Why aren't Dinosaurs Mentioned in the Biblical Creation Account?
by Rich Deem

Introduction

Why would God have left out a description of the dinosaurs from the creation account found in the Bible? Skeptics claim that this omission proves that the Bible wasn't written by God's inspiration, but is just a compilation of the words of fallible men. First, we should understand the origin of the Genesis creation account and its purpose in the Bible. The first five books of the Bible, including Genesis, were written by Moses. Since nobody except God was present at the creation, the Genesis creation account was given to Moses by God. If one is attempting to second guess the Author of Genesis, one must take these facts into account.

Purpose of the creation account

God was not interested in giving Moses a scientific treatise on the creation of the world. The Bible indicates that God's communication to Moses was centered on the relationship between God and man and the rules by which God wanted man to live. Therefore, the creation account mirrors the content of the rest of the Bible, which centers on mankind and his relationship to God. The question, "Why would God leave out a description of the dinosaurs?" is a bad one to begin with. A more appropriate question should be "What would God want to relate to man about His description of the creation?"

Dinosaurs in the Bible?

Many who have studied the Bible believe that it does mention dinosaurs in the text. Specifically, Genesis 1:21 says that God created "great sea monsters" on the fifth day.1 The Hebrew word tannîyn, can have several meanings, including "dragon," "serpent," "sea monster," or "venomous snake."2 An analysis of other Old Testament verses indicates that this word usually refers to contemporary aquatic animals or snakes:

Verse3 Animal
Genesis 1:21 Ancient (?) Aquatic Animal
Exodus 7:9 Contemporary Snake
Exodus 7:10 Contemporary Snake
Exodus 7:12 Contemporary Snake
Deuteronomy 32:33 Contemporary Snake
Job 7:12 Contemporary Aquatic Animal
Psalm 74:13 Contemporary Aquatic Animal
Psalm 91:13 Contemporary Snake
Psalm 148:7 Contemporary Aquatic Animal
Isaiah 27:1 Contemporary Aquatic Animal
Isaiah 51:9 Ancient Land Animal
Jeremiah 51:34 Contemporary Land Animal
Ezekiel 29:3 Contemporary Aquatic Animal
Ezekiel 32:2 Contemporary Aquatic Animal

So, although tannîyn could refer to a dinosaur in Genesis 1, in most other usage throughout the Old Testament, the word refers to species that existed at the time the Old Testament books were written.

The second instance where the Bible might refer to dinosaurs occurs first in the book of Job. The Leviathan4 is described as being an armored aquatic creature in the book of Job, the Psalms, and Isaiah.5 The descriptions claim that the creature was contemporary with the writers of the Bible, and are not inconsistent with large alligators or crocodiles. Although dinosaurs are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, the fossil deposits they produced are described as being used by early humans in the opening chapters of Genesis.6

Problems with including dinosaurs

There are some technical problems that God would have faced in including dinosaurs in the creation account. There is no word for "dinosaur" in the Hebrew language. Now, God could have invented a Hebrew word for dinosaur and explained what those animals were like and how they had died out. However, this is a one page description of the creation of the world and life in it. Trying to explain about an extinct group of creatures would have taken a lot of space and distracted from the rest of the creation account.

Obviously, there were a lot more creatures than just dinosaurs that were left out of the creation account. If God were to have included every creature in the creation account (well over one billion), such inclusion would have completely lost the spiritual significance of the passage (and would be much longer than the Bible itself). The purpose of the Genesis creation account is to give an account of how God created mankind and provided for him. The account, like the entire Bible, centers on God and His miraculous workings for mankind. Therefore, in the creation account, we find the supernatural creation of the universe by God, indicating that the universe wasn't always here, but created by God for man. Next, it talks about the creation of plants, which are important to humans, since we eat them, and also important to the animals that we rely upon, which also eat them. Then, it talks about the sea creatures and birds, which we also eat. It next talks about the beasts of the field, which we eat and use for labor. Then it talks about the creation of mankind and how he is to have dominion and manage the earth and its creatures.

The second chapter of Genesis gives a spiritual account of the creation of mankind and man's relationship to God. The entire account is centered on God and man. Therefore, one would expect the creation account to describe events that are important to mankind.

Dinosaurs - a modern mindset

Those who claim that the lack of dinosaurs in the creation account is a mistake are looking at the topic on the basis of our modern perspective, which values sensationalism over practicality. Dinosaurs are fascinating! The idea that these creatures walked the same earth that we live on intrigues us. However, the fact that they lived has virtually no effect upon our practical lives.

Some might say that dinosaurs were important in providing fossil fuels (which products were important even in biblical events1). Even the fossil fuel argument is not a strong one, since the overwhelming majority of oil came from the bodies of plants and trees - not dinosaurs. Most of those who complain about the lack of dinosaurs in the Bible are looking at the natural world from an evolutionary perspective, in which mankind is just an evolutionary fluke - a recent upstart who doesn't figure prominently in the overall evolutionary history of the earth. Even from an naturalistic perspective, dinosaurs are a failed evolutionary experiment that couldn't compete with their mammalian descendents.

