Introduction: What Are Dinosaurs?
Dinosaurs are a group of extinct creatures who lived some 65 to 230 million years ago in what is known as the Mesozoic era, and they have been the subject of fascination and curiosity to both adults and children across the globe. Their scientific name is derived from the Greek root ‘dein’ which means ‘terrible’, and ‘sauros’ which translates to ‘lizard’ or ‘reptile’. Dinosaurs were initially conceived as small and insignificant, like their modern-day relatives, such as geckos, crocodiles and monitor lizards. However, their true power and size was unleashed when discoveries from the 19th century onwards led to the realisation that dinosaurs were some of the most powerful creatures to ever walk on land.
Does The Bible Mention Dinosaurs?
The Bible does not directly mention the word ‘dinosaur’, since the word was not coined until around 1841 by Sir Richard Owen. However, numerous passages in the Bible do contain descriptions of giant creatures that are commonly understood to be references to dinosaurs. One of these creatures specifically mentioned in the Bible is Behemoth, which is described in the book of Job, chapter 39, verses 15-18. Here, Behemoth is described as having a tail ‘like a cedar’, and a power that ‘moves its arms like a mariner’.
Behemoth is generally considered to be a sauropod dinosaur, and scientific research has supported this interpretation. In 1878, German anatomist Wilhelm Bölsche famously wrote in his book ‘Die Urwelt des Glaubens’ that the description of Behemoth in the Bible appears to correspond to that of a brontosaur. This was the first scientific study to point out the likely link between Behemoth and the sauropod type of dinosaur.
Other passages in the Bible also make reference to these giant creatures, such as Psalm 104:25-26, which reads ‘the great and wide sea, with its living things too many to number’. This description is widely understood to refer to dinosaurs, who lived on sea shores and in deep, teeming seas during their time.
Scientific Interpretations Of Bible Verses Mentioning Dinosaurs
As we have already seen, numerous scientific studies, such as Bölsche’s, have interpreted the Bible’s references to giant creatures as being references to dinosaurs. W.B. Robertson, professor of forensic medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and a devout Christian, wrote several papers in the 1920s arguing that Behemoth was a sauropod dinosaur, and that other passages in the Bible referred to other types of dinosaurs.
More recently, in the late 20th century, evidence from paleontology has helped to further refine interpretations of Bible passages to determine the type of dinosaur being described. For example, some of Psalm 104’s verses are now understood to be descriptions of plesiosaurs, a type of long-necked marine reptile.
In addition, there is evidence to suggest that human beings coexisted with dinosaurs in the past, as Jesus Christ himself makes reference to them in the Gospel of Luke 17:37. Jesus is said to have stated ‘where the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together’, which some theologians believe is referring to the great scavenging birds found in the Gobi desert in present day Central Asia, thought to have fed on dinosaur carcasses.
Does The Bible Say Anything About The Origin Of Dinosaurs?
The origin of dinosaurs is a complex issue, and whilst there is much scientific disagreement on the matter, the Bible does make some references to the creation of dinosaurs. For example, in the book of Genesis, chapter one, verses 21 and 25, God is said to have created ‘every beast of the field and every bird of the air’.
Moreover, in the book of Job, chapter 40 verses 15-24, the Lord speaks about the two great monsters Leviathan and Behemoth, clearly referring them as two distinct creatures created by God himself. This would suggest that the Bible does not view dinosaurs as one of the seven days of creation but as a separate and distinct creature created much later.
Are Dinosaurs And Humans Incompatible?
A common myth that is often propagated by a certain group of creationists is that humans and dinosaurs must have been completely different species since the Bible does not make any references to them living in harmony together. However, research from paleontologists and other scientists has determined that in fact many dinosaurs were likely herbivores and were very possibly hunted for food by our ancestor primates.
This is supported by anthropological evidence from various places around the world that contain potentially substantial evidence of ancient humans interacting with dinosaurs, for instance, in the form of cave-wall paintings, early tools and even scraps of eggshell fragments from the eggs of extinct creatures.
Were Dinosaurs Wiped Out By A Great Flood?
This is a common myth that is propagationaid by certain creationists, who believe that dinosaurs were wiped out by a great flood as described in the Bible in the book of Genesis. However, this is not supported by any scientific evidence. Theories that a great flood could have caused the extinction of dinosaurs are also not supported by the fossil record, which shows that dinosaurs started to die out a million years before any such flood could have occurred.
What’s more, the dinosaur fossil record indicates that there was actually a slow, gradual decrease in the number of dinosaur species over a period of time and a diversification of their body shapes and biomechanical characteristics which could not have been caused by a single event like a great flood.
Conclusion: Do Dinosaurs Belong In The Bible?
In conclusion, even though the concept of dinosaurs was not yet conceived in the time period when the Bible was initially written, there is clear evidence from Biblical passages and from the fossil record to suggest that some of these Bible verses were, in fact, referencing these ancient creatures.
The Bible does not necessarily mention dinosaurs, however it does refer to giant creatures and the ancient coexistence of humans and other monsters. Whilst it offers few conclusions regarding the true nature of these creatures, the evidence that has become available over the past century provides us with more insight into how these giant creatures, who once roamed the Earth, may have been interpreted and referred to in the Bible.