What's the Deal with the Dinosaurs and the Bible (All the Best Questions)

We had just left Disney World, and I was excited because for the first time, I was getting to ride in the front seat on a big trip. It was late and dark as we drove through the night to get back to my grandparents’ house several hours away. As we drove I remember being surprised by how much brighter all the headlights seemed when you were in the front seat. Sometimes I would find myself squinting as the big trucks passed us, wondering how my dad could see anything as they drove by.

But, I had a question for my dad. A big one. I had been saving it up for this moment because I knew I would have him all to myself as my mom and brother slept in the back of the minivan. I couldn’t wait to hear his answer. As far as I was concerned, he was the smartest person I had ever known. It seemed like any time I asked him anything, he had an answer.

I had seen a movie (Back to the Future) where one of the characters was warned by a scientist that if they messed things up when they traveled back into the past, they would create another possible future and might not be able to get back to their current time. I had spent an enormous amount of time thinking about it and had figured that if that were possible, it might mean that every decision we made would create a different universe.

As we drove down the highway with Cinderella's castle in the rear view mirror I asked my dad just that. Is that what happened? If so, how did you know if you were creating a different universe? Also, did the other universes keep going or did they stop happening when you made a choice?

After my long list of deep questions, my dad said nothing. For a second I wondered if he was asleep at the wheel or if he just wasn't listening. I studied his face and could see he was thinking, so I decided to wait. I hated it when people interrupted my deep thoughts.

He did speak eventually, but what he said surprised me. “I don’t know.” I felt like I had never heard those words come out of his mouth before.

“But… I mean, what do you think?”

“I think we don’t know, and we can’t know at this point.”

I was stunned. I thought Dad would have a lot to say about my question. But he explained that there wasn’t any data on time travel or on the nature of the way time may or may not divide. Even worse, there wasn’t really a clear way that we could even try to come up with an answer based on scientific data. Anything we could come up with would just be an educated guess.

You are reading Chapter 24 from All the Best Questions. You can buy a copy wherever books are sold!

I think about that conversation with my dad every time someone asks me about dinosaurs and the Bible, because it’s the basic answer to the Biblosaurus question: we don’t know and we can’t know. By that I mean that the Bible doesn’t say anything at all about dinosaurs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard a million theories about dinosaurs in the Bible. People have told me everything from dinosaurs being the devil and other angels kicked out of heaven to the Nephilim in the story of Noah to them not even being real at all, but something God put in the ground to test our faith.

The problem with all of these theories is that they are putting things into the Bible that aren’t there. Either they misinterpret words to mean more than they do (the Nephilim), completely make up things that aren’t there at all (the devil and fallen angels), or totally contradict science (bones hidden by God).

This question does bring up an idea that is important to know: The Bible doesn’t address every issue specifically, and that’s ok. However, I don’t think there is any part of our lives that the Bible doesn’t address. Let’s think about those two ideas.

First, the Bible doesn’t give specific insight into every issue. Depending on what part of the Bible you are reading, it was written somewhere between 2,000 and 6,000 years ago. That means that most ideas, discoveries, and pieces of information that have been thought of or invented since then won’t be discussed specifically. If you want to know whether or not God thinks iPhones or Androids are better, you’re going to have to keep wondering, because it won’t be in the Bible. Basically all of modern science fits into this category. Our modern scientific concepts, discoveries, and ways of thinking about life simply weren't around when the Bible was written. Therefore, anything you find in the Bible that you think addresses some modern scientific concept or discovery will have to be sort of a hint in that direction.

But that’s not to dismiss the Bible and say that it has nothing to say in the modern world. Even though it was written a long time ago to people in a very different culture and world, the stories, poetry, and law it contains are able to reach beyond their specific moment in history as long as we are careful with them.

That's the incredible thing about the Bible. Even though it may have been written to people living before the invention of gunpowder, it is the word of God, and as we read it, we hear the voice of God speaking across the millennia to us today. But because we are so far removed from the original moment it was written, we have to be careful to not make it address the modern day too specifically.

For example, if we read a Bible verse forbidding people from having statues in their house, we need to stop before we dump all our statues into the trash. Before we do that, we need to understand what was happening to those original people. Why did they have statues? What was it about the statues that made God ask them to throw the statues away?

In the case of statues, it was usually because in those days most religions used statues as idols to represent other gods. Once we understand that we can take the bigger idea into our modern time and try and apply it. If the statue thing was about not worshipping other gods, what is it in our world that might tempt us to do the same thing? When we find the answer to that question, we can act accordingly and remove whatever tempts us to worship other gods from our lives and homes.

But what about the dinosaurs? Since the Bible doesn’t say anything about the dinosaurs specifically, we have bigger things that we can say about them. When I think about the dinosaurs, the words that come to my mind are from Habakuk 3:2a: “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD…”.

When I think about the dinosaurs, about their beauty, size, and incredible variety, I am amazed by them. I am in awe. I think that for those of us whose imaginations are captured by the incredible animals that were the dinosaurs, we can allow that wonder to stretch beyond the dinosaurs to God. Or, to paraphrase Psalm 19:1, “The dinosaurs declare the glory of the Lord.”

Want more answers to great questions? This is an excerpt from my book All the Best Questions published by Beaming Books. You can get one everywhere books are sold!