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Wow. So, thanks to Andrew Marburger who tweeted me the link to this absolute corker. People actually believe that dragons existed because they appear to be mentioned in a 2000 year-old holy book. Answers in Genesis (AiG), your one-stop link to ridiculousness and science denialism seems to posit the notion that “dragon accounts aren’t easy to dismiss as mere fantasy.” Yes they are. They are very easy to dismiss. They are fantasy. The article is terrible. Dragon fire-breathing, it concedes, could be an embellishment. It seems to overlook the idea of such a heavy animal flying with those wings would be ridiculous.

Every claim of the article is a could or a may. Probability-wise, it’s a shocker which depends on presupposing the truth of the Bible at any rate.

Let’s list the issues:

No fossil or extant evidence for dragons.

Does not fit into an evolutionary framework.

No mechanism for flight of such a large animal. Typically, size of wings and wing shape are crucial. Small planes, considerably lighter and designed for purpose, need 100mph to lift off. The dragon would need immense speed on the ground and then hugely vigorous flapping. It ain’t happening.

Fire-breathing – no other animal does it, for all intents and purposes, impossible.

Basically, it’s childish nonsense and organisations like AiG should never be taken seriously for such ridiculous claims.

 

Dragons: Fact or Fiction?

“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!”

Dragons and Humans—Together?

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?”

Starting with the Bible

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 landtannin/tanninim in Scripture likely refer to serprentine creatures as described in this semi-technical article, which lists all the uses of tannin in Scripture.

Dragon exhibit in the large portico of the Creation MuseumClick to enlargeThe new dragon exhibit virtually fills the large portico of the Creation Museum with dragons and dragon-related displays!

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.

So How Are Dinosaurs Explained?

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.

But Fire-Breathing? Come On!

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?

What Happened to the Dragons?

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.

A Deadly Dragon Is Still Prowling!

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 5:81 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).

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...