“How Old Is the Earth?” series (post #8)
If you’ve been with me for this series, you know by now that I believe the universe, the earth, and the human race are all less than 10,000 years old. And I’ve given you a whole series worth of reasons (Biblical, scientific, and practical) why I believe that. There is, however, one obvious question that any young-earth-creationist eventually has to answer, and that question is simply, “What about the dinosaurs?” So let’s talk about that in this last post.
I’m going to give you five statements that, in my opinion, answer the dinosaur question by way of the Bible. Under each statement I’ll elaborate on the statement. Ready? Here we go.
Statement #1: God created the dinosaurs on days 5 and 6 of the creation week.
Dinosaurs were the products of God, not evolution. He created the marine dinosaurs on day 5 of the creation week as part of the “great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded” (Genesis 1:21, N.K.J.V.). Also on day 5, He created the flying dinosaurs as part of “every winged bird according to its kind” (Genesis 1:21, N.K.J.V.). The next day, day 6, He created the land dinosaurs as part of “the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind” (Genesis 1:25, N.K.J.V.).
If you try to explain the creation of the dinosaurs in any other way, you get out of the banks of scripture. The Bible does not teach that they lived in some prehistoric time spoken of in Genesis 1:1. Neither does it teach that they lived in some theorized gap of millions or billions of years that exists between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. (I covered all that in the post “The Gap Theory.”) No, the only way to make the dinosaurs fit rightly into the Bible is to place the very first ones right there in Adam and Eve’s freshly created world.
Statement #2: Dinosaurs and people coexisted in the centuries before Noah’s flood.
We know that mankind certainly didn’t go extinct before the flood. Much to the contrary, Genesis 6:1 teaches that humans flourished in those pre-flood centuries as men and women multiplied on the face of the earth. The reasons for this increase are easy to understand. First, Genesis 5:1-32 records that the people of that historical era lived to incredible ages — some of them close to 1,000 years. Second, living that long gives you time to produce lots of children.
But what about the earth’s creatures during those centuries? Did they thrive too? Absolutely. The earth’s climate and atmosphere were very different from what we know now. For one thing, the indication is that it didn’t rain back then (Genesis 2:5). Instead, the ground was watered by means of a mist (Genesis 2:6). For another thing, there was a firmament (an incredible canopy of water) that surrounded the earth’s atmosphere (Genesis 1:1-10). It is often theorized that this firmament kept the earth’s temperature regulated at a constant degree, as in a greenhouse, without the extremes of either heat or cold. It is also theorized that the firmament acted as a shield to filter out the sun’s rays and thus allow earth’s people and creatures to live to extended ages.
Statement #3: Dinosaurs were on board Noah’s ark.
In Williamstown, Kentucky, Ken Ham has erected a tourist attraction the size of a football field. The attraction is called the Ark Encounter, and it is nothing less than a life-sized Noah’s Ark that Ham had built according to his understanding of the Bible’s specifications for the Ark: 510 feet (155 m) long, 85 feet wide (26 m), and 51 feet (16 m) high. The site attracts thousands of Christians each year, but even among Bible-believing Christians Ham has been mocked by some for his inclusion of dinosaurs in the exhibit. Ham, as you might guess, is a young-earth-creationist.
But could two — a male and a female — of every kind of dinosaur have been aboard the ark, along with two of every kind of other creature from Noah’s world? Young-earth-creationists say yes, and here are some of the factors they cite to defend their case:
- There were no water creatures aboard the ark. The ark was only for land creatures and flying creatures (Genesis 6:19-20).
- Scientists tell us that the majority of the dinosaurs were between the size of a German Shepherd and an elephant. Actually, even the largest dinosaurs — the ones bigger than an elephant — began life small. So, the pair of each type of land dinosaur or flying dinosaur could have been very young and small. As a matter of fact, it would have been preferable to have young ones.
