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The Bible is an interesting book when it comes to trying to explain the existence of beasts on the planet prior to the time of the making of all that is "very good," namely the shaping of Adam and Eve their role in shaping humanity's nature. Not surprisingly, some of that interest when it comes to the beasts that we know of as dinosaurs, real problems exist. Math problems exist, for example, as there seem to be many more numbers of types of such creatures than biblical translations account for. Science problems also exist, given the ways in which fossils are aged and time is documented. Medical problems exist, since the remains of the once living beings contain evidence of diseases and unhealthy biological designs, which weren't supposed to happen. And even logistical problems arise, such as whether dinosaurs could fit on the Ark.
Yet to at least some truly faithful, there is little doubt but that the Bible lives up to its promises. To them and their defenders, the Word of God makes the case that humans and other creatures lived together and did so within the protestations and timelines that God offers.
ENTER THE DINOSAURS: Before examining the problems with dinosaurs, it is important first to understand whether the Bible accepts and "proves" that the beasts even really existed. Where they "in the Bible" and part of its messages and recollections? It would be extremely troublesome if they were not because of the issue of when The Book assumes the planet was founded (some 6000 years ago) and because of what it would mean about their evolution development. So the first question has to be, are there dinosaurs in the Bible?
The answer is very much yes; there are beasts of the nature of dinosaurs in the Bible (The Bible and Science, 2011). Or at least there are numerous explanations of how the interpretations of various words, phrases and descriptions suggest this is the case. In reality to those so inclined, this issue doesn't actually present much of a problem at all. It is, in fact, well accepted that there are many references and descriptors that fit the presumptions of what dinosaurs look, acted and even ate like. For example, a site on Clarifying Christianity (2005) entitled Dinosaurs and the Bible, the writers note that the word dinosaur was not coined until 1822, much later than the preparation of the Bible. Still, there were some pretty explicit comments about animals or other living beings that might not match well-known contemporary beasts as we think of them, but that truly do fit the descriptions of what our children's books on the subject say. As they see it, according to Job (40:15-24), there is the Behemoth, with descriptors from the 2005 Clarifying Christianity site that include this list:
It "eats grass like an ox."
It "moves his tail like a cedar." (In Hebrew, this literally reads, "he lets hang his tail like a cedar.")
Its "bones are like beams of bronze, His ribs like bars of iron."
"He is the first of the ways of God."
"He lies under the lotus trees, In a covert of reeds and marsh."
The writers acknowledge that some see this description differently, usually suggesting that what is meant is essentially what we think of today as an elephant or a hippopotamus. But they counter this bias using the logic of the fact neither elephants nor hippos have tails like a cedar, nor are they large as the "first of the ways of God" might suggest. And given the infallibility of what God said, the descriptions they give prevail.
Then again, even if one has doubts about this, there are other beasts that earn biblical recognition as well. In the same site, the authors then note of the mention in several locations of the Leviathan. This too is a commonly recognized creature. References can be found about this "ferocious and terrifying" sea creature in Job (41), Psalm 104, and Isaiah 27, among other places. And the descriptions of this too earn it an unqualified designation as a dinosaur as we and our young ones know the concept. They even go as far as to show in their justification how this animal could have actually breathed fire like a dragon, showing with no problem how beetles do it and how skulls of other animals suggest they might have too -- thus demonstrating why such mentions are usually seen as the bewitching beasts.
On another site, called Genesis Park (see no date provided, but it is a takeoff of Jurassic Park), their writers mention similar biblical explanations of the same sections. However, they turn instead then to another creature. The King James Version of the Bible uses the Hebrew representation of "Re-em," which they say can be interpreted to mean Monokeros (single horned), which, in their perception, is close to what we now think of as a Triceratops, not just a wild ox. They do acknowledge that there are conflicting passages (such as between Psalm 92:10 and Deuteronomy 33:17), where the number of horns is in question, but even these presumably human misstatements do not refute the underlying facts that there are dinosaurs in the Bible.
But accepting this presents some thorny problems. Contemporary scientific publications indicate with little questioning that there are some 980 recognized biological groupings of dinosaur types (Wikipedia, Dinosaurs 2011). This massive diversity verses the three or more represented in the Bible does force a conflict with other questions of authenticity on the subject of fossil records and time issues in the making of the planet. It may well be the case, for example, that some of those being counted by scientists are water or air creatures, which get a passing by the Bible since it talks about God's creating land beasts. But even this gets difficult to accept if one has to address the issue of evolution (Ranganathan, n.d.). Those that believe in the strict interpretation cannot allow for partial evolutionary modifications that would have to occur if the small number in the Bible somehow parented all the other types. More about this is discussed below.
THE EVOLVING VATICAN: Before turning to these and other problems, however, it seems important to look at how non-scientific, non-academic authorities on religion and spirituality address the general questions. Or at least how they come to grips with the subject of Christianity, evolution and the Big Bang theory on the making of the universe.
The Vatican, not surprisingly has something to say on the topic, though their interpretations aren't always specific when it comes to non-human entities. In general, it can be said that the Church's interest focuses particularly on "the conception of man" and our creation in the image of God, which "cannot be subordinated as a pure means or instrument either to the species or to society." These words are from Cardinal Ratziner's Communion and Stewardship and continue in this way, laying the groundwork for later understandings of evolution and the place of humans:
As a person created in the image of God, he (man) is capable of forming relationships of communion with other persons and with the triune God, as well as of exercising sovereignty and stewardship in the created universe. The implication of these remarks is that theories of evolution and of the origin of the universe possess particular theological interest when they touch on the doctrines of the creation ex-nihilo and the creation of man in the image of God."
This document goes into extensive detail on this and related subjects but makes no specific reference to dinosaurs. Which just affirms the viewpoint that on topics of this nature, the real issue is the relationship between humans and God and less on the issue of evolution. It does also basically affirm, however, that the Vatican does not see science and evolution as contradictory to what the Bible offers. .
Others still take some exception to this otherwise definitive word and try to address the issue in different way -- through logic J.M.J. West (2008), who has written on this topic before, poses the issue in the form of a puzzle of sorts in a site of All Experts. It's quoted here in length because of the way that it lays the foundation for a larger issue of the timeline of the making of the animals and their connection to what we find inside the planet.
God could have created the animals and even man through a guided natural process of evolution, or he could have created them on the spot as they were, and a Catholic is free to believe either in good conscience at this time. But this raises an interesting point of speculation: supposing God created Adam instantly, how old was he? 15? 30? 'Middle-aged'? Nope. He'd have been one-day-old. And being one-day-old, he would have been created with the "illusion of age." And if God can do that with the man, one sees no reason he…[continue]
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