The topic of dinosaurs in the Bible is part of a larger ongoing debate within the Christian community over the age of the earth, the proper interpretation of Genesis, and how to interpret the physical evidences we find all around us. Those who believe in an older age for the earth tend to agree that the Bible does not mention dinosaurs, because, according to their paradigm, dinosaurs died out millions of years before the first man ever walked the earth. The men who wrote the Bible could not have seen living dinosaurs.
Those who believe in a younger age for the earth tend to agree that the Bible does mention dinosaurs, though it never actually uses the word “dinosaur.” Instead, it uses the Hebrew word tanniyn, which is translated a few different ways in our English Bibles. Sometimes it’s “sea monster,” and sometimes it’s “serpent.” It is most commonly translated “dragon.” The tanniyn appear to have been some sort of giant reptile. These creatures are mentioned nearly thirty times in the Old Testament and were found both on land and in the water.
In addition to mentioning these giant reptiles, the Bible describes a couple of creatures in such a way that some scholars believe the writers may have been describing dinosaurs. The behemoth is said to be the mightiest of all God’s creatures, a giant whose tail is likened to a cedar tree (Job 40:15). Some scholars have tried to identify the behemoth as either an elephant or a hippopotamus. Others point out that elephants and hippopotamuses have very thin tails, nothing comparable to a cedar tree. Dinosaurs like the brachiosaurus and the diplodocus, on the other hand, had huge tails which could easily be compared to a cedar tree.
Nearly every ancient civilization has some sort of art depicting giant reptilian creatures. Petroglyphs, artifacts, and even little clay figurines found in North America resemble modern depictions of dinosaurs. Rock carvings in South America depict men riding diplodocus-like creatures and, amazingly, bear the familiar images of triceratops-like, pterodactyl-like, and tyrannosaurus rex-like creatures. Roman mosaics, Mayan pottery, and Babylonian city walls all testify to man’s trans-cultural, geographically unbounded fascination with these creatures. Sober accounts like those of Marco Polo’s Il Milione mingle with fantastic tales of treasure-hoarding beasts. In addition to the substantial amount of anthropic and historical evidences for the coexistence of dinosaurs and man, there are physical evidences, like the fossilized footprints of humans and dinosaurs found together at places in North America and West-Central Asia.
So, are there dinosaurs in the Bible? The matter is far from settled. It depends on how you interpret the available evidences and how you view the world around you. If the Bible is interpreted literally, a young earth interpretation will result, and the idea that dinosaurs and man coexisted can be accepted. If dinosaurs and human beings coexisted, what happened to the dinosaurs? While the Bible does not discuss the issue, dinosaurs likely died out sometime after the flood due to a combination of dramatic environmental shifts and the fact that they were relentlessly hunted to extinction by man.
The extinction of the dinosaurs is an enigma that has captivated scientists for well over a century. We find the fossilized remains of giant reptiles all over the earth so we know they existed, yet we do not see any of these creatures alive today. What happened to them all?
The conventional paradigm says that the dinosaurs mysteriously went extinct around 65 million years ago. An assortment of explanations has been offered as to why. The two most popular hypotheses to explain dinosaur extinction are the Impact Event Hypothesis and the Massive Volcanism Hypothesis. The first proposes that one or more asteroids struck the earth, causing a “nuclear winter” that wiped out the dinosaurs. The second blames intense volcanism—sustained, widespread volcanic eruptions—for their demise. Both theories make note of the high concentration of iridium (Ir) found buried in the sediments that separate the Cretaceous Period from the Paleogene (known as the K-Pg boundary; formerly known as the K-T boundary), which, according to the conventional paradigm, was the period in Earth’s history during which the dinosaurs went extinct.
Both hypotheses of dinosaur extinction take into account some of the evidence while ignoring some. For example, if either hypothesis is correct and there is a 60+ million-year gap between man and dinosaur, how then do we explain petroglyphs and other forms of ancient art that depict humans interacting with such familiar dinosaurs as the triceratops, stegosaurus, tyrannosaurus, and the sauropods? (In some cases the glyphs show people taming them and riding them around.) Moreover, fossilized dinosaur prints have been found in the same rock layers as hoof prints and human footprints. How are we supposed to explain this within the framework of the conventional perspective? If dinosaurs went extinct long before mankind evolved, why do ancient cultures from every inhabited continent on the planet record interactions with giant reptiles? These creatures are commonly called “dragons” today and have been collectively relegated to mythology.
But we must ask ourselves, how is it that so many isolated cultures from around the world came to share the same mythos of dragons? Could there be a core historical truth to the legends? Could it be that the extinct dinosaurs—the giant reptiles we find buried in the dirt—have something to do with the giant reptiles our ancestors spoke of just centuries ago? We believe that this is the case. The preponderance of evidence suggests to us that the conventional perspective is fundamentally flawed. Mankind appears to have collective amnesia regarding this matter, and we have effectively constituted a “scientific” paradigm to keep us in the dark.
How then do we account for the extinction of the dinosaurs? The same way we account for the extinction of the other estimated 20,000 to 2 million species that scientists believe may have gone extinct over the past century alone—a combination of climate change and the proliferation of the human species after the worldwide flood of Noah’s day. Climate change can be very destructive to ecosystems in general, and we tend to kill or drive out all of our major competition in particular. That is why we don’t find too many other predators—lions, tigers and bears, etc—in our suburbs and cities or even rural communities. We are at the very top of the food chain for a reason.
In Hollywood movies like Jurassic World, we see dinosaurs brought back from extinction—and hunting us down and eating us alive. And, no doubt, if humans and dinosaurs coexisted, some of that carnage certainly happened. But, for the most part, the opposite was true. We hunted them down and cooked them for dinner. In many of the legends and much of the ancient artwork that is exactly what we find—humans hunting down the giant reptiles and killing them. Lions and tigers and bears did not have it quite as bad as the dinosaurs (hence, they are still around). That is because our ancestors seemed particularly fixated on “slaying the dragon”!
So, what happened to the dinosaurs? Apparently, the ones that survived the global climate change after the flood got eaten by us. It could even be that not all of the dinosaurs are extinct. Some may still survive in remote areas of the world that have not yet come under our complete dominion, and there are hundreds of such sightings every year to this effect—especially from indigenous people groups in remote areas who tell their tales to incredulous Western scientists (who naturally do not believe the natives because of their own entrenched, so-called “scientific” presuppositions). In our view, this incredulity is wrong. Science should involve the impartial investigation of evidence without prejudice, not an arbitrary human effort to prop up flawed, theoretical histories of the earth.