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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, June 01 2023

Do dinosaurs pre-date Adam and Eve?

The word dinosaur comes from a combination of the Greek words deinos and sauros and means "terrible lizard.” It technically refers only to terrestrial reptiles that, according to the fossil record, disappeared long ago.

Many people believe we can’t reconcile dinosaurs and the Bible -- but they are wrong. This belief is based on the supposition that the Bible teaches in Genesis chapter 1 that the earth and the human race was created by God some 6000 years old and therefore the dinosaurs – a part of creation -- lived with Adam and Eve and their children. The belief that the earth is some 6000 years old is called the young earth theory.

Yet we may be surprised to learn that several centuries ago scientists did believe in dinosaurs, an ancient earth and in creation week.

In fact, many of the first geologists who established the basic geologic column were believers in both the Bible and an ancient earth.

British physicist Alan Hayward wrote about these premier geologists: “Among them were William Buckland and Adam Sedgwick. Buckland held the chair of geology at Oxford in the early nineteenth century, while Sedgwick was his counterpart at Cambridge [University]. Both were leading churchmen, and both preached the plenary inspiration of Scripture and argued in favor of special creation..."

“Buckland maintained close links with Sedgwick and the famous French geologist, Baron Cuvier . . . They did much to persuade the early nineteenth century church that the earth was extremely old and that such views could be harmonized with the teaching of Genesis” (Creation and Evolution, 1985, pp. 72-73).

Proper chronological sequence

We should note that two Bible experts in the 1970s combined their skills to publish The Reese Chronological Bible, which supports an ancient earth and a creation week that is actually a re-creation of a devastated earth.

Edward Reese was a professor of Bible, history and missions at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee, and spent 20 years putting biblical events in chronological order. Frank Klassen was an architect and engineer who spent 10 years writing The Chronology of the Bible. They both agreed that the account of Genesis had important biblical events occurring between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

In fact, they felt the first verses of the Bible chronologically would be John 1:1-2: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”

Before space, matter and energy were created, there existed the Word (who would later become Jesus Christ, see John 1:14) and God (who later would be identified as God the Father).

Next in The Reese Chronological Bible comes a scripture that speaks of God existing before the creation of the earth, Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”

Then comes the traditional first scripture of Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This marks the creation of the universe as we know it, including the galaxies, stars and planets.

But the most fascinating part of this Bible is what follows -- not Genesis 1:2, but Isaiah 14:12-17, where Lucifer’s fall from heaven is recorded. Next comes the parallel account of Lucifer’s fall in Ezekiel 28:13-18.

Devastation and renewal

Only then comes Genesis 1:2, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (emphasis added). In the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, a footnote to the word “was” in this verse says, “Or possibly became.”

Something happened to cause the earth to become, as the Hebrew denotes, “chaotic and in confusion.” Since God is not the author of confusion or chaos (Isaiah 45:18; 1 Corinthians 14:33), it makes sense that the earth became that way due to Lucifer’s rebellion and subsequent expulsion to the earth.

As Jesus Christ remarked, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Other scriptures reveal it was not only Satan, but also the fallen angels that were cast down with him. We read in 2 Peter 2:4, “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [from the Greek tartaroo, a place of confinement, and in this case, the earth] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment...”

Revelation 12:3-4 describes the dragon (Satan, verse 9) as having drawn a third of the stars of heaven to be cast down to the earth -- these “stars” being symbolic of angels (compare 1:20).

What we don’t know is how long it took Lucifer to rebel -- and how long this was before the six-day renewal of the earth culminating in the creation of Adam and Eve, as described in Genesis 1.

Geologists agree that something dramatic occurred between the age of reptiles and the age of mammals. From the Biblical account we can conclude that Satan’s rebellion caused great destruction on the earth -- bringing an end to the age of the dinosaurs.

As the famous paleontologist G.G. Simpson once remarked: “The most puzzling event in the history of life on the earth is the change from the Mesozoic Age of Reptiles, to the . . . Age of Mammals. It is as if the curtain were rung down suddenly on a stage where all the leading roles were taken by reptiles, especially dinosaurs, in great numbers and bewildering variety, and rose again immediately to reveal the same setting but an entirely new cast, a cast in which the dinosaurs do not appear at all, other reptiles are supernumeraries and the leading parts are all played by mammals of sorts barely hinted at in the previous acts” (Life Before Man, 1972, p. 42).

This reflects the change from the pre-Adamic world to the world of man. Certainly there are smaller reptiles in our world, but they are insignificant in comparison to what existed in the previous age.

This is the only explanation we know of that accepts the literal 24-hour days of the creation (or to us, re-creation) week and, at the same time, makes room for an indefinite period before the creation of mankind that could include the dinosaurs and previous eras.

Students of the Bible need to know that when the biblical facts and understanding are applied the age of the earth and the dinosaurs can be reconciled.