Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., responds to a reader who wondered why God would have “Moses” save the dinosaurs on the ark.
Many people ask questions about God or about events described in the Bible. Sometimes they already know a bit about the Bible, sometimes a great deal, and sometimes nothing at all. In all cases, though, Christians are instructed by God in 2 Timothy 2:24–25 to provide uncompromising answers from the Word of God with patience, gentleness, and respect. In that spirit we will attempt to answer this person’s question for their benefit and the benefit of many others who wonder the same thing.
Why would god have Moses save the dinosaurs on an ark, when they ended becoming extinct later. Why go to all the trouble? either your god can't see the future or your god isn't too bright. Which is it?
Thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis. There are several problems with your questions that need to be addressed.
The Bible doesn’t say that Moses needed to save any animals on the Ark. It was Noah who was commanded to build the Ark and who saved a pair of every kind of land-dwelling, air-breathing animal (seven of some) during the Flood. That’s actually a fairly common mistake—to mix up two well-known figures like Noah and Moses, so let’s move on to your actual objection.
God knows all things—past, present, and future—so He certainly knew about all the various animals that would eventually go extinct.
There are a couple of correct ideas in your comments. First, since dinosaurs were land-dwelling, air-breathing animals (i.e., “
in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life,” Genesis 7:22), then they would have been saved on the Ark. Second, you imply that God should have known that dinosaurs would become extinct. This is true. God knows all things—past, present, and future—so He certainly knew about all the various animals that would eventually go extinct.1
Before covering some of the problems with your specific objection, let’s consider the topic of extinction from an evolutionary worldview. First, on what basis could an evolutionist say that extinction is “good” or “bad”? After all, extinction would just be the natural order of things—over millions of years animals evolve and eventually die off—and if there is no absolute standard of morality, then “good” and “bad” are merely relative terms. Second, extinction of certain animals could actually be viewed as beneficial from an evolutionary viewpoint because there would be fewer competitors for resources and food. Therefore, an animal would have better odds at surviving and passing on its genes (unless, of course, it depended upon that other particular creature for its own survival).
Now, evolutionists generally don’t think of extinction as a good thing, and we can be thankful for some of the work of various conservation societies. But often evolutionists are being inconsistent with their worldview when they expend precious time and resources to preserve creatures that (from an evolutionary view) are not fit to survive. One might argue that they are fit to survive, but humans have destroyed their habitats; however, that argument is illogical. If man is to blame, and man is merely the result of naturalistic evolutionary processes, then these creatures that are nearing extinction are still being killed off by nature. Hence, they are not fit to survive.
The dilemma you present is, technically speaking, an example of the logical fallacy known as bifurcation. You suggest that there are only two options: either God can’t see the future or He isn’t too bright. However, there are other legitimate options. Since God does know all things, including the future, He is infinitely intelligent, so the options you suggest are too limited. Perhaps God didn’t want them to go extinct at that time, or maybe He didn’t want them to go extinct directly by His judgment.
As for the actual reason God told Noah to bring the animals on the Ark, the Bible only tells us that it was “
to keep them alive with [Noah]” (Genesis 6:19). Notice that He didn’t say anything about preserving them after the Flood. Once the animals disembarked, we are not given too many details about what happened to them. We know they scattered throughout the earth. Some of them have survived and thrived, while others have gone extinct for various reasons.
So why didn’t God step in to prevent certain animals from going extinct? Well, His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). So if He doesn’t tell us His reasons for doing something, we can only speculate based on what we know of His character.
We know that God does not always protect us from the consequences of our decisions. He did not prevent Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6), and He did not stop David from committing adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11), although many people think He should have. If God followed this type of “logic,” then we would live in a bizarre world.
Should He temporarily suspend gravity when a person attempts to commit suicide by leaping from a high place, or must He prevent car crashes through any means necessary? Let’s take this a step further. Maybe He should prevent any harm to any person. Perhaps He should suspend gravity whenever a little girl is about to fall down so that she doesn’t scrape up her knee. Should He prevent us from eating food that may not be entirely healthy? This type of thinking quickly removes any semblance of freedom we may have.
If people followed this type of “logic,” then we would outlaw all sports, driving, or any other activity that involves the risk of dying or getting hurt. People would never have children knowing their kids would grow up and eventually die. No one would get a pet because the pet might scratch a family member—or worse, that pet will eventually die, and some pets would give birth to other animals, which would also eventually die.
I’m thankful that God doesn’t play by these rules. While there are times that I tend to wish He would have prevented me from doing certain things (namely, the times I’ve sinned against Him or the times I’ve hurt others), I realize that He is able to use those things or their consequences for good (Romans 8:28).
So what really did happen to the dinosaurs? We have included a chapter on this topic in our best-selling New Answers Book series. The pop-culture answer is that dinosaurs died off as a result of a large impact near the Yucatan Peninsula that allegedly occurred 65 million years ago. But not all secular scientists agree with this conclusion. Here is a picture of “The Great Extinction…” display that I snapped several years ago at the Milwaukee Public Museum.
In response to the question, “Why did the great extinction occur?” the museum gave the following possible reasons: perhaps dinosaur eggs were eaten by small mammals with insatiable appetites, perhaps the eggs of late Cretaceous dinosaurs lost their viability, perhaps it was due to a reversal in earth’s magnetic field, perhaps they were wiped out by a small asteroid or meteorite, perhaps it was a normal event, perhaps intense volcanic activity associated with tectonic plate movement wiped them out, or perhaps it was due to a chemical imbalance in the oceans.
However they died, the fact that so many animals have gone extinct shows us that God does not prevent such an event from occurring. We believe they died off for many of the same reasons that other animals fail to survive: hunting, natural disaster, diseases, changes in habitat, etc. But since God has given man dominion over the creatures of the earth, the extinction of animals reflects negatively on us rather than on Him. Ultimately, all of the death that has ever happened (both humans and animals) is a consequence of man’s sin.
We do agree at one level with those who blame humanity for the plight of endangered animals. Extinction truly is man’s fault, but not necessarily for the same reason claimed by these people. Rather, the death of any creature can ultimately be traced back to Adam’s sin. So extinction is our fault, and the fact that God preserved any people or animals at the time of the Flood demonstrates His mercy.
He created a perfect world and we are the ones who wrecked it. The fact that He allows sinners like you and me to continue living testifies to His grace and mercy. We have rebelled against Him and deserve His justice, which is far worse than extinction because it involves eternal punishment. However, in His love and mercy, Jesus—the Son of God—came to die on the Cross. He bore the punishment for our rebellion and promises to save all who call upon Him (Romans 10:13).
Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S.