How Do Creationists Explain Dinosaurs?

Creationists, Fundamentalists, and the Fossil Evidence for Dinosaurs

Tyrannosaurus fossils reconstructed

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One of the most unrewarding things a scientist or science writer can attempt to do is rebut the arguments of creationists and fundamentalists. This is not because it's difficult to demolish the creationist point of view, scientifically speaking. It's because meeting anti-evolutionists on their own terms can make it seem, to some readers, as if there are two logical sides to the argument. Even so, the ways in which creationists fit dinosaurs into their Biblical worldview is a worthy topic of discussion. Learn more about some of the main arguments fundamentalists use to support their position, and discover the contrasting scientific view on each point.

Dinosaurs Are Thousands, Not Millions, of Years Old

The creationist argument: According to the most fundamentalist interpretation, the Book of Genesis posits a world that came into being a little over four thousand years ago. Creationists insist that dinosaurs were created ex nihilo, by God, along with all the other animals. In this view, evolution is just an elaborate story used by scientists to buttress their false claims of an ancient Earth. Some creationists even insist that the fossil evidence for dinosaurs was planted by the Great Deceiver himself, Satan.

The scientific rebuttal: On the scientific side, established techniques such as radioactive carbon dating and sedimentary analysis conclusively prove that the fossils of dinosaurs were laid down in geological sediments anywhere from 65 million to 230 million years ago. Astronomers and geologists have also demonstrated beyond any doubt that Earth gradually coalesced from a cloud of debris orbiting the sun about four and a half billion years ago.

All the Dinosaurs Could Have Fit on Noah's Ark

The creationist argument: According to Biblical fundamentalists, all of the animals that ever existed must have all lived within the past few thousand years. Therefore, all those animals must have been led, two by two, onto Noah's Ark, including full-grown mating pairs of Brachiosaurus, Pteranodon, and Tyrannosaurus Rex. That must have been one pretty big boat, even if some creationists believe Noah collected baby dinosaurs or their eggs.

The scientific rebuttal: Skeptics point out that, by the Bible's own word, Noah's Ark measured only about 450 feet long and 75 feet wide. Even with tiny eggs or hatchlings representing the hundreds of dinosaur genera discovered so far, it's clear that Noah's Ark is a myth. This isn't to throw out the baby with the bathwater, however. There may have been a huge, natural flood in the Middle East during Biblical times that inspired the Noah legend.

Dinosaurs Were Wiped Out by the Flood

The creationist argument: Creationists maintain that any dinosaurs that didn't make it onto Noah's Ark, along with all the other stranded animal species on Earth, were rendered extinct by the Biblical flood. This would mean dinosaurs were not wiped out by the K/T asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. This ties in nicely, if not very logically, with the claims of some fundamentalists that the distribution of dinosaur fossils is related to a specific dinosaur's location at the time of the flood.

The scientific rebuttal: In the modern age, a majority of scientists agree that a comet or meteorite impact 65 million years ago, which struck Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, was the main cause of the dinosaurs' demise. The effects of this event were perhaps combined with disease and volcanic activity to cause the extinction. There are clear geological traces at the presumed impact site in Mexico. As for the distribution of dinosaur fossils, the simplest explanation is the most scientific one. Fossils are discovered in geologic sediments that were formed gradually over the course of millions of years, during the time in which the animals lived.

Dinosaurs Still Walk Among Us

The creationist argument: Many creationists would like scientists to discover a living, breathing dinosaur in some remote corner of, say, Guatemala. In their opinion, this would invalidate the theory of evolution and instantly align popular opinion with a Bible-centric worldview. It would also cast a cloud of doubt on the reliability and accuracy of the scientific method.

The scientific rebuttal: Any reputable scientist would point out that the discovery of a living, breathing Spinosaurus would alter absolutely nothing about evolutionary theory. The theory has always allowed for the long-term survival of isolated populations. One example is the discovery of the Coelacanth, once thought to be long extinct, in the 1930s. Biologists would be thrilled to find a living dinosaur lurking in a rain jungle somewhere. Then, they could analyze the animal's DNA and conclusively prove its evolutionary kinship with modern birds.

Dinosaurs Are Mentioned in the Bible

The creationist argument: Some creationists say that when the word "dragon" is used in the Old Testament, what it really means is "dinosaur." They point out that other texts from various regions of the ancient world also mention these fearsome, scaly creatures. This is used as evidence that dinosaurs aren't nearly as old as paleontologists claim, as dinosaurs and humans must have lived at the same time.

The scientific rebuttal: The science camp doesn't have much to say about what the author(s) of the Bible meant when they referenced dragons. That's a question for theologists, not evolutionary biologists. However, the fossil evidence is incontestable that modern humans appeared on the scene tens of millions of years after the dinosaurs lived. And besides, humans have yet to discover any cave paintings of a Stegosaurus! The true relationship between dragons and dinosaurs is deeply rooted in myth.