June 26, 2011

BCOE: Day 6 of Creation - Land Animals and Man

Please read the following Bible passage:
24And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock and creeping things [‘remes,’ רמשׂ] and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.  25And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps [‘remes,’ רמשׂ] on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing [‘remes,’ רמשׂ] that creeps on the earth.”  27So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  

28And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.  30And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”  And it was so.  

31And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.  –Genesis 1:24-31

Genesis 1:24-25: Land Animals

So, what was created on Day 6 before man?  It lists three types of living creatures: cattle, creeping animals, and beasts or wild animals.  Some people insist that the “creeping things” (KJV) is actually insects; however, we must question that assumption.  The Hebrew word is “remes” (רמשׂ) and is defined by Strong’s Concordance as, “A reptile or any other rapidly moving animal.” The word is used in these ways elsewhere in the Old Testament:

  • Man is given dominion over the “remes” (רמשׂ) – Genesis 1:26
  • “remes” (רמשׂ) are implied to have the “breath of life” – Genesis 1:26-30
  • Two of each “remes” (רמשׂ) went into Noah’s ark – Geneis 6:20
  • Noah was told to “bring forth” the “remes” (רמשׂ) from the ark – Genesis 8:17
  • “Every” “remes” (רמשׂ) was given to Noah for food – Genesis 9:3
  • There were “remes” (רמשׂ) in the “sea” – Psalm 104:25
  • “remes” (רמשׂ) were portrayed upon the temple walls by the apostates – Ezekiel 8:10
  • The “remes” (רמשׂ) are going to “tremble” at the presence of the Lord – Ezekiel 38:20
  • The “remes” (רמשׂ) are going to “lie down safely” – Hosea 2:18
  • The “remes” (רמשׂ) have no ruler over them – Hab. 1:14

Ten out of the seventeen occurrences (59%) of “remes” (רמשׂ) appear quite likely to be referring to animals rather than insects.  So, we would conclude that Genesis 1 is strictly referring to smaller animals that “creep about” on “the ground”.

This appears to be the meaning since both Gen. 1:24 and Gen. 1:30 strongly imply that the “creeping things” have the “breath of life” or a “living soul”—depending upon the translation that one uses.  Insects don’t have the breath of life or a soul.  The literal translation of verse 24, “Let the earth bring forth the soul of life according to its kind: cattle, and creeping things/animals, and beasts of the earth . . .” only fits for creeping animals and not insects.

(Also, the Septuagint translates this word “creeping thing” more clearly as a kind of animal.)

Therefore, we should conclude that only land animals are being explicitly created on Day 6.  Furthermore, these land animals are said to have souls, which likely indicates emotional creatures.  The creeping animals are defined as animals that move along the ground, also.  So, we could define the three animal types created on Day 6 as: (1) “cattle” or easily tamable quadruped (four-footed) animals, (2) “beasts” or relatively untamable/lively animals, and (3) “creeping animals” or smaller animals that scurry along the ground, all of which have emotions.  Most (if not all) of these would be mammals.

It is my belief that only mammals are being referred to as being created on Day 6, though that is admittedly speculative.  According to the fossil record, around 60 Ma, modern mammal types were coming into existence.  This was well after modern bird kinds had started being formed.  For that reason, I believe we see that established science once again fits with the Bible’s account and order.

“Creeping animals” could possibly include some reptiles, but I suspect that those are not included in the actual, contextual meaning, since reptiles don’t seem to display emotions.  Of the reptiles that might fit, you’d have primarily lizards.  If we did include lizards, even then, most of the modern forms of lizards arose later than 100 Ma, and generally after 65 Ma, which still fits with the Bible’s order.  Modern bird kinds probably started being formed c. 130-100 Ma.

Whichever view is correct, the fossil record shows that modern birds definitely started being formed before there were hardly any of the thousands of modern land animal species; and, the primary diversification of birds clearly happened before the primary diversification of modern land animals.  By 60 Ma, the modern bird kinds were well established, but the modern land animals were just barely getting formed.

