Dinosaurs in the Bible?
Dinosaurs capture the imagination of both young and old. They are big, fast, powerful, and sometimes deadly. These mysteries of the ancient world have entertained us all the way from the old Flint-stones cartoon series (currently being revived as a movie), to Barney, the current children’s TV favorite, to Jurassic Park, the block buster movie of a few years ago. But don’t let the current dinosaur-mania, and the idea of evolution that seems to undergird it, either undermine your faith in the God of the Bible or brainwash your children.
What are dinosaurs?
The word “dinosaur’ was coined in 1841 by Sir Richard Owen, who studied the bones of the Iguanadon and the Megalosaurus. He named this new order of animal the “dinosaur” which means “terrible, huge lizard.” The bones studied were fossils of creatures that lived in the past. A fossil is formed when minerals replace parts of the body and turn it into rock. Dinosaurs were amazing creatures. When did they live? What happened to them?
Any facts that we have concerning dinosaurs are gathered from fossil remains found in sedimentary rocks. When we consider fossils, we are dealing with evidence of past events, much like students of ancient history or forensic science do. We seek likely explanations of the past, which can be tested, but not proven conclusively. We need a witness, just like in a court case. And we have one, God, who was there in the beginning! He is the witness who knows everything, is reliable and has given us the Bible. In the book of Job, He asks, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?” (Job 38:4 NIV).
Dinosaurs in Genesis
The King James Version of the Bible was translated in 1611, over 200 years before the word “dinosaur” was coined. For this reason, it does not occur specifically in the Bible, and the influence of evolution probably stopped translators from using it in more modern translations today. There are five events recorded in the Bible that have affected every person on the planet: the Creation, the Fall, the Flood, the tower of Babel, and the life of Jesus Christ. Three of these shed light on the subject of dinosaurs.
The Creation: Dinosaurs were created on the sixth day with all the other land animals. Adam was also created then, so they lived together. This wasn’t a problem, as they were all plant eaters. Adam and Eve “ruled” over them and Adam named them. God saw that it was “very good” – the Garden of Eden was paradise on earth for both man and dinosaurs! (Gen. 1:25-30; 2:19,20).
The Fall: Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God resulted in a different world. After their sin, several things came in: suffering, conflict, decay and death. Romans 5:12 says, “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” Death affected all creation. Romans 8:21-22 says that all creation is waiting to be “liberated from its bondage to decay … We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth up to the present time.”
The Flood: The earth was full of violence: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness had become.” He was grieved, and decided to “wipe … from the face of the earth – men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground” (Gen. 6:6-7). This statement includes dinosaurs, as does Genesis 6:19-21: “Bring into the ark … two of every kind … of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground … to be kept alive.”
Then Genesis 7:11 says that “all springs of the great deep burst forth and the floodgates of heaven were opened.” This would have led to erosion and the transport of sediments. It was a worldwide flood, not just a regional one. The ark was needed to save Noah’s family and the animals that were in the ark with him. Except for those in the ark, God destroyed the whole world as punishment for man’s sin and the evil that resulted from it. The flood was a catastrophe involving tremendous amounts of water and upheavals of the earth.
What would we expect to find after the flood? Billions of dead things buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth. And what do we find? Billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth! Sedimentary rock – such as sandstone (from sand), shale (from mud and clay), and conglomerate (a mixture of both) – covers three quarters of the earth. Fossils required a quick burial – resulting from something such as a catastrophic flood – in mud or sand that turned into rock. These fossil graveyards are everywhere. They provide us with fossil fuels such as oil – which supplies our world’s entire petro-chemical industry, and coal – a fossil fuel used worldwide for heat, the production of electricity and many industrial uses.
Dinosaurs in Job
Except for Genesis 1-11, Job is the oldest book in the Bible. Its main character probably lived about 2,000 BC – after the flood, but before large cities were built again. The book shows that Job’s faith was very strong, despite the suffering he went through. In Chapters 38-42, Job is made to realize the vastness of God’s power as revealed in His creation of the physical and biological world. This realization made Job feel insignificant enough to say, “I know that you can do anything, and that no one can stop you” (Job 42:2). We don’t control the universe – God does. The climax of God’s response to Job is a description of the two largest creatures He had created – the behemoth and the leviathan.