Conclusion Top of page

The fact is that dinosaurs are as unimportant to us as they were to the Hebrews to whom the creation account was given. The purpose of the creation account is to provide an explanation of how God provided for mankind and created him as the one spiritual animal on earth. The account is purposely brief and centered upon mankind - the only creature God created on earth to enter into a personal relationship with Him. The Genesis creation account contains all the information necessary to fulfill the purpose given for the recording of the pages of the Bible. As an exercise to illustrate the point, you might want to write your own one page creation account. In doing this, you should center the account on mankind and the creation miracles God used to prepare the earth for him. What you will find is that there is not room to discuss dinosaurs or any other extinct species of life.

Dinosaurs FAQ

Did dinosaurs and humans coexist?

No. All remaining dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago by a huge asteroid that impacted near the Yucatan Peninsula. The impact was so devastating that if wiped out 30%-80% of other land-dwelling species, as well as over 50% of plant species.7 A press release entitled "Dinosaurs Died Within Hours After Asteroid Hit Earth 65 Million Years Ago" described the results of a collision of the large asteroid with the earth:

"The six-mile-in-diameter asteroid is thought to have hit Chicxulub in the Yucatan, striking with the energy of 100 million megatons of TNT, said chief author and Researcher Doug Robertson of the department of geological sciences and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. The 'heat pulse' caused by re-entering ejected matter would have reached around the globe, igniting fires and burning up all terrestrial organisms not sheltered in burrows or in water, he said."8

What about dinosaur along side human footprints?

Carl Baugh made famous the idea that there exist human footprints along side dinosaur ones at the Paluxy Riverbed near Glen Rose, Texas. However, the "human" prints are huge at about 2 feet long. In addition, they are highly filled in so that the prints are not clear at all. However, some of the prints show three separate areas, suggestive that they come from a three-toed dinosaur. We don't see any biblical evidence of three-toed people, so we are guessing that the "human" prints are really just the prints of smaller dinosaurs. In fact, ICR president John Morris admitted in 1986 that the Paluxy footprints are probably not human but are eroded dinosaur footprints (ICR Impact #151).

What about cave drawings showing dinosaurs?

We haven't seen any caveman drawings that suggest they saw dinosaurs. Some of the better drawings allow us to identify now extinct large mammals. However, when one is trying to interpret caveman scribbles, they could be just about anything, including aliens, rockets or Twinkies.

Did Noah take dinosaurs on the ark?

No. There weren't any dinosaurs to take along at that point in time, since they had died 65 million years ago. In fact, since the flood was likely local in extent, Noah probably did not take Polar Bears, penguins, or giraffes, either.



References Top of page

  1. God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21)
  2. Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions:
    tannîyn/tannîym tannîyn (Strong's H8577)/tannîym (Strong's H8577) (Strong's H8577)
    1. dragon, serpent, sea monster
      1. dragon or dinosaur
      2. sea or river monster
      3. serpent, venomous snake
    Part of Speech: noun masculine
    A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: intensive from the same as H8565
    Same Word by TWOT Number: 2528b
  3. Bible verses in which tannîyn appears:
    • God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:21)
    • "When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, 'Work a miracle,' then you shall say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.'" (Exodus 7:9)
    • So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. (Exodus 7:10)
    • For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. (Exodus 7:12)
    • "Their wine is the venom of serpents, And the deadly poison of cobras. (Deuteronomy 32:33)
    • "Am I the sea, or the sea monster, That You set a guard over me? (Job 7:12)
    • You divided the sea by Your strength; You broke the heads of the sea monsters in the waters. (Psalm 74:13)
    • You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. (Psalm 91:13)
    • Praise the LORD from the earth, Sea monsters and all deeps; (Psalm 148:7)
    • In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea. (Isaiah 27:1)
    • Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, Who pierced the dragon? (Isaiah 51:9)
    • "Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured me and crushed me, He has set me down like an empty vessel; He has swallowed me like a monster, He has filled his stomach with my delicacies; He has washed me away. (Jeremiah 51:34)
    • "Speak and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, The great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers, That has said, 'My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it.' (Ezekiel 29:3)
    • "Son of man, take up a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him, 'You compared yourself to a young lion of the nations, Yet you are like the monster in the seas; And you burst forth in your rivers And muddied the waters with your feet And fouled their rivers.'" (Ezekiel 32:2)
  4. Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions:
    livyâthân livyâthân (Strong's H3882) (Strong's H3882)
    1. leviathan, sea monster, dragon
      1. large aquatic animal
      2. perhaps the extinct dinosaur, plesiosaurus, exact meaning unknown
    Part of Speech: noun masculine
    A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H3867
    Same Word by TWOT Number: 1089b
  5. The Bible's descriptions of leviathan:
    • "Let those curse it who curse the day, Who are prepared to rouse Leviathan." (Job 3:8)
    • "Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Or press down his tongue with a cord?" (Job 41:1)
    • You crushed the heads of Leviathan; You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness. (Psalm 74:14)
    • There the ships move along, And Leviathan, which You have formed to sport in it. (Psalm 104:26)
    • In that day the LORD will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, With His fierce and great and mighty sword, Even Leviathan the twisted serpent; And He will kill the dragon who lives in the sea. (Isaiah 27:1)
  6. The people of the Bible are described as using fossil fuel products before recorded history:
    • "Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. (Genesis 6:14)
    • And they said to one another, "Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly." And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. (Genesis 11:3)
  7. Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event - Wikipedia.
  8. Study: Dinosaurs Died Within Hours After Asteroid Hit Earth 65 Million Years Ago. University of Colorado at Boulder, May 24, 2004.

http://godandscience.org/apologetics/dinosaurs.html
Last Modified March 31, 2013

 

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