Naturalistic Biological Change and the Bible
by Rich Deem

Does the Bible preclude the possibility of any naturalistic biological changes (micro or macroevolution)? Many Christians say that the answer to this question is " yes." However, it is difficult to support this viewpoint from the biblical texts. Let's look at the verbs used to describe the creation of life on earth.

  1. bara: bring forth something that is radically new; produce that which is new, extraordinary, and/or epochal; produce through supernatural activity
  2. hayah: become; cause to appear or arise; cause to be made or done; come into existence; come to pass; make into something
  3. asah: make; produce; manufacture; fabricate

Most scholars agree the Hebrew word bara refers to de novo, or new, creation, as a direct result of the intervention of God. The creation of the universe is described in this manner (Genesis 1:1). This verb is also used to describe the creation of whales, mammals (nephesh), birds (Genesis 1:21), and mankind (Genesis 1:27).

The primary evidence cited to support the viewpoint that the Bible does not allow for any naturalistic form of creation comes from Genesis 1, where the English translations state several times that the creatures are "after their kind." If one looks at the actual Hebrew text, one finds that the phrase "after their" is added to make the text flow better in English. Here are some examples of what the Hebrew actually says:

elohim bara     gadol tannin tannin      kol   chay  nephesh
God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature

     ramas        asher     mayim  sharats              min
that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and

kol   kanaph oph            min    elohim raah             tob
every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Alternate translation:
God created great sea monsters, every living soul that moves, kinds which swarmed in the waters, and every kind of winged bird. God saw it was good.

elohim asah    chayyah         erets             min
And God made the beasts of the earth after their
kind, and the

behemah            min          kol          remes         adamah
cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground

          min    elohim raah            tob
after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Alternate translation:
God made kinds of beasts of the earth, kinds of cattle and all kinds of creeping things and God saw it was good.

Even if the text in Genesis should be translated "after their kind," there is still the question about how the Hebrew word for kind, min, should be translated. Genesis doesn't clarify the issue, although it suggests that some of the the "kinds" are rather diverse groups of animals and plants. Therefore, the "kinds" seen in Genesis one probably do not represent species. Most Hebrew scholars think min probably refers to what biologists would classify as genera or families, although specific examples elsewhere in the Bible suggest the definition cannot be considered that exact. Some of the other examples of min can be found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy:

These, moreover, you shall detest among the birds; they are abhorrent, not to be eaten: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard, and the kite and the falcon in its kind, (Leviticus 11:13-14)

every raven in its kind, (Leviticus 11:15)

and the ostrich and the owl and the sea gull and the hawk in its kind, (Leviticus 11:16)

and the little owl and the cormorant and the great owl, and the white owl and the pelican and the carrion vulture, and the stork, the heron in its kinds, and the hoopoe, and the bat. (Leviticus 11:17-19)

These of them you may eat: the locust in its kinds, and the devastating locust in its kinds, and the cricket in its kinds, and the grasshopper in its kinds. (Leviticus 11:22)

Now these are to you the unclean among the swarming things which swarm on the earth: the mole, and the mouse, and the great lizard in its kinds, and the gecko, and the crocodile, and the lizard, and the sand reptile, and the chameleon. (Leviticus 11:29-30)

But these are the ones which you shall not eat: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard, and the red kite, the falcon, and the kite in their kinds, (Deuteronomy 14:12-13)

and every raven in its kind, (Deuteronomy 14:14)

and the ostrich, the owl, the sea gull, and the hawk in their kinds, (Deuteronomy 14:15)

the little owl, the great owl, the white owl, the pelican, the carrion vulture, the cormorant, the stork, and the heron in their kinds, and the hoopoe and the bat. (Deuteronomy 14:16-18)

...Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many. (Ezekiel 47:10)

These verses suggest that the kinds could very well include genera, and families of organisms, and maybe even orders. Therefore, even if one were to translate the verses of Genesis one as "after their kinds," these kinds could refer to naturalistic microevolution through at least the genus, if not family level.

How far can microevolution go in producing new species? Examples of observable speciation cited by evolutionists are not very striking. Most of these speciation events are seen in plants subject to some forms of extreme environmental stress. When the "new species" is returned to its original habitat, it rapidly reverts to its former The observable traits or characteristics of an organism, for example hair color, weight, or the presence or absence of a disease.phenotype. We know that plants are readily adaptable to habitat, whether a result of natural selection or artificial selection (domestication). The biblical account for the creation of plants is not very specific, saying, "Let the earth [or land] sprout vegetation" and "And the earth brought forth vegetation" (Genesis 1:11-12). Genesis seems to be telling us that much of the production of plants is brought forth by "the earth," as opposed to continuous direct intervention by God. Therefore, one would not see a contradiction between the biblical record and observable examples of microevolution.

Therefore, contrary to what many Christians teach, the Bible seems to allow for naturalistic speciation of certain kinds of organisms. How much speciation would be allowable according to the biblical account is up to debate. However, the Bible clearly indicates that God directly intervened in the creation of certain groups of organisms (the higher mammals, birds and mankind).


Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of ManWho Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man. Are humans just advanced apes or have they been specially created in the image of God? Publications by scientists almost never ask the question, whereas publications by theists seldom examine the scientific data that relates to the question. However, two scientists raised in non-Christian homes, Fuz Rana (Ph.D. in chemistry) and Hugh Ross (Ph.D. in astronomy), have written a new book (Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man) that examines the question of human origins by comparing biblical and evolutionary models.


Verses

Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:21: And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them
Genesis 1:11-12 Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with seed in them, on the earth"; and it was so. And the earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.

http://godandscience.org/evolution/biblevol.html
Last updated January 16, 2006

 

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