Dinosaurs and the Bible
Was there ever a time when men and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time? Those who subscribe to the theory of evolution unequivocally answer, “No!” The standard evolutionary propaganda line is this: “Dinosaurs became extinct about seventy million years before man evolved.”
Unfortunately, many professing Christians have capitulated to this viewpoint. One writer has declared:
If dinosaurs existed 200 million years before Adam and Eve it does not present any problem to a literal understanding of the Genesis record (Clayton n.d., 16).
But what does the evidence indicate?
If one accepts the plain testimony of the Bible, with no compulsion to harmonize Scripture with evolutionary assertions, there is no doubt but that dinosaurs and humans were contemporary, as the following considerations indicate.
- All of the basic “kinds” of living creatures were brought into existence in the same initial creation week. Moses wrote: “In six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” (Exodus 20:11). This would include the dinosaurs (“terrible lizards”), and man as well.
- Jesus affirmed that mankind has existed “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10:6); this certainly excludes the notion that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years before man appeared upon the planet.
- Humanity was given dominion over all the lower creatures of the earth (Genesis 1:26). There is no reason to exclude dinosaurs from the scope of this passage.
Behemoth in the Book of Job
There seems to be a reference to dinosaurs in the book of Job. Due to his great suffering, Job criticized the working of Jehovah in his life. Accordingly, the Lord, in a devastating examination of the patriarch, illustrated his own power and wisdom (and, by contrast, Job’s pathetic ignorance) with a series of examples from nature (Job 38-41). In this connection, reference is made in chapter forty to a creature known as “behemoth” (vv. 15-24).
Though the Hebrew term can be used of “beasts” in general (cf. Deuteronomy 28:26), in Job 40 there is an obvious reference to a specific animal. The plural form of the noun, together with the fact that it is used with singular verbs and pronouns, indicates that a great beast is in view. Because the translators did not know what type of creature was under consideration in this context, they left the word untranslated, hence, the anglicized form “behemoth” appears in our common versions.
For lack of a better theory, most scholars have identified this animal with the hippopotamus (cf. ASV fn). A careful analysis of the context, however, will reveal that the hippopotamus does not fit the description of behemoth as given by the Lord. Consider the following factors:
- It is believed by some scholars that behemoth is related to an Egyptian term,
peheme, roughly rendered “ox of the water.” That this did not denote a hippopotamus is evidenced by the fact that the Egyptians had other words for that creature.
- In Job’s narrative behemoth is described as a grass-eater that is very strong, with great muscles (vv. 15-16). He moves his tail like a cedar tree (v. 17). Even Frances Anderson, who identifies this creature as a hippo, admits: “It is hard to see how his tail can be compared to a cedar, for the tail of the hippopotamus is small and short” (1976, 276). Behemoth’s skeleton is like a massive framework of brass and iron (v. 18). He is “chief” (i.e., first in size, might) of the works (creatures) of God; so huge, in fact, that only his Maker dare approach him with the sword (v. 19).
Though the hippo weighs about four tons, some dinosaurs weighed thirty tons! Behemoth is so powerful that no man is able to capture him (v. 24). This descriptive can hardly apply to the hippopotamus for Egyptian monuments frequently picture warriors attacking the hippo single-handed. The vegetation of whole mountains is said to supply this behemoth’s food, yet the hippopotamus eats only about two hundred pounds of herbage daily, and he stays near the water.
One is almost forced to conclude that no creature on earth today fits the detailed description of behemoth in Job 40.
There is a growing body of evidence that dinosaurs and humans were contemporary. In 1970 newspapers reported the discovery of cave paintings in Zimbabwe. The paintings were made by bushmen who ruled that area from about 1500
B.C., until a couple of hundred years ago. Along with accurate representations of the elephant and the giraffe, is a painting of an Apatosaurus (brontosaurus). These art works have greatly puzzled scientists since bushmen are known to have painted from real life! (Bible-Science Newsletter 1970, 2).
About seventy years ago, Dr. Samuel Hubbard, curator of archaeology in the Oakland (California) Museum, discovered dinosaur carvings on the cliff walls of the Hava Supai Canyon in Arizona. One remarkable carving resembles a Tyrannosaurus. Nearby, dinosaur tracks were preserved in the rock surface. (For a picture of this carving, see our book, The Mythology of Modern Geology 1990, 31.)
What about the Paluxy Tracks?
When the discovery of what appeared to be human footprints, along with dinosaur tracks (in the Paluxy River bed near Glen Rose, Texas), was reported in the May 1939 issue of Natural History, it created a furor that has not subsided to this very day. For decades it seemed obvious to careful observers that this was clear evidence of human/dinosaur co-habitation.
Then, a few years ago, Glen Kuban, a computer programmer from Cleveland, Ohio, discovered chemical discolorations at the front of some of the human-like prints. This led him and others to suggest that the human-like tracks were not human at all; rather, they were simply portions of the dinosaur tracks that had been altered by mud-fill.
Those who were disposed to believe in the theory of evolution alleged that this destroyed the Paluxy evidence once and for all. Some creationists, e.g., those of the Institute of Creation Research in San Diego, adopted a wait-and-see policy until further research is forthcoming. Others were not so easily swayed. Two authors, Robert F. Helfinstine and Jerry D. Roth, recently produced a study which strongly argues for the validity of comtemporary human/dinosaur tracks.
It has even been speculated that someone may have “doctored” some of the dinosaur/human prints to eradicate the impression of “humanness.” Evolutionists, of course, desperately want to discredit the tracks as human, for as some of them have conceded:
Such an occurrence [i.e., human and dinosaur tracks in the same stratum], if verified, would seriously disrupt conventional interpretations of biological and geological history and would support the doctrines of creationism and catastrophism (Journal of Geologic Education 1983, 111-123).
Needless to say, this controversy is far from over.
Those who accept the testimony of the Bible are confident that men and dinosaurs did occupy the ancient earth at the same time. We are not dependent upon modern discoveries to confirm that for us. However, when clear evidence does come to light, we should not hesitate to accept it.
- Anderson, Frances. 1976. Commentary on Job. London, England: Tyndale.
- Bible-Science Newsletter. 1970. April 15.
- Clayton, John. n.d. Does God Exist?. Correspondence course teacher’s manual.
- Helfinstine, Robert F. and Jerry D. Roth. 1994. Texas Tracks And Artifacts. Privately published.
- Jackson, Wayne. 1990. The Mythology of Modern Geology. Stockton, CA: Apologetics Press.
- Journal of Geologic Education. 1983. Vol. 31.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.