Dinosaurs have long been a staple image for evolution and an Old-Earth. Evolutionists are still shaping their models for these “terrible lizards” and how they went extinct “millions of years ago”. Children are particularly keen on these particular reptiles, and Hollywood has captured grown ups’ hearts with big budget films like Jurassic Park. For Christians, dinosaurs seem to present an interesting dilemma: How do dinosaurs “fit” into Scripture? Obviously, this problem differs depending on one’s view on the Genesis account (and biblical authority entirely, for the matter). Even Young Earth Creationists that believe in a literal Genesis ask a number of important questions regarding these now extinct reptiles. Where in the Bible does it mention dinosaurs, anyway? Christians need not compromise a proper biblical hermeneutic of Scripture (and thus Genesis) in order to reconcile dinosaurs and the Bible. A further examination of Scripture, science, and history tell a much different tale than evolutionary museums and television documentaries. The conclusion? Millions of years: not required.
Walking With The Dinosaurs
The Bible tells us that God created everything in six literal days approximately 6,000 years ago. The dinosaurs are no exception. These reptiles would have been created with the rest of the land animals on Day Six of Creation Week (Genesis 1:24-31). This simple statement leads to an interesting, and surprising, conclusion for many: Dinosaurs and man lived together during the same time! Obviously, this paints a much different picture of dino-history than evolutionary theories of origins. But why couldn't the dinosaurs have livedbeforeman? Besides the clear-cut answer that God createdallthe land animals on Day Six, including humans, there are some important theological difficulties that arise when one tries to argue that the dinosaurs went extinct before man was created. This is most prominent when considering the ramifications of death before sin. Death, disease, and suffering are a result of the Fall – man's sin in the garden of Eden (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). If the dinosaurs went extinct before God created Adam, then the Bible would be wrong in declaring that man'ssinbrought death into the world. Since all scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), God does not lie (Numbers 23:19), and the Bible makes it clear that the dinosaurs, like all other land animals, were created on Day Six, the notion that man came after the death of the dinosaurs can be dismissed entirely.
There is one obvious objection to all this: How did man survive in the garden with all the dinosaurs running around looking for someone to devour? Actually,all the land animals, birds, and creeping things on Earth with the breath of life were vegetarians (Genesis 1:29-30). Adam and Eve did not need to worry about getting eaten by dinosaurs (or lions, tigers, and bears, for the matter) because none of the animals in the garden were meat-eaters. This harmonious relationship between man and beast changed, sadly, as a result of Adam and Eve's sin in Eden.
When God decided He would flood the entire Earth, He commanded Noah to build an Ark that would house two of every kind of land animals. It would follow, then, that dinosaurs would have been a resident on the Ark. The idea of dinosaurs living on Noah's Ark seems foolish to some, but it is completely feasible.
First of all, there is circumstantial evidence that dinosaurs were alive during the time of the Flood. Though the Bible does not mention the term “dinosaur” specifically (because the term “dinosaur” wasn't even created until 1841 – over 200 years after the King James Version of the Bible was translated!)(1), parts of the Bible seem to describe an animal that would aptly fit the known characteristics of a dinosaur. For example, in Job 40, God tells Job about a beast known as Behemoth that has “strength in his loins”, “power in the muscles of his belly”, “makes his tail stiff like a cedar”, bones like “tubes of bronze”, and “limbs like bars of iron”. Many theologians that don't accept a literal interpretation of Genesis have suggested that the animal described in this passage could be an elephant or hippopotamus. However, descriptions like “tail stiff like a cedar” seem to suggest a much different beast – a dinosaur, perhaps. If God is, indeed, describing a dinosaur, then it shows that dinosaurs would have been brought aboard the Ark, since Job is believed to have livedafterthe Flood.
There are hundreds of names for different types of dinosaurs (think: T-Rex, velociraptor, etc.). However, there are actually only 55 “kinds” of dinosaurs (2). Like the other animals that he hosted on the Ark, Noah probably only took the young dinosaurs, being that they too would require less food, space, and waste. Size, then, is another important consideration. Not all dinosaurs are as big as most people realize. In fact: “Most scientists agree that the average size of a dinosaur is actually the size of a sheep" (3). Other sources maintain that the average dinosaur was as big as a car (4).Thanks to the enormous size of the Ark (a volume of over 500 semitrailers of space – see source 2), two of every kind of dinosaur is not as difficult to imagine as many believe.
