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Don Stewart :: What Does after Its Kind Mean?

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Don Stewart
In the first chapter of Genesis the phrase "after its kind" or "after their kind" occurs ten different times.

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,"-the idea that God created every single species and that none of these species ever changed.

Misunderstand Scripture

This misunderstands 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 where the following birds are mentioned:

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).

Various Types

From this passage we see that the Bible recognizes various types of owls, as well as various types of other living creatures. 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).

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 the biblical teaching.

Summary

The Bible allows for change or variations within plants and animals. Scripture, however, 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.





CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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