- It makes sense that Noah wouldn’t have taken two of each specific breed of (let’s say) horse, lion, or tiger aboard the Ark. Even more than that, it seems probable that God went to even further extremes to limit the animal selection. Creationists note that the word “kind” is not the same as the word “species,” and this allows for quite a bit of limiting. Ken Ham, for example, says, “A good rule of thumb is that if two things can breed together, then they are of the same created kind.” One thing we can with scriptural certainty is that Noah wasn’t in charge of either choosing or gathering all the animals. God had the appropriate animals come to him (Genesis 6:19-20).
- Noah’s Ark was colossal. A legal football game could have been played inside the thing. Experts who have studied the subject say the Ark could have had 1,400,000 feet of cubic storage. That’s the equivalent of over 500 livestock cars for a modern train. Since we know that 240 sheep can be transported inside just one of those livestock cars, the ark could have held 125,000 animals.
Statement #4: Dinosaurs and humans coexisted after the flood.
If God had Noah take two of each kind of land creature and flying creature aboard the ark, that would have included dinosaurs. And if God had two of each kind of land dinosaur and flying dinosaur safely taken aboard the Ark, he certainly meant for dinosaurs to exist upon the earth after the flood waters receded. You see, once you accept the literalness of Genesis chapters 1 through 9, there really is only one conclusion left to be drawn: Dinosaurs and humans coexisted after the flood.
A skeptic says, “But the dinosaurs would have hunted the humans to extinction.” Such a statement stands in direct contradiction to not only the Bible, but also mankind’s history. Let me explain.
In Psalm 8:5-8, the Psalmist David sings God’s praises for the fact that God has given man dominion over all the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea. This dominion goes back to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, and it stems from the fact that man, and man alone, was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28).
Furthermore, God added in a new wrinkle to this dominion when He told Noah following the flood, “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Genesis 9:2-3).
The teaching of this new wrinkle is that in God’s original plan mankind wasn’t supposed to eat the earth’s creatures. For that matter, Genesis 1:29-30 tells us that the earth’s creatures weren’t even supposed to eat each other. It can be debated as to when exactly the earth’s creatures started eating one other, but it possibly happened immediately following Adam and Eve’s sin. After all, the apostle Paul does say in Romans 8:18-22 that creation itself was subjected to futility and delivered into bondage because of mankind’s sin. But what can’t be debated is that when Noah and his family disembarked from the Ark, God sanctioned all kinds of new dietary options for them.
As for what mankind’s history teaches us on this subject, it proves that mankind has always been able to figure out how to outdo nature’s creatures, no matter how large or ferocious those creatures might be. A great white shark might kill one of us, but sharks haven’t stopped the progress of human civilization. Blue whales are magnificent creatures twice the size of the largest land dinosaurs, but whalers almost hunted them to extinction. The American settlers, in their push west, did the same to the buffaloes. The people of India actually domesticated the mighty elephants in their land and learned how to use them for farming and transportation. The point in all these examples is that if Noah’s family and the dinosaurs got off the ark together, it was the dinosaurs that were in long term danger of ending up extinct, not the humans.
Statement #5: The dinosaurs gradually died off in the centuries following the flood.
What happened to all the dinosaurs? Well, most of them were drowned or killed some other way by Noah’s flood as the flood created the wildly unique conditions that allow for fossilization. Even the marine dinosaurs weren’t totally safe in that flood as the earth’s “fountains of the great deep” were broken up (Genesis 7:11).
But what about the dinosaurs that were aboard the Ark? Surely when those dinosaurs left the Ark they produced baby dinosaurs, right? Yes, they did, but the post-flood climate was undoubtedly different than the pre-flood one had been. The flood wasn’t just caused by the “fountains of the great deep” being broken up, it was also caused by the “windows of heaven” being opened (Genesis 7:11). That is a reference to the firmament (that canopy of water) that had surrounded the earth’s atmosphere being dissolved and poured out in the flood.
