you very much. Some of the speculation on the stegosaurus fins, for instance, was new to me and was very interesting, although most of the info I already knew. Yet the tyranny of assumptions was fully on display during the show. Perhaps you will be able to spot them, yourself, when you eventually see it. Consider it a logic lesson.

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