When I was a boy a lot of friends used to like going to the Science Museum in London because there were things you could do. There were knobs you could press and wheels you could turn that made things happen. There were machines, there were trains, there were even rockets that went up into space. Me, I was less interested in the Science Museum than with another of the museums – the Natural History Museum.
One of the main attractions of the Natural History Museum was that there were animals there that you would never see in a zoo. Huge creatures like the Diplodocus as big as several houses and which just stood and munched grass all day. And then there was the most fearsome of all: Tyrannosaurus Rex, with its funny little arms, but great big teeth – all the better to eat you with.
I say all the better to eat you with, but no human being was ever eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, because they were long gone before the first humans appeared on the earth. The dinosaurs became extinct around 66 million years ago and the first human beings weren’t born until just a couple of 100,000 years ago.
It would have been wonderful to have been able to see these dinosaurs in real life, like we can see the lions and giraffes at a wildlife park. We can’t because they are extinct. We don’t know why for sure, but within a fairly short space of time – at least a short space of time for geologists – the dinosaurs went from being top dogs to having been replaced by dogs – or rather mammals in general. What’s very strange is that almost every animal and plant that has ever existed is now – just like the dinosaurs – extinct. Scientists estimate that 99.9% of all species that have ever existed are now gone. They are extinct, shuffled off this mortal coil.
In Genesis 1 we read:
And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.
God made all these things. We might think that it is a little strange that God made all these things and yet he has allowed 99.9% of all the things that he has made die out. Human beings often take the blame for animals become extinct, but almost all of those species that have disappeared since life began had gone by the time the first human beings appeared, so it’s not all our fault. So why has it happened?
I don’t think that the dinosaurs disappeared because God hates dinosaurs. I think that the opposite is true – God loves dinosaurs – although it doesn’t specifically tell us that in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t actually mention dinosaurs, but that’s because the people who wrote the Bible didn’t know about dinosaurs. If whoever write Genesis had known what we know about pre-historic animals we might read this in Genesis 1:
And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the diplodocus and he woolly mammoth to chew grass and the tyrannosaurus and sabre-toothed tiger to eat meat, each according to their kinds.
And that verse would have ended in the way that all the other verses end in the story of God’s creation … “and God saw that it was good”.
God has made more animals and plants than we will ever see and I’m fairly sure that he has made lots more things than we will ever know about. God has made exotic animals, birds and plants that disappeared long before human beings were ever born. God has made all these things because that is what God does and that is what God loves. God loved the dinosaurs when he made them and I believe that God still loves dinosaurs. Just because the dinosaurs are no more, does not mean that God has stopped loving them. They are part of God’s creation and earthly death has no bearing on God’s eternal capacity to love and to hold his creation close to his heart.
Even if we ignore all the plants and creatures that have disappeared unseen by us, we can still marvel at God’s extravagance all that we can see. Why do we need so many different plants and animals? Who knows? Well, the answer to that, I guess, is that God knows and we must presume that God loves variety.
One final thought to end with and once again it concerns life and death. I suggested that God loves dinosaurs and I want to emphasise that I said that Godloves not that God loved. God loves all that he has made and he continues to love all that he has made. God does not cease loving when one of his creatures no longer has life on earth. The implications of this are huge for us as human beings. We speak about knowing us and loving us, and that is all well and good for the here and now, but I believe that if God truly loves his creation and all of his creation then he continues to know us and love us long after we are gone from this place and into eternity. God has always loved us and will continue always to love us.
God loves the dinosaurs, even though they are long gone from this world. And he also loves my Dad, your Mum and Dad, your husband or wife, your son or daughter and he will continue to love you, long after you’ve gone, because God is the God of creation and he holds all that he has made in his hands and close to heart.