I don't know about you, but, for me, one of the most intriguing subjects in the world is that of dinosaurs. I mean, who doesn't love dinosaurs? Whether they are cute images on a baby's footsy pajamas or vicious creatures slaughtering innocent civilians in Jurassic Park, dinosaurs offer something for everyone.
(In this case, the loving parent or the emotionally disturbed sci-fier.)
With this said, dinosaurs seem to pose one of the greatest threats to Christianity. This is because the evidence of their historical existence is incredibly overwhelming, but the biblical evidence seems to be incredibly underwhelming. The experts exploit this by clothing the historical evidence of dinosaurs in an evolutionary garb, the Bible's archenemy of how things came to be. According to evolutionists, dinosaurs first evolved 235 million years ago, long before man, and according to the Bible (a Young Earth Creationist view, YEC hereafter), dinosaurs first existed roughly 6,000 years ago (Gen 1:24-25).
Thus, the average Christian tends to view dinosaurs with such mystery that he believes he will never know the truth about them. He chalks their existence up to one of the "secret things that belong to the Lord," (Deut 29:29) and chooses to remain ignorant to the subject in fear that any real research might threaten the foundation to everything he believes. Or, in the least, he finds a way to merge evolution and YEC, which is entirely unbiblical.
This is poor form and an unfortunate reality. The truth is that the evidence of dinosaurs shouldn't scare Christians at all. The key is from which viewpoint you view them. Ken Ham writes, " ... dinosaurs are only a mystery if you accept the evolutionary story of their history" (149). This is to say that, most Christians misunderstand dinosaurs because they can't help but think of them from an evolutionary standpoint. I know that this has been the case for me. I can't fly on an airplane without subconsciously thinking about 9/11 and I can't think of dinosaurs without subconsciously thinking about millions of years of evolution. You probably can't either. Evolutionary science is that embedded into this specific topic and it has thus generated a world of issues for how many Christians view it.
If a Christian can jettison this, however, and instead view dinosaurs from a biblical worldview, he will begin to think about the subject in a brand new way, a way that reveals the truth about dinosaurs' place in creation. This is the goal of this blog.
Below I list the most substantial accusations the subject of dinosaurs has had against Christianity and it's claim of YEC, and briefly highlight some of the major problems with each claim. The goal is not to get in depth on the subject, but to offer brief thoughts that help the Christian understand the subject from a biblically based YEC viewpoint.
DINOSAURS EVOLVED OVER MILLIONS OF YEARS
Evolutionists claim that dinosaurs evolved from some reptile that had originally evolved from an amphibian. The problem is that they have no archaeological link to substantiate this claim. Ken Ham writes, "Dinosaur family trees in evolutionary books show many distinct types of dinosaurs, but only hypothetical lines join them up to some common ancestor" (Emphasis mine, 155). Ham explains that the lines are dotted "because there is no fossil evidence. Evolutionists simply cannot prove their belief in a non-dinosaur ancestor for dinosaurs" (ibid).
DINOSAUR BONES REVEAL THAT DINOSAURS LIVED MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO, AND ALSO DIED MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO
Evolutionists would like you to believe that when they dig up a dinosaur bone that it has a label on it that can be used to help them date how old it is. Henry Morris notes that evolutionists date these bones by "indirect" dating methods that are widely questioned among the scientific community (Morris, The Young Earth, 51-67). In short, scientists have no true way of determining how old a dinosaur bone is. Moreover, there is evidence among dinosaur bones that they might not be as old as most scientists would like us to believe.
Some years ago, for example, some scientists from the University of Montana found T-Rex bones that were not totally fossilized, which would be impossible if they were millions of years old. According to their reports, some of the bones were "like fresh bones" and some even contained "what seems to be blood cells and hemoglobin." As Ken Ham writes, "If these bones really were tens of millions of years old, then the blood cells and hemoglobin would have totally disintegrated" (162).
THE BIBLE DOESN'T MENTION DINOSAURS
Many people think that because the Bible doesn't include the word "dinosaur" that it says nothing about dinosaurs. It's important to remember, however, that the word "dinosaur" is our modern way of describing ancient creatures. It wasn't until 1841 that the word "dinosaur" was invented. A man named Richard Owen, while viewing the bones of an Iguanodon and Megalosaurus, "realized these represented a unique group of reptiles that had not yet been classified" (158). He resultantly coined the term "dinosaur" from Greek words meaning "terrible lizard."
While the Bible doesn't include the word "dinosaur" to describe dinosaurs, it does include descriptions of creatures that we now call dinosaurs. Here are a few:
A Sea Monster
"You divided the sea by your strength; you broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters" (Ps 74:13)."In the day the Lord will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, with his fierce and great and mighty sword, even Leviathan the twisted serpent; and he will kill the dragon who lives in the sea" (Is 27:1)"Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Or press down his tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope in his nose or pierce his jaw with a hook? ... Will you play with him as with a bird? ... Can you fill his skin with harpoons or his head with fishing spears? ... No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him ... Who can strip off his outer armor? Who can come within his double mail? Who can open the doors of his face? Around his teeth there is terror. His strong scales are his pride, shut up as with a tight seal ... His sneezes flash forth light ... Out of his mouth go burning torches; sparks of fire leap forth. Out of his nostrils smoke goes forth ... His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes forth from his mouth ... When he raises himself up, the mighty fear; because of the crashing they are bewildered" (selections from Job 41).
According to Ham, this "dragon" may have been something like the mighty 40 ft. Sarcosuchus imperator (Super croc), or the 82 ft. Liopleurodon dinosaurs.
A Flying Serpent
"Through a land of distress and anguish, from where come ... flying serpent" (Is 30:6).
