Reproducing according to their kinds

(Peaceful Science) #1

Many think Genesis says that God restricted plants and animals to reproducing within their designated “kinds.” This turns out to be false, as we will see.

This interpretation may have roots in a KJV mistranslation, which was written before evolution was proposed (e.g. of Gen 1:24). You can see many versions here

And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Likewise in NASB,

God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Likewise in NIV,

God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

But is made more explicit in, e.g. the VOICE translation,

God made earth-creatures in a vast variety of species: wild animals, domesticated animals of all sizes, and small creeping creatures, each able to reproduce its own kind. God saw that His new creation was beautiful and good. And God paused.

Note here that the “reproduce” statement is not in italics, which indicates the version author thinks this is in the original Hebrew.

As AIG puts it,

A plain reading of the text infers that plants and animals were created to reproduce within the boundaries of their kind.

That makes it quite stunning to realize that there is no such statement in the hebrew.

The word for kind is “min”, and it is only used in a few places. Where it is used outside genesis, it is being used in a way like “many kinds of” or “all sorts of”. Nothing at all is said about reproduction. The word for reproduction does not appear in the text.

This article by a Seventh Day Adventist (a YEC) is really excellent. A YEC Hebrew Scholar explains that there is no statements about the limits of reproduction to Kinds in Genesis. The article is a really good read, especially because its source should be impeccable to YECs, and the textual analysis clearly demonstrates an error in translation.

What are your thoughts? This is a different case than typical, where it seems a mistranslation has lead to a horribly mistaken plain reading of the passage. A better translation would have been…

“The land gave forth animals of many kinds.”


(Phil) #2

Interesting background. As my thinking on this has evolved (no pun intended), I think that if you look at it from the perspective of the intended audience, there should be no conflict, whether you agree with evolution or not. We do not see life functionally extending over thousands and millions of years, so to us as mortal humans, the evolution of species is more a conceptual idea rather than an observed reality over the span of our lives. Through science, we can flesh out the idea and see it happening over the eons, but our cat is still always going to have kittens. To pre-scientific society, it was obvious, and just a statement of observed reality, not a scientific proclamation, which is where AIG goes very wrong. This is entirely consistent with what we know about evolution, as well as consistent with a more literal biblical interpretation.

(Christy Hemphill) #3

I think we need to be careful deciding something isn’t ‘in the Hebrew’ because you don’t see something in an interlinear gloss. I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but if multiple translations in multiple languages incorporate the concept of reproduction, then I would think the concept is there in the Hebrew, but it has more to do with the order/chaos theme than some imposition of a static species boundary.

(George Brooks) #4


Ever since those wild days with the “Alaska Rabbit” video, where we could watch and listen to YEC leader, Kent Hovind . . . .

. . . expound on his view of the Genesis verses that touch on “Kind”, I’ve been waiting for the definitive confirmation that Hovind’s interpretration will work just fine for BioLogos supporters!

The principle texts get a little repetitive, but here they are:

Gen 1:11
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

Gen 1:12 - “And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

Gen 1:21 - “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

Gen 1:24 - “And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.”

While Kent Hovind didn’t put it in the words that I’m about to use, these words are certainly consistent with an evolutionist’s viewpoint.

While YEC’s have been keen to interpret “his kind”, “her kind” or “their kind” to mean a divinely arbitrary definition of what a kind is.

Hind put just the right spin on the word when he said (here I’m paraphrasing):

“If two creatures can’t produce fertile offspring, then they are clearly not of the same kind!”

It’s not so much "God’s ‘big box’ kind applied to individual animals. It’s the “kind” of the animals that is being tested or confirmed by the success of their mating. Like “kinds” can perpetuate the next generation. Animals not of the same kind cannot.

As specified in @Swami’s post above:

"As AIG puts it,

“A plain reading of the text infers that plants and animals were created to reproduce within the boundaries of their kind.”

But there are lots of creatures that YEC’s have been labeling of the same kind that are not able to reproduce fertile offspring!

Crows and Pigeons? Same kind? Nope.

Horses and Donkeys? Same kind? Nope.

The interesting thing is that the feline Order of animals is rather stunning in their genetic similarities. Lions and Tigers can produce fertile offspring. They were categorized as different species during a time when we didn’t know genetics very well, and Lions and Tigers not only look very different, they act very different. So they were considered two different species.

But Biblically, and perhaps by the Late Mehr’s own definition, they could be considered of “one kind”!

(George Brooks) #5


Those translations do incorporporate reproduction, but used in a way that doesn’t really support the YEC interpretation of the word.

(Peaceful Science) #6

Well of course that is true, which is why I pointed to an article doing an indepth study of the word.

Except that is not the case. Only one translation explicitly says “reproduction”, the others use language that is ambiguous at best (“according to their kind”), but has been widely interpreted as referring to reproduction, even though it does not include the word “reproduction.”"

The linked paper is important, in particular because it is written by a YEC. Here are some quotes…

Darwin was not initially opposed to the creation story in the Bible, but the evidence he acquired over many years seemed to be absolutely at odds with Genesis. However, upon closer examination of his growing uneasiness with creation, one finds that it was built upon an incorrect interpretation of the Bible. In Darwin’s day, fixity of species was considered a fact, supported by the phrase “after its kind” (minah and with other suffixes) in Genesis, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. In other words, the species present today must have continued exactly as they were since God created them.1”

Many people today, including influential bibli- cal commentators, still believe the Bible refers to fixity of species in the creation story and beyond. For example, a well-recognized Old Testament scholar re- cently wrote, concerning the meaning of Genesis 1, that “each type reproduces after its own kind, so . . . there is no possibility of creating new species through mutation.”4 Due to the large number of new species being found, this assump- tion increases skepticism regarding the historicity and authenticity of the Bible.

Notice she is pointing problems with interpreting this as fixity of kinds as an error that undermines scripture apart. She quotes another…

Running correctly notes that the earth receives God’s command to “bring forth the living creatures” in Gen. 1:24. The animals themselves are not commanded. This seems to imply that the translation should be, “Let the earth bring forth the various kinds of living creatures.”

And then this is closest to her view…

other scholars find that Gen 1:24 is talking about each animal reproducing “according to its kind,” and that mˆîn “designates classifiable bio- logical beings that are capable of reproducing.”28 The preceding evidence, however, shows that a direct linkage of mˆîn to reproduction is not present.

But this does not mean that mˆîn is without boundaries. The context of crea- tion by separations and divisions still implies boundaries, just not reproductive ones.

Now she does end up concluding that somehow (its not clear how) macroevolution is disallowed, but this does not appear to be connected to any sort of understanding of evolution or a textual reasons. In fact, the view of min she puts forth fits almost perfectly with theistic evolution.

So, this is not just an interlinear gloss. =)

(Matthew Pevarnik) #7

I think the problem is that most YEC will not really listen to a 7th Day Adventist, especially those of the more fundamentalist kind. Yes, this ironically misses where modern YEC comes from… Yet in general, a 7th Day Adventist, regardless of how good their particular ideas are would likely be pre-judged as deceived and lost.

Reminds of this article from John Hartnett (does he write for CMI anymore I’m not sure) where he aims to discredit the Big Bang Theory as a religious pagan concept by attacking Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Jesuit Priest (

(Peaceful Science) #8

Or they could just read the text itself.

There is no reference to “reproduction” and if you look at other uses of the word in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, it becomes obvious that it has nothing to do with reproduction.

(George Brooks) #9


Another advantage to the idea that reproductive success is what defines “Kind” is that “Kind” then becomes embedded in “real time”.

Producing offspring is not some abstract process with a Platonic “Kind” … mating is between two real world, genetically variable individuals. The “kind” is not a picture ouf of God’s encyclopedia book – “kind” is whatever genotypes the two parents are!

And so, as a population shifts over the centuries… the “kind” is shifting too.
It has to shift! If it didn’t, a mastadon in the final centuries of this population’s existence would be attempting to produce the next generation based on what the genotype used to be!

(system) #10

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