Dinosaurs in the Bible
There are only a few terse references.

Debbie asks: I just wanna know when the dinosaurs were here... were they walking in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, or were they later ? some scriptures, please... thanks ! :) saw your entry on facebook and added my question...
Question about A General Question: Creation or evolution?
Motivation - Curiosity: General interest
Bible view - The Word of God - [question 12, Tuesday, 12-Jul-2011]

God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
- Genesis 1:25 [NASB]

There are two parts to Debbie's question:

  1. References in the Bible about dinosaurs
  2. A biblical explanation about when they lived

The second part is more difficult; we begin with the first part.

References to Dinosaurs

Mountains of fossilized remains tell us that dinosaurs roamed the earth many years ago, so it is reasonable to expect the Bible might contain references to them. It takes some stretching of interpretation, but modern Bible students have a few favorite passages on the subject.

The General Reference. The general reference to dinosaurs appears with the creation of all other animals in Genesis chapter 1 (verse in box above). God creates them and pronounces them good in the same breath. The next verse, after the creation of animals, is the creation of mankind, which is carefully separated from the animals; man is made in the image of God, animals are not.

God made the beasts of the earth after their kind ... Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image'
- Genesis 1:25ff [NASB]

All this happens on the sixth (final) day of creation, so, taken literally, the Bible claims dinosaurs were present at the time of Adam and Eve.

Specific Animals in Book of Job. If you have not read the book of Job (pronounced Jobe), it is a fascinating narrative about the trials and ultimate victory of an old-time man of God named Job:

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. [Job 1:1, KJV]

The date when Job lived is important to Debbie's question about dinosaurs, because the latter chapters of Job contain possible references to dinosaurs. Conservative scholars agree that Job lived very early, during the primitive times around Noah and Abraham, because the book does not mention institutions of national Israel, such as the Tabernacle, Temple, Law, sacrifices, prophets, priests, or kings, which came later. Liberal scholars, in contrast, believe the book is simply a story or allegory, not a record of historical fact, so dating is not important.

Possible dinosaur references are found in a long Job passage about animals. The passage starts in chapter 38 and continues through chapter 41. The animals mentioned, in order, are:

  1. Lion
  2. Raven
  3. Wild donkey
  4. Unicorn
  5. Peacock
  6. Ostrich
  7. Horse
  8. Hawk
  9. Eagle
  10. Behemoth
  11. Leviathan

With the exceptions of unicorn, behemoth, and leviathan, all these animals are easily recognizable today. The three exceptions can certainly represent mythical creatures, and their names appear in several extra-biblical myths, but in the biblical context of real creatures, mythical creatures become less plausible. Typical non-evolutionist thinking today is that a unicorn is a wild ox, a behemoth is a hippopotamus or brontosaurus, and a leviathan is a crocodile or sea-dwelling monster such as liopleurodon.

What is a little surprising is that the Bible dedicates many verses to behemoth (Job 40:15 to 24) and leviathan (Job 41:1 to 34, the entire chapter). Some descriptive examples are:

Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
- Job 40:15ff [KJV]

Many people oppose a literal, dinosaur-based interpretation of these passages in Job. Some of the more vocal appear at this page titled Stupid Dinosaur Lies Debunked. To me, the insulting, arrogant attitude of these people renders their work meaningless. You will have to make up your own mind on the subject. Here is a portion of the leviathan passage:

Who can open the doors of his (leviathan's) face? his teeth are terrible round about. His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.
- Job 41:14 [KJV]

It sounds like a crocodile to me!

The Age of the Earth

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
- 2 Peter 3:8 [NASB]

The Bible marks a strange equivalence of two time periods in the book of 2 Peter (box at right). One thousand years is said to be equivalent to one day. In another place, 1000 years is equivalent to a night watch, usually four hours:

For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night. [Psalms 90:4]

These passages and others open up all kind of leeway for interpretation of biblical time spans.

We understand, of course, that the Bible is not a scientific text, so we do not expect scientific depth or precision to appear directly in its pages. But we reject the idea that faith and science are diametrically opposed to each other. If the Bible is to have any positive effect on the lives of individual people, indeed if science is to have a positive effect, both must present their arguments in rational and reasonable ways.

Genesis was written about 3,000 years ago for an audience and by people scientifically uneducated. Its purpose is to answer basic questions: Who made the world? Why is it the way it is? Who's in charge? What is my place in it? An underlying motive for many evolutionists may be to side-step answering these important questions.

