Which is More Scientific – Kinds or Species?
Author: Paul A. Bartz
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Genesis 1:11 begins the Biblical discussion of God’s creation of living things according to kinds. By the time we read to Genesis 1:25, we see that not only had everything been created according to kinds, but each creature was to reproduce after its “kind.” In order to let Scripture interpret Scripture, we are going to study the use of the word “kind” in Scripture. Begin by reading Genesis 1:11-25 to make sure that you see both the creation according to kinds for each creature, and the reproduction according to kinds.
Read Genesis 2:2. Is it an interpretation, or a clear statement of the text, to say that God’s creation of new kinds of creatures was completed on the seventh day? How does theistic evolution, which teaches that God used evolution to continue to create new kinds of animals through the earth’s history, ignore this clear assertion of Scripture? This is a clear example of how theistic evolution does more than “add the detail that Scripture leaves out.” Theistic evolution must junk certain passages of Scripture, like this one, which contradicts its claims.
Read Genesis 6:19-20. Here again we have the mention of kinds in Scripture. Noah was, in the language of genetics, to save a male and a female of each different kind of gene pool that God had created. These were all assembled in the Ark, and would be released to populate the earth after the flood was over. These were all released from the point of landing after the flood. Can we say that Scripture clearly teaches that animals migrated to their present locations? What error did Darwin make regarding this point? What error did the church make during Darwin’s time on this point? Was Scripture correct in its presentation of history, based on the world we see?
Does the word “kind” have a defined meaning in Scripture which we can use? In order to draw a conclusion on this read the following texts: Leviticus 11:14, 29; Ezekiel 47:10; Matthew 13:47; and Matthew 17:21 (which uses the same word for “kind” in the Greek). Other passages in the New Testament which often have the word “kind” in the translation actually use a different and non-specific word (i.e. tis). Does this suggest that the word “kind” may have more than just a general meaning?
What are the specific ways in which the word “kind” is used in Scripture, and what definitions and limitations does Scripture provide for “kind”?
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. How many different kinds are listed here? Note that 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.
Does this example indicate that the word “kind” has a very definite meaning? What limits to the word “kind” are suggested by its use in Leviticus 11?
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. Is this last point of possible importance in any discussion of the created genetic limits within certain creatures? What might this distinction indicate?
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 descendant. The French botanist Jordan took a different approach, defining species in a much narrower manner than Linnaeus. 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 their time the system has been narrowed and refined.
Today, 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 Linnaeus proposed on the basis of Scripture could have moved the science of taxonomy into a more objective direction since ability to interbreed 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.
Close this Bible study with a devotional reading of Psalm 103.
Copyright © 1987 Bible Science Newsletter, Pastor Paul A. Bartz.
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