When I was in college, someone asked me about how the Bible explains dinosaurs. I jokingly replied, “What if dinosaurs never existed? What if God just put their fossils in the ground? What if their entire purpose was to foster curiosity and discovery because through curiosity and discovery people come to Jesus?”
We spent way too much time building out a world where dinosaurs never existed, only their bones, and what that means about creation and God.
Recently I realized I hadn’t ever revisited the conversation of dinosaurs and the Bible. I’ve grown a lot in my knowledge and experience with dinosaurs and the Bible over the years, but in some ways their connection to each other still lives in that conversation from college that had zero connection to scripture.
So I decided to take some time and figure out, “what does the Bible say about dinosaurs?” It turns out, not much.
But the Bible does give some hints and create some mystery around giant, ancient creatures that brought fear and awe to the writers of scripture.
Perhaps these were dinosaurs? Perhaps dinosaurs were long gone before people were created? Perhaps speculation and mystery is all we’ll ever be able to determine for certain?
Here’s what I see in scripture, and I’ll let you decide what it means.
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Does the Bible talk about dinosaurs?
There are no mentions of dinosaurs, most notably in the creation story. For those who hold to creation being seven “time periods” rather than seven literal days, dinosaurs may have become extinct before humans were made. Others believe that the great flood in Genesis may have taken them out, with their size preventing them from being able to get on Noah’s Ark. Neither of these views have biblical support.
There is also speculation about some creatures that are mentioned in Job 40-41 which may be what we call dinosaurs today: The Behemoth and Leviathon.
Job 40 describes a large land beast that eats plants and whose description sounds strikingly like that of how dinosaurs are described. Here is a portion of its description:
15“Look at Behemoth,
which I made along with you
and which feeds on grass like an ox.
16 What strength it has in its loins,
what power in the muscles of its belly!
17 Its tail sways like a cedar;
the sinews of its thighs are close-knit.
18 Its bones are tubes of bronze,
its limbs like rods of iron.
19 It ranks first among the works of God,
yet its Maker can approach it with his sword.
Leviathan is a feared sea creature described in Job 41. Its description has similarities to the descriptions of legendary dragons:
20 Smoke pours from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning reeds.
21 Its breath sets coals ablaze,
and flames dart from its mouth.
25 When it rises up, the mighty are terrified;
they retreat before its thrashing.
26 The sword that reaches it has no effect,
nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin.
27 Iron it treats like straw
and bronze like rotten wood.
28 Arrows do not make it flee;
slingstones are like chaff to it.
29 A club seems to it but a piece of straw;
it laughs at the rattling of the lance.
30 Its undersides are jagged potsherds,
leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge.
The prophet Isaiah also mentions Leviathan:
In that day,
the Lord will punish with his sword—
his fierce, great and powerful sword—
Leviathan the gliding serpent,
Leviathan the coiling serpent;
he will slay the monster of the sea. (Isaiah 27|1)
Psalm 104 also mentions this creature:
There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
Scripture definitely seems to indicate that there were large land and sea creatures that were feared, but it is unclear if they were dinosaurs.
Did God make dinosaurs?
Yes. Everything we can see was created by God. Many species of animals have gone extinct for various reasons, while many new species are discovered every year. There is beauty in knowing we can see God’s fingerprints on all of creation, including the dinosaur fossils that archaeologists uncover. We may never truly understand the history of dinosaurs, but we can be assured that they were created by God.
Why are dinosaurs not alive now?
They are extinct. Some speculate the flood killed them off. Others speculate an ice age or an asteroid. It’s likely a variety of causes that killed them off.
The closest things to a dinosaur that exists today are birds, but dinosaurs were considerably larger than any birds in existence today. They also had very long arms and legs. Dinosaurs also had a strong backbone and a large brain. So the next time you see a chicken, you might just be looking at the closest thing to a living dinosaur.
Where do dinosaurs fit in the creation narrative?
Since dinosaurs were marine, air, and land animals, they would fit into days five and six of creation:
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day. 24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1|21-25)
Of the many dinosaur fossils found, almost all give evidence of being plant eaters, which fits the biblical narrative that before sin entered the world there was no death. Sharp teeth, sharp claws, spikes, armor plates, may have various other purposes, or may have only been used for eating meat after the fall. Sin impacted all creation.
To fit dinosaurs into a global flood narrative, only small or young dinosaurs would have fit. With the world much more harsh after the flood, dinosaurs could have more quickly died out than other species.
While I may never truly understand the history of dinosaurs, who knows, maybe I’ll see them in heaven one day?
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