The forest of life

The phrase “according to their/its kinds” occurs ten times in Genesis 1. God created plants to produce seed “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1: 11, 12) and animals to reproduce “according to their kinds” (Gen. 1:21, 24, 25). In this context, the Hebrew word that is translated “kinds” means a category of creatures. The same word is used seven times to describe the creatures taken on the ark (Gen. 6:20; 7:14). The equivalent Greek word “genos” was used in the Septuagint (a translation of the Old Testament into Koine Greek in about 300-100 BC) to describe the black kite, raven, hawk, heron, locust, katydid, cricket, grasshopper, and great lizard (Lev: 11:14-16, 19, 22, 29) and the falcon, raven, hawk, and heron (Dt. 14:13-15,18). So, the Biblical usage of the word “kinds” seems to correspond to a “genus”, which is a Latin word meaning sort, kind or class.

According to Gen 1:11 there were “seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds”. So the offspring of the plant or animal was “according to its kind”; the “kind” includes the parents and the offspring; they were the same “kind”. Creatures reproduce according to their kinds. This is the law of reproduction. One kind does not change into a different kind (Jas. 3:12). The ability to breed and produce offspring defines the original created kinds. Groups of living organisms belong in the same created “kind” if they have descended from the same ancestral gene pool. For example, all the species of finches that Darwin saw on Galapagos island were the one “kind”.

Although there are similarities between the biological kinds, they are distinctly different: “Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another” (1 Cor. 15:39). So there are profound differences between humans and animals. With regard to plants, “to each kind of seed He (God) gives its own body” (1 Cor. 15:38). This suggests that the differences between kinds are due to differences at a cellular level; each has a unique genetic code.

So, the Bible teaches that there were distinct “kinds” of biological life from the beginning. Life on earth didn’t begin with a single cell that became more complex with time. Instead, each kind would have contained a diversity that enabled genetic variations to occur and be favored by natural selection. This means that each original “kind” was like a tree that started out as a trunk and branched out over time as its variability became evident. So the collection of the kinds is like a forest, which I call the forest of life. The forest of life is a better illustration of how life has changed over time than the tree of life. The kinds don’t change from one to another, but there is some variety within each kind.

The contrast between evolution and creation is clear. Evolutionists believe in the tree of life—that all living things are descended from one common ancestor. That is, they believe in change from one kind of creature to another. Creationists believe in the forest of life—variation within the original created kind, but not one kind changing into another.

We need to remember that life had a common Creator, not a common ancestor. From the beginning, life was made to reproduce itself according to its kinds—it’s like a forest, not a tree.

Writtten, July 2007

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