The simple answer to this question is “nothing”. The Bible does not say anything about “dinosaurs” because the word dinosaur was not coined until 1841 by Sir Richard Owen. Hence one cannot expect the Bible to utilize the term prior to its origination. If the Bible does in fact make reference to dinosaurs, they would have gone under a different name. So does the Bible say anything about these mysterious creatures we know as dinosaurs? Well, we need to address the important questions of “when” the dinosaurs existed, and whether they walked the earth contemporaneously with man? Christian theologians and Scientists are divided over this question. These divisions can be seen when one considers the various positions within the Old Earth and Young Earth creationist camps. Depending on where one lies on this issue, the answers will differ when asking whether or not dinosaurs and man existed at the same time. In brief, if one is an Old Earth creationist, the answer will most likely be that man and dinosaurs did not live contemporaneously with one another. Given the various Old Earth creationist interpretations of Genesis 1, the creation days are typically not taken to mean 24 hour days. For if the days of creation were in fact 6 consecutive 24 hour days, then it would seem to follow that man and dinosaurs would have co-existed, since God created both the animals and man on Day 6:
“And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind” -Genesis 1:25
On this view (The Young Earth Creation’s View), God would have created all the beasts of the earth, cattle, and everything that creeps on the earth on the 6th Day (24 Hour Period). This would have included the dinosaurs. And as we read in verse 26 which still encompasses the 6th day, God “created man in His image”. Hence man and dinosaurs co-existed. Of course, the knee jerk reaction at this point is to suggest that such a notion is quite foolish and unscientific since “everyone knows” that dinosaurs flourished millions of years ago. Of course, this knee jerk reaction is not based upon an unbiased look at the data.
We must never forget that everyone confronts the data to be investigated with a set of worldview presuppositions in terms of which the data to be investigated is interpreted. First, it is not as though the dinosaur fossil record and the bones discovered come with labels on them telling us precisely how long ago the creatures flourished. Secondly, we do not want to fail to make the proper distinction between operational science and historical science. Operational science deals with what can be observed and repeated. This is the kind of science that helps us produce things like computers, iPads, cell phones and other modern marvels. Historical science however, does not deal with observation and repeatability in the present in the same fashion as operational science. Rather, historical science is more theoretical in nature, and hence we must form hypothesis, and collect data that we think supports those hypothesis, and then we draw conclusions based upon our interpretation of the data. But this method is highly dependent upon ones worldview commitments and interpretation.
If the Bible teaches that God created in 6 literal 24 hour days, then it would seem to follow that dinosaurs and man were created on Day 6. The Young Earth Creationist takes this point very seriously since it is based upon a revelation of God, who was not only present at creation, but was the very one who created. The assumption of the truth and accuracy of this revelatory material affects the person’s interpretation of the data. Likewise, the person who does not assume that God has revealed the timing and nature of creation will have his or her interpretation of the data affected as well. That being said, assuming that man and dinosaurs co-existed with one another, do the biblical writers ever make mention of these creatures? Some people think that the scriptures do in fact make references to dinosaurs. Let us examine some of those passages.
Dinosaurs and the Bible
In Job 40:15-19, God compares Job to the power of a very large creature called behemoth.
“Behold, Behemoth, which I made as I made you; he eats grass like an ox. Behold his strength is in his loins, and his power in the muscles of his belly. He makes his tail stiff as a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs are like bars of iron. He is the first of the works of God; let him who made him bring near his sword! -Job 10:15-19
Many believe this is a description of a dinosaur, interestingly coming from the oldest book of the Bible (Job). While it is not conclusive, the physical description of this beast does not seem to coincide with what has been the typical understanding of these verses, namely, the creature being described is an elephant or a hippopotamus. With the tail being described in terms of a cedar, this does not seem to match the description of the tail of a hippo or an elephant. Or again, Jeremiah 9:11 makes reference to a “Den of dragons”.
“And I will make Jerusalem heaps, and a den of dragons; And I will make Judah desolate, without an inhabitation. -Jeremiah 9:11, KJV
Again, not 100% conclusive but the wording here is interesting. The Hebrew used here for “den of dragons” is tannim, meaning monsters. Whatever is being referenced here, we need not impose our modern day word usage upon the ancient writers. Dragon might have been an ancient way to refer to a creature that we would understand to be a dinosaur. At any rate, this is by no means an in-depth study into this subject area. But perhaps we can safely conclude that if the Young Earth Creationist view is correct (which is a debated topic in and of itself), the Bible may very well be making references to creatures very much like dinosaurs, or dinosaurs themselves. Of course, if this is true, then this raises many of other interesting questions: 1) Were the dinosaurs placed in Noah’s Ark? 2) How then did the dinosaurs become extinct? 3) Are they truly extinct or do some flourish somewhere in remote parts of the world? 4) Are the legends of dragons found throughout many different cultures grounded in the historical truth that man and dinosaurs co-existed, and this is how these legends developed? All interesting questions and warrant their own study and research. But for now, hopefully this present article is food for thought.