Dinosaurs

How would you explain dinosaurs from a biblical standpoint to non believers who state it’s been proven by fossil records that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago?

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Just as a clarifying question, what is your position regarding dinosaurs?

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@gvalenz612 It might help to clarify what you mean by a “biblical standpoint” on dinosaurs. I have heard this type of objection posed by skeptics who think that Genesis 1-2 requires belief in a Young Earth, which contradicts data from fossil dating methods. The RZIM Connect topic Young Earth Creationism is a treasure trove of discussion and resources from various viewpoints on this matter that I recommend to you to explore.

It is important to differentiate between translation and interpretation in order to answer the objection raised by your question because the objection assumes that the laws of interpretation mandate a Young Earth view. Translation converts words and grammar from one language into another language. Interpretation conveys the meaning of those words and language to the hearer or reader. Translation is, in principle, easier than interpretation because it involves finding a term in a cross-referenced table. That is what on-line translation services generally do. Interpretation is much trickier because it requires cultural and literary context and cognitive ability that cannot be put in a table. That is why on-line translation services frequently produce wacky results. They improve only by employing human intelligence behind the scenes. Professional interpreters translate and interpret on the fly. That is why, for example, when an interpreter hears, “Au revoir,” in French, she says not the literal translation, “In to see again”–my apologies for my rusty French–but the actual interpretation, “Good-bye.”

In our present case, we translate the ancient Hebrew word, yom, as day, but how do we interpret it? This is very tricky, as John Lennox shows in his book, Seven Days That Divide the World. (You can find a reference to it in the topic that I cited above.) Too many Christians treat it as a slam-dunk matter of twenty-four hours when it is not a slam-dunk. There are other matters, too, such as how to understand the genealogies, the date of the Flood, the meaning of the Sabbath, etc. All of these are matters of interpretation that require a much fuller knowledge of context for absolute precision than we can possibly have more than three thousand years after the fact; therefore the laws of interpretation do not require a Young Earth view, although they allow it.

Since the laws of interpretation do not require a Young Earth view, we should consider how what we find in Creation may influence how we interpret the Bible. One question that I ask myself is, “If we were to find evidence that proves beyond any doubt that the Earth is as old as generally accepted current science asserts it to be, then would the Bible be proven false?” To which I answer, “No.” Therefore I do not hang my doctrinal hat on that issue. The problem is that your skeptic probably only knows Christians who hang their hats on that issue, and it is a weak hanger. It might help your skeptic to know that the jury is still out on that matter, that it will remain out until Eternity comes, and he might want to be more concerned about what we know to be true from the Bible and Creation about sin and salvation than about unresolved side-issues like the age of the Earth and dinosaurs.

@Joshua_Hansen My apologies for repeating your question. I did not see it until after I posted my response.

Some of the confusion is the type of science used. Historical science can only judge the cause by the effect. It cannot reproduce history. Empirical science can run the same experiment over and over again and get the same result each time. So for those who insist on an old earth, they are looking back in time and calculating carbon decay in an artifact and extrapolating backwards to estimate the age. Here’s the problem I have with the historical scientist:

  1. How do they know that the rate of decay is constant?
  2. Have they considered ALL possible causes for what they observe? For example, what would a worldwide cataclysm such as a flood do to their historical models?
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“Proven” is a mighty big word! Among historians there a specific category for historians of science. They study how science has changed over time. Scientists change their mind a lot so there is a lot to study. Maybe it is better said that new discoveries frequently change conventional understandings.

We have only started to know about dinosaurs since sometime in the 1800s. Dating the origins of these fossils only started in the 1940s. From a scientific stand point these “proven facts” are relatively brand new. To say that science has “proven” dinosaurs existed millions of years ago, with no first hand observation, gives the field of paleontology more credit than perhaps it has earned.

That is just my two cents and perhaps doesn’t answer your question, but I think a valuable perspective.

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When you doubt that dinosaurs existed millions of years ago, are you doubting that dinosaurs existed, that they existed millions of years ago, or both?

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It is the “millions of years” part that I would question. I think we know that dinosaurs existed at some point because we have first-hand observational evidence. We can see the fossils and hold them in our hands.

Often people will base beliefs on theory and speculation because they are comfortable with the conclusion or it serves some larger purpose like supporting a secular understanding of the world. To say something is “proven” is a big claim. All too often we let that statement get by us.

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If they didn’t exist millions of years ago, when would you say they existed?

I think it is important to keep in mind that this is a door that swings both ways:

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I am not a paleontologist. My background is history with a focus on American history so I don’t know that I am best qualified to answer that question. I think you would get a better answer from an article from Answers in Genesis than from me.

I am only pointing out that when someone claims something is “proven” they may be building their argument using a flawed premise that if not addressed will lead the discussion in the wrong direction. This is a common problem in these types of discussions.

Personally I subscribe to a young earth understanding, but that is a statement of faith not science. I can’t prove that for you, but this would mean they existed sometime in the last 6000 years.

Sorry but I don’t understand what you mean when you say, “I think it is important to keep in mind that this is a door that swings both ways:”

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Thank you for your response!

By my last comment I was merely pointing out that the accusation that someone has a belief and permits certain evidence because it serves a larger purpose can just as easily be turned around on us. We can say someone wants a secular society and therefor believes in an Old Earth and they can say that we want a religious society and therefore want to hold to a young earth. That criticism can be lodged by both sides of the argument. I just think that is important to keep in mind.

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