The Bible says the different animals and plants reproduced after their kind:
So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:21).
Some have taken this to mean that the Bible teaches the "fixity of the species," or the idea that God created every single species and that none of these species ever changed. It was this idea that turned Charles Darwin against the Bible.
In the Galapagos Islands off the coast of South America, Darwin observed species of animals and birds that closely resembled those on the mainland. However, they were not exactly identical. The discovery of different species led Darwin to believe that all of them had descended from a common pair. He further believed he had observed transitional types in which one species was changing into another. If this was true it would contradict what he had been taught about the "fixity of the species."
Not Biblical Teaching
The so-called fixity of the species, as Darwin perceived the Bible to be saying, is not taught in Scripture. In fact, it wasnt even widely taught in the church before the eighteenth century. Sylvia Baker writes:
The idea that species cannot change was certainly not an article of the church before the eighteenth century. It was then considered quite in accord with the Bible to believe that they could change, though not in the direction of greater complexity. It was not until the eighteenth century that the view became widespread that species cannot change, that they are fixed or immutable. The man responsible for promoting it was Linnaeus, who is famous as the first man to introduce systematics to biology. He maintained that species as he had defined them represented the kind of the Bible and therefore could not be changed.
This view became widely accepted, insisted on, and carried to absurd limits. At one time it was even taught that there were sixty species of man, each of which had been created separately! When Darwin made his observations in the Galapagos Islands, the idea that species could not change was both a scientific and theological dogma. When he observed the evidence that suggested they could change, Darwin said, It is like confessing a murder (Slyvia Baker, Bone of Contention,
Revised edition, Sunnybank, Queensland, Australia, Evangelical Press: 1976, p. 7).
The problem was a misunderstanding of what the Bible says. The word translated in Genesis as "kind" is the Hebrew word min
. It cannot be equated with our modern term species
. This can be observed from the following passage in the Book of Leviticus:
The ostrich, the short-eared owl, the seagull, and the hawk after its kind: the little owl, the fisher owl and the screech owl (Leviticus 11:16,17).
From this passage we see that the Bible recognizes various types of owls, as well as various types of other species. Therefore, the biblical word "kind" is not limited to our modern term "species." There are many varieties of fish, plants, cattle, as well as men and women.
John Klotz comments further:
We also need to recognize that the language of the Bible is the commonsense, everyday language of our newspapers. This language does not change; technical scientific language does change . . . . We may have new species of tomatoes, but they are still the same kind. There may be changes within the species, yet tomatoes have not developed into cantaloupes or watermelons. There may also have been changes within the dog kind, but these have not developed into lions or bears (John Klotz, Studies in Creation,
St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1985, p. 76).
Hence, what Darwin discovered was not contradictory to what the Bible has to say about kinds. The Bible teaches "the fixity of the species" in that each biblical kind can only reproduce within certain fixed boundaries. Change within a kind, however, is consistent with biblical teaching. Today, whenever kinds are crossed, the offspring is always sterile. For example, a donkey and a horse produce a sterile mule. A lion crossed with a tiger produces a sterile liger. Charles Darwin saw this problem and wrote in The Origin of Species.
How can we account for species, when crossed, being sterile and producing sterile offspring, whereas, when varieties are crossed, their fertility is unimpaired?
There is still no answer to this question today if one accepts the evolution model.
Change Is Permissible
Often the creationist position is caricatured by stating flatly that creationists deny the fact of change. This is not true.
Scientist Gary Parker writes:
When someone asks me if I believe in evolution, Ill often say, Why, yes, no, no, yes, no. The answer really depends on what the person means by evolution. In one sense evolution means change. Do I believe in change? Yes indeed - Ive got some in my pocket.
But change isnt the real question, of course, change is just as much a part of the creation model as the evolution model. The question is, what kind of change do we see: change only within type (creation) or change also from one type to another (evolution)? (Gary Parker, What Is Creation Science?,
El Cajon, California, Master Books: 1982, p. 82).
The Bible allows for change or variations within plants and animals. Change is evidence for microevolution or selection. What creationists are denying is the existence of any evidence for macroevolution. They reject the procedure of using evidence for microevolution as confirming the theory of macroevolution. Unfortunately, a great many people believe that evidence for microevolution proves macroevolution. This is by no means the case.
Furthermore, the Bible limits the amount of change which can happen. Cats cannot mate with dogs, pigs with apes, etc. This limitation is exactly what we find in our world. Hence, the Bible is certainly not unscientific when its says that kinds of plants and animals are limited in the degree in which they can change.