The behemoth (Job 40:15-24) was the greatest of land animals. It ate plants; it was strong, powerful, unbothered by raging rivers, and beyond being captured. The leviathan (Job 41), another gigantic beast, lived in the water. It was a creature without fear; it terrified the mighty; it couldn’t be subdued; and the mere sight of it was overpowering. It had fearsome teeth, a flaming mouth and smoking nostrils. The leviathan is referred to as a dragon in the King James Version and a sea monster in the New International Version (Isa. 27:1).
Some say these creatures are mythical. But if they are, also referred to in the same passage are a lion, horse, ostrich and eagle, which are not mythical. Some say they are just other words for present day animals such as the hippopotamus, the elephant and the crocodile. If that’s the case, did the Jews have special words for the first two, but not the third? Or are they the now extinct Brachiosaurus and the Plesiosaurus dinosaurs?
Dinosaurs surely would have shown God’s power in creation! But then, any creature with life is amazing and demonstrates God’s creative power — even the smallest of things, such as the DNA molecule which carries the genetic code. The dinosaur probably became extinct after the flood, because of the much harsher, drier climate and the ice age; because of less vegetation; and possibly because of the impact of humans who continue to cause other animals to become extinct.
Dinosaurs in evolution
Evolutionary ideas about dinosaurs began at the beginning of the last century with Hutton (1795) and Lyell (1830), who taught that “the present is the key to the past.” They attempted to explain the past by present processes alone. So fossils were interpreted in terms of geologic ages, which are based on theoretical “index fossils” and an “evolutionary tree.” They say that dinosaurs lived from 200-70 million years ago inthe Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Ages. The so-called evolutionary tree presents the idea that all life has evolved by natural processes of development alone over millions of years – from molecules to man.
This idea of an evolutionary tree is held by most scientists. It is presented as a fact, not as a theory, which it is, since it can’t be proven. It is taught in schools, universities, museums and the media. Thus everyone is indoctrinated. But the Bible says they are wrong. And 2 Peter-3:3-7 says the exact opposite of what evolutionists teach: “In the last days scoffers will come … But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word … the earth was formed … By water also the world … was deluged and destroyed … The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire.”
The scoffers don’t believe that God created the world. They see no need for a Creator God, so there is no authority (Jud. 21:25). They say there are no moral absolutes, no sin, and, therefore, no need for a Savior! They do not believe that God destroyed the whole world by water. They do not believe that God will judge the world by fire. With no authority and no sin, there is no judgment or accountability – past, present or future.
Evolution attacks the very foundation of the Christian faith. It says that suffering and death existed from the beginning, before Adam and Eve ever sinned. But God is not the source of suffering and death, and He would never refer to a creation based on evolutionary theories as “good.” God’s purpose was the creation and redemption (or rescue) of mankind, not millions of years of evolution! 1 Timothy 6:20-21 says such “opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge” cause some to “have wandered from the faith.” Don’t let this happen to you!
Dinosaurs were massive examples of God’s creation, but now they are dead and gone from the face of the earth, and we see them only as fossils. As such, they are merely symbols of God’s judgment of sin. The real examples of God’s judgment on the sin and wickedness of mankind are: the destruction caused by the global flood (be reminded of this every time you see sedimentary rock layers); the burning sulfur rained on Sodom and Gomorrah as God’s judgment on evil (verified by fossil remains); the coming tribulation period; and the coming final judgment and destruction by fire (both prophesied in the Bible).
Romans 6:23 is God’s provision for us: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Don’t let dinosaurmania and the idea of evolution either undermine your faith in the God of the Bible or brainwash your children. Remember that Jurassic Park is just a fictitious, money-making movie with a comment on genetic engineering. The Bible tells the real story about the creation, existence and extinction of dinosaurs.
Published, December 1995