Mailbag: Why did God create dinosaurs?

JB writes:

Hi Dr. Salviander,

I’m a undergrad student in Dallas and I want to thank you for your dedication to the Lord in your work. It has helped me greatly and I’ve suggested your blog to my friends.

I had a simple question, just looking to get some insight:

Assuming the Anthropic Principle, why do you think God created dinosaurs and other species for mass extinction?

Thanks for your time–if you can!

I get wonderful questions from students, and this is no exception.

Dr. Hugh Ross runs an apologetics ministry called Reasons to Believe (also linked under “Helpful Resources”), and he talks a great deal about the fine-tuning argument. This argument says that the universe, and specifically the Earth, are very finely tuned for human life. In fact, so much so that all this fine-tuning overwhelmingly points to a Creator. Dr. Ross would say that, as with all cosmic events, mass extinctions play a part in preparing the Earth for the eventual appearance of humans. He discusses the dinosaur extinction in this article.

A corollary to this question might be, why did God carry out such an elaborate plan for the eventual appearance of humans—why not just create the universe and humans all at once and just bypass stuff like dinosaurs? The answer to that is in scripture, e.g. Psalm 8 and Romans 1:20. We learn about our Creator and his actions in this world by studying his creation. As physicist and theologian Dr. Gerald Schroeder points out, there is a Talmudic tradition that says the Torah (the first five books of Moses) was split in two on Mount Sinai; half was given to us in the book of scripture, the other half was sequestered in nature. In fact, the only name used for God in Genesis is ‘Elokiim,’ which means ‘God as made manifest in nature.’ Schroeder claims that we must study both scripture and nature in order to truly understand God’s word (see Schroeder’s book God According to God for more about this).