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Charles's avatar

Why are there no dinosaurs in the Bible?

Asked by Charles (4791 points ) January 11th, 2012

Since the creation of animals and man in Genesis, the most common animals mentioned in the Bible are the ones we know of. if the Bible possess the absolute truth of God then dinosaurs should have been more present in the Bible as we all know how incredibly enormous these creatures were.

If the earth is 6000 years old then how on earth or what on earth happened to the dinosaurs?

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88 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Job 41:1–34 speaks of Leviathan
“Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?”

Job 40:15–18 speaks of Behemoth
15Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
16Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
17He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
18His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.

Some believe these verses refer to dinosaurs of both sea and land.

Charles's avatar

Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee..now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron

Sounds more like the description of a porn star.

zenvelo's avatar

Ahh, the great problem of biblical literalism. So many things that are older than 6,000 years.

The Bible doesn’t mention dinosaurs because they were all extinct by the time it was being written.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Diplodocus 4:11 – 14

11: Behold there is a Tyranno with teeth numbered like the sons of Moses My Servant, he is a powerful lizard with the cunning of dragon

12: Be thee afraid of the Tyranno for he shall eat all of My Creations whatever their taste, for the Tyranno has the appetite of a thousand triceratops

13: Lest ye be worried, I am the lord of the reptiles and all of the birds as well. Pteradactyls and Tyrannos and bronstosauri all give homage to me

14: For I am the lord and master of the Mesozoic Era

marinelife's avatar

The Earth is 4 and a half billion years old. The dinosaurs lived and died long before man arose.

Qingu's avatar

Re: Leviathan and Behemoth, it’s a pretty damn big stretch to say they were dinosaurs. Leviathan was probably a Chinese telephone description of a crocodile; Behemoth a rhino.

For more recent examples of this kind of mythologizing real aminals, look at this medieval bestiary. Yep—medieval scholars describe such fantastic beasties as dragons and phoenixes as being real. Probably based on exaggerated hearsay descriptions of real animals.

In neither case—the Bible or medieval bestiaries—do you see anything remotely resembling the most fantastic of dinosaurs.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

where does the book of Diplodocus appear in the bible @elbanditoroso

KatawaGrey's avatar

Isn’t it obvious? There are no dinosaurs in the Bible to give you anti-theists a bit of a thrill.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies: This is just another Christian bashing question. I wouldn’t put much stock in most of the answers.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Qingu “Behemoth a rhino.”

Job 40:17 “17He moveth his tail like a cedar”

I didn’t know rhino’s had tails like cedars.

King_Pariah's avatar

You ever think the bible, if God is real, was meant to be absolute truth but was corrupted and twisted by man?

Qingu's avatar

Fair enough, @RealEyesRealizeRealLies. You can think of no other impressive, non-extinct animals that have long powerful tails?

Did you look at the medieval bestiary? You’ll notice that many combine traits from real beasts. (So do famous composite monsters in Mesopotamian mythology.)

elbanditoroso's avatar

Christian bashing? Wow, talk about an overreaching and ill founded statement.

If anything, this is a bible-bashing question. At least word, the christians don’t own the bible franchise. They have to share it with other religions. In fact, one could make a good argument that if any religion is being bashed, it is Judaism, because the whole creation story comes out of the HEBREW bible (tanach) book of Genesis. The Christians sort of co-opted the tanach and Old testament and reprinted it themselves.

So let’s back off the Christian Bashing allegations here.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I hear you @Qingu. I’m not claiming what I believe. I’m simply stating what many Christians are taught.

Another theory suggests that somewhere the bones of dinosaurs were uncovered accidentally. Unable to explain, ancient man developed legends of leviathan and behemoth.

JLeslie's avatar

@KatawaGrey Why is it theist bashing to ask where or why something is or is not in the bible? Christians who want to ignore the question and interpret the bible as they want are free to. Not all theists go by the same bible, or any bible. When I asked how do Christians explain fossils, was I Christian bashing? My intention was to understand how they explain it.

Qingu's avatar

If someone believes the authors of the Bible had knowledge of dinosaurs based on Leviathan and Behemoth, they deserve to be “bashed,” because that’s a silly thing to believe and a dishonest view to promote.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@elbanditoroso “So let’s back off the Christian Bashing allegations here.”