To figure out when dinosaurs lived, we have to figure out the age of the earth. Scientific study has amassed evidence that the earth is very, very old. According to the latest calculations:

The age of the Earth is 4.54 billion years. This age is based on evidence from radiometric age dating of meteorite material and is consistent with the ages of the oldest-known terrestrial and lunar samples. [wikipedia]

Dinosaurs lived, according to these same theories, from 250 to 65 million years ago.

Religious teachings, biblical and non-biblical, differ wildly from the scientific view. Only the Hindus provide an age of the earth older than 4 billions years. From wikipedia:

Ancient textAge of the Earth (years)
Greek and Roman4,123
Egyptian30,000 to 155,000
Sumerian and Babylonian200,000 to 400,000
Bible: Early Jewish5,761
Bible: Septuagint7,500
Bible: Masoretic6,000
Bible: Chronicon of Eusebius7,228
Bible: Alfonsine Tables8,984

All of the Bible-based estimates, shown at the bottom of the table, support a young earth view, although there are biblical interpretations that support an old earth model, notably the Gap Theory which allows a long period of time to pass between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. Christians are divided between young earth and old earth proponents. Both models fit biblical criteria.

In general, literal interpretations of the stand-alone biblical text point to an earth that is only a few thousand years old. Creationists and evolutionists continually fight and bicker over this question, each side bringing theories and evidence that support their positions. In the end, since no one was present at the beginning, it becomes a matter of personal belief. You can (1) subscribe to a very large amount of scientific evidence presented by evolutionists, or (2) to a surprisingly large amount of scientific evidence presented by creationists, or you can (3) leave the age of the earth unresolved in your mind. Those are your only three choices. Which do you choose?

Just about all school textbooks provide data, scientific and otherwise, for the evolutionary theories. There is an excellent web site, creation.com, and other material that present the creationist views.

A more important question than the age of the earth is the Cause of the earth. Evolution through mindless chance, rather than creation as an act of Divine will, completely undermines a person's view of the Bible and, if taken to the extreme, life itself. It is far more important to resolve the 'Cause of the earth' question in your mind than the 'age of the earth' question.

Regardless of your personal view, AFTB is compelled to present what the Bible says about the age of the earth. In the discussion below, we expound on the young earth model.

Bible timeline
A young earth timeline of biblical history. This shows the earth to be only 6000 years old, a popular view held by creationists and shunned by evolutionists.

The graphic above shows a hypothesized combination of the six-day Creation Week of Genesis chapter 1, the 1000 years to 1 day equivalency of 2 Peter 3:8, and the approximate dating of biblical personalities and events by many historians. The concept is attractive because it displays a symmetry around the life of Jesus Christ (0 to 33 AD) and adheres to the seven day work week to which we are all accustomed.

Pre-historic times are covered in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Chapter 12 of Genesis introduces Abraham, the father of the faithful, and ushers in the Old Testament time frame described in the 39 books of the Old Testament. The New Testament picks up where the Old Testamet leaves off with 27 books that describe a time period known as the Age of the Gentiles wherein non-Jews are grafted in to God's overall plan for mankind. The plan culminates in a Sabbath rest known as the Millenium, or 1000 year Messianic reign (Revelation 20:2).

Pre-historic Times: When the Dinosaurs Lived

According to the Bible, dinosaurs lived during the pre-historic times shown in the timeline figure above, from 4000 BC to about 2500 BC. They were created during Creation Week and continued, most likely, through the time of the Flood of Noah, living side by side with men such as Adam, Cain, Abel, Enoch, Lamech, Methuselah, and other pre-Flood Bible personalities. An analysis of the time frames presented in Genesis 5 dates the Flood around 1500 years after creation.

There is nothing in the Bible that explicitly states that dinosaurs became extinct, but there are descriptions of completely different world environments before and after the Flood. For instance, human life spans were much longer before the Flood than after (Genesis 5, entire chapter), and the weather system and hydrology were different:

Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
- Genesis 2:5ff [KJV]

Creationists hypothesize a vapor-laden canopy, similar to that found on the planet Venus, covered the earth prior to the Flood.

Dinosaurs, and probably many other creatures, could not exist in the new post-Flood world of today. According to creation theory, they walked the earth approximately 1500 years and became fossilized through action of the Flood waters.

by Paul Richards

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 22:32:46 GMT, unknown: 642724 ABSaBpsc08FVk