Taking Job Literally

This That’s a Fact video was a long time coming, so I probably shouldn’t delay further in showing it to you. It’s called Dinosaurs and Humans, a title which says everything you need to know, really.

If you happen to be unfamiliar with how modern young-Earth creationists treat dinosaurs (yet have somehow stumbled onto this blog), there are a few things to remember. They generally do not, in fact, think that dinosaur bones are satanic tricks, nor that they somehow “missed the ark.” Instead, they claim that dinosaurs coexisted with humans and may or may not entertain the possibility that people rode on them (depending, it would appear, on whether they believe Ken Ham or actually are Ken Ham). Dragons, they often contend, were dinosaurs, and any and every mythological mention of even dragon-like creatures is liable to be used to promote this view. The most commonly cited biblical story in these discussions is of course Job 40s section on Behemoth, especially verse 40:17a (“He moveth his tail like a cedar”). A dragon story in the book of Daniel, meanwhile, is not considered canon by protestants and therefore needn’t be literally true. Some creationists are reluctant to concede that dinosaurs no-longer exist, believing that if one were discovered this would somehow discredit evolution – a belief so powerful that it can launch expeditions into the African jungle and make people insist that the Loch Ness Monster is a real thing. Despite this, they refuse also to accept that birds are themselves descended from a group of dinosaurs, and therefore dinosaurs themselves.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at a transcript of this video:
Richard Owen, riding his hobby

Are dinosaurs in the bible? Well, the word “dinosaur” didn’t come about until Sir Richard Owen coined it in 1841.

The ICR correctly points out, as they often do, that the word “dinosaur” itself is a recent invention – though it might be perhaps more relevant to mention that the bible was not written in English, and that its first translations came before 1841, hence its lack of use.

But the book of Job in the bible does refer to a massive creature that God called “Behemoth,” which had a tail like a cedar tree. Sounds like a sauropod dinosaur.

A lot has been written about Behemoth as depicted in the book of Job – was he a dinosaur, or a hippopotamus? does the “cedar” line refer to the girth of the tail, or something else? – so I wont add to it. I will say a few things, however:Norfolk pine

  • A cedar tree wouldn’t be my arboreal description of choice for a sauropod tail: for that I’d use the Norfolk pine, or even better the Cook pine. That being said, they don’t make very good descriptions themselves in that they wouldn’t have been familiar to the readership – cedars may have been the best examples on hand.
  • It is a little strange, I should think, for this to be the only mention of what was presumably a viable population of truly enormous herbivores in the cradle of civilization. Dragon stories – which we will get to in the next line of the video – don’t count, as even if you accept that dragon look like some dinosaurs, they certainly don’t resemble sauropods.
  • The book of Job really shouldn’t be taken literally – it’s an extended parable, from before parables were cool (or had a name coined for them).

In addition, it might be worth noting that the specific sauropod illustration shown by the ICR is of the Brachiosaurus appearance, which is to say that it has a long neck that arches up into the canopy. It is therefore a poor candidate for Behemoth, as it is clearly in no position to “eateth grass as an ox” (40:15b).

God also said he made Behemoth at the same time he made humans, which makes a lot of sense when you think about all the dragon legends from around the world.

As often happens in these videos I can’t really see how the two parts of this sentence go together. On the one hand they reference the line where God says he “made [Behemoth] with thee,” alluding to the Genesis 1 creation chronology in which all land animals, along with humans, were made on day six. This has nothing to do with dragon legends, at least in my eyes, even as a segue.

After all, what people call dragons were probably dinosaurs, before the word dinosaur existed.

There are places where creationists try to back up their contention that dragons and dinosaurs are the same thing with a modicum of evidence – for example a few months ago Brian Thomas did a talk on the subject, noting that his examples of dragon pictures all had their legs under their bodies, like dinosaurs but unlike lizards – but this is not one of them. Instead it is simply asserted, which can only be countered by an assertion in turn: dragons were almost certainly not dinosaurs.

St George fought a dragon. So did Alexander the Great’s army. And Marco Polo saw one while visiting China.

As creationists often do when talking about dragons, the ICR does not entertain the possibility that these stories might have been made up, or are otherwise untrue. For a very interesting and detailed discussion of how tales of dragons could have come to be from the study of fossils, rather than living creatures, I direct you to a recent Naturalis Historia post (if you haven’t already seen it).

In fact, Chinese historians featured dragons along side other known animals in the Chinese zodiac.

As with the archaeologists studying modern “people groups” from the Babel video, the ICR may be thinking of a different field here – astrology, for example, which is definitely a trustworthy source of information. Furthermore, the zodiac that we are more familiar with in the west includes Sagittarius, a centaur, along with the likes of a ram, a bull, a crab, a lion, and a scorpion. Centaurs, if you weren’t aware, are not real.

Cave drawings, tapestries, and carvings on other continents also show people and dinosaur-like creatures side-by-side.

Pictured here are an unknown dragon carving on a rock, a section of the Bayeux Tapestry (presumably in reference to the weird and wonderful creatures that appear above and below the action), and that Cambodian carving that is supposed to be of a stegosaurus.

We move on now to soft tissues:

That makes sense, since scientists have found original soft tissues, like blood vessels and red blood cells, in dinosaur bones. Lab tests have shown that these kinds of materials break down quickly, so these dinosaur bones can’t be very old.

I’ve said a lot about this also (I have a long-running tag). The specific example given here seems to be from Mary Schweitzer in the 90’s, which I haven’t heard much about since, except from creationists – which rather makes me think that it has been discredited without fanfare and she has moved on to more chemical evidence. One of the many problems here is that these bones come from what creationists would consider flood sediment, which would mean that they were about 4000 years old. If they really do contain intact blood vessels and cells (rather than some kind of replacement in the form of bacterial films or similar, or just don’t exist) then 4000 years doesn’t seem much less absurd than 70 million. And if not, then why don’t we see more of them?

As the bible says, and science confirms, dinosaurs weren’t here before humans, they lived at the same time – because they were created on the same day.

Do you believe them? I don’t.

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4 thoughts on “Taking Job Literally

  1. I think it is vastly important to note that ICR’s interpretation of “Behemoth” is way off base of what the term has been thought to mean… likely a hippopotamus or some other large land creature.

    • Hello again – long time no see.

      I remember reading something about how the “cedar” line could refer to the shape of the end of a hippo tail, but I couldn’t find it again when I wrote this post. Do you know of any good sources on this subject?

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