The Meaning Of The Word KIND
Author: Paul A. Bartz
Note: Creation Moments exists to provide Biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
Following the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture, we shall now look at the specific ways in which the word “kind” is used in Scripture, and what definitions and limitations Scripture provides for the word.
In Leviticus 11 we have a listing of the clean and unclean animals. Starting with verse 13 we have a description of which kinds of birds are clean and which are unclean. Note the following points: the kite and the falcon appear to be different kinds; the raven is a separate kind; the ostrich appears to be a separate kind from the owl; and the sea gull is yet another kind. Verse 22 gives us a listing of some kinds among the insects; the locust, cricket and grasshopper all appear to be separate kinds.
The first observation we can make is that this is clearly a technical listing. Kind, as used here has a very definite meaning.
The second conclusion we can reach from this information is that there are limits to the kinds. Despite the fact that crickets, and especially locusts and grasshoppers, all appear to be constructed after similar patterns, they are separate kinds from one another. Note, too, that in this section the owl and the great owl are listed as separate kinds from one another. This fact further suggests that God originally created variants among similar creatures. This last point could be very important in any discussion of the created genetic limits within certain creatures.
Are “Kinds” the Same as “Species”?
The Swedish creationist Linnaeus was one of the first scientists to attempt to classify the various animals into species. Individuals which could be crossed with one another were assigned to the same species in his system. He felt that his system would result in a definition of the Genesis kinds and their descendants. The French botanist Jordan took a different approach, defining species in a much narrower manner than Linneaus. In his system separate species were made out of creatures which were interfertile with one another. Some taxonomists today even list several different species for wolves or corn. Since the system has been narrowed and refined to our own day, “species” and “kinds” are not interchangeable terms any more. If Linnaeus’ system of “lumping,” as taxonomists call it, had prevailed, the term species could have ended up meaning the same as kinds. This history of taxonomy is important to know because very often creationists are accused of believing that species and kinds are interchangeable terms.
The science of the classification of living things, taxonomy, is a subjective “science” based mainly on the similarities and apparent differences in the way plants and animals are constructed. Even today there are several different systems in use and there is often disagreement between taxonomists as to whether two animals should be classified together as the same species or separately as different species.
The system of classification which Linneaus proposed on the basis of Scripture could have moved the science of taxonomy into a more objective direction since crossability is a more objective standard than structural appearance. His system, based on the presupposition of the Biblical kinds, and God’s command which limits the same kinds to reproduce after their kinds, lost out with the rise of evolutionary thinking which expects different species to be interfertile. Here is a clear case of where a Biblical base for scientific study would have provided a more objective science.
Copyright © 1982 Bible-Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz, Creation Moments, Inc. PO Box 839, Foley, MN 56329,