Dragons in Paradise
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D. *
"And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world. . . . And they worshiped the dragon" (Revelation 12: 3,9;13: 4).
The dinosaur mania of this generation is reaching a crescendo with the release in June of the much-publicized movie "Jurassic Park." Not only are record-breaking throngs seeing the movie (which features a modern theme park stocked with real dinosaurs, cloned from ancient dinosaur DNA extracted from bloodsucking insects preserved in amber ever since the so-called Jurassic Period), but stores are selling great numbers of dinosaur toys and books and paraphernalia of all sorts. Most of this propaganda for evolution (for that's what it amounts to!) is aimed at children, who seem to become easily fascinated by the ugly monsters of this supposedly ancient era.
This almost worshipful fascination is nothing new, though its extent is growing explosively. One wonders how many leading modern evolutionists were drawn into evolutionism through their childhood study of dinosaurs. Stephen Jay Gould, for example, testifies that he got his start that way, and he is probably today's leading spokesman for evolution.
What's going on here? Is this just another fad, or is it in some way an important sign of the times? Actually, all the nations of antiquity seem to have had a similar obsession with dinosaur-like animals they called "dragons." The Biblical writers, inspired by God, also wrote about dragons. The first reference to created animals, in Genesis 1:21, says that "God created great whales," but the Hebrew word for "whales" ("tanniynim") is translated "dragons" in over 20 other passages. Note especially Isaiah 27:1: "In that day the LORD . . . shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea."
This type of sea dragon was called a "leviathan" (see also Psalm 74: 14; 104: 26). It was described by God Himself in Job 41:1-34 as a fearsome, fire-breathing (v.21) monster whose scaly hide (vs.15-17) could not be pierced with sword or spear (vs.7,26-29). God also described a huge land dragon called a "behemoth" (Job 40:15-24) that "moveth his tail like a cedar" and is "the chief of the ways of God," impossible to capture (vs.17,19,24). Various other dragons are depicted as dwelling in different types of habitats and as being of various sizes (e.g., Isaiah 34:13; Micah 1:8; Malachi 1:3). In some of these cases, modern translations have rendered "tanniyn" as "jackal," but the Hebrew word means "dragon," or "monster," not jackal.
Dragons were even described in reputable zoological treatises published during the Middle Ages. Even though dragons sometimes were said to have supernatural abilities, all these ancient nations regarded them as real animals, frequently encountered by humans.
The article on dragons in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1949 edition) noted also that dinosaurs were "astonishingly dragonlike," even though its author assumed that those ancients who believed in dragons did so "without the slightest knowledge" of dinosaurs. All dinosaurs are assumed by evolutionary geologists to have been extinct since the end of the Mesozoic Era, about 65 million years ago, whereas the first dinosaur fossils were not discovered until early in the 19th century.
In any case, dinosaurs -- like dragons -- are said to have existed at one time in great numbers and varieties all over the world. Great dinosaur-bone beds have been found on every continent, as far north as Spitzbergen in the Arctic Ocean and as far south as Antarctica, about 400 miles from the South Pole.
Even more astonishing have been the vast numbers of dinosaur tracks and trails. The symposium Dinosaur Tracts and Traces (Ed. by D. D. Gillette and M. G. Lockley, Cambridge University Press, 1989, 454 pp.) documents hundreds of dinosaur-track sites all over the world. They are found in alluvial-fan deposits, flood-plain sediments, lake sediments, dune-like formations, deltas, and shoreline systems.
Many geologists have decided recently that the age of the dinosaurs did come to a sudden end as the result of a global catastrophe of some kind, although there is much disagreement as to what type of catastrophe this may have been. A great flood, accompanied by tremendous volcanic eruptions, with the implied resulting worldwide climatic change from subtropical to the present latitudinal variations, could well account for the vast dinosaur graveyards and trackways all over the world.
The Bible, of course, describes just such a flood that occurred several thousand years ago. There are now thousands of scientists who have become creationists and are convinced that the Biblical flood provides a much better explanation than the geological-age system for the phenomena of earth history, including the dinosaurs and their extinction.
In that connection, suppose the dinosaurs continued to survive for a time in the post-flood world. This would account perfectly for all the dragon stories, many embellished over the centuries with legendary accretions, but at the same time based on a substantial residuum of fact. Bill Cooper, a British student of antiquities, has published a most impressive compilation of dragon/dinosaur encounters with ancient people ("Living Dinosaurs from Anglo-Saxon and other Early Records," Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, volume 6, no. 1, 1992, pp. 49-66).