Agreed. So you won’t mind retracting the false book of Diplodocus from a question posted in General.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@real, why?

I haven’t bashed anyone and I haven’t insulted the bible.

I have engaged in satire.

Why are you so eager to censor me?

bkcunningham's avatar

It is in the first chapter of Genesis.

KatawaGrey's avatar

My bad guys. It’s not like anybody ever asks these kind of questions with the intent of showing how stupid it is to believe in God or the Bible or anything.~

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham, verse please?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@elbanditoroso “I have engaged in satire.”

Supposedly, there is no “satire” in general. But I’m not a mod.

@elbanditoroso “Why are you so eager to censor me?”

I don’t believe in censorship of any kind. But I do believe in truth. And the truth is, there is no book of Diplodicus in the bible.

bkcunningham's avatar

Genesis 1:19And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

SavoirFaire's avatar

It is worth noting that Biblical literalism is not the only thesis compatible with the view that the Bible is the absolute truth. Thus the last part of the OP may present an additional assumption that casts the question a little oddly. Most people who follow Abrahamic religions read the Bible neither literally nor in ways that give them a 6,000-year-old Earth. Once we realize that, it is easy to see why there are no dinosaurs in the Bible.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There are also many who believe the book of Job isn’t really supposed to be in the bible. Some believe it to be a Muslim text. Take my above verses for what they are. Nowhere else in the bible is there any mention of dinosaur like creatures.

Qingu's avatar

Not seeing any dinos in those verses, @bkcunningham.

While we’re at it, the verses also downplay other extinct megafauna that presumably would have been created too (trilobites, armored Devonian fish, flying pterosaurs, etc), and dramatically downplay the dominance of non-extinct phyla of animals. Most animals in existence are invertebrates, particularly arthropods.

to put it another way: those verses look they were written by someone with about as much knowledge of biological diversity and history as a bronze-age nomad would have.

Qingu's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, wait… what? Who believes Job is a Muslim text? Job is one of the oldest books in the Bible.

bkcunningham's avatar

So you want a reference for every living and extinct creature? Those versus do it as far as I can see. What does any of that prove or disprove? I’m missing something here. Does the Bible mention house cats?

JLeslie's avatar

Personally, I don’t think something has to be in the bible, does it? Is the bible supposed to contain everything ever in the history of the earth? Every little detail?

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Jinx. We were writing at the same time.

Nullo's avatar

Because that’s not what the Bible is for. It is not a history book, though there is history in it. And it’s not a bestiary, though there are animals in it (and never are they catalogued).

It is a rather long memo explaining a) that we need salvation and b) how to get it.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The bible was written and edited by humans.

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham and @JLeslie, Genesis 1 gives an “inventory” of biological creations, right?

My point is that the inventory is extremely poorly described. It leaves out huge swaths of extremely important animals, both living and extinct (including but not limited to dinosaurs). It is not described in the way one would expect an extremely knowledgeable deity would describe his creations. It is, instead, described in the way you’d expect a bronze-age nomad with very limited knowledge on the subject would describe it.

And to argue that the Bible does mention dinosaurs because it says the catch-all “God created every living thing” is a pretty absurd argument.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, I thought the reason we needed salvation was based in the history that the Bible describes. Something about how our ancestor ate a magic fruit from a tree at the behest of a talking serpent, right?

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu In fact, it is not. The original sin was disobeying God, and possibly hubris as well. The not-an-apple just compounded the matter.

@elbanditoroso A work of dictation, to be sure.

Qingu's avatar

@Nullo, I see, so you’re saying the details aren’t important than? Like it could have been a pair of chimpanzees lookin’ at the body language of a precocious chameleon and deciding that they should in fact take a bite out of a fig that the voices in their head said not to?

Or are you saying that the entire story of Adam and Even is false, that you accept the biological view that humans evolved from other primates, and that “original sin” describes not a real, historical event but rather a vague sort of problem, perhaps a genetic predeliction, that humans have with obeying authority?

Qingu's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies, that source seems to be fairly suspect. There was no such thing as “Arabic words” at the time Job was probably written.

Job does pretty clearly have roots in pre-Judaic cultures (like most early texts of the Bible). Same with Psalms and some parts of Genesis, like the creation and flood myths.

Blueroses's avatar

This museum is in a nearby town. I’ve tried to visit and learn how they put these ideas together (it isn’t very clear on the website) but the museum is rarely open.

