Bible Question:

When were dinosaurs created and were the days the same length as they are now?

Bible Answer:

The first chapter of Genesis tells us that God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh day. The following table summarizes the order of God’s creative acts including the dinosaurs.

DayWhat Was Created?Passage
1Light and separation of the light from the darknessGenesis 1:3-5
2Water canopy above the waters belowGenesis 1:6-8
3Land masses and vegetationGenesis 1:9-13
4Light becoming the sun, moon, and starsGenesis 1:14-19
5Fish, sea creatures and birdsGenesis 1:20-23
6Land animals and humansGenesis 1:24-31

Genesis Account

According to Genesis the world came into existence in six days. It is important to note that each of the above passages ends with the phrase “And there was evening and there was morning” which is followed by a number which is followed by the word “day.” For example from the first passage, Genesis 1:3-5,

God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (NASB) Genesis 1:5

In the early part of the verse, the light is referred to as “day” and the darkness is called “night.” At the end of the verse “day” includes both the light and darkness. Both English words translated as “day” come from the Hebrew word YOHM. Most of the time the word YOHM refers to a period of time less than a twenty-four hour period just as is evident in the first part of the verse.

The Day

The second “day” that occurs in the verse is also translated from the Hebrew word YOHM. But this time it is used with an ordinal number (one, two, three, etc.). It refers to a twenty-four hour period of time or solar day. This root form of the Hebrew word for “day,” YOHM, occurs 2304 times in 1929 verses throughout the Old Testament. The singular form of YOHM, “day” and not “days,” occurs 1455 times. YOHM occurs 150 times in combination with an ordinal number in the Old Testament (Claus Westermann. Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. Hendrickson. 1997. p. 528). When it does it refers to a twenty-four hour period. YOHM can be used in a variety of ways to refer to a period of time, periods of time, or an extended period of time (Psalm 102:3).

The fixed natural basis of YOHM is “light.” . . . The day as “daylight” is the temporal center to which the other major words of time relate in two sequences. The first starts with the beginning of the day in the “morning” (BOQER) marked by sunrise and the (morning) light preceding it (cf. Nehemiah 8;3) and the “dawn” (SAHAR). . . . When longer units are involved, however, we are not dealing with the day as “daylight” but with the calendar day of twenty-four hours, for which Hebrew unlike Aramaic and Syriac) does not have a special word. This “full day” includes “night” as a temporal complement; the “night” belongs to the preceding day. From its outset at creation (Genesis 1;3-5), YOHM as “full day” had the same beginning as YOHM in the narrower sense, namely morning, and the “minor temporal sequence” remains the same . . . (Botterweck, G. Johannes. Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. Eerdmans. 1990. vol. 6, p. 22-23). YOHM generally refers to a partial day; but when used with an ordinal number the phrase refers to a twenty-four day. That is, when YOHM is used with an ordinal number, the expression refers to a twenty-four period. Another reason we should believe that YOHM plus an ordinal number refers to a twenty-hour hour period is that when Moses explained the Ten Commandments he used YOHM in the fourth commandment.

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (NASB) Exodus 20:11

YOHM is used two times in this passage with an ordinal number. Moses told his Jewish listeners that they should rest for one day, just as God did after making the world in six days. The people to whom Moses was speaking would have understood day as a twenty-four period. If YOHM means something much longer than twenty-four hours, then these men and women would have had a long retirement after their first six days of work! The same message occurs in Leviticus 23:3.

The next reason to believe that YOHM plus an ordinal number should be understood as a twenty-four hour period is that the normal understanding of “evening and morning” in Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31 implies that the earth is rotating in a normal solar day. The final reason we should understand YOHM as twenty-four hours and not as thousands or millions of years is that verse 14 reads as follows:

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years . . . (NASB) Genesis 1:14

It is used to mark time into seasons, years, and days. The plural form of YOHM (days) always refers to literal days. Those who deny that YOHM plus an ordinal number refers to a literal day have been unable to find a clear, credible counter example. Two notable critics of this interpretation concede that,

. . . no clear counter examples can be cited with YOHM meaning a long period of time. (R. Newman and H. Eckelmann. Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth. InterVarsity Press. 1977. p. 6).

2 Peter 3:8 is not germane to this discussion since it refers to God’s patience. If we assume that one day is as one thousand years, then how do we deal with the obvious inconsistency of Jesus’ comment that the four thousand men and women who were with him had been hungry for three days (Matthew 15:32)? Were they really with Him for three thousand years? Was Jesus tested in the wilderness by Satan for forty days (Matthew 4:2) or for forty thousand years? Or, what about the time that Jesus took Peter, James and John to a high mountain six days after a discussion about discipleship? Was it really six thousand years? Or, how about His comment that the Passover would occur in two days (Matthew 26:2)? Did the Passover really occur two thousand years later? The answer is that the context drives the meaning of 2 Peter. 3:8. The context deals with God’s patience and His definition of “coming soon.”

Dinosaurs

The dinosaurs were created on the fifth and sixth days of creation.

Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.” And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. . . . And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so . . . Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” . . . And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (NASB) Genesis 1:20-31

The dinosaurs that were not taken on Noah’s ark were destroyed during the flood. Notable scientists (Whitcomb and Morris. The Genesis Flood. Baker Book House. 1961. p. 69.) have shown that young dinosaurs could have been taken on the ark along with other young animals. It appears they became extinct after the flood.

Conclusion:

The Hebrew language describing the creation account in Genesis means the universe was completed in 144 hours or six literal twenty-four hour days. The dinosaurs were created on the fifth day of creation and appear to have died after the flood. There is no difficulty in believing that God could have and did create the earth with age. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and capable of doing what He pleases. This has been a major controversy during our times. Rather than challenge God or doubt His capability, we should listen to the questions He posed to Job and attempt to answer them ourselves.

He stretches out the north over empty space, And hangs the earth on nothing . . . Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it? On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together . . . Or who enclosed the sea with doors, when, bursting forth . . . Have you entered into the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Where is the way to the dwelling of light? And darkness, where is its place? . . . Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, Or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth a constellation in its season, And guide the Bear with her satellites? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens, Or fix their rule over the earth? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that an abundance of water may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings that they may go And say to you, ‘Here we are’? Who has put wisdom in the innermost being, Or has given understanding to the mind? (NASB) Job 26:7; 38:4-8, 16-20, 31-35

Our God is a mighty God! There is no man (with all of his technology) or god like Him.

Reference Links:

Young Earth or Old Earth?
Where did Satan come from?
Why do the creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2 differ?
When were dinosaurs created?
Healing Starts Here
Is it not laughable to think of dinosaurs in the ark?