Carpenter discusses dragons and dinosaurs

As Christians, shouldn’t we keep our children away from the dinosaur mania since dinosaurs represent evolution? (Part 2)

Last week I began answering this question.  I mentioned that a word used for dinosaurs was “dragon.”  There are many reasons why I can say that.  The most compelling reason is that the Hebrew word for dragon, “tannim,” is used 21 times in the Old Testament.  The word is used alongside names of animals like lions, owls, etc.  For example, in Isaiah 43:20, “The beasts of the field shall honor me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness…”  Thus, the Bible is obviously referring to real animals.  So, what were dragons and what did they look like?  The answer to that question is simple.  We don’t know because we weren’t there.  However, since we know they were real animals we can examine the fossil record, history and the world of biology to see if they give us any clues.

There are no animals referred to as dragons today but there have been in the past. There are dragon legends in almost every culture around the world.  Certainly, some of these were made up, but surely some of them were also real events.  One such example is the story of St. George, who slew a dragon in a cave.  Alexander the Great and King Beowulf of the British Isles were said to have encountered dinosaur-like beasts.  Another example is recorded by a well-know naturalist, Ulysses Aldrovandus in the 1500’s who tells of a peasant named Baptista who killed a dragon on May 13, 1572 near Bologna in Italy.  The description of this “dragon” fits that of a Tanystropheus dinosaur.

Painting of a Knight slaying a dinosaur-like reptile.Many accounts of dragons and encounters with dragons are recorded in one of the oldest books in British history – the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.  Again, many of the descriptions of these dragons fit that of dinosaurs.   

What makes this so hard to believe for many people is that they assume dinosaurs and man did not live together.  However, if one starts with the presupposition that the Bible is true we come to a much different conclusion.  The Bible makes it very clear in Genesis chapter 1 that dinosaurs, who were “land animals”(v. 14) were created on the same day as man – day six.  Thus, dinosaurs and man did live together.  As we saw last week, behemoth, which certainly resembled a large sauropod dinosaur lived at the time of Job.

One of the best evidences for my statement, “evolution survives on censorship, not science” is when we consider the evidences of dinosaurs living alongside man.  The Anachondi Indians, thought to live in America about 500 AD have drawing of creatures resembling dinosaurs; China has many artifacts with dinosaur-looking creatures; pottery in Northern Mexico with dinosaurs and man living together.

Genesis 1:21 states “And God created great whales and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly.”  The Hebrew word for “whales” here is “tannim.”  Again, this is the word for dragon.  Marine reptiles and flying reptiles are often grouped with the dinosaurs, although, technically, dinosaur refers to the land dwellers.  Isaiah 30:6, for instance, describes a “fiery flying serpent” which could have been a Pteranodon. 

Thus, it is certainly reasonable to conclude that the word used for dinosaurs before the word’s invention in 1841 by Sir Richard Owen was the word, “dragon.” 

Owen, who was one of Darwin’s strongest opponents, coined the word “dinosaur” to mean “terrible lizard.”  He only had a few large bones to describe these creatures.  Since then we know that dinosaurs came in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  I don’t believe Owen would have called them “terrible lizards” if he knew what we know about dinosaurs today.  Next week I will discuss why dinosaurs were not so “terrible” when they were first created.

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen