Some of the most frequently asked questions related to the Bible have to do with dinosaurs and dragons. Regarding dinosaurs, people often ask where they “fit” into Scripture. After all, the word dinosaur isn’t found at all in the Bible! On the other hand, the King James Version of the Bible refers to dragons numerous times (both metaphorically and as literal creatures). This seems to be a major issue! The Bible doesn’t seem to mention dinosaurs (real creatures) but isn’t shy about making multiple references to an apparently mythological creature. Is this some sort of mistranslation?
To help us answer some of these questions I’ve included an excerpt from my exclusive interview with author, explorer, and fossil hunter, Vance Nelson who’s researched this topic in depth. In fact, he’s published his findings in his book Dire Dragons which I highly recommend. But for now, let’s find out what he has to say regarding these issues.
Ryan: Alright, I’m sitting here with author Vance Nelson and Vance…you’ve done a lot of research into dinosaurs so let me ask you this; where do dinosaurs fit into the Bible because the word dinosaur isn’t found anywhere in Scripture?
Vance: Well, it’s interesting we have a chap from England no longer with us Sir Richard Owen and in 1841 he invents the word dinosauria and, of course, we shortened it up to dinosaur. But previous to that the early geologists were using another word including Richard Owen himself and that is the word dragon. And dragon was actually the common word being used by the paleontologists in England. And so, when they were talking about dinosaurs they were simply calling them dragons because that was the common word. It would be like you and I talking about going fossil hunting for dogs…and so you’d say hey let’s go find some fossil dogs. But once we found those dogs and we had to write about them scientifically and classify them scientifically we have to come up with some scientific names. So, we came up with Canis lupus, Canis familiaris, etc., so we can classify them. And what you find in England is that’s precisely what happened. So, Richard Owen was still calling them dragons over two decades after he invented the word dinosauria for these dragons, and so dinosauria is actually the scientific word for the dragons. Now, interestingly we have a gentleman by the name of Thomas Hawkins Esquire that writes a book in 1840 one year before Sir Richard Owen invents the word dinosaur. Now he was actually digging up sea dragons or marine reptiles, we would call them today Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs and he had accumulated 30 of these fossils. And he had pictorial plates which back then, of course, you didn’t just go take out the camera and photograph them, so they had to engrave all of these fossils and then these engravings basically became like stamps and they’d stamp them into the book. Well in 1840 he wrote this book called The Book of the Great Sea Dragons and on the frontispiece basically in the opening of the book we have Hebrew writing. Well, why in the world would we have this Hebrew writing? It’s because it comes directly out of the Bible Genesis chapter one and its transliterated from the Hebrew into the English for us and says, “Gedolim Taninim of Moses, Gedolim Taninim of Moses,” well, tannin is, of course, dragon and it comes straight out of Genesis chapter one in the King James says, “God created the great whales,” and of course this is the great sea dragons literally from Genesis chapter one so he lifts that right out of Genesis chapter one and he says what are these great sea dragons these are the creatures that God made in Genesis chapter one the great sea dragons “Gedolim Taninim of Moses.” And so you’ll see 30 pictures of the fossils he found, some of them are Plesiosaurs some of them are Ichthyosaurs and then he has all of these plates these photographs if you will, of course, engravings back then of these 30 creatures that he had found and he has the common word a dragon from the lias Shale of Street. Now not in the middle of the street but a village known as Street and then you can take a look at the picture. What is it? Ah well, hey this is an Ichthyosaur, or this is a Plesiosaur and so it’s very easy to prove that the early paleontologists were simply calling them dragons. They then classified these dragons, which was the common word as far as what the scientific classification was, and so the idea that people forgot what these creatures were and then came up with a word dinosaur or dinosauria just simply isn’t true. So, you can trace this all the way back to the Middle Ages and back further so when people were talking about dragons in the middle ages and they were depicting these dragons and then you fast forward to the discovery of the fossils there never was a time when people forgot what these things were.
“Sir Richard Owen and in 1841 he invents the word dinosauria….previous to that the early geologists were using another word including Richard Owen himself and that is the word dragon.”
Ryan: The theory of evolution claims that dinosaurs and man did not coexist but were separated by more than 65 million years. Now on the other hand according to the Bible dinosaurs and man did coexist because they were both created together only thousands of years ago, now you’ve spent many years out in the field researching this, so what have you learned?
