Dinosaurs on the Ark

A new That’s a Fact video, Dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark, jumped today to the head of the short queue of episodes that I have yet to present to you. This is a topic we’ve seen many times before (e.g. two days ago), but it’s always fun:

Here’s your transcript and commentary:

Were dinosaurs on Noah’s Ark? According to Scripture the answer is: yes!

“Scripture” does not mention dinosaurs, as you probably know, but as we have already seen there are a few scattered verses that talk of dragons and “behemoth” that creationists like to pretend refer to this group. None of that today, however:

Genesis says that God created all the land animals on day six of creation, which would have included the dinosaurs. The Bible also says that two of every animal kind were on the Ark with Noah. And that had to include the dinosaurs.

The logic runs: Dinosaurs existed and were animals; all animals were on the Ark; therefore dinosaurs were on the Ark. Is that not, however, the first step down Jason Lisle’s slippery slope? After all, if you’re prepared to let “secular scientists” tell you that there was this whole big group of animals that don’t exist any more and you just cave and make room for them on the Ark…

But what did they eat, and how did they fit? Well, the Bible says that in the beginning everything was very good, and there was no death. That means all the animals were vegetarians, even the ones with sharp teeth.

For the perplexed, the ICR don’t consider plants to be “biblically” alive: to fit their definition you need to to have the following attributes:

  • Be capable of “independent movement”
  • Have “blood”
  • Have a soul/spirit

Plants have none of those, so wanton herbicide is perfectly compatible with a “very good” world.

Today, we see that fruit-bats and pandas have really sharp teeth, and they eat only fruit and bamboo. So it’s possible that T. rex was a vegetarian on the Ark!

This is an idea that we’ve seen before: if there are animals with sharp teeth that eat vegetables, then why can’t all animals with sharp teeth be vegetarian? The trouble is that there’s more to teeth than just whether they are “sharp” or not. There is indeed a shape of “sharp” tooth that fruit-bats need for their fruity diet, but insectivorous bats have very different morphology (as do therapod dinosaurs). Another way of looking at it would be to ask why, if T. rex could slip so easily into carnivory, pandas and fruit-bats did not? There’s more to it than the sharpness of the tooth.

And since God needed the animals to be young and healthy on the Ark, they were probably also small. Crocodiles and pythons can be huge, but when they’re young they’re pretty small. And small animals don’t eat as much. That must have been how it was with the dinosaurs. The ones on the Ark were young, small, and didn’t take up much room or eat a lot.

This idea – that the dinosaurs on the Ark would have been young and therefore small – is what we were talking about with Eddie on Sunday.

And after the storm was over God commanded the animals to go out and fill the Earth with their offspring. For young, healthy animals this wouldn’t have taken long at all. Kinda like how we saw animal and plant populations bounce back after Mt St Helens erupted in 1980.

This brings us to an important topic called “succession”: the process where by the ecology of an area can develop either from a disturbed environment e.g. in a forest fire (secondary succession) or from an entirely new one e.g. on a solidified lava flow (primary succession). It shouldn’t be hard to see how this concept would be relevant to the return of life following a global catastrophe.

Some places affected by the St Helens eruption really did “bounce back” quite quickly – these were the places that had not been completely sterilised by the heat of the event and so the much faster process of secondary succession could occur as seeds and other living things survived. Those that took longer did so because the sterilisation meant that they had to begin again from zero – this takes longer. But neither are fully analogous to the devastation after the creationists’ global flood.

Plants and animals can return because they come from somewhere: the Mt St Helens eruption rained destruction over a relatively localised area. But if the whole world has been affected – and in a manner that reduces it to a state that requires primary and not secondary processes – then this process is going to take a whole lot longer. It would take time before large, fast-growing herbivores could be supported by the environment and in the meantime there’s nowhere for them to sit and wait it out.

So even though God had to rid the world of evil with the global flood, he made a way to save people and animals on board the Ark. Including the dinosaurs.

So, there you go: of course dinosaurs were on the Ark. Them and unicorns, at this rate.

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10 thoughts on “Dinosaurs on the Ark

  1. One thing I’ve never understood: why did Adam and Eve and the animals etc need to eat at all? If there was no such thing as death they would not have starved to death. Perhaps they would simply have fallen asleep as they had no energy to do anything, but even sleeping uses energy. No death would mean no cell death so there would be no need for food to replace them.
    Perhaps it’s one of those “god made the rules to test people” things. If they had just not eaten punishment would follow in the same way as it did for eating what they shouldn’t have.
    I’ve seen Ken Ham write that the Fall must have occurred shortly after Eve was created because being perfect she would have been very fertile and they would not have disobeyed God’s command to multiply. As there were no children in Eden they could not have time to start a family.
    I suppose it’s all in the interpretation. If you’re looking for a story you’ll find one.

    • As I understand it, Ham & company reason (eisegetically, far as I can tell) from the Genesis myth that before “The Fall” neither Adam and Eve nor any animals DID eat meat or die. And yes, it is all in the spaghetti-illogic of evangelical theological “interpretation” aimed at preserving cherished notions. Normally Bible-believers demand that we Bible-skeptics stick with scriptural exegesis when we criticize what the extant Bible plainly says, but Bible apologizers will themselves resort to eisegesis in a New York heartbeat when it suits them to do so.

  2. I may have my timelines and “creation science” all mixed up, but wasn’t the global flood a few thousand years after the fall? Why are the dinosaurs still small and eating strawberries?

    • I think YECs posit that the Fall was only the start of the corruption of Earth, and that therefore they can stretch out the time when animals didn’t eat meat 1/3 of the history of the Earth. Also, the prohibition against humans eating meat is explicitly lifted after the Flood, despite the implications of Abel’s sacrifice – but then the prohibition against other animals eating meat never is, it merely lapses at some undefined point.

    • As a veggie I was collared at a church barbecue by a fundamentalist who told me I was disobeying God by eating my quorn burger.

    • But they grew at very fast rates (we can tell that from the bone histology). After a total of 370 days, those cute little babies would have been as big as bison at a minimum.

  3. Life on earth could not exist long without death; otherwise the entire earth would be awash in unimaginable overpopulation in a matter of weeks (at the rate microbes and small animals multiply). Of course, the problem is solved if one allows the “death” at the Fall to be spiritual and not physical. Indeed, in many cases the Bible clearly speaks of life and death in spiritual terms. Why YECs cannot allow Genesis to do so is beyond me. For more info on their “no physical death” before the Fall doctrine, see: http://paleo.cc/ce/nodeath.htm

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