When Christians are asked by non-believers to reconcile dinosaurs and the account of creation in Genesis, many questions arise. Is the Bible silent about dinosaurs? Why are dinosaurs apparently never mentioned in scriptures? Did dinosaurs live before or during the time of Adam and Eve and mankind?
We should note that the word “dinosaur”, which means terrible lizard, is a relatively new word that was first used in 1842 and was coined by scientist Richard Owen. This is the reason that the word “dinosaur” doesn’t appear in the Bible which was written well before the 1800‘s.
What The Bible Says About Dinosaurs
Dinosaur-like Creatures Mentioned
In the Book of Job, dinosaur-like creatures are mentioned and so they appear to have existed at the same time that Adam and Eve and their descendants existed. Job is an ancient book. If this book were placed in its true chronological order in the Bible, it would reside within the Book of Genesis since Job lived over 4,000 years ago.
In Psalm 74:13 it says, “It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.” Isaiah 43:20 reads, “The beast of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen” and he also writes about a monster (51:9).
Specifically, Are Dinosaurs in the Bible?
Job describes what sounds very much like a dinosaur. Read Job 40:15-24:
15 “Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox.
16 What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly!
17 Its tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like rods of iron.
19 It ranks first among the works of God, yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
20 The hills bring it their produce, and all the wild animals play nearby.
21 Under the lotus plants it lies, hidden among the reeds in the marsh.
22 The lotuses conceal it in their shadow; the poplars by the stream surround it.
23 A raging river does not alarm it; it is secure, though the Jordan should surge against its mouth.
24 Can anyone capture it by the eyes, or trap it and pierce its nose?”
Some of the translations say that the word “Behemoth” is an elephant or hippo, but there has never been a hippo or elephant that has a tail like a “cedar” (v 17) which is taken from the cedars of Lebanon. The cedars of Lebanon were valued above all timbers in ancient antiquity. They were 130 feet tall and their stout trunks could be over 8 feet in diameter. What elephant or hippo has a tail that size!? Many ancient dinosaurs were up to 150 feet in length like the Brachiosaurus.
Verse 19 says that this enormous creature ranked first in all of God’s works (v 19). Its size allows it to be unfazed by a “raging river” (v 23). It also appears to be irresistible even to humans or other animals that try to “trap it” (v 24).
Elsewhere, Job (41:1-34) describes a creature that inhabits the seas that some translations have mistakenly translated into the word whale. But any Bible with margins that gives the original translation of the word clearly indicates it is not a whale. What whale has razor sharp teeth like iron that can swallow its prey whole (v 14)? Has anyone ever seen a whale or fossil remains of a whale where the weapons of man cannot penetrate (v 26-29)? What whale can destroy its prey by simply passing over it (v 30) and has no fear whatsoever of anything (v 31-34)? In 2008 the Natural History Museum in Oslo, Norway revealed one of the largest dinosaur sea predators ever found. It is a Pliosaur Kronosaurus which is estimated to be over 50 feet long. The teeth that remain are still sharp enough to cut wood.
Dinosaurs, Fossilization and Extinction
There are hundreds of early British and French explorers and trappers and American explorers and settlers that wrote down reports of sightings of giant mastodon bones still lying on the ground. Many of the Indians they spoke with mentioned them as being in recent memory. The fact is that fossilization does not take millions of years since under the right conditions a bone, an old boot, and even wood can become filled with minerals fairly quickly. Necessary ingredients for fossilization, even in a few thousand years are these; a quick burial under very deep water or volcanic ash.
Consider the Great Flood of Noah’s time — this would have provided excellent conditions for fossilization of plants and animals. There would have been a rapid burial by millions of tons of water and sediment. The fact is that today there are many dinosaur remains that are still not completely turned in to rock and that have not been fossilized; millions of these have been found as bone. Even today they are finding fish fossils that still have a fishy smell to them. The flood may have been the reason that many of the dinosaurs died out. Even the sea creatures would have died since many of their prey could have perished in the flood.
The more we read the Bible, the more we find that dinosaurs are not inconsistent with the scriptures. They could have died from disease, the flood, or in some cases, hunted into extinction. Regardless, it is obvious that the dinosaurs did roam the earth at one time. It is also clear that the Bible makes mention of some creatures that fit their description. Therefore, Christians belief in the Bible and the knowledge of the existence of dinosaurs, are not incompatible. In fact, they are completely compatible with God being the Creator of all life; plants, animals, insects, and mankind.
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The Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV)