The Bible is far from silent on the subject of dinosaurs

As Christians, shouldn’t we keep our children away from the dinosaur mania since dinosaurs represent evolution?

Absolutely not, but we do need to teach our children the truth about those “terrible lizards.”  It is true that dinosaurs have become the “poster boys” for evolution, but the fact is, dinosaurs were amazing creations of God and are mentioned in the Bible.

We do not see the word “dinosaur” in the Bible because Sir Richard Owen did not invent it until 1841.  In Job 40:15-19 the Bible describes an animal that was probably a Brachiosaurus or some other large sauropod dinosaur: “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 as pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.  He is chief of the ways of God…”

The sauropods, reaching 125 feet in length and perhaps weighing up to 100 tons, certainly would have been considered, “chief of the ways of God.”  Thus, I believe we see God’s opinion of the dinosaurs in these verses.  God uses them to demonstrate to Job His greatness and power as the Creator.  In the same way, we can demonstrate God’s greatness and power when talking about dinosaurs.

Unfortunately, in the footnotes of many Bibles we see this animal referred to as an elephant or a hippopotamus.  Neither of these animals, however, could be said to have a “tail like a cedar tree.”  There are Hebrew words for the elephant and hippo and they are not used here.  The translators did not know of such a large beast and transliterated it with the word “behemoth.”  Some versions actually change the word “behemoth” to “hippopotamus.”  This is an excellent example of an important point I like to make: “When people try to make God’s perfect word and man’s fallible opinion agree, which one gets modified?”

Another point of interest is that for an animal like the Brachiosaurus to have such a long neck and long tail its power would be in its stomach muscles.  In verse 16, “his force in the navel of his belly” is also translated “his power in the muscles of his belly.”

In the Job 41:1-34 we read about another creature, leviathan.  It’s description fits well that of a marine reptile called Kronosaurus. Leviathan lived in water (v.1,7), spent some time on land (v.26-30), was incredibly fierce (v. 10), had large teeth (v. 14) and scales (v. 15-17).  The most amazing feature was its ability to breath fire (v. 18-21).  Some scoff at this but the capability of a creature to produce heat is seen today in the bombardier beetle. As a defense mechanism, it combines two chemicals to shoot a 212-degree vapor out of two miniature cannons in its tail.  We don’t know how exactly leviathan could breathe fire, but we know he did and it is certainly possible within the realms of known science.

This demonstrates another important point when talking about dinosaurs.  Much of what is taught about dinosaurs as fact is merely conjecture.  We don’t know what they were like, what they looked like, how they acted, because we weren’t there.  If we dug up the bones of an electric eel and had never seen one, would we have ever guessed it had the defense mechanism it does?  If we dug up the bones of a zebra and had never seen one, would we have ever guessed it had stripes?

I believe that is why God said to Job in Job 38:4, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.”  In other words, “Were you there?”  Therefore, when our children are presented with these so-called “facts” about dinosaurs we can teach them to ask the question, “Were you there?”  As Christians, we weren’t there either, but we have an absolute reference point, the revealed word of One who was there—the word of God, and we can trust it to be true even when it talks about dinosaurs.  

Ken Ham refers to dinosaurs as “missionary lizards.”  I believe that when we know the truth about dinosaurs we can actually use them to talk about God and illustrate His greatness and power. 

Behemoth and leviathan are not the only dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible.  Another word, “dragon”, used at least 21 times in the Old Testament probably refers to the dinosaurs.  I will discuss the dragons next week.

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen