How could Jesus have let the dinosaurs die? (2023)

Does Jesus love dinosaurs? No metaphysical question haunted my childhood more than this one. Raised by my mother in her own caring and compassionate understanding of Christianity, I desperately wanted to believe that Jesus – wherever he sat enthroned in heaven – shared my passion for stegosaurs and iguanodontids. Yet I had my doubts.

From an early age, I had struggled to fathom how a loving God could possibly have passed a death sentence on creatures as magnificent as dinosaurs. At an age when I only had to look at a cow to wish it were a Triceratops, it filled me with a sombre sense of the sheer immensity of time, and the impermanence of living things on the face of the planet, to know that the placid fields which stretched behind my house had once been a Jurassic swamp.

How was my understanding of this to be combined with what I was simultaneously being taught in Sunday School: that God had created the heavens and earth in six days, that he had fashioned every living creature, “every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air”, only a short time before fashioning humans; and that all of them had co-existed? How did dinosaurs fit into this narrative?

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At Sunday School, our illustrated children’s Bible showed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden alongside a Brachiosaurus. That no human being had ever seen a sauropod – a source of the intensest grief to me – seemed not to worry my teacher one little bit. When I asked her how Adam could possibly have lived alongside dinosaurs, bearing in mind that they had all died out 65 million years ago, she shrugged the question aside. The older I got, the more the question niggled. God, speaking to Job from the whirlwind, had told him of drawing Leviathan with a hook, and with a cord pressing down his tongue.

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But I found this hard to square with what I knew of ichthyosaurs and mosasaurs. The reaches of time seemed too icily immense for the life and death of a single human being two thousand years ago possibly to have had the cosmic significance claimed for it by Christianity. Why should Homo sapiens be granted a status denied ammonites? Why, if God existed, had he allowed so many species to evolve, to flourish, and then utterly to disappear? Why, if he were merciful and good, had he permitted an asteroid to smash into the side of the planet, making the flesh on the bones of dinosaurs burst into flame, the Mesozoic seas boil, and darkness cover the face of the earth? Increasingly, the hope offered by the Christian story, that there was an order and a purpose to humanity’s existence, felt like something that was slipping my grasp.

I was hardly the first to tread this path, of course.

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Dinosaurs had played a notable and glamorous role in the Victorian crisis of faith. To Edward Drinker Cope, a Quaker from Philadelphia whose genius as a palaeontologist served to revolutionise the understanding of prehistory, they were literally the stuff of nightmares. In 1876, fossil-prospecting in the badlands of Montana, where the bones of dinosaurs stretched for miles in an immense and uncharted graveyard, the monsters he had been excavating by day would come to visit him in his sleep, “tossing him into the air, kicking him, trampling him down”.

Every evening, before retiring for the night, he would hold prayer meetings and readings from the Bible – but still the dinosaurs kept haunting his dreams. The immensity of geological time; the cycles of evolution; the brutal finality of extinction: all, when he contemplated them, served to corrode his faith. Bones entombed in rock seemed to mock the reassurance provided by the Christian message of the Resurrection. In 1877, a year after he had lain amid the fossil beds of Montana, Cope resigned from the Society of Friends.

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Yet without Christianity, it is unlikely that dinosaurs would ever have been identified as prehistoric creatures many millions of years old, that Cope would ever gone prospecting for their fossils, and that I, as a child, would ever have known the first thing about sauropods. In truth, fathoming the deep past of the earth was an ambition that had always come naturally to Christians. “Of old,” the Psalmist had written in praise of the Creator, “You founded the earth, and the heavens – Your handiwork. They will perish and You will yet stand. They will all wear away like a garment.”

(Video) history of the entire world, i guess

Here, in this vision of a world that had both a beginning and a history, linear and irreversible, lay an understanding of time in decisive contrast to that of most peoples in antiquity. To read Genesis was to know that it did not go round in endless cycles.

Unsurprisingly, then, scholars of the Bible had repeatedly sought to map out a chronology that might reach back before humans. “We must not suppose,” Luther had declared, “that the appearance of the world is the same today as it was before sin.” Increasingly, though, enthusiasts for what by the late 18th century had come to be termed ‘geology’ were founding their investigations, not on Genesis, but directly on their study of God’s creation: rocks, and fossils, and the very contours of the earth.

It was among the clergy that this had grown to become a particular obsession. In 1650, when James Ussher, the Archbishop of Armagh and one of the most brilliant scholars of his day, sought to establish a global chronology, his exclusive reliance on written records – and in particular on the Bible – led him to identify the date of the Creation as 4004 BC.

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In 1822, when William Buckland, another clergyman, published a paper demonstrating that life on earth, let alone the deposition of rocks, was infinitely older than Noah’s Flood, it was his dating of the fossils he had found in a Yorkshire cave that enabled him to demonstrate his point. Two years later, he wrote the first full account of a dinosaur. In 1840, he argued that great gouges across the landscape of Scotland bore witness to an ancient – and decidedly unbiblical – Ice Age. Buckland, a noted eccentric with a taste for eating his way through every kind of animal, from bluebottles to porpoises, saw not the slightest contradiction between serving as Dean of Westminster and lecturing on geology at Oxford.

Nor did most Christians. Although some, clinging to a literal interpretation of Genesis, refused to accept that the earth’s history might stretch back immeasurable distances before man, the vast majority felt only awe before a Creator capable of working on such a prodigious scale.

Palaeontology, then, bred as it was of the biblical understanding of time, served to buttress as well as shake the foundations of Christian belief. If Cope ended up losing his faith, then many palaeontologists did not. Today, Bob Bakker – perhaps the most celebrated of all living palaeontologists, whose theories have proven as influential as anyone’s on the way that dinosaurs have come to be understood – sees no contradiction between his work as a scientist and his preaching as a Pentecostal minister. When he declares the discovery of the Mesozoic to have been “the proud legacy of evangelicals who searched for the truth in the pages of Scripture and the chapters written in stone,” he is not wrong.

Does Jesus love dinosaurs? It remains a question I am unqualified to answer – but certainly, without Christianity, we would have lacked the understanding of time that enables us today to know that such wondrous and extraordinary creatures as dinosaurs ever existed.

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Tom Holland’s Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind is published by Little, Brown

FAQs

How did the dinosaurs go extinct according to the Bible? ›

The larger species of dinosaurs were probably young and smaller on the ark. The rest of dinosaurs on earth were destroyed in the flood. Many of the dinosaur fossils were likely formed during and just after the flood. After the flood, dinosaurs on the ark likely reproduced in the earth, but life was not the same.

Who came first Adam and Eve or dinosaurs? ›

Dinny's new owners, pointing to the Book of Genesis, contend that most dinosaurs arrived on Earth the same day as Adam and Eve, some 6,000 years ago, and later marched two by two onto Noah's Ark.

Did dinosaurs and humans exist at the same time? ›

No! After the dinosaurs died out, nearly 65 million years passed before people appeared on Earth. However, small mammals (including shrew-sized primates) were alive at the time of the dinosaurs.

How long did it take for the dinosaurs to die after the asteroid? ›

Soot from raging wildfires filled the sky and blocked the sun, directly contributing to the wave of extinctions that followed, new research has found. After the asteroid struck, around 66 million years ago, the cataclysm extinguished many forms of life instantly.

Who came first Adam and Eve or cavemen? ›

As creationists, we believe the Bible is clear that all humans descended from Adam and Eve and therefore any humans found in the fossil record came from Adam and Eve.

What came before dinosaurs? ›

The Permian is a geological record that began nearly 300 million years ago, almost 50 million years before the Age of the Dinosaurs. During the Permian the first large herbivores and carnivores became widespread on land. The Permian ended with the largest mass extinction in the history of the Earth.

How old is Earth according to the Bible? ›

Concerning the age of the Earth, the Bible's genealogical records combined with the Genesis 1 account of creation are used to estimate an age for the Earth and universe of about 6000 years, with a bit of uncertainty on the completeness of the genealogical records, allowing for a few thousand years more.

What day is Jesus's birthday? ›

From Rome, the Christ's Nativity celebration spread to other Christian churches to the west and east, and soon most Christians were celebrating Christ's birth on December 25.

What is the first animal on Earth? ›

Earth's first animal was the ocean-drifting comb jelly, not the simple sponge, according to a new find that has shocked scientists who didn't imagine the earliest critter could be so complex. The mystery of the first animal denizen of the planet can only be inferred from fossils and by studying related animals today.

Will the dinosaurs come back? ›

DNA breaks down over time. The dinosaurs went extinct around 66 million years ago and with so much time having passed it is very unlikely that any dinosaur DNA would remain today. While dinosaur bones can survive for millions of years, dinosaur DNA almost certainly does not.

What dinosaurs are still alive? ›

In an evolutionary sense, birds are a living group of dinosaurs because they descended from the common ancestor of all dinosaurs. Other than birds, however, there is no scientific evidence that any dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, Apatosaurus, Stegosaurus, or Triceratops, are still alive.

Did humans live during the ice age? ›

Wait, there were humans during the ice age?!

Yes, people just like us lived through the ice age. Since our species, Homo sapiens, emerged about 300,000 years ago in Africa, we have spread around the world. During the ice age, some populations remained in Africa and did not experience the full effects of the cold.

How did life start again after dinosaurs? ›

After the dinosaurs' extinction, flowering plants dominated Earth, continuing a process that had started in the Cretaceous, and continue to do so today. But all land animals weighing over 25 kilogrammes died out. 'What we're left with are basically the seeds of what we have today.

Why did dinosaurs die and not mammals? ›

"Even if large herbivorous dinosaurs had managed to survive the initial meteor strike, they would have had nothing to eat," he explains, "because most of the earth's above-ground plant material had been destroyed." Mammals, in contrast, could eat insects and aquatic plants, which were relatively abundant after the ...

What was the last dinosaur to die? ›

For now, however, the 65-million-year-old Triceratops is the world's last known surviving dinosaur.

What language did Adam and Eve speak? ›

The Adamic language, according to Jewish tradition (as recorded in the midrashim) and some Christians, is the language spoken by Adam (and possibly Eve) in the Garden of Eden.

Why did God create us? ›

God brought the world into existence and as the capstone of this good work, he created people in his image so that they could share in his overflowing love, grace and goodness through their relationships with the Trinity. God did not need the world or need people because God has no lack.

Who Wrote the Bible? ›

Even after nearly 2,000 years of its existence, and centuries of investigation by biblical scholars, we still don't know with certainty who wrote its various texts, when they were written or under what circumstances.

Who ruled the Earth before dinosaurs? ›

For approximately 120 million years—from the Carboniferous to the middle Triassic periods—terrestrial life was dominated by the pelycosaurs, archosaurs, and therapsids (the so-called "mammal-like reptiles") that preceded the dinosaurs.

How did life start on Earth? ›

It seems possible that the origin of life on the Earth's surface could have been first prevented by an enormous flux of impacting comets and asteroids, then a much less intense rain of comets may have deposited the very materials that allowed life to form some 3.5 - 3.8 billion years ago.

What animal is closest to a dinosaur? ›

In fact, birds are commonly thought to be the only animals around today that are direct descendants of dinosaurs. So next time you visit a farm, take a moment to think about it. All those squawking chickens are actually the closest living relatives of the most incredible predator the world has ever known!

How long ago was Adam and Eve? ›

They used these variations to create a more reliable molecular clock and found that Adam lived between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago. A comparable analysis of the same men's mtDNA sequences suggested that Eve lived between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago1.

What year is really on Earth? ›

Conversion
Gregorian yearISO 8601Event
1970+1970Unix Epoch
1993+1993Publication of the Holocene calendar
2022+2022Current year
10000+10000
14 more rows

How many years was it from Adam to Jesus? ›

So 69 weeks amount to 483 years; for, from the said year of Darius, unto the 42nd year of Augustus, in which year our Saviour Christ was born, are just and complete so many years, whereupon we reckon, that from Adam unto Christ, are 3974 years, six months, and ten days; and from the birth of Christ, unto this present ...

What was Jesus's wife's name? ›

Mary Magdalene
Saint Mary Magdalene
BornPossibly Magdala, Roman Judea
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church Eastern Catholic Churches Eastern Orthodox Churches Oriental Orthodox Churches Anglican Communion Lutheranism other Protestant churches Baháʼí Faith
CanonizedPre-Congregation
FeastJuly 22
4 more rows

What is Jesus real name? ›

Jesus' name in Hebrew was “Yeshua” which translates to English as Joshua.

Who started Christmas? ›

The first recorded incidence of Christmas being celebrated actually dates all the way back to the Roman Empire in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine – so technically the Romans invented it, although there's no specific person who is credited with having done so.

Who was the first human? ›

The First Humans

One of the earliest known humans is Homo habilis, or “handy man,” who lived about 2.4 million to 1.4 million years ago in Eastern and Southern Africa.

What was the first form of life? ›

The earliest life forms we know of were microscopic organisms (microbes) that left signals of their presence in rocks about 3.7 billion years old. The signals consisted of a type of carbon molecule that is produced by living things.

What was the 2nd animal on Earth? ›

Sea sponges have been around a long time, but they are at least old enough to be the longest-existing creatures on Earth. The second animal on earth would be the jellyfish, it existed even 505 million years ago. New fossil evidence of jellyfish goes back over half a billion years.

How many times has the earth been wiped out? ›

In the last half-billion years, life on Earth has been nearly wiped out five times—by such things as climate change, an intense ice age, volcanoes, and that space rock that smashed into the Gulf of Mexico 65 million years ago, obliterating the dinosaurs and a bunch of other species.

Could at Rex survive today? ›

It's doubtful. Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Triceratops for example, lived in the Cretaceous Period 145-66 million years ago (whatever Jurassic Park would have you believe).

Has dinosaur DNA been found? ›

Oct 26, 2021. A team has extracted what could be DNA molecules from a 125-million-year-old fossil dinosaur, according to a study published last month (September 24) in Communications Biology.

Does a dragon exist? ›

Dragons are one of the few monsters cast in mythology primarily as a powerful and fearsome opponent to be slain. They don't simply exist for their own sake; they exist largely as a foil for bold adventurers.

Would humans exist if dinosaurs didn't go extinct? ›

"If dinosaurs didn't go extinct, mammals probably would've remained in the shadows, as they had been for over a hundred million years," says Brusatte. "Humans, then, probably would've never been here."

Will dinosaurs come back in 2050? ›

The Adam Smith Institute, a British think tank, has released a new report predicting what life will be like in 2050. According to the report: "Several species of dinosaur will be recreated, making their appearance on Earth for the first time in 66 million years.

What ended ice age? ›

When more sunlight reaches the northern latitudes, temperatures rise, ice sheets melt, and the ice age ends.

How long it will be until the next ice age? ›

The next ice age almost certainly will reach its peak in about 80,000 years, but debate persists about how soon it will begin, with the latest theory being that the human influence on the atmosphere may substantially delay the transition. This is no mere intellectual exercise.

What was the color of the first humans? ›

Color and cancer

These early humans probably had pale skin, much like humans' closest living relative, the chimpanzee, which is white under its fur. Around 1.2 million to 1.8 million years ago, early Homo sapiens evolved dark skin.

What was Earth like when dinosaurs lived? ›

The climate was relatively hot and dry, and much of the land was covered with large deserts. Unlike today, there were no polar ice caps. It was in this environment that the reptiles known as dinosaurs first evolved.

How long would it take Earth to recover from an asteroid? ›

It takes millions of years for life to fully recover from a catastrophic extinction event, according to a new study that examined the aftermath of the asteroid strike that wiped out all non-avian dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

How did crocodiles survive the dinosaur extinction? ›

Crocodiles survived the asteroid strike that wiped out the dinosaurs thanks to their 'versatile' and 'efficient' body shape, that allowed them to cope with the enormous environmental changes triggered by the impact, according to new research. Crocodiles can thrive in or out of water and live in complete darkness.

Did humans and dinosaurs live at the same time? ›

No! After the dinosaurs died out, nearly 65 million years passed before people appeared on Earth. However, small mammals (including shrew-sized primates) were alive at the time of the dinosaurs.

What survived when the dinosaurs died? ›

Birds: Birds are the only dinosaurs to survive the mass extinction event 65 million years ago. Frogs & Salamanders: These seemingly delicate amphibians survived the extinction that wiped out larger animals.