According to Ham, this could be a reference to one of the pterodactyls, which are probably thought of as flying dinosaurs.
A Giant Land Creature
Finally, in Job 40 God shows Job how great of a creator he is by describing a land animal he had made:
"Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you ... behold ... his power in the muscles of his belly. He bends his tail like a cedar" (Job 40:15-17).
Ham suggests that the behemoth's description in the Bible parallels the scientist's description of the Brachiosaurus, one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered (the dinosaur with the really long neck).
In short, while the Bible doesn't use the modern day word "dinosaur" to describe dinosaurs, it does offer impressive descriptions of creatures that lived within the last 6,000 years that clearly parallel what we now call "dinosaurs." Thus, the Bible does talk about dinosaurs!
DINOSAURS COULDN'T HAVE FIT ON THE ARK
When we think of dinosaurs, we think of massive, gargantuan creatures, but "the average size of a dinosaur, based on the skeletons found over the earth, is about the size of a sheep" (166). The fossil records--the same often used to disprove the scriptures--suggest that only a few dinosaurs grew to be extremely large in size, but even these dinosaurs weren't as large as the largest animal in the world today, the blue whale. It's also important to know that reptiles have "the potential to grow as long as they live" (167). Thus, it's not unreasonable to suggest that the larger dinosaur skeletons are of the dinosaurs that had lived especially long. Moreover, even the largest dinosaurs were small when hatched. The biggest fossil dinosaur egg ever found is only the size of a football.
It's important to remember that the reason God had animals go on Noah's ark was to repopulate the earth, and thus, it would have been strategic of God to call younger animals in the prime of their reproductive lives onto it, not older ones that would have taken up a lot of space and been well beyond the reproductive primes of their lives.
IF DINOSAURS WERE ONLY 6,000 YEARS OLD, WE WOULD STILL SEE THEM TODAY
The logic of this argument is extremely weak. A simple Google search can reveal a variety of animals that have become extinct even in recent memory. In fact, many endangered species programs have been started to keep this from happening. Thus, on this logic alone, it's thoroughly possible that many dinosaur species became extinct after the Flood, which cultivated an entirely different environment than before. This not only made it difficult for dinosaurs to survive, but it made it difficult for dinosaurs to survive for as long as they previously did (just like humans who once lived for hundreds of years).
Moreover, on the opposite spectrum, it's not unreasonable to suggest that dinosaurs might not be as extinct as we would like to believe. As Ken Ham notes, "Scientists in Australia found some living trees that they thought had become extinct with the dinosaurs. One scientist said, 'It was like finding a live dinosaur'" (171). To add to this thought, it's been reported that explorers and natives in Africa have reported sighting, as recent as the twentieth century, dinosaur-like creatures. And cave paintings by native Americans (people living in our known modern history) have been discovered depicting dinosaurs.
As Ham notes, "One cannot prove an organism is extinct without having knowledge of every part of the earth's surface simultaneously" (170).
SO, WHAT SHOULD A CHRISTIAN BELIEVE ABOUT DINOSAURS?
As noted at the beginning of this blog, it is especially important that to fully understand dinosaurs, the Christian ought to view the subject from a biblical perspective, not a evolutionary-agendaed one. If the Christian can start here, then everything else easily falls into place, as seen in the aforementioned content in this blog. This is the key.
The Bible states that dinosaurs were created on the sixth day of creation, alongside humans: "Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth living creatures father their kind' ... God made the beasts of the earth ... and God saw that it was good. Then God said, 'Let us make man in our own image ...'" (Gen 1:24-26). This means that they could not have died out prior to humans because, according to the Bible, death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering are a result of Adam's sin. As Paul writes, "The wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). Since sin wasn't present on the earth, death was also not present on the earth. Furthermore, to suggest that dinosaurs lived and died prior to humans is to suggest that the Fall's impact was not that severe, because it's effects already existed. This is a devastating blow to the impact of sin and why we need a Savior.
Taking this thought deeper, the very idea of dinosaur fossils lends strong evidence that dinosaurs existed during the time of the Flood (God's worldwide judgment of sin), and that many died because of it. Ken Ham writes,
"Fossil formation requires a sudden burial. When an animal dies, it usually gets eaten or decays until there is nothing left. To form a fossil, unique conditions are required to preserve the animal and replace it with minerals, etc." (166).
Evolutionists once claimed that fossils were created slowly by the animal carcasses being gradually covered over by sediment. Recently they have acknowledged that dinosaur fossils were instead created by a catastrophic process. In other words, to form the fossils that we now discover, they must have been buried quickly. This fits perfectly with the Bible's description of a worldwide Flood that "destroyed from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life" (Gen 6:17), a flood that wreaked such havoc upon the world that it now "groans" because of the aftermath of it (Rom 8).
If a Christian accepts the evolutionary teachings of dinosaurs, then he rejects the Bible's description of how God created the world and also its description of the Fall and its effects, which "directly attacks the foundations of the gospel" (174). The Bible is clear that death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering are all consequences of sin, and thus, such things cannot predate the introduction of its power into the world before the Garden of Eden.
Christians have more than enough reason, biblically and scientifically, to believe that dinosaurs lived on this earth within the last 6,000 years. We have the opportunity to evaluate the exact same data as scientists do, but we should always analyze it through the Bible. This is the key to understanding that dinosaurs do not pose a threat to our YEC beliefs.
Bibliography: This blog was inspired by, and most of its information is gathered from, Ken Ham's The New Answers Book 1, chapter 12, "What Really Happened to Dinosaurs." I encourage you to check out Ham's blog answersingenesis.com to read a more detailed description about dinosaurs and the Bible.