It may even be that some dinosaurs still survive in isolated regions and especially in the oceans and deep lakes of the world. The famous plesiosaur-like creature dredged up near New Zealand in 1977 (see Oceans magazine, November 1977, pp. 56-59) and the numerous native accounts of a brontosaur-like animal in the swampy interior of the Congolese rain forests (see Science magazine, November 1980, pp. 6, 7) should be neither dismissed nor ignored.
Most creationists believe that dinosaurs have coexisted with man from the beginning, only becoming extinct in the Middle Ages. That being so, one must envision a pre-flood world with vast herds of dinosaurs occupying many areas in every region. The antediluvian population would certainly be familiar with their existence.
There were, therefore, many reminders to antediluvian people everywhere on the earth of "the great dragon . . . that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan" (Revelation 12:9). These beasts should have reminded pre-flood men and women of the serpent whom their first ancestors had encountered in the Garden of Eden, bringing sin and death into God's perfect world.
Even after the flood, dinosaurs could still be seen occasionally, though not in the great herds common in former times. At the climax of the Satan-caused sufferings of the prophet Job, for example, God told him to observe two of these great animals, the land-dwelling behemoth and the ocean-dwelling leviathan, and to realize that -- even though no man alone could ever vanquish such awesome reptiles -- God was well able to defeat them, for it was He who had made them. Just so, God had also created the fallen angel, Satan, who had taken over the body of the serpent back in Paradise, and God could vanquish him, as well.
That old Dragon had invaded Paradise, and God had cast him out into the earth, where he continues to this day leading men and women to rebel against God and His Word. It is he "which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9) with the monstrous lie that there never was a Creator whom men should worship. He wants to reign himself, and to persuade the world to worship him instead of its real Maker and Sustainer.
And amazingly enough, the time is coming soon when the ungodly world will do just that! In the Bible's great prophecy concerning the humanistic dictator who will reign over the whole world for a brief time at the end of the age, a man appropriately called the Beast, who will not "regard any god," but will only "honor the god of forces" (Daniel 11:37,38), we read that "all the world wondered after the beast. And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast" (Revelation 13:3,4).
They -- all the world -- will "worship the Dragon!" And if we look carefully, we can already see the shadows being cast before by these coming events, when we observe the youth of the world so enamored of dinosaurs. People should be thinking instead about "whatsoever things are lovely" and "whatsoever things are of good report" (Philippians 4:8), and not obsessed with creatures which are ugly and fierce and symbolic of "that old serpent."
The New Testament word "paradise" is transliterated directly from the Greek, which in turn was taken over from the Hebrew "pardes" (pronounced "par-dace"). Its basic meaning is "park." It may, therefore, be no coincidence that Hollywood's leading "New Age" producer has chosen to fill his "Jurassic Park" with a bestiary of revived dinosaurs. The great dragon once again symbolically is living in Paradise.
Satan is, indeed, still alive and well on Planet Earth! Overt Satanism is increasingly influential, especially among young people, and so are witchcraft, astrology, spiritism, theosophy, and all the other occult "sciences," all of them based squarely on the age-old deception of evolutionary pantheism. Furthermore, there are many New Age cults and even secret fraternities and lodges that, at least in their advanced degrees, actually honor Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12) as their highest object of worship, in effect uniting with him in his determination to "exalt my throne above the stars of God" and to "be like the most High" (Isaiah 14:13,14). All are seeking to bring in a "new world order," with a world government, a global economic system, and especially a world religion of evolutionary humanistic pantheism, with monotheistic religions, especially Biblical Christianity, banished from the earth.
The world is heading rapidly in that direction, and the modern dinosaur mania may well become an effective contributing factor to reach that evolutionary goal, especially among the youngest generation -- the generation that may well be leading the world in the coming new age.
But God is still in control. Although the behemoth was the strongest of all created land animals, "He that made him can make His sword to approach unto him" (Job 40:19). And though the leviathan "is a king over all the children of pride," yet God says that not even leviathan can "stand before me" (Job 41:34,10). God one day "shall punish leviathan . . . and He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea" (Isaiah 27:1). Finally "the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire . . . and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever," along with all the rebellious angels and all the rebellious men and women whose names are not "written in the book of life" (Revelation 20:10,15).
There will be no more dragons in Paradise in that day. For "there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27).
- The King James Version Bible
* Henry M. Morris (1918-2006) was Founder of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris, H. M. 1993. Dragons in Paradise. Acts & Facts. 22 (7).