But what did they eat? There are a number of possible solutions to this apparent problem. First of all, God could have divinely intervened by making all the animals on the Ark hibernate during the Flood, much like many animals do today during natural disasters. Even if hibernation was not part of God's plan for the animals, God could have (and would have!) provided an ample supply of food for Noah to give the dinosaurs.
According to John Woodmorappe, a Creationist who has done extensive research on the feasibility of Noah's Ark:
Dinosaurs could have eaten basically the same foods as the other animals. The large sauropods could have eaten compressed hay, other dried plant material, seeds and grains, and the like. Carnivorous dinosaurs—if any were meat-eaters before the Flood—could have eaten dried meat, reconstituted dried meat, or slaughtered animals. Giant tortoises would have been ideal to use as food in this regard. They were large and needed little food to be maintained themselves. There are also exotic sources of meat, such as fish that wrap themselves in dry cocoons. (5)
The majority of evolutionists maintain that the dinosaurs died millions of years ago due to some cataclysmic event like an asteroid impacting the earth. Creation scientists have proposed a different explanation about what happened to the dinosaurs.
After the Flood, Noah and all the animals came off the Ark and spread out across the lands to survive and reproduce. This would have included the dinosaurs, since they too would have been on the Ark. A lot had changed from the time Noah was on the Ark to when the waters had receded enough that all of the Ark's inhabitants could dwell on dry land, though. First of all, man's relationship with the animals changed. “The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon ever bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered” (Genesis 9:2). Man's diet changed as well: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (v. 3-4). Since the environment would have changed dramatically after the catastrophic, global Flood, God gave humans the permission to now eat animals; fruits and veggies were no longer the only food-source. It is likely that dinosaurs went extinct sometime after this period.
For additional (and technical) theories on how the dinosaurs went extinct from a Creationist perspective, check out Michael J. Oard's article “The extinction of the dinosaurs”.
Are the Dinosaurs Birds' Ancestors?
A number of evolutionary scientists, television programs, and museums boldly proclaim that the dinosaurs aren't really extinct at all – they live on in the birds which populate our skies. Though its hardly consensus, even among the evolutionary community, that the dinosaurs simply evolved into birds, it is promoted often throughout a variety of media.
There are many problems with the dinosaurs to bird theory. First of all, the biological makeup of the two animals are completely different. Dinosaurs are cold-blooded and birds are warm-blooded. The Institute for Creation Research published a list of the many evolutionary obstacles that the dinosaurs would have to overcome to evolve into the little critters eating out of the outside bird-feeder every morning (6). Morris lists a number of these characteristics, such as the development of wings, feathers (which are completely different than scales anatomically), bone structure (birds have hollow bones; dinosaurs solid), lungs, and more. When one takes into account irreducible complexity and that many of these characteristics would have to “evolve” at the same time, it casts serious doubt and improbability on the notion of birds being modern day dinosaurs.
Dragon Legends, Behemoth, Leviathan, and More (1)
As mentioned earlier, the word “dinosaur” wasn't even invented until 1841 by Sir Richard Owen, long after the King James Version of the Bible was translated. Owen came up with “dinosaur” by studying the Greek words for “terrible lizard”. This is why “dinosaur” is never mentioned in Scripture. Like the Job 40 description of Behemoth, there are many possible descriptions of dinosaurs found both in the Bible and outside sources.
Dragon legends are quite common and, like Flood legends that describe the real event of Noah's Flood, are probably telling of real, ancient dinosaurs. Genesis 1:21 tells of “the great sea creatures” that God created, a term based on a Hebrew word (tannin) that is elsewhere translated in the Bible as “dragon”. For instance, Psalm 74:13 cites “the dragons in the waters” (KJV), and Isaiah 27:1 talks about the “dragon that is in the sea “ (KJV). Job 41 provides a detailed description of a sea-dwelling beast known as Leviathan that could breath fire which could be describing something like theSarcosuchus imperator.
