The Pivotal Importance of Dinosaurs in
Creationist and Evolutionist Thought
by Lorella Rouster
For years the evolutionists have controlled publications, the media and education so completely that their assumptions about dinosaurs and dragons were freely and nearly universally stated as fact. Recently, creationists have been challenging these assumptions. But many wonder why we bother. Of what importance are these distinctions? What difference do they make? Why don't creationists use their time for things more important? These are all questions that arise again and again as I discuss with believers and unbelievers my writing and speaking on this topic.
They are legitimate questions. If this is only a peripheral topic of little consequence, if this is only a question of curiosity and not of real urgency, why bother with it, when so much else cries for attention? I believe the framework in which we interpret dinosaurs and dragons is vitally important for four main reasons.
First, dinosaurs in contact with human beings fits into the Creation-Flood model of origins, but not into the evolutionary model. According to Genesis, water animals were created on the fifth day (Gen. 1:21-23), land animals, man and woman on the sixth day (Gen. 1:24-25). At most, dinosaurs and the first people were created but one day apart, assuming dinosaurs are basically water-based creatures. In fact many feel that the "great whales" of the King James Version (Gen. 1:21) may be an inclusive or broad term meaning great sea creatures, and may easily take in water-based dinosaurs such as the Sauropods.1 On the other hand, the concept of dinosaurs existing long before humans fits into the evolutionary, but not the Creation model of origins and prehistory. This in itself should be reason enough for creationists to be interested, even aside from simple scientific inquiry.
The second reason this topic is important is that evidence of dinosaurs in contact with humans constitutes evidence for the Biblical model of prehistory. and evidence against the evolutionary model. According to evolutionary theory, dinosaurs evolved in the Mesozoic Era, 65 to 225 million years ago,2 and people did not evolve until the last part of the Quaternary, about 250,000 years ago.3 It is true that Richard Leakey's recent discoveries of human fossils in Africa have been dated at three million years, 4 but this has not caused evolutionists to examine either the assumption of evolution or the presuppositions involved in radiometric dating. Probably the timetable of "evolution" will get pushed back further and further by evolutionists, for as Harold Slusher points out, the age of the earth has been doubling every fifteen years for the past 300 years. 5 But the idea that humans and dinosaurs coexisted disturbs evolutionary ideas, which require vast eons of time in which it is thought that the unthinkable somehow becomes reality. All the evidence that humans saw dinosaurs, for instance, the drawing of a dinosaur on the cave wall at Latrone, France, the inclusion of the dragon (dinosaur) in the Chinese zodiac with eleven real, known animals, and pictures by the early cultures of Babylon, Assyria, Iran, the Vikings and the Mayan Indians, all this is evidence that vast evolutionary expanses of time did not separate dinosaurs and early humanity. Even if the upper portion of the evolutionary time scale should be revised to show dinosaurs and humans closer together in time, we may ask, If such major revisions are needed in the supposedly more recent part about which we know the most, what vast revisions are likely needed in the supposedly more ancient part, where the guesswork REALLY begins?
The third reason this subject is important is that for years, we've been giving away much of the evidence to support our case! By giving dinosaurs in literature, folklore and art a separate name, dragons, and then by relegating such creatures to myth or explaining their physical reality away in some psychological way such as Carl Sagan and Peter Dickinson attempt to do,6 we lose much of the evidence to support our case. It is true that we still have some paleontological evidence, for instance, the footprints of brontosauri and people together in the Paluxy River bed at Glen Rose, Texas7. This is sufficient to prove to the open-minded that people co-existed with dinosaurs. But scientists often say that if evidence can be adduced from a variety of disciplines, it lends great weight to the veracity of a hypothesis. By allowing the dragons of ancient art, folklore and literature to be relegated to the realm of superstition or the world of dreams, we have given away substantial evidence from many disciplines that confirms the findings of paleontology and points us in the direction of these early inhabitants of the earth living at the same lime, as described in Genesis and Job. By tailing to recognize Behemoth and Leviathan (Job 40 and 41) as describing dinosaurs, we have also given away the evidence recorded in the Bible that the early writers of Scripture were familiar with dinosaurs.
Whoever heard of a lawyer giving half his evidence to his opponent? This topic is important because creationists must recognize what we have unwittingly done, and must recover the evidence we have given to our adversaries.
