(1) When Did God Make the Dinosaurs?
The answer to this question will be totally dependent on ones worldview, whether that be a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) or an Old Earth Creationist (OEC). Basically, regardless of what side of the fence a Christian finds themselves on (OEC or YEC), Christians in both boats believe in “creationism”, we all believe God created the world and the universe.
So, let us start with the beliefs of the Young Earth Creationist, and how they tie the dinosaurs into the biblical narrative.
Firstly the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) believes that the world is only 6000 – 10 000 years old, they deduce this number by adding up the genealogies of all the people in the Bible and arriving at a numerical figure. This may become inconvenient, complicated and confusing since the genealogies in the Bible often skip many generations and sometimes purposely leave out the names of parents and grandparents, so this value may not be accurate. As a result many YEC believe that dinosaurs existed in the not too distant past, in other words a mere few thousand years in the past, and not millions of years ago as paleontologists put it. The YEC holds onto the notion that the Bible is the infallible word of God and therefore arrive at the conclusion that the dinosaurs only lived a handful of thousands of years ago, and because the Bible says this it must be right. The YEC further believes that the worldwide flood (see my article: The Genesis Flood: Scripture, History, and Science indicate a local flood) a mere 6000 – 10 000 years ago killed off the dinosaurs, and that before this catastrophic flood that dinosaurs walked with man.
Where the OEC and the YEC agree, is that dinosaurs were created on the 6th Day of creation as God made all the land animals, “And 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” (Genesis 1:27).
The Old Earth Creationist (OEC) agrees that, through the process of radiometric dating, the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, the OEC also believes that the universe is 13.5 billion years old. For the OEC there is no contradiction between scientific study and methodology and the Genesis account whereby time is concerned, as the YEC certainly face on just about all fronts.
The OEC also believes the Hebrew word for day “yom” is indicative of long, unspecified periods of time, and not a simple 24 hour period, in contrast the YEC believes yom to indicate literal 24 hour days. There are many definitions attributed to the Hebrew word yom, seemingly 3 meanings, it could be referring to the daylight between dawn and dusk (12 hours), it could mean a long and unspecified length of time, and it could also mean the 24 hour period of time that it takes for the earth to rotate on its axis.
First off, there is nothing that does not say that the word yom could mean 24 hours or an unspecified length of time, both options are open, but with a closer inspection of scripture and modern science we can arrive at an answer. However, if we look at certain aspects of certain days of creation in the Genesis account, it may lead to the conclusion that the days were in fact long periods of time and not literal 24 hour periods. For instance:
-On day 3 we can see that God created plant life and vegetation, however we can see that plants sprouted from the “seeds” God had made. Plants grow over time to maturity, and also produce seed, this process is indicative of a period of longer than 24 hours, this process could take years to come by. We can see this when God “allowed the earth to bring forth trees that bore fruit”, which is not a quick process.
-We can also deduce that the 6th Day is problematic for the YEC. We can see, in accordance with scripture, that God planted a garden in Eden, then God caused the vegetation to sprout and grow. After this process God then brings all the animals to Adam for him to name. Once all the animals were named we then see that God decides to make a helper for Adam, and thus puts him to sleep and takes one of his ribs and creates Eve from it. We see that Adam had a profound response to this new creation, Adam exclaims “at last”, of which clearly indicates that Adam was without a partner for an extended period of time, not only one single day.
We can deduce that the Hebrew word yom most certainly indicates a period longer that 24 hours.
From this we can see that on the 6th day God created dinosaurs. We can deduce that God created the animals (including the dinosaurs) way before Adam and Eve, however the time when he created the first dinosaur is unknown. Day 6 could have been millions of years in length, this leaves open a large period of time that the dinosaurs could have roamed around the Earth, on the same day the dinosaurs go extinct and millions of years later (on the same day) God created us. According to Genesis man and dinosaurs lived on the same day, although millions of years apart. For the YEC the central belief is that these dinosaurs went extinct, except for a few, when the flood occurred.
For the Young Earth Creationist, should they be right that these large lizards lived a mere 6000 years ago, then I can’t help but contemplate that the film Jurassic Park would have been a tad bit scarier.