This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/tracking-dinosaurs-and-finding-god
It is believed that Tertullian, a Christian theologian, discusses finding dinosaurs in some of his writings; therefore, many ancient people in Classical Greece and Rome found them
There have been some interesting articles comparing Greek “monsters” to some fossil remains familiar to modern audiences. It would be easy enough to believe that if we can find dinosaur bones, then the ancients probably did too.
But I think you will have to be pretty specific about how Tertullian referred to his monsters - - ocean maps were notorious for including the warning: “Beyond here be dragons”.
This is not quite the same thing as saying that Tertullian (or any ancient) “discusses finding dinosaurs”. To moderns, the term “dinosaur” has a lot of ideas packaged in it.
I can’t comment on Tertullian, but certainly Augustine knew about fossils. Check this passage from Book 15 in The City of God: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_City_of_God/Book_XV/Chapter_9
I should add, the suggestion has been made that Augustine refers to the tooth of an extinct elephant. See Claudine Cohen, The Fate of the Mammoth: Fossils, Myth, and History, chap 2. Historian of geology Bow Van Riper reviewed her book here: http://www.academia.edu/2451880/Claudine_Cohen_The_Fate_of_the_Mammoth_Review_
Excellent discussion from the City of God link!
“. . . .in the more recent times, how much more in the ages before the world-renowned deluge? But the large size of the primitive human body is often proved to the incredulous by the exposure of sepulchres, either through the wear of time or the violence of torrents or some accident, and in which bones of incredible size have been found or have rolled out.”
“I myself, along with some others, saw on the shore at Utica a man’s molar tooth of such a size, that if it were cut down into teeth such as we have, a hundred, I fancy, could have been made out of it. But that, I believe, belonged to some giant. For though the bodies of ordinary men were then larger than ours, the giants surpassed all in stature.”
" And neither in our own age nor any other have there been altogether wanting instances of gigantic stature, though they may be few. The younger Pliny, a most learned man, maintains that the older the world becomes, the smaller will be the bodies of men. And he mentions that Homer in his poems often lamented the same decline; and this he does not laugh at as a poetical figment, but in his character of a recorder of natural wonders accepts it as historically true."
“But, as I said, the bones which are from time to time discovered prove the size of the bodies of the ancients, and will do so to future ages, for they are slow to decay. But the length of an antediluvian’s life cannot now be proved by any such monumental evidence. But we are not on this account to withhold our faith from the sacred history, whose statements of past fact we are the more inexcusable in discrediting, as we see the accuracy of its prediction of what was future.”
“And even that same Pliny tells us that there is still a nation in which men live 200 years. If, then, in places unknown to us, men are believed to have a length of days which is quite beyond our own experience, why should we not believe the same of times distant from our own? Or are we to believe that in other places there is what is not here, while we do not believe that in other times there has been anything but what is now?”
Alas … his conclusions seem in error … or all the fossils of these giants are now vanished.
I wish to thank you for your wise advice. I read about Tertullian many years ago at the Old Dominion University Library. I will make certain to read Cohen and Van Riper.
I have a copy of the City of God. I will read that. Thanks so much, Dr. Ted
Dr. Ted, I have read Augustine on the subject. It was very interesting and I again thank you. You are a true educator and a fellow historian. God bless.
Possibly the bones they found were lost due to the many wars that finally brought the end of the Roman Empire. Augustine was obviously incorrect to call these men. I would say they were dinosaurs; however, it is not quite clear what St. Augustine of Hippo really meant even though I feel they were dinosaurs. I appreciate your input.
Was he Alfred Hitchcock’s cousin? I wonder!
I’ve always found it interesting the Ken Ham & Co. never stop to consider (or inform their audiences) that some ancients assumed that elephant skulls were remains of a cyclops head and that a protoceratops skeleton could lead to stories of dragons (dead dragons, not observation of live dragons running around.)
I must agree with you. It is almost that Mr. Ham considers dinosaurs and human beings together and not many years ago. I call that Pseudo-Science. It cannot be true. I do find it amusing.
Subject: Tracking Dinosaurs and Finding God - Blog Posts - The BioLogos Forum
So many opinions , a couple of yrs ago i was rereading Genesis ,and knowing that there is so much scientific evidence that it really took billions of yrs before we got to day ?? 6 … it makes perfect sence especially when we now know how long it took to get from cave to college … our human intelligence has evolved to a place where we in present time feel the need to know and understand more about Genesis , is it a perfect description of intelligent creation , i didn’t always think this way , only after age 50 when read it again and being aware of the amazing amount scientific knowledge available.
