“So the valiant knight slew the fire-breathing dragon and rode off with the beautiful princess to the castle. And they lived happily ever after.”
“Daddy, that was a great story! But are dragons real?”
“No, honey. There’s no such thing as dragons. That’s all make-believe. Close your eyes now. Sweet dreams!”
For evolutionists, legends of men slaying dragons must be mythical because their timeline has creatures like dinosaurs die out over 60 million years before humans existed. But dragon accounts aren’t easy to dismiss as mere fantasy.
Dragons are memorialized in legends, historical accounts, and artwork from around the world. To name a few, there’s an Aboriginal depiction of a water monster that resembles a plesiosaur, an ancient historical account of serpents in Egypt with bat-like wings, the epic poem Beowulf with its account of a fiery flying serpent, and Native American petroglyphs (etchings in stone) that resemble dragons. Dragons are depicted on flags, emblems, tapestries, maps, pottery, pictographs, and more.
Although from disconnected cultures, the descriptions are remarkably similar—perhaps because dragons were real? Find out more at the Creation Museum’s new dragon exhibit. Filled with colorful artwork and artifacts, intriguing dragon legends, and a couple of 60-foot-long Chinese dragons, this exhibit asks visitors the question, “Were dinosaurs dragons?”
Biblical creationists are not surprised by artifacts depicting dragons or the worldwide accounts of dragons living among men—that idea is consistent with the Bible. Genesis 1 tells us that on Day Five of Creation God created great “sea creatures” (Hebrew word tanninim, a word we’ll explore below) and flying creatures, so this would have included swimming pliosaurs and flying pterodactyls, which we would call dragons. God made land animals, including dinosaurs and other land dragons, on Day Six, the day He created man. So man lived among these awesome creatures from the beginning.
Does the Bible mention dragons? Used multiple times in Scripture, the Hebrew word tannin is defined by The Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon as “serpent, dragon, sea-monster.” It likely refers to certain reptiles, including giant marine creatures and serpentine land animals. Though translated several different ways and differing in precise meanings based on context, tannin can denote a dragon and therefore can potentially refer to a dinosaur since all dinosaurs are dragons (though not all dragons are dinosaurs by definition). Most land tannin/tanninim in Scripture likely refer to serpentine creatures as described in this semi-technical article, which lists all the uses of tannin in Scripture.
Why isn’t tannin translated as “dragon” in some more recent English versions? Perhaps it is due to many misunderstandings about what dragons really were. In other similar instances we find that translations list elephant or hippopotamus in the footnotes in Job 40 when discussing behemoth. Let’s look closer at the behemoth to give you some context. In the book of Job, God describes the behemoth that “
eats grass like an ox” and “
moves his tail like a cedar” with bones that “
are like beams of bronze” (Job 40:15–18). The beast the passage describes fits well with something similar to a sauropod dinosaur like Brachiosaurus.
Next, God describes at length a leviathan, a fire-breathing sea monster with impenetrable scales that none could face except its Creator. Read Job 41 and see if you picture a ferocious marine reptile, like a Kronosaurus. Leviathan is mentioned in five passages of Scripture and is identified as a type of tannin in Psalm 74:13–14 and Isaiah 27:1. Dragons are real—created creatures, some of which terrorized in the waters and others that roved the land and air.
Explore the dragon stories from around the world with this video from the Creation Museum.
The word dinosaur wasn’t even around until scientist Sir Richard Owen introduced it in the mid-1800s. Before then, large reptiles were called dragons. But the term dinosaur is more narrow, referring only to reptilian land animals whose hip structures raise them off the ground. So dinosaurs, we would say, are specific types of dragons.
The burden against the beasts of the South. Through a land of trouble and anguish, From which came the lioness and lion, The viper and fiery flying serpent, They will carry their riches on the backs of young donkeys, And their treasures on the humps of camels, To a people who shall not profit. (Isaiah 30:6)
Many dragon legends such as what we find outside the Bible could be embellished, but the basic characteristics of dragons can be found in known creatures. Some dragon descriptions fit well with certain dinosaurs. Fossil pterosaurs reveal dragon-like wings. Certain beetles shoot out burning chemicals, so is a fire-breathing dragon really that far-fetched?
Land and air dragons would have been taken on Noah’s Ark and probably existed for some time afterward, based on the descriptions we see in the Bible and legends and artifacts worldwide. But they died out due to the curse of sin, with factors such as environmental and habitat changes, food source problems, genetic mutations, and diseases. Also, man most likely played a role in the demise of dragons, as we read in the legends of dragon slayers.
We have a very real enemy who is called a dragon (Revelation 12:9). His trickery led the human race into sin, and he’s still deceiving and devouring today (1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 5:19). In 1 John, we find an unsettling test that divides people into one of two camps—the children of the devil or the children of God:
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:8–10, ESV)
You cannot defeat this dragon on your own. As prophesied in Genesis 3:15, we needed Jesus to crush the head of this serpent. Through repentant faith in Christ and His work on the Cross and Resurrection from the dead, we can become children of God (John 1:12). Then we can rejoice with the Apostle John as overcomers “
because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).