Naming the Animals

Adam and Eve were both created on Day 6.  We read in Genesis 2 that Adam named all the animals before Eve was created, so that must have been all done during Day 6.  There are considered to be about 24,000 basic kinds of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.  If we assume that Adam took an average of two minutes to have each animal brought to him and named, then the whole process would have taken about 33 hours!  If we reduce the time to one minute per animal, then he could have named all these kinds in a little under 17 hours.  This would be a long work day, especially since the first Sabbath day was at sunset—probably not much more than 12 hours after sunrise.  Realistically, on average, Adam would need to have named each animal in about 30 seconds.  The task would have been quite intense and probably tiring.

Some have suggested that the animals he named were a subset of all the animal kinds, and for some reason the amphibians and reptiles weren’t named.  However, there is no good reason to exclude these animals, since the words that are used could encompass all types of land animals.  Most young-earth creationists argue that the animals created on Day 6 were all land animals and insects.  There are only three types of creature names, as we’ve already noted.  In Genesis 2, where Adam names the animals, the only type of creature not listed is the “creeping things,” which is the insects in the young-earth view.  So, there is no real basis for excluding particular land animals from the naming event.  Another way that young-earth creationists get around this problem is by saying that Adam only had to name the “head groups” of animals.  However, that is inconsistent, since the passage uses the modifiers “all” and “every.”  It is highly inconsistent for young-earth creationists to argue that “all” and “every” do not mean all the animals without exception, and then to turn right around and say that “every” must mean all in chapter 1 where “every herb” was given to Adam and Eve for food.  (The same Hebrew word is used in both cases.)

A Perfect World?

One of the biggest arguments against the old-earth view is that there would have been death and decay and other problems before the Fall of Adam and Eve.  The young-earth view maintains that the world was “perfect” before the Fall and sin was the cause of all evils and all pain in the world.  The problem is that the Bible doesn’t seem to strongly support the idea that the world was perfect before sin entered in.

It is true that there are many references to things being “good” during the creation week, but I would argue that “good” is a far cry from being perfect.  The Hebrew word is relatively weak in expressing perfection.  Similar to English, “good” in Hebrew is relative and can be interpreted as nothing more that God had made “good” designs.  There are at least fifteen other words in Hebrew that are stronger and could express the idea of perfection better, for example: “very beautiful” (יפה־פיּה), “perfect” (גּמר), “excellent” (יתּיר), “glorious” (הדר), “lovely/delightful” (מחמד).  The word used in Genesis 1 is, by no stretch of the imagination, proof that things were perfect and without problems.

If things were perfect, then there would be no dangerous animals.  That means that man should have been given dominion over the “beasts”.  However, man is only said to be given dominion over: (a) the fish, (b) the birds, (c) the “cattle”, (d) all the earth, (e) all “creeping animals” (Gen. 1:26).  Although, Gen. 1:28 does mention man being given dominion over “every living thing that moves . . . ”  In verse 26, where the land animals are mentioned more specifically, only cattle and creeping animals are mentioned, and “beasts” is conspicuously missing.  I would argue that man was not directly given dominion over the wild beasts.  This should be compared with Psalm 8 that mentions man being given dominion over Creation, specifically: (a) sheep and oxen (v.7), (b) “cattle” of the field (v.7), (c) birds (v.8), (d) fish (v.8), (e) other marine life.  Beasts are not mentioned, just like in Gen. 1:26.  The parallel is clear.  Nothing changed between before the Fall and after the Fall.  (It is interesting that the Septuagint, for what it’s worth, translated the word “beast” as “wild animal” or a “dangerous animal”.)

The young-earth creationists (YEC) also argue that man was only vegetarian before the Fall.  Perhaps.  They also argue that there were no poisonous plants because it says that all the plants were given to Adam and Eve for food.  At this, we make the counterpoint that Noah was told something nearly identical: “. . . even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Gen. 9:3).  All “herbs” were given to Noah for food, just like to Adam: “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed . . .” (Gen. 1:29).  All “creeping animals” were also given as food to Noah (Gen. 9:3).  So, to be consistent, if Noah was given “all” the herbs, then no plant must be poisonous today—unless there was somehow a further curse of the ground.  No, it is most reasonable that the language is hyperbole and refers to the idea that much of the plants and trees were given for food, both to Adam and Eve and also to Noah and his descendents.  Clearly, “every” and “all” do not always mean all things without exceptions.

To further underscore this point, Noah was told that the fear and dread of him would be upon “every beast of the earth” (Gen. 9:2).  Naturally, we can and should assume that this promise has held true to humanity, but certainly not every single beast is entirely afraid of humans.  There are a number of animals that have great boldness to attack humans.

