Area school children love dinosaurs, and Thursday they had the opportunity to pair that love with a lesson in religion.
Creation Family Ministries is hosting a Dinosaurs and the Bible Conference on Biblical Creation at the Hickory Metro Convention Center to teach children about how dinosaurs fit into the Bible's account of how the world was created.
The three-day conference will continue through Saturday and aims to answer questions from believers and skeptics alike about dinosaurs and their interactions with mankind.
Maiden native Jeff Setzer spoke to elementary-age students Thursday about the possibility that dinosaurs not only co-existed with humans, but could also still be alive today.
Some scientists think dinosaurs roamed the earth for millions of years before humans were present, but Setzer said that contradicts what the Bible teaches about a seven-day creation.
The word "dinosaur" doesn't appear in the Bible, but there are other references in the Bible that Setzer said leads him to think of dinosaurs. The Bible describes creatures as a "behemoth" with a "tail like a cedar (tree)" who "eats grass like an ox." Those descriptions point to large, plant-eating dinosaurs, Setzer said.
Children and their families listened to Setzer speak about the possibility of dinosaur-like creatures being alive today, and after the conference, they explored a traveling museum complete with recreations of life-size dinosaur skeletons.
Brothers Chase, Lee and Evan Butler, of Lincolnton, are home-schooled, and they attended Thursday's conference with their family.
The brothers said they've always been interested in learning about dinosaurs, and the conference was a great way to incorporate things they learned at school.
Their father, Douglas Chad Butler, agreed. He said learning about dinosaurs was a good way to teach his sons about creationism.
"I believe when you lay the evidence out, it points to creationism," Butler said.
Eleven-year-old Jacqueline Hammons came to the conference hoping to learn more about dinosaurs.
"I've always liked learning about dinosaurs and getting to know more about them," she said.
This is the fourth year of the Creation Conference, and it's first year coming to Hickory. Setzer and his wife, Heather, are part of an itinerant ministry, and they travel to various places for Creation Family Ministries.
Setzer said science and religion aren't mutually exclusive concepts. In fact, Setzer teaches that true science and religion actually go hand-in-hand.
"Evolution is a belief, not a scientific observation," he said.
The Creation Conference continues Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. Saturday, the event starts at 10 a.m. and continues through 4 p.m.
For more information about Creation Family Ministries, visit www.creationfamilyministries.org .