I don’t want to go with the intent of openly mocking it, but to understand how different people can validate their truths using one book.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m only trying to point out different views @Qingu. Surely this is obvious since I’m not trying to support my first quotes from Job. I’m offering a different perspective which refutes their biblical authenticity. Personally, I don’t know where I stand on this subject. But I do find it fascinating to study.

ragingloli's avatar

Because the authors did not know anything about dinosaurs (or much of anything, for that matter).

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu Neither, which you, of all people, ought to know by now. Not all of us are enslaved to your ape-man paradigm, you know.

Qingu's avatar

Yeah, believing in evolution is totally slavery.

But I’m still not sure what you’re arguing. You said the Bible is not a history book. But you still think its central theology—the need for salvation—is based on the actual historicity of this event in the garden, yes?

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu A close reading of the post that you mention will show that I said, ”[the Bible] is not a history book, though there is history in it.

I am saying that you’re not going to find every little thing in the Bible because that’s not what it’s for. Dinosaurs aren’t central to your salvation and relationship with God, and so they get a passing reference in an illustration in Job.

SavoirFaire's avatar

I think @Nullo might be saying something along the lines of what I said earlier. The question asks why dinosaurs are not specifically mentioned in the Bible, and I think @Qingu is quite correct that they are not. A passing reference to all living things in Genesis 1 does not seem to meet the OP’s threshold. Still, it might be unreasonable to expect specific mention of every thing that ever existed. The kind of absolute truth that people claim for the Bible is not complete truth down to the tiniest detail. That is, most people are not claiming that anything that is true of the world can be found in the Bible. What they are claiming is that everything in the Bible is true (though there can be debates about how literal or metaphorical those truths are). We could contest that claim as well, of course, but the presence or absence of an explicit passage about dinosaurs will not help in that regard.

everephebe's avatar

Should I mention the unicorn or not…

Qingu's avatar

@everephebe, The unicorn thing is unfair imo, a relic of the KJV rather than something in the original Hebrew.

DominicX's avatar

Clearly the Bible wasn’t intended to be a catalogue of animals, as @Nullo says, but I do agree with @zenvelo that the simplest explanation is the most likely: dinosaurs aren’t mentioned because the people who wrote the Bible didn’t know about them. I don’t know that if they had had more knowledge of dinosaurs and fossils that they would’ve mentioned them, but I’m sure that they didn’t have much knowledge of them. Even Native Americans and other cultures don’t mention dinosaurs in their historical or religious writings. It really took more modern archaeology and paleontology to discover these things existed in the first place.

And most scientists will tell you that the world simply isn’t 6000 years old, and the Bible doesn’t necessarily say it is either.

Qingu's avatar

Well, you know. The Bible does say that Earth was created before the sun, that light existed on Earth before the sun, that the sky is a solid dome that holds up an ocean. And regardless of how long you think each “day” represents, Genesis 1 gets the order and content of biological evolution stunningly wrong.

And, to boot, it flatly contradicts that very order in Genesis 2, which says that humans were created before animals and plants, not after.

So I think it’s useful to look at “not mentioning dinosaurs” in the context of these other mistakes the Bible makes—mistakes which were common and accepted in the broader realm of Mesopotamian mythology at the time the Bible was likely written. People at the time really did think the sky held up the ocean, that the sun revolves around the earth, that the animals they had seen or heard about were about all there was on Earth, and that the gods created humans out of clay to work as their slaves.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Qingu I don’t deny that all of that is relevant to the larger picture. I just think that a lack of dinosaurs in the Bible is not itself terribly important without several other factors being added to the mix.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu If that is the case, an inventory, then I agree with you, it is a problem dinosaurs aren’t mentioned. For creatures that had not evolved yet, I let those slide.

JLeslie's avatar

@DominicX The problem with your argument is when I speak to people who believe in the specific words of the bible, and say it has been translated, meaning can be lost in translation, they say, “God would ensure it is correct in all languages.” I agree the people who wrote the bible were simply not aware of the dinosaurs is the most likely explanation of why they are not included in the script, but if people believe God wrote the bible through men, then the argument doesn’t hold water. We might excuse mistakes or exaggerations in the bible as acceptible, but the true hard core believer doesn’t.

trailsillustrated's avatar

? really? Love this question! How could the world be 6000 years old! never heard of that !

DominicX's avatar

@JLeslie Well, that’s just part of the factors leading to my atheism today. I would hear from people that the Bible is all literally true and that if it says the world is 6000 years old, then it is. Now, the problem is that, well, the world isn’t 6000 years old. So I thought to myself: Either A) God is wrong, B) The Bible doesn’t really say it’s 6000 years old, or C) The Bible may say that, but the men who wrote the Bible didn’t know any better.

I guess what you’re saying is that “hard-core believers” would throw out all three options and be left with only one explanation: “despite scientific evidence to the contrary, the earth really is 6000 years old” and because of how contrary to logic that explanation was, I couldn’t align myself with “true hard-core believers”.

But there are many ways to interpret the Bible and religion. My mom is a theist, a Christian, who believes that God and evolution can co-exist. People like that are bashed by both sides.

judochop's avatar

There are dinosaurs in the Bible.

JLeslie's avatar

@DominicX My personal belief is just because there might be “mistakes” in the bible, it does not mean we have to throw the entire book out. But, I am not a hard core believe word for word bible person. My parents were wrong about some things, but overall they gave me good advice and provided a good example, it is kind of the same to me. God is like a parent, teaching us how to live a good life for ourselves and for others. If Jesus was the son of God, or close to God, and understood his message, he still was a man, and so were those who wrote the bible, and so the bible was still written from the perspective of the year it was written. IMO. But, as you know I am Jewish athiest, so what do I know.

A friend of mine was asking me questions about Judaism, saying she was not really buying into everything her Baptist church says. I answered her questions as much as I could, and then I also said to her, most likely you would be a reformed Jewish person if you converted, so why bother? Why not just be a less religious Christian, and decide what things in your religion make sense to you, and what doesn’t? But, I think that is maybe easy for me to say being Jewish and not religious.

DominicX's avatar

@JLeslie Well, those beliefs echo mine. I do classify myself as an agnostic, and the times when I am most drawn back to theism are when I think the way you just described, that the reason, for example, the Bible has anti-homosexual lines is because the men of the time didn’t have a concept of homosexual relationships as we understand them today. But that’s just one view. The other view, that it’s a perfect authoritative timeless statement on the matter causes conflict.

everephebe's avatar

@Qingu I know I know, it’s totally unfair, but still hilarious.

judochop's avatar

@zenvelo well I could retype what others have already posted but I am pretty sure there are about a dozen or so passages in the Bible that claim beasts with tails and wings of giant nature. Would those not be dinosaurs? I do even think that the Tryanno Lizard in the Bible would be a dinosaur.
Let me ask, if they are not dinosaurs then what are they?

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, you’re wrong. No wings. Big tails, true, but (1) lots of non-extinct creatures have big tails, and (2) lots of composite mythical creatures have big tails.

Do you think the giant scorpion-monster servants of the evil ocean goddess described in the Mesopotamian creation myth Enuma Elish refer to historical Eurypterids?

rebbel's avatar

They would not have fitted in Noah’s Ark?

jazmina88's avatar

Barney, the great purple is Jesus. “I love you, you love me” just a TV preacher

Response moderated (Personal Attack)
WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Because dinosaurs aren’t real. :P

dappled_leaves's avatar

I think you are making an unfair assumption in your question. Many of the animals that exist today are not described in the bible (including cats, as @bkcunningham notes). The absence of dinosaurs in the text is no proof that they were extinct when the bible was written.

flutherother's avatar

The dinosaurs were in a second ark which sank.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Yeah, but only because the tyrannosaurus ate the captain and the ship hit an iceberg.

JLeslie's avatar

Seems the earliest record of domesticated cats was 9500 years ago. This wikipedia on the evolution of domesticated cats is very interesting. Doesn’t really jive with the biblical belief that the earth has only been hear 6,000 years (sometimes I here 4,000, sometimes 9,000).

Qingu's avatar

That record is just an illusion created by God to give Earth the “appearance” of age.

It’s similar to the kind of magic God used to create Adam as fully adult instead of a baby.

at least according to creationist apologetics, lol

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie But my point is that if cats have been around for 9500 years, then they existed at the time(s) that the bible was written, yet there is no mention of them in the bible. So, it’s a counterexample to the notion that the bible contains some record of every species that existed at that time.