YEC will also argue, consistently, that the animals were all vegetarian.  However, most animals are vegetarian or partially vegetarian even today.  The Genesis passage does not require that the animals be 100% vegetarian.  It only requires that a majority of animals be able to get nourishment from plant life.  The point of the Genesis 1 passage seems to be just that humans and animals had the majority of plants available for food, whether or not they actually took advantage of the plants.

It is fair to ask how everything could have been “very good” if there was death in the animal kingdom.  The answer is that “very good” is subjective.  The world is very good from the perspective of it being extremely well designed and a perfect system in which God’s glory can be displayed to mankind.  Hard as it may be to accept, the world was a system prepared for the Fall, I believe.  God knew what Adam and Eve would do, and He was ready for them to rebel and live in a difficult world of pain and death.

Psalm 104 talks about lions being “filled with good” (v.28) as they “seek their food from God” (v.21).  How is it that God is calling the killing and eating of other animals “good”?  It is the same Hebrew word as used in Genesis 1.  This is a perfect example of how “good” can be used in reference to something young children might consider horrible and “bad”.  By allowing a lion to kill another animal, God gives the lions something “good”.  Please consider that “good” is highly relative.

It is inconceivable that there was no plant death before the Fall.  All YEC accept that kind of death.  However, why is it that plant death would suddenly be the one exception to the rule of no death before sin?  Obviously, we cannot conceive of the world without some form of death.  It seems likely that there would also be insect death before the Fall by mere accidents.

Genesis 1 doesn’t require a perfect world, only a “good” one.  The perfect world is yet to come.  However, even so, Ecclesiastes 3:11 seems to say that this current world is “beautiful.”  “He has made everything beautiful in His time . . .” 

The Recreation of the Universe

Probably the biggest problem with the YEC view is that at the Fall of man, you’d of necessity need some measure of recreation of the universe and earth.  God rested on the seventh day from all of His creation work, and so there is a problem with God recreating things shortly thereafter, I believe.  Some of the more obvious recreations after the Fall would be:
  • Sudden death of animals and plants (would require remaking plants/animals)
  • Creation of exclusively carnivorous plants and animals, designed to kill other things (such as spiders, sharks, Venus fly traps, etc.)
  • Viruses and bad bacteria
  • Sunburns, tornados, hot weather, cold weather (answered by the canopy theory?)
  • Asteriods, comets, meteors
  • Woman’s menstrual cycle and bleeding
  • Creation of poisonous plants and animals with poison (some frogs have poison that makes them deadly to even touch!)
  • Law of entropy (or decay)
  • Highly unpleasant creatures, like the foot-long cockroach that has been found in the fossil record
  • Thorns, worse soil for the plants, legs removed from the serpent
It is possible that some of these could be explained in various ways without a direct recreation, but it is impossible that all of these could be explained apart from some miraculous intervention by God.  Appealing to some kind of evolutionary process for the animal changes doesn’t help the YEC position whatsoever.

Now, you might rightly ask how the curse could have been natural rather than supernatural.  The answer is not entirely pertinent to this paper, since there is really nothing in the old-earth view that prevents some degree of miraculous recreation at the Fall.  The point that is being made is that the YEC view requires an extensive recreation of the universe and life, whereas the old-earth view does not.  For the sake of argument, however, we would note that the ground was cursed for Cain in a similar fashion as it was for Adam.  It is unlikely that the curse on Cain was a supernatural occurrence.  Why should we assume that Adam was cursed supernaturally when Cain was not?  Many of the problems that came in for Adam could be tied back to the fact that God excluded him from eating of the Tree of Life, and that Adam was now sinful and would struggle with negativity.  Death was the primary punishment for sinning, not the curses pronounced after the Fall.

What about death?  Certainly Adam would have needed to have been recreated to undergo the dying process.  Actually, if you take the Bible at face value, then this verse is instructive: “. . . Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever . . .” (Gen. 3:22).  This means that Adam and Eve could have still lived forever even after the Fall if they had access to the Tree of Life.  So, does that not seem to imply that their deaths were the result of not having access to the Tree of Life?  I believe so.  Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Adam and Eve were recreated physically such that they began dying.  Eternal life was conditional upon taking of the Tree of Life, much like our eternal life is conditional upon partaking of Christ, spiritually.

No comments:

Post a Comment