Grendel was a T. rex?

You’ve got to appreciate a little theological infighting. I don’t usually bother to read Catholic Answers, but this example made me laugh.

First, though, the Catholic church isn’t equivalent to Ken Ham’s or Kent Hovind’s weird little cults. Catholicism is a bit more waffly about the science, so this article starts with a disclaimer: the Church doesn’t take a strong stance on evolution, so you can’t use the truth or falsity of evolution to defend the faith.

I want to make it clear that the Catholic church does not have a teaching about the theory of evolution or the extinction of the dinosaurs. You can be a faithful Catholic and deny or accept evolution. You can be a faithful Catholic and believe the sun revolves around the earth. The Church doesn’t teach on these scientific questions. Now Hall says he does not want to dogmatize young earth creationism and I appreciate him saying that. He just asks that people like me not use evolution to evangelize others.

OK, it’s a troubling position to take, but I get what they’re going for. If I want to promote stamp-collecting, philately doesn’t concern itself with 20th century steamships, so don’t use your ideas about the sinking of the Titanic to convince people to collect stamps. It’s irrelevant and unnecessary.

On the other hand, though, it does rather undermine the expectation that Catholicism is at all interested in truth when they avoid the science, but that’s a different debate. Some other time…

What I found interesting is that they talk about a different breed of young earth creationist argument that I hadn’t heard of before. Isn’t it delightful that they keep coming up with increasingly insane beliefs? I had heard the claim that the dragon in the myth of St George and the Dragon was an example of a dinosaur that had persisted into the Middle Ages, but this is a new one on me: Grendel in Beowulf was a dinosaur. Specifically, a T. rex. This guy at the Kolbe Center says Grendel perfectly matches the description of some sort of T. rex dinosaur.

However, Hugh Owen, the director or the Kolbe Center says these historical sources do describe dinosaurs in medieval England. He cites the creature Grendel in the 10th century English epic poem Beowulf as an example.

Okay. First, Grendel is a male not a female and Beowulf rips out his arm and kills him before killing Grendel’s mother with a sword. Second, it’s silly to say that this means Grendel was a T-rex with stubby arms and a human being really killed a T-rex in this way. The idea that Grendel was a T-rex attacking 7th century Danish people comes from Creationist Bill Cooper’s book After the Flood. The problem is that, contra Owen and Cooper, Grendel is not specifically described in Beowulf. Grendel is said to be a descendant of Cain and that he is to be larger than any other man and Grendel’s mother is said to be in the form of a woman. They were probably some kind of hominid or human life monster, they definitely weren’t a pair of T-rexes.

To quote myself, “It’s hard to be funny about creationism because it is such obvious bullshit that I feel like all you need to do is transcribe what they say literally and stand back and go “See? See?” while underlining and circling their own words.” That’s a perfect example.


  1. Kagehi says

    Well, congratulations, you have actually managed to find an even stupider, “It must be a dinosaur!”, example from creationists than the usual, “Hippos? Elephants? Nah, those Biblical animals where obviously dinosaurs!”, one we usually see. lol

  2. Matt G says

    Yay! The stuff I believe without question is supported by science! Of course anything contradicted by science will continue to be believed without question.

  3. StevoR says

    You can be a faithful Catholic and believe the sun revolves around the earth. – Catholic Answers,

    Tell that to Galileo!

    Oh wait, a bit late for that now..

    Then there’s Giordano Bruno and others..

  4. flex says

    Well, you see, Beowulf hung Grendal’s arm above the door….. And T-Rex’s have arms…

    Checkmate atheists!

  5. Larry says

    This is how they spend their days? Really? Seriously arguing that a mythical character from a 10th century poem was actually a t-rex, a creature who lived 65 million years ago.

  6. robert79 says

    “some sort of T. rex dinosaur”

    There are different sorts? Wouldn’t this support the hypothesis that T.rex had different subspecies (sorts), and so was in the process of evolving?

  7. Tethys says

    In dark of night, to ancient halls, did Grendel gnash and rend the walls.
    Our hero Beowulf did hide, beneath the bodies bloody tide.

    Grendel is described as a man with dark, horny skin that comes up out the swamp. I believe his mother is blue, which implies that she is a dead volva.

    It would be slightly more logical to claim that the dragon that attacks and is then slain by Beowulf is a dinosaur.

    Beowulf is a bearwolf, or possibly a bewarewolf according to the actual saga. It’s not clear exactly what that means.

    Hveat Ye gard!

  8. says

    Artemis’ deer, the one Herakles was tasked with catching, is a dinosaur. Why? No @#$%ing idea, but it’s no less absurd than arguing about the clade of Grendel.

  9. dstatton says

    I thought that one of the more recent popes accepted evolution as part of God’s plan.

  10. says

    Catholics!? Cannibal vampires that say they really eat the flesh and drink the blood of a dead guy. Their priests hold the world record for molesting children (and then hiding those priests from prosecution and allow them to molest more). They are proud that their symbol (logo) is a bleeding dying man staked to a symbol of ancient torture. They play confession roulette where they absolve criminals of all sorts of crimes on Sunday so those criminals can go and commit more crime on Monday. They demand that everyone believe all the contradictory words of an obscene book of fiction that advocates incest, genocide, etc.
    Is that the sort of group you want to belong to?

  11. says

    @8 mordred wrote: Of course Grendel was no dinosaur! He and his mother were Neanderthals:

    I reply: my blood tests say I should resemble (resent) that remark (due to the amount of Neanderthal DNA I/we have). And, didn’t some researchers say the Neanderthals were supposed to be a more gentle society than homo sap?

  12. ionopachys says

    @9 Tethys
    I was taught that the name was literally bee-wolf, and a kenning for bear.

