Fishbowl Question – Dinosaurs!

I really enjoyed preparing for and leading this session. For one, little boys never grow up so talking about dinosaurs (along with tanks, cowboys, and such) is such a very exciting thing!

What you’re about to read you may very well disagree with, and that’s fine. This isn’t a matter of salvation. People can disagree on this and still be saved. This is a secondary or tertiary matter, but still an important issue to wrestle with and discuss. For a discussion on the “triage” concept of dealing with issues in Truth/Belief/Etc click here).

This response was one that I wrote with the intention of holding Scripture as final authority, as the Reformers called it the “norming norm.” Recognizing that “all truth is God’s truth” (Augustine) but also that Scripture is the revealed and recorded Word of God, there is a tension point. The tension point is accepting what is considered to be scientific fact or trusting what Scripture says. My reason for falling back on Scripture is this: there is no such thing as “objective data,” all data is funneled through an interpretive grid. Any test can be manipulated. And above all else, modern science is built on a philosophy. That philosophy is decidedly anti-supernatural, anti-Christian, and thoroughly humanistic and rooted in naturalism. There is a denial of any overarching metanarrative, or at least a theocentric/bibliocentric (is this a word? did I make it up?) one. Instead it is replaced with the metanarrative of Darwinism, both social and biological, as the answer to all questions. The problem with this is that, just like any other theory, it’s just that… a theory.

That said, here’s my notes with some additional comments from last Wednesday night’s question “Are dinosaurs in the Bible?”

1841 – First time word “Dinosaur” is used

Every culture has dragon stories – Are dragons in their time what we now understand to be dinosaurs?

Creation – Genesis 1:20-25

  • On Day 5/6 we see God creating all things on land, sea, and air
  • That would include dinosaurs
  • We also know dinosaurs existed at some point because we have their bones fossilized
  • Question is an issue of authority – Does the Bible speak of real historical events or is it just a “book of faith?”
    • If history in Scripture can be brought into question – Where does it stop?
    • Romans 5 – A historic Jesus is rooted/grounded in a historic Adam

Dinosaurs in the Bible – Job 40:15-41:11

  • Behemoth – Often interpreted as a hippo, but have to ask ourselves if this description could be one?
    • Description of the tail of the Behemoth doesn’t sound like a hippo or elephant
    • Is tail code word for something else? Maybe, but I think people know where on the animal the tail goes
  • Leviathan – Often interpreted as a crocodile
    • Crocs are fierce, but they aren’t un-tameable – Steve Irwin could do it!
    • This is a deep sea monster, that is to be feared by every living thing besides God
    • Not sure what it is, but there are examples in fossil records of these types of beasts
      • Megalodon, Liopleurodon, etc.
  • A Unicorn? Job 39:9-12
    • What kind of animal is this talking about? Often translated as a “ox” or “wild ox” but they can be trained
      • Who played Oregon Trail and had this come up “The oxen broke loose and killed everyone and trampled your wagon”
    • Could this be a horned dinosaur? Like triceratops or perhaps even a stegosaurs?
  • These are mentioned alongside other known animals
    • God tells Job that He made donkeys, mountain goats, ostriches, horses, hawks, etc.
    • If we assume literal readings, then we have to assume this is speaking of a real animal in history, not a mythological creature

Was Jurassic Park the first time?

  • Tons of ancient cultures record mysterious animals, which could be dismissed if they weren’t so similar
    • This is also true of stories of an ancient worldwide flood – Recorded in Genesis 6-9, Gilgamesh, etc.
  • What about Noah’s Ark? Have to remember the ark was huge, could hold thousands and thousands of animals
    • Each carried on by “kind” not species – Think of our modern equivalent of “Genus”
      • One kind of dog, which all breeds have as a common ancestor
      • Only a handful of kinds of dinosaurs – Sauropods, Horned, Carnivores, Raptors, etc.
    • Could have carried young or juveniles
    • Also have to entertain possibility of carrying eggs

Alternative Hypothesis

  • God creates, declares all things to be good and vegetarian – Panda bears have sharp teeth, sharp teeth doesn’t always mean carnivorous
  • Fall disrupts and destroys everything – Now people are scared of T-Rex and other big sharp-tooths (Land Before Time reference)
  • No rain until Genesis 6, so all moisture came up from the ground
    • Also have in Genesis 1 and “sea in the sky” which would have made the early days of life very humid and jungle-like, more oxygen and such
    • Which is ironically what modern paleontologists are saying the dinosaur world was like
  • Possible for one continent, Pangea to have existed before Flood
    • It’s more than rain, mountains thrown up and down, totally changing the shape of the earth
    • Flood is a geological catastrophe, not just a heavy rainstorm
    • This upheaval and intense pressure/change accounts for rock layers and the formation of mountains, canyons, plains, rivers, trenches, etc.
  • Humans lived among dinosaurs in a real life (and more scary) version of Jurassic Park (no fences, no guns, no Samuel L Jackson)
  • Dragon legends are actually passed down stories of dinosaurs

Here’s some pictures I used from Answers in Genesis’ website for this presentation


2 comments on “Fishbowl Question – Dinosaurs!

  1. Great discussion/answer to the question.

    Not disagreeing, but just adding another hypothesis. I never struggled with the idea of dinosaurs existence, and I, too, went through a phase where I loved dinosaurs. However, I always figured it was either the flood that made the fossil record appear so old or that God just put the dinosaur bones there to test us. If we truly believe that God is all-powerful and can do ANYTHING, and if we truly believe that the Bible is the word of God, then we have to trust those things. Just because the fossil record exists to “prove” the existance of dinosaurs does not mean that they actually had to be alive. God has the power and ability to place the bones thousands of years ago and make them look millions of years old whether they lived or not.

    • Morgan,
      I’ve never heard that as a potential explanation, but it is possible as well. To say that something “has to be this way” does to some extent limit God’s sovereignty. I suppose it is possible, sounds kinda like it belongs on an episode of LOST though 🙂 If anything else, that’s quite the monkey wrench thrown into the wheel!
      Thanks for tossing that out there, do you care to share a little more about that hypothesis? You have me intrigued!

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