Originally published in Pulpit Helps, September 2008.
Dragons! Who believes in dragons? Only impressionable children and perhaps the developmentally-challenged! Well, maybe we should add Bible believers to that short list.
Yes, I said Bible believers. I'll revert to that statement in a moment-but first, allow me to clear the brambles out of its path by reminding my readers that physical and historical evidences of the once-existence of fearsome reptilian beasts do remain.
Note this quote from John D. Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research: "In recent years, several creationists have also discovered physical evidence of human encounters with such beasts. For example, American Indians have many legends of fearsome creatures such as the thunderbird, but they also left numerous rock pictographs indicating they had real interaction with them, both flying and walking. Drawings in Utah, Arizona, Colorado and elsewhere document this." (from "The Dinosaur Next Door" in Acts & Facts, June, 2008). Dr. Morris' article is illustrated with pictures of Inca burial stones found in Peru which depict men interacting with saurian animals; also shown are a rock pictograph from Utah showing what can only be a dinosaur, and a bas relief from a monastery in Cambodia greatly resembling a stegosaurus.
The evidence is there, but it is almost universally written off as too weird to believe. Why? Because "everyone knows that dinosaurs had their time on earth millions of years ago, and then they died-also millions of years ago." That's our deeply ingrained and constantly reinforced cultural mindset. It's the evolutionary legacy of our time. Everyone "knows it to be fact, so don't sweat the troublesome anomalies." "Anomalies", by the way, are all the discoveries, which scientists can't fit into the geological column, or their particular model of the way things happened. Give them a label and dismiss them into a dead-letter pigeonhole.
And as for dragons-well, they're part of the wondrous, misty dream stuff of which the ancient storytellers wove the legends which have come down to us: St. George and the Dragon, and all that ilk. Cracker-jack stories to entertain the kids, but no way could they be real. Imagine animals being able to breathe fire! How ridiculous can you get?
Actually, it's not ridiculous at all. Perhaps you have heard of the Bombardier beetle. It truly exists, today. "Bombardier beetles store two separate chemicals (hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide)" in special chambers in their abdomens. "When they are threatened, the two chemicals are squirted through two tubes, where they are mixed along with small amounts of catalytic enzymes and undergo a violent exothermic chemical reaction. The boiling, foul-smelling liquid partially becomes a gas (flash evaporation) and is expelled with a loud popping sound" (from wikipedia.com).
If bugs can create near-fire to ward off their enemies, why could not some dinosaurs do the same or better? Think about it. (Unfortunately, old bones can't help much to either prove or disprove that question; the fire-making apparatus would have been a soft-tissue issue. The most that can be said is that certain species of dinosaurs had cavities in their heads, besides the brain cavities, for which no function has been found.)
If, then, we've made the cultural brambles a little less impenetrable, let's look at the source which otherwise should have been our first recourse: the Bible: In the Book of Job, chapters 40 and 41, God Himself speaks to Job, and He describes two terror-inspiring creatures which He, God, made: Their names are translated as " behemoth" and "leviathan." The behemoth (Job 40:15ff) was obviously a very large land animal. It is most frequently assumed to be a hippopotamus; but this animal does not match the description in verse 40:17: "He moveth his tail like a cedar." The puny appendage of the hippopotamus falls woefully short! But the ponderous tails we know many or most of the saurians carried match wonderfully.
The "leviathan"-which our Bible basically transliterated from the Hebrew livyathan-was obviously a great water-dwelling creature. Just as obviously, it could not have been a crocodile, as is usually assumed. Read Job 41:18-20 with me: "By his neesings (sneezes)a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth."
Honestly, doesn't that poetic description bring dragons to mind? Discounting the accretions of legend, the dragon best matches the biblical leviathan. God was describing a fire-breathing creature-most likely a saurian, or great lizard.
And now we come to the real rub: Is the Bible to be believed? The world shakes its head. So, tragically, do many of our fellow church-goers. Far too many of us believe that the Bible we hold in our hands is not reliable in every detail. Our sovereign Creator has not been capable (so we think) of safeguarding His vital Word for mankind down through the ages. Particularly is it doubted when it bangs up against a modern god, Science, with its false prophet, Evolution.
But God ultimately wins every battle, and we would do well to be on His side, dragons and all!
The Old Scot (Ted Kyle) served as managing editor for Pulpit Helps magazine (Disciple's predecessor publication) from 1993-2008. He was always fascinated by the natural world, and readily saw God's hand in every detail. Ted went to be with His Creator and Savior in April 2013.
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