I periodically see creationists making the claim that dinosaurs never actually existed. This comes in two forms. One form claims that the fossils were placed in the ground by Satan to test Christians’ faith and lead people astray. The second form claims that dinosaurs never existed. Instead, everything grew bigger before the Flood, likely due to different atmospheric conditions. This means that, in the post-flood world the things we know as dinosaurs still exist, at least in some cases. They are just much smaller than they were prior to the Flood. Since I absolutely love dinosaurs, these claims intrigue me. I decided to look into them and see what there was to them.
The first assertation, that the devil created dinosaurs to test our faith, really just does not hold water. While the devil can mimic some of God’s miracles, as his minions did in Egypt when God put the plagues on the Egyptians, he does not have independent creative power. He merely mimics what God has already done. If God never created dinosaurs, as is the claim, then neither could the devil. All the devil can do is produce deceit. That is one area he excels at. However, there is no verse of Scripture that points to him being able to produce things out of nothing. Only God can do that. The motivation for this particular belief seems to be rooted in a mistrust of scientists and a poor understanding of both theology and science.
The second idea, that dinosaurs never died out, they just shrank by a lot, is slightly less far fetched. We do know that, in the pre-flood world, things did grow much bigger. We have fossils of dragonflies that have six feet wingspans and fossils of plants like horsetails that extend much larger than they grow today. it has further been postulated that the flying reptiles we think of as dinosaurs (they are not actually dinosaurs) the pterodactyls, could not fly in today’s atmospheric conditions. Thus there seems to have been something different before the Flood. Exactly what is unclear. While the old Canopy Theory is largely discredited, there are aspects of it that may be worth a second look as we did previously. Never-the-less, this does not solve the issues with the miniaturization proposed by some creationists.
The reason miniaturization is an issue comes from genetics. The genes an animal has influences or controls everything about it, from how large it gets, to what color it is, to whether it is male or female. In the case of size, external factors do play a role. However, these factors are generally limited to preventing a creature from reaching maximum size. They do not set a minimum size. What I mean by that is simple. Reptiles grow their entire lives. However, if they lack food, or are severely stressed, they will stop growing sooner. The problem is, they must reach a mature adult size before reproducing. Therefore, there is a minimum size at which the population can sustain itself. What this means is, no matter how stressed a reptile is, it will always reach a certain size at maturity. It can get bigger than that of course, but it must reach a maximum size to propagate the kind. Therein lies the problem for the miniaturization theorists. Reptiles today mature at sizes which are much smaller than the juvenile dinosaurs we have in the fossil record. Therefore they cannot be miniaturized dinosaurs.
There is also the problem of anatomy. Often when people make this argument, they will use Jackson’s chameleon, a chameleon with three horns on its head like a triceratops, as proof that ceratops miniaturized into chameleons. This simply does not work and is actually an evolutionary assumption. Evolutionists assume that any similarity, which they term homology, indicates a relationship. Thus to them, the roughly homologous face of a triceratops and Jackson’s chameleon could be evidence of ancestry. The problem is, we have feet for both of these animals. Chameleons have long grasping toes which they use to cling to the branches of trees and shrubs. Triceratops’ have shorter, thicker toes meant for walking long distances across rough terrain. The two clearly were not designed for the same habitat. This means they are not related and thus the miniaturization proposal fails.
Unfortunately, like many other bad ideas, I doubt this one will go away just because there is no evidence to support it and it potentially has theological problems. Both the theistic and atheistic forms of evolution are still alive and well despite lacking empirical evidence since the beginning. However, hopefully those who are merely lacking in knowledge can learn something from this article and be able to use it when they meet fellow Christians who are confused about what to do with dinosaurs.
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