“I don’t believe in the bible because dinosaurs lived a long time before man ever did.”
Have you ever heard a statement like that? I certainly have—many times. In fact, this was one of the principal reasons Charles Darwin, the father of the theory of evolution, eventually rejected the Bible (George Sim Johnston, Did Darwin Get It Right?, 1998, p. 21). Many have followed suit.
Most people believe you can’t reconcile dinosaurs and the Bible—but they are wrong. This erroneous idea is based on the supposition that either you have to believe in the young-earth theory of a 6,000-year-old earth and dinosaurs living with Adam, or you can’t believe in the creation week account of Genesis 1.
Yet many would be surprised to find that several centuries ago scientists did believe in dinosaurs, an ancient earth and in creation week.
In fact, many of the first geologists who established the basic geologic column were believers in both the Bible and an ancient earth.
British physicist Alan Hayward wrote about these premier geologists: “Among them were William Buckland and Adam Sedgwick. Buckland held the chair of geology at Oxford in the early nineteenth century, while Sedgwick was his counterpart at Cambridge [University]. Both were leading churchmen, and both preached the plenary inspiration of Scripture and argued in favor of special creation …
“Buckland maintained close links with Sedgwick and the famous French geologist, Baron Cuvier . . . They did much to persuade the early nineteenth century church that the earth was extremely old and that such views could be harmonized with the teaching of Genesis” (Creation and Evolution, 1985, pp. 72-73).
Proper chronological sequence
Two Bible experts in the 1970s combined their skills to publish The Reese Chronological Bible, which supports an ancient earth and a creation week that is actually a re-creation of a devastated earth.
Edward Reese was a professor of Bible, history and missions at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee, and spent 20 years putting biblical events in chronological order. Frank Klassen was an architect and engineer who spent 10 years writing The Chronology of the Bible. They both agreed that the account of Genesis had important biblical events occur between Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
American King James Version×and Genesis 1:2.
They felt the first verses of the Bible chronologically would be John 1:1-2 John 1:1-2  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 The same was in the beginning with God.
American King James Version×: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.”
This is the same way 20th-century Church of God leader Herbert W. Armstrong explained the real beginning of the biblical account. Before space, matter and energy were created, there existed the Word (who would later become Jesus Christ, see John 1:14 John 1:14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
American King James Version×) and God (who later would be identified as God the Father).
Next in The Reese Chronological Bible comes a scripture that speaks of God existing before the creation of the earth, Psalms 90:2 Psalms 90:2Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
American King James Version×: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
Then comes the traditional first scripture of Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
American King James Version×: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This marks the creation of the universe as we know it, including the galaxies, stars and planets.
But the most fascinating part of this Bible is what follows—not Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
American King James Version×, but Isaiah 14:12-17 Isaiah 14:12-17  How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!  For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.  They that see you shall narrowly look on you, and consider you, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;  That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
American King James Version×, where Lucifer’s fall from heaven is recorded. Next comes the parallel account of Lucifer’s fall in Ezekiel 28:13-18 Ezekiel 28:13-18  You have been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of your tabrets and of your pipes was prepared in you in the day that you were created.  You are the anointed cherub that covers; and I have set you so: you were on the holy mountain of God; you have walked up and down in the middle of the stones of fire.  You were perfect in your ways from the day that you were created, till iniquity was found in you.  By the multitude of your merchandise they have filled the middle of you with violence, and you have sinned: therefore I will cast you as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy you, O covering cherub, from the middle of the stones of fire.  Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you.  You have defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the middle of you, it shall devour you, and I will bring you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all them that behold you.
American King James Version×(see also our booklet Is There Really a Devil?).
Devastation and renewal
Only then comes Genesis 1:2 Genesis 1:2And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
American King James Version×: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” In the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, a footnote to the word “was” in this verse says, “Or possibly became.”
Apparently, something happened to cause the earth to become, as the Hebrew denotes, “chaotic and in confusion.” Since God is not the author of confusion or chaos (Isaiah 45:18 Isaiah 45:18For thus said the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he has established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 14:33 1 Corinthians 14:33For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
American King James Version×), it makes sense that the earth became that way due to Lucifer’s rebellion and subsequent expulsion to the earth.
As Jesus Christ remarked, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18 Luke 10:18And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
American King James Version×). Other scriptures reveal it was not only Satan, but also the fallen angels that were cast down with him. We read in 2 Peter 2:4 2 Peter 2:4For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved to judgment;
American King James Version×, “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [from the Greek tartaroo, a place of confinement, and in this case, the earth] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment … ” (tartaroo is a Greek term used in the Bible for the place where the angels are presently confined and are restricted to this earth, where there is also an abyss (Job 2:2 Job 2:2And the LORD said to Satan, From where come you? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
American King James Version×; Luke 10:18 Luke 10:18And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
American King James Version×; Luke 8:31 Luke 8:31And they sought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.
American King James Version×)).
Revelation 12:3-4 Revelation 12:3-4  And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns on his heads.
 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
American King James Version×describes the dragon (Satan, verse 9) as having drawn a third of the stars of heaven to be cast down to the earth—these “stars” being symbolic of angels (compare 1:20).
What we don’t know is how long it took Lucifer to rebel—and how long this was before the six-day renewal of the earth culminating in the creation of Adam and Eve, as described in the rest of Genesis 1. Satan’s rebellion apparently happened after the earth had passed through the dinosaur age. Then, geologists agree, something dramatic occurred between the age of reptiles and the age of mammals.
As the famous paleontologist G.G. Simpson once remarked: “The most puzzling event in the history of life on the earth is the change from the Mesozoic Age of Reptiles, to the … Age of Mammals. It is as if the curtain were rung down suddenly on a stage where all the leading roles were taken by reptiles, especially dinosaurs, in great numbers and bewildering variety, and rose again immediately to reveal the same setting but an entirely new cast, a cast in which the dinosaurs do not appear at all, other reptiles are supernumeraries and the leading parts are all played by mammals of sorts barely hinted at in the previous acts” (Life Before Man, 1972, p.42).
This seems to reflect the change from the pre-Adamic world to the world of man. Certainly there are smaller reptiles in our world, but they are insignificant in comparison to what existed in the previous age.
What has been presented here is not the only “ancient earth” explanation available, but it seems to make the most biblical sense. It is the only explanation I know of that accepts the literal 24-hour days of the creation (or to us, re-creation) week and, at the same time, makes room for an indefinite period before the creation of mankind that could include the dinosaurs and previous eras.
Recent geological and astronomical discoveries, such as cosmic expansion and signs of meteor impacts at the Cretaceous-Paleocene border of the geologic column, have only served to substantiate this view (see Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, 1994, p. 92; Gerald Schroder, Genesis and the Big Bang, 1990, p. 140).
So if anyone tells you he or she doesn’t believe in the Bible because of a dilemma with the dinosaurs, let that person know there is more than the young-earth explanation available—one that fits well, as best we know, with the biblical facts.