Genesis 26 … let US make mankind in OUR image … who was he talking to ? could”US” be our souls waiting for the time when mankind would finally evolve to understand the knowledge of OUR God SELF .while in the form of a human , human is nothing “without BEING” our life / souls are the
S OURCE O F U NIVERSAL L IFE
But there is ONE more word in Genesis that confused me for months , finally I used the word in the dictionary
28 & God blessed them, & God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and REPLENISH the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth
No matter which way I read it I can only understand that word to mean "REFILL "
is it possible that it means the Genesis we read is the second one hinting that we did a real bad job taking care of Gods creation first time around … and he is giving us another chance to get it right, save the planet this time so Gods plan of Heaven on earth will happen before its too late again .
Talk about coincidence the day i wrote it in my notes i said to myself i hope there is some proof, and the next day while watching a u-tube about an old church , when it finished i was leaving the site or so i thought … when a voice said did man walk with the dinosaur ,i look up and saw the foot print of man, next to a dinosaur print , it was Charlton Heston in a documentary , i smiled and thought well a message from … MOSES … i watched the whole thing and it did say the prints were millions of years old …Ken Ham is only off by millions of yrs .
I have no idea if my suggestions make any sense but its food for thought .You know i was taught in RC school nothing is impossible for God .
I agree that God can do anything except for one thing: sin. I believe that even Pope Francis, whom I like, would agree with me on that. I believe as St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle that all creatures on earth have a soul; however, the human soul was created directly by God and only God has the power to destroy it. Animal and plant souls are generated from their bodies ; therefore, their souls do not survive the death of the body. The Roman Catholic Church and I agree that the human soul is eternal; it can survive the death of the body. At the Second Coming of Christ, the human soul will be reunited to the body. The Church states that our bodies evolve but not our souls. It seems from your question that you entertain the concept of the pre-existence of the soul. Even though the Wisdom of Solomon could imply this, the Church does not accept that view since each soul might be created by God at the conception of a child. This could be a theological topic in itself. Let us make man in our own image is a phrase that seems to interest you. The Church believes that it could mean one of two things. These are: 1) Let us is a “Royal We” just as an earthly king would use when speaking about himself or 2) This is the Holy Trinity speaking to itself. Most Christians, including me, believe that God is a being that exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No matter which view is correct God seems to be saying that we shall have a soul, spirit, or mind that reflects the image of God, this is to say, we have the ability to think, conceive time and truly consider the world around us. Animals and plants do not seem to have this ability unless science can prove otherwise. I do not believe we have any Beethovens in the plant and animal kingdoms. We also have free will just as God does. As for the word refill, a regular dictionary may not be giving you the true meaning of the ancient Hebrew behind the English word. A Bible dictionary might be useful or a biblical concordance. I feel that the text here means to populate the earth. I had a concordance of the New International Version of the Bible; however, I gave it to the Chesapeake, Virginia Public Library. I donate English books often to help the education of our community. I will not donate my German language novels and history books until I am called home by the Lord God one day (2 Corinthians 5:8). A good commentary on the Book of Genesis is what you need. If you are Roman Catholic, you might ask your priest to recommend one to you. I am a Protestant Christian; therefore, I feel your priest should recommend one to you. Replenish to me means simply to populate. I do not believe that human beings and dinosaurs lived together. Human beings came on to the world stage long after the dinosaur had become extinct. I hope this helps you. Also I believe that the human footprint with that of a dinosaur does not mean that they lived at the same time. I must also mention that such a phenomenon was proven false. It was not a human foot print but a dinosaur. May God bless you Sister Grace in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Post Scriptum: Please let me know if this helps.
Deacon Charles E. Miller, Jr.
Southern Baptist Convention
Speaking of dinosaurs, take a look at this monster titanosaur that the American Museum of Natural History just installed. It’s even bigger than our blue whale, and so big that it doesn’t fit in its new hall–the head peeks out to welcome visitors. Can’t wait to see it!
I must say my friend that you do come up with very good and educational things. I like that. It does demonstrate something to me: Dinosaurs and human beings could not have lived together. May the Lord Jesus bless you for seeking scientific truth.
It’s a spectacular creation, isn’t it?
I must say that I do agree with you. It amazes me everyday.
The book I read on the subject of “monsters” as fossils first came from the book, The First Fossil Hunters by Adrienne Mayor. It contains many examples besides the mammoth being Cyclops.
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