"Why Do You Use Illustrations of People Taming Dinosaurs?"
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to dinosaurs, that certainly is the truth. Thousands of children across the globe have learned more about dinosaurs by flipping through picture books or graphic-laden magazine articles than they will ever learn by reading articles about these amazing creatures. Since we know this to be true, those of us at Apologetics Press often utilize graphics, pictures, and illustrations to teach the truth that dinosaurs and humans lived together in the past. In the process, we sometimes appropriate illustrations that portray humans and dinosaurs interacting with each other in various ways. We might have a picture of a person fighting a T-rex, watching an Apatosaurus run through the yard, or chasing a herd of Iguanodons. These illustrations, just like Bible pictures or many scientific illustrations, are not presented to say exactly how things were, but instead to illustrate, based on what we know, how things could have been.
For instance, when a scientific illustrator paints a picture of a dinosaur, he will often use different colors. But the color of a dinosaur is anybody’s guess. Would we accuse the illustrator of “error” simply because he painted a Stegosaurus with a red and yellow neck, even though such a detail is unknown? Of course not. We all understand that some aspects of an illustration are plausible, educated guesses, not facets designed to dogmatically demand that something was exactly a certain way. When a Bible illustrator draws a picture of David and Goliath and includes certain types of bushes or grass in the picture, is there any way to know that there was grass on the hillside if the text does not mention it? No. Nor are we suggesting that we know exactly what David and Goliath looked like. But we would not accuse an artist of “lying” because he painted grass in a realistic fashion on the side of a hill that most likely had some kind of vegetation on it.
The Apologetics Press poster of Lewis Lavoie's painting, "Deers in the Forest"
Coming to the point, recently Apologetics Press produced a poster of Lewis Lavoie’s painting “Deers in the Forest” (http://www.apologeticspress.org/store/Product.aspx?pid=450). The poster is a beautiful illustration of a child leading a plant-eating dinosaur through the woods with a rope and harness. Some who have seen the picture have questioned our use of such illustrations. They suggest that while we can know that humans and dinosaurs lived together in the past (see Lyons and Butt, 2008), we cannot know that a child ever pulled one with a rope. Thus, they contend that we are, at least in a minor way, “misleading” people who see the picture. If we have no record of a person ever pulling a dinosaur, why would we use such an illustration?
While we appreciate the conscientious nature of such a question, there is a good reason to use such illustrations. In James 3:7, the Bible says: “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea is tamed and has been tamed by mankind” (emp. added). The original Greek term that is translated “reptile” is the word herpeton, from which we get the English word “herpetology” which is the study of amphibians and reptiles. Thus, it is saying that all kinds of animals, including reptiles have been tamed by mankind. [NOTE: The text is not saying that every animal has been tamed—not every individual grizzly bear has been tamed, or is even tamable. Rather, the text is giving a general statement that the different kinds of animals can be and have been tamed.] When we explore the book of Genesis, we discover that God had Adam name all the different kinds of animals (Genesis 3:20), including dinosaurs. In addition, God created humans with the ability to have dominion over all the animals (Genesis 1:26), including dinosaurs as well.
We can see mankind’s dominion over the animal world quite clearly. Trainers can teach vicious killer whales to perform tricks, they can teach lions to jump through fiery hoops, elephants to stand on tiny stumps, and bears to dance in the circus ring. If we know that mankind was given dominion over all the beasts from the beginning of creation, and we know that all kinds of animals, including reptiles, have been tamed by mankind, is it reasonable to conclude that humans tamed dinosaurs in the same way that other animals have been tamed? It certainly is. Of course, we are not suggesting that we know for a fact that a nine-year-old boy pulled a dinosaur through the woods during a harvest of exotic white flowers. Just as we are not saying that the boy had brown hair as a matter of factual history, or that the child was actually barefooted, or that the dinosaur that he pulled had the exact number of spots as the one in the picture. What we are saying is, given what we know, this is a plausible scenario that could describe a similar past event.
While many people mentally acknowledge the truth that humans and dinosaurs lived together in the past, they are often taken aback when an artistic illustration actually portrays that truth. Many Christians are, understandably, still being unconsciously affected by the standard portrait that evolutionists paint concerning the nature of dinosaurs. Evolutionists have long had a monopoly on dinosaur images in the marketplace. Secular children’s pictures, shows, and books about dinosaurs rarely depict humans in the presence of dinosaurs. When they do, it is projected as a humorous, unbelievable scenario such as in the Flintstones. The evolutionary propaganda often leaves the impression that dinosaurs were all gigantic, ferocious, carnivorous beasts—a description which is inaccurate. Furthermore, such a description does not lend itself to the idea that dinosaurs could co-habit the Earth in a peaceful way with humans. But the average size of a dinosaur was that of approximately a large cow or rhinoceros and many species were herbivores. Many people simply have not stopped to think through all of the implications of the available evidence concerning dinosaurs and mankind. If an elephant or a cow can be subdued, why not a dinosaur? Especially a medium-to-small sized herbivore like the one painted in our most recent poster.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, why not use that form of teaching to get across the truth that humans and dinosaurs lived in the past, and humans have tamed every kind of “beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea”? It is time to reclaim the minds of young people and paint a more accurate picture of history for them. Just think, one such illustration has the potential to accomplish as much or more than all the 1,120 words in this article you just read!
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2008), The Dinosaur Delusion (Montgomery: AL: Apologetics Press).