DominicX's avatar

@dappled_leaves

I guess the counterexample of that is that if enormous dinosaurs that towered over all the other species existed, it would be odd to omit them.

Of course the Bible also omits that the Earth was in a greenhouse period during the time of the dinosaurs…but again, I don’t think that was the Bible’s job to record all of that.

JLeslie's avatar

@dappled_leaves But, what about @Qingu‘s mention that in Genesis it states they are giving an inventory of biologic creatures? Inventory implies all. So then the interpretation and translation of the original text is incorrect, which again people who strictly adhere to the bible being the specific word of God, true word for word have a problem then.

saint's avatar

God made a deal with the dinosaurs. If the dinosaurs would not eat the people God created, He would give them an entire book in the Bible. However, the dinosaurs, being an impetuous creature, ate God’s first attempt at creating man (the first man was Jim, who got eaten by an Allosaurus. Adam was actually the second one). An angry God then did two significant things. 1. He made the dinosaurs extinct. 2. He wrote them out of the Bible.

judochop's avatar

Jesus rolled around on a T-Rex with 22” spinners. That is the truth.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie Perhaps @Qingu stated that it was an inventory, but I don’t recall the word inventory being used in the scripture. It clearly does not mention species specifically. If you want to pick one of the categories provided, and put cats and/or dinosaurs in it, ok… but the bible still does not specifically mention either of them.

So, by your reasoning, the bible does mention dinosaurs. Question answered, I guess?

JLeslie's avatar

@dappled_leaves Honestly, I go back to the explanation I gave @DominicX as my persnal opinion. I don’t think the bible is the word of God, I think it is written by men, and it has some nice stories, some might be based on real occurrances, that can give people a guideline for life and working within a society. There is all sorts of crazy shit in it also that does not apply to our present day, so I just ignore that. Whether there is dinosaurs or not in the bible is not a big deal really, well not to me.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@JLeslie I totally agree with you. In fact, that is what my first post was saying.

Qingu's avatar

@dappled_leaves, my point is just that there aren’t dinosaurs mentioned in Israel: because the humans who wrote the Bible had no idea dinosaurs ever existed.

The Bible’s writing reflects this fact.

mattbrowne's avatar

Because myths and parables are about symbolic meanings and deeper truths, not about historical accounts.

There were real snakes in the regions where the Bible was written. None of the snakes in real life ever talked. Which means that the oral traditions and written accounts relied on the use of symbols as well. Talking snakes. Jesus walking on water. And so forth.

Paint the picture. And it will help people understand complex issues. A picture is worth a thousand words.

bkcunningham's avatar

What is the origin of the word serpent?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Qingu I understand that you don’t believe that the bible is truth. I don’t believe it is, either. That’s not the point. The question asks us to assume that if dinosaurs existed when the bible was written, that the bible should talk about them. I think that assumption is questionable, for the reason I gave.

You say that “the Bible’s writing reflects” the fact that dinosaurs did not exist when it was written. I agree with you – the bible does not mention dinosaurs because they weren’t around when the bible was written. Ok. But I believe that because I already accept that dinosaurs were extinct before the bible was written. You can’t prove the extinction of dinosaurs based on lack of evidence in the bible. That would be a bad argument even if everything in the bible were true. So arguing whether specific descriptions in the text refer to specific animals or not is pointless.

Qingu's avatar

I disagree. I think it’s reasonable to expect that if giant friggin’ reptiles (and smaller ones, and the ancestors of modern birds—dinos were quite diverse) that by all evidence dominated life on land did exist at the time the Bible was written, the Bible would mention them.

By the same token, it’s reasonable to expect that if a bunch of zombies rose from their graves and marched into the city of Jerusalem and were seen by many people, some source at the time would mention them.

It may not be deductive proof, but I don’t think analyzing history and texts works like that to begin with.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Qingu Zombies are mentioned in the book of Revelation. =0)

flutherother's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Wasn’t Jesus a zombie?

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Well, I guess you could technically say that, except he was actually resurrected before decay had a chance to set in, as opposed to being buried and rising up from the grave, all gray and gross and stuff. :P

Qingu's avatar

There were zombies in Matthew 28. Only gospel (or any source) to mention them.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’m just referring to the book of Revelation when it refers to the dead rising from the grave.

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