Because of this breakdown and elimination of the earth’s protective, watery firmament, the post-flood climate featured rain, storms, and cold weather as part of nature’s cycle. Also, the lush vegetation that had been so abundant before was no doubt not nearly as prevalent as it had been. None of these things worked in the dinosaurs’ favor, and so this was not a world in which they could thrive as they once had. Therefore, over the course of the centuries, they slowly and systematically died off and went extinct.
However, it is exceedingly important to note that some of the last ones still must have been around in Job’s day. The book of Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible. Conservative scholars figure that Job lived in the Genesis patriarchal time period of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Interestingly, the book of Job mentions creatures that can only be described as dinosaurs. That would be the “behemoth” of Job 40:15-24 and the “leviathan” of Job 41:1-34. I won’t go into a thorough analysis here of the Bible’s elaborate descriptions of both those bizarre creatures but suffice is to say that these days there is nothing around that adequately measures up to either creature. That’s why I and many others believe the “behemoth” was a land dinosaur and the “leviathan” was a marine dinosaur.
Still, as astonishing as the Bible’s descriptions of those creatures are, it is perhaps even more astonishing that God actually used both creatures as real-life examples from nature, examples that He encouraged Job to learn from by studying. As we look at the descriptions in their context, we find that the behemoth and the leviathan were simply the last two creatures in a lengthy list of animals that God used as object lessons to instruct Job. The other creatures were: the lion (38:39-40), the raven (38:41), the wild mountain goat (39:1-4), the wild donkey (39:5-8), the wild ox (39:9-12), the ostrich (39:13-18), the war horse (39:19-25), the hawk (39:26), and the eagle (39:27-30). Obviously, these other creatures were all very much real and very much alive for Job to study, and so it seems obvious that the behemoth and the leviathan were as well.
It is because of this that all the commentators and Bible teachers who don’t hold to a young-earth view of creation insist on cramming wrong identifications down onto the behemoth and the leviathan. They say, “The behemoth is a hippopotamus or an elephant.” Oh really? I wonder if they have ever seen the tail of a hippopotamus or an elephant. I ask that because God says the behemoth moves his tail like a cedar (40:17). In addition to this, God calls the creature “the first of the ways of God” (40:19). Now you tell me, does a hippopotamus give you the impression that he is “the first of the ways of God”? Please, give me a break.
Likewise, those same commentators and Bible teachers say, “The leviathan is a crocodile.” Oh, really? God says that light flashes forth when the creature sneezes, that burning lights go out of his mouth, that sparks of fire shoot out from him, that smoke goes out of his nostrils, that his breath kindles coals, and that a flame goes out of his mouth (Job 41:18-21). That sounds more like a fire-breathing dragon than a crocodile! And if that isn’t enough, God also describes the creature as a sea creature that leaves a wake behind him and makes the white water of the deep bubble up like a pot of boiling water when he descends down into the depths (Job 41:32). A crocodile? Again, give me a break.
No, the only reasonable answer to the question of the identifications of Job’s behemoth and leviathan is that they were dinosaurs, creatures that were still around in Job’s day but went extinct over time. And it is on this note that I will close out this post and this series by leaving you with a quote from Dr. Henry Morris, the man whom many call the father of the young-earth-creationist movement. In his commentary on Job, entitled The Remarkable Record of Job, Dr. Morris writes the following concerning the behemoth (and by implication the leviathan also):
The reason commentators are unable to identify this mighty animal is that it is now extinct. Modern Bible scholars, for the most part, have become so conditioned to think in terms of the long ages of evolutionary geology that it never occurs to them that mankind once lived in the same world with the great animals that are now found only as fossils.
The Bible teaches clearly that all animals, living or extinct, were made on the fifth and sixth days of creation week, along with man, who was given dominion over them (Gen. 1:20; Exod. 20:8-11). Although most of the earth’s great fossil graveyards were formed by the flood, representatives of each animal “kind” in the dry land were preserved on Noah’s ark to repopulate the world after the flood.
Thus, Job and his contemporaries could easily have seen many kinds of animals that later became extinct due to the earth’s more rigorous climate and vastly depleted resources after the flood.