Bible Answer

How do dinosaurs fit into the Bible?

I now believe that evolution is false, especially since death could not exist before Adam’s sin, but what does that say about dinosaurs? Man couldn’t possibly have survived with dinosaurs around, so how do they fit into the Biblical record?  

Your belief that death could not exist prior to sin entering the world is absolutely true and critically important to understanding Genesis and the rest of the Bible, but your assumptions regarding dinosaurs have probably been influenced more by the opinions of modern science and Hollywood directors rather than the Bible.

First, consider what we mean by the term "dinosaur.” The word itself means terrible lizard, as most people know, but that doesn't get to the real issue. The term dinosaur was a title coined by scientists to describe fossilized remains of certain prehistoric, extinct animals. For example, we generally don't use that term to describe the fossilized remains of extinct monkeys or insects, etc. Nor is the word used to describe more recently extinct animals like the dodo bird or carrier pigeon. Why? What’s so special about a dinosaur fossil?

In reality the title of dinosaur is granted somewhat arbitrarily (and rather sensationally) to describe only certain extinct animals found in the fossil record. Scientifically and biblically speaking, a dinosaur is no more significant than any other fossilized remains of dead, extinct animals.

Many animals have become extinct over the course of the earth’s history, and the overwhelming majority haven't received special attention nor is their existence considered a threat to our confidence in the Bible. We understand that species routinely die out, including the many animals that went extinct immediatley after the flood of Noah. Finding the remains of an extinct, fossilized animal poses no threat to the Biblical record.

So, why do people give so much attention and interest to just one group of extinct animals, the so-called dinosaurs? Stop for a moment and consider why you believe dinosaurs are so important scientifically or so incompatible to humans.  The answer is that Hollywood and modern science have biased us to think differently about this small group of animals in keeping with their respective agendas.

First, you likely believe the few animals commonly called "dinosaurs" were important because scientists maintain they lived millions of years ago, before mankind existed, and therefore they are mysterious and important to our past.  Hollywood builds on this myth by featuring the animals in blockbuster movies as terrifying, strange and fascinating.

After all, why do we suppose these animals were so much more fierce than others we know today? Is it because of their size or fierce teeth? Did you know that although a few dinosaurs were very large, the vast majority of dinosaurs weren't large at all. In fact, the average size of all dinosaurs was about the size of a chicken. And even the largest dinosaurs are similar in size to the largest land animals of today. 

For example, today's male giraffe is taller than all but a handful of the dinosaurs that ever lived, and the wooly mammoth was twice the size of the modern elephant. The blue whale is still the largest creature to have ever lived on earth, to say nothing of bears, lions, rhinos, and other large, dangerous animals. In fact, humans have always lived in the company of large, potentially dangerous creatures. Living with predators is nothing new for mankind, but the deception of evolution combined with Hollywood’s vivid imagination have led us to assume otherwise.

The Bible teaches that God created all land animals on the same day and that man had dominion over them all (Genesis 1). Therefore, before the Fall there were no predator-prey relationships. All creatures were plant-eaters. Men didn't eat animals, animals didn’t eat men, and animals didn’t eat one another, because there was no death prior to the Fall (Romans 5:12).

After Adam lost dominion, God still intended that man and animals subsist on plants alone (since God had not yet changed His instructions given in the garden). In the centuries that followed Adam's Fall, it's reasonable to assume that sinful men began disobeying God's instructions and started to kill animals for food (Genesis 6:5). This would have placed the animal kingdom at great risk, since animals had no natural defense to man as yet.

The lack of a predator-pray relationship among animals would have also allowed men to coexist with wild creatures - including dinosaurs - without concern. Ironically, pre-flood ancient man lived around dinosaurs more safely in their day than we coexist around our present day predators. This also explains why so many animals could cohabit for so long on the Ark without becoming food for one another. Finally, this mirrors what the Bible tells us about how the animal kingdom will behave once the curse on the earth is removed: the lion will lie down with the lamb in the new kingdom (Isaiah 11).

After the Flood, things changed. First, God gave men the the right to eat animals (Genesis 9:3), and secondly, He placed the fear of men in the animals (Genesis 9:2). This established a predator-prey relationship between men and animals: men could hunt and kill animals without sin and the animals received a natural defense to men: fear.