Outside of the Bible, there are many references to dinosaur-like creatures that have walked with man. A 4,000 year old Sumerian story tells about a man named Gilgamesh that cut off the head of a dragon when he went out in the forest. Alexander the Great and his soldiers found that people in India were worshiping giant, cave-dwelling reptiles that hissed. Several cultures, including England, have the tale of St. George who slew a cave-dwelling dragon. A 10thcentury Irishman even claimed to have encountered a beast that sounds like aStegosaurusin one of his written accounts. Italian naturalist Ulysses Aldrovandus “recorded an encounter between a peasant named Baptista and a dragon whose description fits that of the small dinosaurTanystropheus. The encounter was on May 13, 1572, near Bologna in Italy, and the peasant killed the dragon” (see source 1). Besides these, China is well known for its dragon stories, and cave drawings around the world depict dinosaurs and their interactions with man.
Evidence that Dinosaurs are Not Millions of Years Old
There are many physical evidences that support a Young Earth model of origins and the conclusion that dinosaurs were alive during the time of man. Recently, scientists mapped organic compounds that are still present within reptile skin that is supposed to be 50-million years old (7). In 2005 a “Tyrannosaurus rexfossil [had] yielded what appear[ed] to be the only preserved soft tissues ever recovered from a dinosaur. Taken from a 70-million-year-old thighbone, the structures look[ed] like the blood vessels, cells, and proteins involved in bone formation" (8). Finds like these that contain soft tissue are not the exception, either. From 2005-2006 alone, a number of such discoveries were made in different types of dinosaurs supposedly hundreds of thousands of years old. One of these finds led one scientist to admit, “I looked at this and I looked at this and I thought, this can’t be. Red blood cells don’t preserve" (9)and laterconclude, “we really don’t understand decay" (10).Brian Thomas of the Institute for Creation Research writes:
Paleontologists who have analyzed the tissues … insist that something is fundamentally wrong with laboratory data on biochemical decay rates. In turn, biochemists are confident that their repeatable experiments show that the soft tissues should not be there after all this time. To try to get around the hard facts of soft tissues, some scientists have even proposed that the blood vessels and red blood cells in question were bacterial slime. This was thoroughly refuted, however, by research showing that the dinosaur tissue contains a collagen protein that bacteria do not produce. (11)
The belief that 'millions of years' is established fact seems here to trump the empirical evidence that biomolecules should not last longer than 100,000 years. (12)
If the dinosaur fossils truly are millions of years old (or hundreds of thousands of years) as evolutionary paleontologists suggest, the soft tissue should be little more than fine sand by now. For the Christian, however, no such problem exists. The physical evidence matches up with the biblical account. Dinosaurs are younger than evolutionists insist – they, like the rest of the land animals, were created on Day Six of Creation Week with man.
What is it that fascinates us about the dinosaurs? The giant T-Rex we see in the museum? The depictions of the beasts on television and cinema? Is it the mystery of their origin and their eventual demise? Many Christians have long had trouble reconciling how dinosaurs “fit” into Scripture. However, a literal interpretation of Genesis and an examination of the physical and contextual evidences shows that the dinosaurs aren't a problem that needs to be “reconciled” at all. In fact, these terrible lizards are only a mystery for those that accept an Old-Earth evolutionary model of history. The Bible shows that dinosaurs were created during the Creation week about 6,000 years ago and lived with man. Discoveries of dinosaur fossils and preserved soft tissue support the biblical worldview of a Young Earth. The dinosaurs themselves are a wonderful testament to the awesome power of our Creator, Jesus Christ. Though Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden brought death into the world, God, through His enduring love and grace, conquered the grave so that we need not taste death. When God remakes Heaven and Earth, He is going to reverse the curse that was placed on Creation as a result of the Fall. At that time, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and earth shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Praise and glory be to the LORD on high, who died for us sinners and offers us salvation through Jesus Christ so that we shall not perish but have eternal life with Him.