An unexpected consequence of my last submission (regarding the American politician Sarah Palin) was this comment from one reader, as follows:
Palin ... insists that humans and dinosaurs inhabited the Earth at the same time and other excruciating and deadly idiocy.
I am not sure what Sarah Palin believes about the early history of the earth, but many people nowadays believe that dinosaurs existed for millions of years before humans even existed. The fact remains however that The Bible clearly states that human beings were created on the sixth day, and that all land animals were created earlier on that same day. Therefore although dinosaurs existed before humans, it would only have been for a matter of a few hours at the most.
Why should anyone regard a historical interpretation of the first chapter of The Bible as “excruciating and deadly idiocy”? I interpret the first chapter of Genesis as history because it reads like history. A lot of people argue that the early chapters of Genesis are not a historical account, but I do not find them persuasive for two reasons.
First, Genesis chapter five makes it clear that Noah was descended from Adam (his seven times great grandson), while chapter eleven makes clear that Abram was descended from Noah (his eight times great grandson). It becomes clear later on that Abram (later renamed Abraham) was the great grandfather of Joseph. If Adam was a mythical being who never actually existed, then how could Joseph be descended from him? Was Joseph just a mythical being who never actually existed? The first chapter of the New Testament records that Jesus was descended from Abraham. Was Jesus just a mythical being who never actually existed?
Second, Jesus said that God created the first man and the first woman, and that He did so at the beginning of the world, not millions of years after the end of a non-existent age of dinosaurs. This is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel and also in Mark’s Gospel.
People sometimes wonder why there is no mention of dinosaurs in The Bible, and perhaps the first point to make is that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. For example, there is no mention of giraffes in The Bible, but this does not prove that giraffes had died out before The Bible was written. It merely proves either that giraffes did not inhabit the lands mentioned in The Bible, or else that it was not deemed important to mention them. The word bridge does not appear once in The Bible. Are we to assume that the ancient Hebrews had to swim across rivers?
Another important point to make here is that dinosaurs are a modern concept. The word dinosaur was coined in 1841 by a natural historian called Richard Owen. He used this word to classify certain animals which he knew about only from fossils. When the King James Bible was published in 1611, the word dinosaur did not exist, and could not therefore be used to describe any of the animals mentioned in The Bible. The King James Bible does however contain thirty-four references to dragons. Twelve of these are found in the last book of The Bible, and can perhaps be dismissed as mythical, but the other twenty-two all appear to be references to actual living creatures. Let us consider just one example: And thorns shall come up in her palaces, nettles and brambles in the fortresses thereof: and it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls (Isaiah 34:13) Are we to assume that buildings constructed by human hands will be taken over by mythical dragons and also by non-mythical owls?
More recent translations of The Bible tend to replace the references to dragons with references to either jackals or wolves, but it is fair to point out that these creatures would almost certainly have been known to the scholars who produced the King James Bible. Wolves still existed in Scotland in 1611, although they had probably died out in England by this time, while jackals inhabit some areas of southern Europe. Also, wolves are mentioned more than a dozen times in the King James Bible, suggesting perhaps that the dragons are not wolves. Although jackals are not mentioned in The King James Bible, they are mentioned in modern translations such as in this passage from the New International Version: They will be given over to the sword and become food for jackals (Psalm 63:10). The NIV often uses the word jackal where the King James Bible uses the word dragon, but in this case the word found in the King James Bible is foxes.
Dragons are found depicted in art from places as far apart as Europe and China. They are always depicted as reptiles, and quite often as large reptiles. We cannot be certain, but there is no reason to assume that dragons are not dinosaurs by another name. It is not surprising however that Richard Owen did not use the word dragon to classify the creatures now known as dinosaurs. He had only a vague idea about what dinosaurs looked like, as is clear when we consider the statues at Crystal Palace, most of which bear little resemblance to the stylized representations of dragons in European heraldry.
The Book of Job refers to a creature called Behemoth, which is described as a large creature which stands in the River Jordan, close to the bank so as to enjoy shade, and which eats grass like an ox. This has often been said to be a hippopotamus, and as a result the Russian word for hippopotamus is a variant of behemoth. However behemoth is not a hippopotamus. Hippos are large creatures which eat grass and live in rivers, but they are not found anywhere near the River Jordan. They live in herds, whereas behemoth appears to be a solitary creature; and they prefer the deepest part of a river, while behemoth likes to be close to the river bank.
Some people argue that behemoth is an elephant, or even a large crocodile, but these are even weaker claims. Elephants do not live in rivers, although they come to rivers to drink, and crocodiles do not eat grass. Also, not one of these creatures has a tail which stands upright and sways like a tree. So what could this creature possibly be?
Many of you are doubtless wondering whether this has anything whatever to do with nationalist politics. You might be surprised. The Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf recounts the deeds of the eponymous hero in the sixth century, and opens with him killing the monster known as Grendel. I agree with Paul Wilkinsonthat this took place in England.
I am not sure who I am quoting here, but a Bible scholar has argued that Grendel was in fact a dinosaur. Grendel is described as bipedal, with arms which appear to lack function. He is ferocious, very strong, and kills with his mouth. His skin is not damaged when he is attacked with iron weapons, and he dies of blood loss after Beowulf rips off one of his arms. The creature which best fits this description is Tyrannosaurus rex. Not only was this creature a large and ferocious looking bipedal dinosaur, but its arms were not long enough to reach either its mouth or the ground. They had no recognisable function.
As a nationalist political activist, I take pride in the thought that I may well be descended from people who fought dinosaurs to survive. It makes David Cameron look far less scary in comparison. As for Sarah Palin, for all her faults she has far more intelligence than most British politicians.