What does the Bible say about dinosaurs?
People are fascinated by dinosaurs, understandably, considering they are such amazing creatures. Regarding dinosaurs and their connection to the Bible, the most common topics we are asked about at GotQuestions.org can be summarized by the following three questions:
•Does the existence of dinosaurs argue against creationism in general, but young earth creationism specifically?
•Are the biblical references to the leviathan and behemoth talking about dinosaurs?
•What happened to the dinosaurs?
Let's take each question in turn. First, is the existence of dinosaurs compatible with young earth creationism? When dinosaur fossils were first being unearthed en masse and dated at millions/billions of years old, some young earth creationists claimed the fossils were a satanic deception intended to make us believe that Earth was billions of years old and that evolution is true.
Thankfully, young earth creationism has drastically improved in its teaching on the dinosaurs. Our friends at Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research have some excellent articles that explain how the existence of dinosaurs is compatible with the young earth viewpoint. Whatever the case, even if AIG, ICR, and other young earth creationists are completely wrong regarding the age of the earth, dinosaurs are not a death knell for creationism. While I have strong leanings towards the young earth viewpoint, I entirely recognize that old earth creationists have some good arguments as well. In an old earth framework, there is no difficulty in explaining the existence of dinosaurs, even in the extreme old earth timeframe secular science promotes. It is important to note that belief in an old earth also does not necessitate evolution.
Outside of the Bible, there is additional possible evidence of dinosaurs and humans coexisting. Nearly every ancient culture has stories of giant reptiles (dragons). How would cultures spread out all over the world, such as the Romans, Mayans, and Babylonians, all come up with such remarkably similar legends without some truth being the driving force behind those legends? Petroglyphs, artifacts, and even clay figurines resemble dinosaurs. Rock carvings depict men riding dinosaur-like creatures, and, remarkably, are very similar to museum portrayals of the triceratops, pterodactyl, and tyrannosaurus rex. So, all that to say, there is interesting, even compelling, evidence that human beings and dinosaurs did in fact coexist. This, obviously, would throw a very large wrench into the machinery of Darwinian evolution.
Next, does the Bible mention dinosaurs? Possibly. Job 40:15-18 sure sounds like dinosaurs to me: "Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold, his strength in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron." No modern animal accurately fits all of those details. References to the leviathan in Job chapter 41 are also very dinosaur-like. If young earth creationists are correct that dinosaurs and humans coexisted, Job 40—41 could very well be referring to dinosaurs.
Finally, what happened to the dinosaurs? What caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? Everyone has theories. Young earth creationists, old earth creationists, theistic evolutionists, and Darwinian evolutionists all have proposed explanations. None of the explanations are universally agreed upon, even amongst those of the same belief system. For a young earth explanation, please visit the following article: What caused the extinction of the dinosaurs? What happened to the dinosaurs is definitely a secondary issue. The Bible does not say anything about the extinction of the dinosaurs, and secular science does not have a universally accepted explanation.
The truly important issue is this: can I trust the Bible? The existence of the dinosaurs has been used as a weapon against biblical creationism for over two centuries. In that timeframe, however, both young earth and old earth creationists have developed plausible explanations for the dinosaurs. There is compelling evidence that humanity and dinosaurs coexisted. But, even if the secular scientific viewpoint that the dinosaurs and humanity were separated by millions/billions of years is true, that would not change the fact that God is the Creator, that we are created in His image, and that we are in need of a Savior. Let's continue being interested in the dinosaurs, but let's also put the importance of the dinosaurs in the proper perspective.
On a definite side note, there is an interesting dinosaur theory out there. If the sons of God and daughters of men incident in Genesis chapter 6 involved fallen angels mating with human females and producing a race of super-human hybrid giants (the Nephilim), would it also be possible that the fallen angels mated with reptiles and other animals and produced giant reptiles and other creatures? Hmmm... Sounds like a good plot for the next Jurassic movie.
S. Michael Houdmann
What does the Bible say about dinosaurs?