The universe displays incredible variety. Consider snowflakes; every one is different. Every cloud is different. Every planet, every galaxy is different.
This variety is just as visible among organisms. Every individual is different from every other individual. Every giraffe has a unique pattern. Every zebra has distinct stripes. Every dog has a distinct personality, and every human is different from every other human. Even identical twins will have some small differences.
Despite all this variety, it’s easy to see which of these belong in the same group. As different as deer are from each other, we still recognize them as deer. As different as finches are from each other, we still recognize them as finches.
The same is true of plants. There are thousands of species of orchids and thousands of species of grass, but we still call them orchids and grass. Modern scientists call each of these groups a family – the grass family (formerly Gramineae now called Poaceae) and the orchid family (Orchidaceae).
One thing to remember when comparing the biblical created kinds with modern classification is that the term ‘kinds’ was used by God from the very beginning in Genesis 1. The modern classification system using family, genus and species wasn’t developed until Carl Linnaeus published his book, Systema Naturae in 1735.
The Bible gives a clue about the origin of such variety. Genesis 1 says that God created distinct organisms after their kind. In fact, He uses this phrase “after its kind,” or “after their kind,” ten times in the creation account.
What does the biblical term “kind” refer to? It’s possible that in most instances, these kinds are the groups of similar genus and species that scientists recognize today as a family. If so, God made an orchid kind, a grass kind, a deer kind, a finch kind, and many others. Within these kinds, He placed potential for amazing variety.
In the deer kind, it is very possible that God created only 1 deer kind. As deer populations grew after Creation, they would begin to spread out into new areas and new habitats. As each group of deer moved away from other deer they would only have carried some but not all of the genetic variation as the original kind. In time, each different group would begin to show different characteristics that were selected for to make them better suited to their new environment.
After the Flood, the same thing would have happened. The deer kind that Noah took on the ark would also have had a large amount of genetic variety and would have quickly populated new areas and developed into different types of deer.
Biblically we would say that there was one original created kind of deer. In our modern classification system, we classify them in the deer family called Cervidae. From there they are divided into 4 subfamilies, 18 genera (genus plural), and 55 species (depending on which source used). In other words, all 55 species of deer living today, (there are about half a dozen or so that are extinct that I didn’t count), are all descendents of the original created deer kind.
Some Bible critics use today’s modern classification of animals to argue that Adam couldn’t have named all of the animals on Day 6 when God brought them to him as there are too many species for Adam to name in just one day. But if Adam only had to name each created kind that God brought to him, it would have been very easy for Adam to name them all on Day 6.
They also argue that all of the animals could not have fit on the Ark. The same holds true for Noah and the animals on the Ark. Noah wouldn’t have needed to take 55 different deer on the Ark, but only 1 deer kind. Noah only had to take 1 pair of the elephant kind, bear kind, dog/wolf kind, ceratops dinosaur kind, and so on.
Knowing the difference between what the Bible calls a kind and today’s modern classification system of family, genus and species, will help you give answers to questions and challenges to God’s Word.
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