How did dinosaurs die but humans survive? ›

What scientists have been trying to figure out, however, is why mammals survived while the dinosaurs perished. According to Penn State researcher Russ Graham, the lifestyles of mammals gave them an advantage when the asteroid struck the area that is today's Yucatan peninsula about 65 million years ago.

How did the T Rex die? ›

rex went extinct during the K-T mass extinction, about 65 million years ago. This extinction killed the remaining dinosaurs (not just T. rex) and many other animal and plant groups. This extinction was probably caused by a catastrophic asteroid colliding with Earth.

Why did birds survive but not dinosaurs? ›

Today there are at least 11,000 bird species. But with such a close relationship to the extinct dinosaurs, why did birds survive? The answer probably lies in a combination of things: their small size, the fact they can eat a lot of different foods and their ability to fly. Watch the animation to find out more.

What came before dinosaurs? ›

The Permian is a geological record that began nearly 300 million years ago, almost 50 million years before the Age of the Dinosaurs. During the Permian the first large herbivores and carnivores became widespread on land. The Permian ended with the largest mass extinction in the history of the Earth.

How old is Earth according to the Bible? ›

Concerning the age of the Earth, the Bible's genealogical records combined with the Genesis 1 account of creation are used to estimate an age for the Earth and universe of about 6000 years, with a bit of uncertainty on the completeness of the genealogical records, allowing for a few thousand years more.

What is the behemoth in the Bible? ›

Behemoth, in the Old Testament, a powerful, grass-eating animal whose “bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like bars of iron” (Job 40:18). Among various Jewish legends, one relates that the righteous will witness a spectacular battle between Behemoth and Leviathan in the messianic era and later feast upon their flesh.

Does Bible mention other planets? ›

The other planets are individualized in the Bible only by implication. The worship of gods connected with them is denounced, but without any manifest intention of referring to the heavenly bodies.

Why did dinosaurs go extinct? ›

Evidence suggests an asteroid impact was the main culprit. Volcanic eruptions that caused large-scale climate change may also have been involved, together with more gradual changes to Earth's climate that happened over millions of years.

How long ago was Adam and Eve? ›

They used these variations to create a more reliable molecular clock and found that Adam lived between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago. A comparable analysis of the same men's mtDNA sequences suggested that Eve lived between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago1.

What year is really on Earth? ›

Conversion
Gregorian yearISO 8601Event
1970+1970Unix Epoch
1993+1993Publication of the Holocene calendar
2022+2022Current year
10000+10000
14 more rows

What day is Jesus's birthday? ›

From Rome, the Christ's Nativity celebration spread to other Christian churches to the west and east, and soon most Christians were celebrating Christ's birth on December 25.

Does the Bible say anything about pets in heaven? ›

Indeed, the Bible does confirm that there are animals in Heaven. Isaiah 11:6 describes several types (predator and prey) living in peace with one another. If God created animals for the Garden of Eden to give us a picture of His ideal place, He will surely include them in Heaven, God's perfect new Eden!

What animal is a Leviathan? ›

In Jewish mythology, the name Leviathan can refer to a variety of monstrous creatures, including a primordial sea serpent, a dragon, a snake, a crocodile, or a whalelike animal. It likely developed from pre-biblical Middle Eastern mythology, especially that of the sea monster in the Ugaritic myth of Baal.

Does the Leviathan still exist? ›

The authors think that Leviathan, like the extinct giant shark, preyed on medium-sized baleen whales, which were between 7 and 10 metres long, smaller than today's humpback whales and widely diverse at the time. The authors speculate that Leviathan became extinct as a result of changing environmental conditions.

What does the Bible say about leaving Earth? ›

Revelation 21 even shows us a vision of God relocating from Heaven to Earth. The Bible has nothing to do about leaving Earth, but rather everything to do with preparing us for life in the presence of God on Earth. A way of living that allows us to catch glimpses of life when the Kingdom of God finally and fully comes.

What does the Bible say about tattoos? ›

But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.” Historically, scholars have often understood this as a warning against pagan practices of mourning.

How many worlds are there in the Bible? ›

The Hebrew Bible depicted a three-part world, with the heavens (shamayim) above, Earth (eres) in the middle, and the underworld (sheol) below. After the 4th century BCE this was gradually replaced by a Greek scientific cosmology of a spherical earth surrounded by multiple concentric heavens.

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