TOUGH QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Did Dinosaurs Exist?

Sat, Feb 22, 2014 by Dr Richard Goetz

Dinosaurs are popular creatures today. Books, television shows and movies present informative and entertaining portrayals of these intriguing creatures. Lurking behind all this attention are several nagging questions: Did dinosaurs really exist? How did they come to be? How long ago did they live? When and why did they disappear?


Sorting out the answers to these questions is not an easy task. However, it is important in order for us to integrate our Christian faith with the world around us. The existence of dinosaurs, with evidence of fossil records, is pretty hard to deny. However, knowing that dinosaurs existed is not the same as knowing all about them or how and when they came to be what they were.


It’s not always easy to tell how a dinosaur was like from its fossilized bones. Even scientists who study prehistoric life – called palaeontologists – cannot really figure what a dinosaur actually looked like, what it ate, or how it survived. What we read and see in popular media (National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, or “Walking with Dinosaurs”) about dinosaur habits and their physical appearance are only speculations and not certainties. But if dinosaurs existed, how did they come to be?

 

Most scientists today assume dinosaurs came into existence through the very, very long process (hundreds of millions of years) of evolution. However, the process of evolution has some serious logical and evidential problems which offer an unsatisfactory explanation for biological life – including dinosaurs.

This may sound alarming in light of the current widespread belief in pre-historic life through evolution, but the primary method of determining the age of prehistoric life, Carbon Dating, is not as reliable as we are led to believe.

Carbon Dating measures the rate of decay of certain carbon atoms which are found in all living things. Carbon Dating assumes this rate of decay has always been constant, but evidence shows that the rate of decay of carbon has not been constant. In addition, if dinosaurs truly did live millions of years ago, Carbon Dating is useless in determining their age because the method can only measure out to about 80,000 years.
In fact, the idea of a young earth with dinosaurs has also been supported by recent scientific discoveries. Scientists have discovered human artefacts buried in rocks below those containing dinosaur fossils. This indicates that humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs.


Recent discoveries of triceratops fossils with soft tissue and T-rex fossils with blood vessels still intact have also indicated that the death of these creatures were only thousands of years ago and not millions.


The theory of evolution –  with its belief in incremental changes over long periods of time –  hypothesizes that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago because the theory requires it; but the evidence indicates they lived and died only recently.


This leads us back to the biblical account in Genesis 1:24 which states that on the sixth day of creation, God created all land creatures “after their kind”. And this included dinosaurs.
There are actually two terms in the Old Testament which describe creatures which were dinosaur-like: the leviathan and the behemoth, both mentioned in the book of Job.

What this means is that dinosaurs did not live millions of years ago as evolution suggests, but lived only thousands of years ago because God created them.

But if dinosaurs existed so recently, what happened to them?

Most likely, they could not adapt to climatic changes. While most climate change theories assume an evolutionary old earth, one climate change theory consistent with the biblical account argues the climate change occurred after the flood in Genesis 7 and 8.

Prior to the flood, the earth was moist, humid, and tropical. It was protected by an atmospheric layer of moisture called the expanse of water above the earth (Gen 1:7), which accounts for the long human lifespans before the flood (Gen 5). This expanse burst forth in the flood of Noah (Gen 7:11) and ceased to exist afterwards.

There was then a corresponding gradual decrease in human life expectancy and the introduction of climatic extremes of cold, to which the dinosaurs could not adapt. This biblical explanation implies that Noah took dinosaurs on the ark. While hard to imagine, the ark was a very large boat and young dinosaurs, being reptiles which continue to grow throughout their life, start out in life much smaller than the full size in which we often think of them in.

And the same supernatural force, which called and brought them to the ark, would also neutralize their carnivorous instincts to be of danger in the ark. Another explanation which takes the biblical flood seriously is simply that God did not bring any dinosaurs to the ark, while Noah did not take any on the ark. Thus, the dinosaurs died in the flood. Either way, according to a more biblical time-table, dinosaurs have only been gone for a couple thousand years, not the millions of years suggested by advocates of evolution.

But if dinosaurs could not adapt to the new climatic environment after the flood, why did God create them in the first place? The wonder and majesty of the created order in all its intricacy and glory reflects God’s imagination and creativity. God’s presence and power, says the Apostle Paul in Romans 1, is revealed through the created order, including the animal kingdom.

And we need to remember that the flood was a consequence of human sinfulness which began with Adam. So, the reason that dinosaurs – great and majestic creatures – died out was the fault of man, not God.

This story first appeared in The Trinitarian Magazine Issue 1/2014.

 

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