The fourth reason this topic is so urgent is that by teaching the assumption that dinosaurs lived long before humans, even if evolution itself is not specifically mentioned in that teaching, the student is moved toward accepting evolution. The propagandists who write many of our children's books on this subject know that at some future date the student will need to fit what he has been taught about dinosaurs into a framework of origins and prehistory, a philosophy of time. The only framework he can possibly fit it into is evolution; the only philosophy it is compatible with is humanism, This is why early teaching about dinosaurs, often done as early as first grade, is so critical2. This teaching, however simple and innocent it may appear, if it suggests the idea that dinosaurs lived long before humans, forms the first link of a chain that is being woven into the minds of our youth. This chain has a key for the addition of future links. No part of the Creation-Flood model of prehistory will tit onto this chain. Evolution is the key that fits other links onto the chain, leading the student eventually to the acceptance of evolution and a humanistic view of the world. Why have we not had greater success in teaching Creation in our Sunday schools? Perhaps one major reason is that our youth already have the first link of the evolutionary chain in their minds from early teaching that dinosaurs lived long before humans evolved. This link, once established, resists the addition of the truths of Creation. It is urgent and imperative that we break this chain!
The student who has this first evolutionary link in his mind has only one option short of rejecting Creation altogether. This option is to accept Creation and evolution both, attempting somehow to segment truth about the early earth into "religious" and "scientific" (meaning evolutionary) realms. This is a popular way of coping with the problem, and results in fragmented thinking about the world in which "truth" arrived at in different disciplines is not only not harmonized with "truth" from others, but in which contradictory "truths" are both thought to be equally true at the same time. This has given a tremendous boost to the rise of modern existentialism. The person whose thought is so fragmented is actually further from finding the truth than the out-and-out evolutionist who says Creation and the Flood are bunk. At least the out-and-out evolutionist recognizes that there must be a framework of thought that "puts it all together", even though he has missed that framework. The original evolutionary link, then, is very dangerous.
How can we recover our forfeited evidence for Creation? How can we break the evolutionary chain in the minds of our youth? We must become more vocal. We must write intelligent, documented letters of concern and rebuttal to book publishers, television producers, museum directors and others who insist on forging the first link of the evolutionary chain without giving equal exposure to the evidence for the other view We must politely but firmly confront our educators with the facts. We must carefully teach our own children to discern the attempts of the enemy to force into their minds that first link, and we must diligently create the first link of Creation, of dinosaurs and humans coexisting, long before the evolutionist can begin his propaganda. Many excellent books are coming out on this topic, available from Creation publishers and at Christian bookstores. We must purchase them for our homes, read them ourselves and to our children, share them with friends. Every Creationist should purchase copies as he is able, to donate to local libraries and schools around him.
Did dinosaurs and early humans live at the same time? The topic is far from a side issue. Let's not only break the evolutionary chain: let's also forge the chain that is strong, not by virtue of popularity, but by virtue of truth.
1 The Hebrew word is tannin, and according to Ellicott's Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), means any "long" creature, and is used elsewhere of crocodiles and sea monsters in general. The NASV translates tannin "great sea monsters, `and the NIV "great creatures of the sea.
2 These United States (Pleasantville, New York: Reader's Digest Association, 1968), p.122.
3 The Epic of Man (New York: Time-Life, 1961), p.11. According to this book the genus Homo emerged about 700,000 years ago, and Homo Sapiens (Thinking Man) about 250,000 years ago. The evolution of early primates to Homo Sapiens is said to represent 700 millions years of evolution.
4 Duane T. Gish, Ph.D., The Origin of Man, (Bridgeport, IL: Christian Audio Tapes, 1976).
5 Harold S. Slusher, The Age of the Earth I (Bridgeport, IL: Christian Audio Tapes, 1976).
6 Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden, Speculates on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (New York: Random House, 1977). Peter Dickinson. The Flight of Dragons (New York: Harper and Row, 1979).
7 John D. Morris, The Paluxy River Tracks. ICR Impact Series No.35 (San Diego: Institute for Creation Research, May 1976).
8 My own daughter encountered this in first grade in a public school in Indiana. I have observed many dinosaur books for children in variety stores, all based on evolutionary assumptions and obviously aimed at very early ages.