Vance: Yes, as far as dinosaur and human coexistence I’ve probably spent at least a decade and a half investigating this, spent many years all over the planet looking at this. The interesting thing is that when you take a look at the secular theory they used to claim at the turn of the century that dinosaurs died out about 3 million years and then you can find references that you know for example Tyrannosaurus Rex was dug out of his 8 million-year-old tomb. And then you find that they claim dinosaurs died out about 24 million years ago, then you find references they died out 30 million years ago and then I was taught from a child forward that they died out 65 million years ago. Then in 2011 they came out and said that dinosaurs died out about 66,011,000 years ago. So, it’s interesting the children that are sort of in diapers now are going to grow up being taught that dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago yet we were taught they died out 65 million years ago and there are people that were taught they died out 30 million years ago, 24 million years ago, you know, 8 million years ago. The matter of the fact is that this isn’t a fact. You know when things continue to change but these figures were taught as facts when they came out in newspapers when they came out in books, but this isn’t a fact. But the reality is when you take a look at a biblical account you do have dinosaurs made on the same day of creation as humans and you also have other reptiles and other creatures made just a day apart from humans and so these creatures would have lived at the same time as human beings. And so, if you take a look at the geologic record you basically have these creatures from the Permian, the Triassic, the Jurassic, the Cretaceous and they’re supposedly separated from man by tens of millions of years, hundreds of millions of years and so even if you accept what some of the evolutionists have been willing to accept and that is maybe some of these creatures survived the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous and sort of just skimmed by the end there and they survived up until the humans evolved. And this is what some evolutionists have actually claimed. There’s a bit of a problem because in the artwork in old artwork that predates the science of paleontology I’ve discovered creatures’ bone for bone, claw for claw, scale for scale, tooth for tooth that are identical to creatures that go back to the Permian, that go back to the Triassic. We’re talking about creatures that actually predate the dinosaurs and these creatures not only predate the dinosaurs but they supposedly went extinct before the dinosaurs even evolved and so you can’t usher in theories such as the survival theory. And so, you also have dinosaurs from the Triassic, the Jurassic, and the Cretaceous that are found depicted in old artwork that predate the science of paleontology. So, another idea is well maybe they just dug up these fossils. Well, I have 16 reasons why this doesn’t work in my book called Dire Dragons and you have to have the right types of tools that we’ve just recently been able to develop, you have to have the right kinds of glues, you have to be able to have some substitute for plaster jacketing and even if by some miracle you’re able to develop all these things and put a dinosaur together which requires sophisticated anatomy and physiology knowledge. Why rarely if ever are these dinosaurs never depicted as bones? We see them depicted with flesh on we see them depicted with scales on and in life postures interacting with people. Now there is one serious problem that most evolutionary theorists never realize and that is that when you find a piece of artwork of a dinosaur you ought to find the fossils in close proximity to that artwork in order for that theory to work. That is, that they excavated the fossils. Now, first of all, the excavation theory doesn’t work anyway but you ought to find the fossils in close proximity. Many in fact, most times the fossils are actually found somewhere else on the other side of the planet, for example, some of these Permian and Triassic creatures that I’ve just recently discovered in old artwork many of these things are depicting in Europe. Let’s say Germany and some other countries in Europe but these fossils so far have only been discovered for example in the United States sometimes they were discovered in South Africa, etc. And so, you have a severe problem. First of all, there is no evidence it ever did happen that’s known as ad hoc so you have to come up with ad hoc explanations with no evidence it ever did happen and secondly the fossils aren’t even found there. So, when you take a look at the evidence from old artwork, it is powerful positive evidence that the biblical record is actually true. People actually did observe these creatures after Noah’s flood it’s the only explanation that fits the evidence they saw these creatures after Noah’s flood. They depicted them, and they were calling them what? Dragons.
If you’d like to hear the rest of this conversation then simply click the play button at the top of this page. Or, if you’d like to see more interviews like this then check out A World by Design: The Muskoka Conference and A World by Design: The Niagara Conference both available right here on our website.
Ryan Hembree is a daily co-host, speaker, and writer of Bible Discovery. He also hosts a YouTube channel that shows the unity of the Bible and how science and Scripture fit together. Ryan also has an honorary Masters of Ministry in Creation Science from Phoenix University of Theology.