Ever since the first dinosaur reconstructions in the mid-1800's, dinosaurs have been big business. They have been used to sell everything from breakfast cereal to gasoline. And now interest is greater than ever. A new craze for dinosaurs and related merchandise is sweeping America and other western nations.
Almost anywhere children go these days, they are exposed to dinosaurs in one way or another, even on school milk cartons. Furthermore, these creatures are almost as popular with adults. Much of the trendy merchandise appeals to the "yuppie" generation. Articles on new dinosaur extinction theories and fossil discoveries are frequently featured in major national magazines. And a steady stream of new adult-level dinosaur books continues to be issued by humanistic publishers each year. Even adults are fascinated by these great beasts--and likewise the history and controversy surrounding them.
Part of the craze has evidently developed in the wake of a series of high-tech dinosaur exhibits currently touring America. Featured at museums and even a major Las Vegas hotel, these large dinosaurs (half-scale) actually move and growl. These traveling "animated" dinosaurs are attracting huge crowds and have broken long-standing attendance records for several museums.
The current dinosaur fad is, also, undoubtedly due to: (a) dramatic new fossil discoveries; (b) extensive media attention focused on the latest extinction theories; (c) the widely publicized building of an 18-foot mechanical, flying replica of the great pterodactyl, Quetzalcoatlus northropi (now featured in an IMAX-movie shown in museum theaters throughout North America and a PBS-TV documentary).
Dinosaurs are being used on a monumental scale to promote evolution. Parents are often amazed at how much even kindergartners know about them. Portrayed as strange, fierce-looking creatures, they are effectively used to indoctrinate millions of children with false evolutionary concepts, such as the following:
- Dinosaurs and many other animals are pre-historic. Most of the earth's history took place long before the Bible or any other book was written and long before any man existed.
- It is a scientific fact that the earth is exceedingly old--perhaps 5 billion years.
- Evolution is a fact. God did not create the world as portrayed in the Bible.
- There once was a time when the land was inhabited only by reptiles--the Great Age of the Dinosaurs.
- Dinosaurs and other animals evolved into completely different kinds of creatures. Every creature evolved from lower forms of life, even man. Man is just an animal--a highly-evolved primate.
Public-school teachers are generally encouraged to use dinosaurs to promote learning skills. Educational supply stores are usually well-stocked with such supplies used in teaching diverse subjects--from English and reading to arithmetic and history--not to mention science. And all along the way, dinosaurs are related to evolutionary concepts that lead children away from the truth revealed by God in His word.
This evolutionary indoctrination is thorough and frequently reinforced. After years of exposure, beliefs become firmly established in people's minds. Eventually, for most, even to look at a dinosaur automatically brings forth mental images of evolution--ideas effectively re-emphasized in the home by hours of PBS-TV, beautiful National Geographic specials and evolutionary books and articles.
To help counteract the efforts of creationists, various leading evolutionists have come to the conclusion that not enough evolution is being taught. They are actively engaged in making sure that evolution is stressed even more in schools, starting even at the pre-school level!
The current dinosaur craze can either do great harm, or it can be used for significant good. The exciting thing is that when it comes to dinosaurs, the facts are on the side of a creationist interpretation--not evolution.
Here are some dinosaur facts that can be used to stimulate children's interest in the true nature of science while presenting dinosaurs in a Biblical framework of history.
The Wrong-Headed Dinosaur. How do scientists know anything about dinosaurs? Apart from the Bible, the only information on dinosaurs comes from fossils--parts of dead plants and animals that have been turned into rock. Examples of dinosaur fossils include bones, teeth, claws, spikes, horns, bony plates, eggs (sometimes with unborn babies), gizzard's stones (gastroliths), dung (coprolites), footprints, imprints of skin (very rare), and stomach contents (very rare). Fossils are like pieces of a puzzle. No one knows how the living animal actually looked, nor can they do more than guess about the animal's behavior. This is why our concepts about dinosaurs continually change.
A good example is the great Brontosaurus, probably the best known of the dinosaurs. Millions of people have seen it in books and advertising; however, the Brontosaurus never existed! Its fossils were discovered with the head missing. To complete the skeleton, the scientist attached a skull found 3-4 miles away, but did not reveal this fact. Recently it was discovered that the body skeleton belonged to a Diplodocus and the skull was from an Apatosaurus.
Dinosaurs and the Bible. Many are surprised to find that dinosaur-like creatures are mentioned in the Bible. Job chapter 40 gives us a good description of one of these animals.
The book of Job is very old, probably written around 2,000 years before Jesus was born or soon after the Flood. Here God describes the greatest of land animals, an animal the Bible calls "behemoth," meaning "gigantic beast." This Biblical description clearly fits the description of a large saurapod such as Diplodocus or Apatosaurus. Note the following points mentioned there; the behemoth:
Was a large, grass eater
Had great muscles and extremely strong bones
Was not afraid of anything
Had a tail so large it was compared to a large cedar tree
Rests in marshes--flooding rivers do not alarm it
Cannot be trapped or domesticated
Before the wide-spread interest in the dinosaurs, early students of the Bible tried to identify the behemoth of Job based on contemporary experience. The best candidates were the elephant or hippopotamus, both of which fail the description--especially the tail test.
Other samples of how dinosaur facts can be used to honor the Creator include the presence of dinosaur fossils in hardened mud (sedimentary rocks) and the fact that fossil skeletons result from rapid burial (such as the Flood), not by slowly being covered by sediments over many years. Another area of interest to both children and adults is in the wide-spread tales of dinosaur-like creatures (so-called "dragons") preserved in the legends of many ancient cultures. There have even been occasional encounters with dinosaur-like creatures reported in modern times.
Every Christian is in a position to help children escape this great dinosaur deception. Here is a partial list of actions available:
- BOOKS, MOVIES, VIDEOS, AUDIO TAPES, ACTIVITY BOOKS. Provide children with dinosaur materials that tell the truth about dinosaurs and history--not the distorted evolutionary beliefs of secular humanists. Use children's natural fascination with dinosaurs to turn them toward their Creator!
- STORYTIME. Incorporate dinosaurs into your story-telling about Creation, Noah and the Ark, etc.
- SCHOOL. Christian teachers can incorporate dinosaurs into their curriculum to teach students about Creation, the Fall, the Flood, geology and the environment.
- LIBRARIES. Donate creationist books to libraries. Start with Christian school libraries and churches first, since they are the first responsibility of Christians.
- SUNDAY SCHOOL AND VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL. The one place most children never hear about dinosaurs is in church. Shouldn't this be the first place to teach young people about creationism and the Bible--and how dinosaurs fit into all this?
- SPECIAL MEETINGS. An evening meeting, a week-long series, or a special "Dinosaur Night" for families--all have proven effective and have gotten great attendance. Many creationist speakers are happy to provide assistance.
- BOOKSTORES. Encourage your local Christian bookstore to carry Christian materials on dinosaurs, especially during the current dinosaur fad, as well as other creation-oriented books and audiovisuals.
Christians should take advantage of the unique opportunity the dinosaur fad presents--before it is too late. People are interested in dinosaurs now. So now is the time to present them with the truth. One of the prime duties of each Christian is to proclaim news of our Creator to glorify Him. Dinosaurs can be used admirably to do this--like all other things in creation.
*Paul S. Taylor, M.S., is Production Director of the Films for Christ Association.