  13. Tethys says

    Yes, you are correct that a bee wolf is a bear. It is later in the text when it is unclear if there is a scribal error, or if it’s an example of AngloSaxon kenning/wordplay. Beware, warebeowolf, bearwolf, bearawolf, bewarawolf. The ware is a root to both wary, and the werewolf meaning. It could simply be a sleepy scribe, but there are very few comparative texts to Beowulf to say if it’s a common usage.

    Werebears feature in the Norse Saga of Böðvar Bjarki, where the protagonist shapeshifts into an invincible fighting bear while he is in a trance.

    Written Anglo-Saxon is sometimes as hilariously punny as a vaudeville act and deliberately uses homophony and litotes for humorous effect.

  14. devnll says

    “the expectation that Catholicism is at all interested in truth ”

    What on earth could possibly lead you to that conclusion?

  15. says

    Anyone who believe in such nonsense has got to be incredibly out of his/her mind and totally stupid!

    I, myself have dealt with this kind of pathetically stupid, made up fantasy nonsense before. Years ago, I used to write essays debunking such creationist fantasies like this one. In reality, Grendel according to the epic poem, was a giant ogre who was a direct descendant of Cain, the first son of Adam and Eve. He hated parties and crashes them every night to devour partygoers until Beowulf came along, battled, and defeated the ogre by tearing off his right arm, leaving him to stagger back to his cave where he collapsed and died from loss of blood. His grieving mother angrily vowed revenge, but was killed by Beowulf who used a magic sword that was kept as a family heirloom by the ogre to chop off her head after engaging in a battle with her. That’s exactly what the actual 10th Century poem said rather than Beowulf killing some stupid, pea-brained, small armed, T.rex dinosaur (with apologies to the real Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Late Cretaceous dinosaur from the Mesozoic Era).

    Undoubtedly the creationists stupidly made the whole thing up out of blatant ignorance of the complete absence of human remains found anywhere in and around the Mesozoic strata.

  16. Callinectes says

    It makes no sense at all. How would a Tyrannosaurus cross the Atlantic to terrorise Medieval Europe?

  17. John Morales says

    Well, they claim to be canonical (“Catholic Answers works each day to ensure our content is faithful to the Magisterium.”), but they are not, um, official.

    They do not speak for the Church.

    (It would be mistaken to imagine that)

    Our Story

    Catholic Answers started in 1979 when our founder, San Diego attorney Karl Keating, came out of Mass one day and found a flyer on his windshield that attacked the Eucharist. A local Fundamentalist church had put it on every car in the parking lot, and predictably, the flyer was full of misinformation. Karl was so annoyed that he drove home with a humble goal: to draft a letter that would introduce basic Catholic beliefs and refute anti-Catholic charges. He wrote the rebuttal, signed it “Catholic Answers,” opened a post office box in that name, and proceeded to place his response on the windshields of cars in the same Fundamentalist church’s parking lot.

    That modest effort was Catholic Answers’ first publication (tract).

    The Roman Catholic Church, of course, has zero problem with evolution; so long as Dog did it somehow, all is good.

    (It’s had quite a few centuries to work out how to be compatible with science whilst holding to its faith)

  18. mordred says

    @18: Plate tectonics! The story happened just after the flood, when all the animals were wandering from the arc’s landing place to their homes and before pangaea broke up and the continents raced to their current position! /s

  19. StevoR says

    @18. Callinectes : “It makes no sense at all. How would a Tyrannosaurus cross the Atlantic to terrorise Medieval Europe?”

    Well, fair point for specifically T-Rex itself but there were similar Tyrannosaurs, Megalosaurs and Abelisaurs ( like Eustreptospondylus ( and Torvosaurus ( ) among other therapod dinos roaming Mesozoic Europe.

    That whole 66 million years ago and no decent evidence of any non-avian dinos surviving since thing kinda rules it out. Also you’d think they’d mention the feathers too.. (Okay, maybe not all Tyranosaurs were feathered at all stages of their lives but still..)

  20. StevoR says

    @10. 183231bcb : “Artemis’ deer, the one Herakles was tasked with catching, is a dinosaur. Why? No @#$%ing idea, but it’s no less absurd than arguing about the clade of Grendel.”

    Of all of Herakles labours :

    surely the most dinosaur related would have to be the Stymphalian birds :

    Given birds are actally avian dinosaurs.

    Of course, using the creationists “logic” here you could plausibly infer that those were modern aircraft.. I mean :

    man-eating birds with beaks made of bronze and sharp metallic feathers they could launch at their victims. They were sacred to Ares, the god of war. Furthermore, their dung was highly toxic. They had migrated to Lake Stymphalia in Arcadia, where they bred quickly and took over the countryside, destroying local crops, fruit trees, and townspeople.

    .- Ibid

    Clearly the “..beaks and feathers of bronze..” = they were artificial creations and the “toxic dung” were really bombs, right?

    As for the deer of Artemis maybe a Megaloceros or Irish (Hellenic?) elk is a plausible inspiration esp given they were sorta near the Balkans, well, near-ish?

    he appearance of the first megacerine was observed about 1.4 million years ago, and already in the Early Pleistocene their bone remains were found on the British Isles and in Germany, and in Eastern Europe – on the territory of Moldova and Ukraine. Finally, the giant deer became extinct about 11.000 years ago, much later than other representatives of the mammoth fauna. The last refuge of the Megaloceros was the forest-steppe of the Southern and Middle Urals.

    Source :

    BTW I do like the wikipedia version of the Artemis Deer story with Artemis forgiving and permitting Herakles to capture the deer and his way of releasing it and then commenting afterwards to his boss King Eurystheus!

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