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Naming the Animals:
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Genesis 1:2427 states that God made the land animals, as well as the first man and woman, on Day Six of Creation Week. Genesis 2:1823 tells us that Adam named the animals before Eve was created. So how could Adam have named all the animals in one day?
The Time Factor
Day Six of Creation Week began at evening (Genesis 1:31), and so consisted of about 12 hours of darkness followed by about 12 hours of daylight. There is no reason why God could not have made the land animals, and Adam too, during the darkness period of Day Six, so that at first light there they all were!
If, however, God used the daylight period, there is no reason to suppose that His creative acts in making the animals and Adam took any longer than the instant for Him to command these events to happen.1 So either way it need not have taken any time at all beyond first light on Day Six for all the land animals and Adam to have come into existence.
Adam therefore had most of the daylight hours of Day Six in which to complete his task. Note that this task did not include his searching out the animal, because Genesis 2:19 tells us that God brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them. Presumably this was in some sort of reasonably orderly procession.
Naming the Animals
The following points need to be noted:
1. Genesis chapter I says that the animals were created according to their kinds, rather than according to their species the phrase after his/their kind occurs 10 times in this chapter (referring to both plants and animals). Exactly what the term kind (Hebrew min) corresponds to in terms of the modern Linnaean classification system is not clear, but it appears that sometimes the min corresponds to todays species, sometimes to the genus, and sometimes to the family. It indicates the limitations of variation. What is clear is that numerically there must have been fewer kinds in Adams day than the number of species we count today. [Ed. note: for more information, see Ligers and wholphins? What next?]
For example, it is more than likely that there would have been no domestic dogs, coyotes, and wolves as such, but rather one ancestral kind containing the genetic information for all of these to appear under natural selection pressures.
This is not evolution, because no new information is added. In the same way, the mongrel dog population of a few hundred years back was able to give rise (under human selection) to the various modern breeds of dog because the information was already there in that population, much more than in todays specialized, genetically depleted breeds. Thats why you cant start with a chihuahua population, and expect that breeding/selection will eventually produce Great Danes.
2. Today we divide the animals into those we call tame (mostly herbivores), and those we call wild (both herbivores and carnivores), but this distinction did not apply before Adam sinned.
Genesis 1:30 says, And to every beast I have given every green herb for food, and Genesis 1:31, And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. From these we conclude that animals did not kill each other for food pre-Fall, and they had no reason to fear man.
This means that we can regard them all as being tame at the time Adam named them. It also means that they would not have eaten each other, while taking part in any naming procession!
The animals which Adam named are specifically described in Genesis 2:20. They were the cattle, the fowl of the air (birds), and every beast of the field. This classification has no correlation with todays arbitrary system of manmade taxonomy (amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, insects), but is a more natural system based on the relation of the animals to mans interests.
If we compare this naming list with the creation list in Genesis 1:2025 birds and sea creatures (created on Day Five), beasts of the earth, cattle, creeping things we see there are several very significant differences.2 Adam was not required to name any of the sea creatures, or any of the creeping things. And as the beasts of the field were not specifically mentioned in the creation list, we can regard them as being a subdivision of the beasts of the earth. That is, Adam was required to name only some of the total land animal population of his own day.
There is no suggestion that the naming was meant to be comprehensive. From this it follows that Adams task was not to provide a scientific taxonomy, but a set of general names of a selection of the animals, for the benefit of average human beings who would come after him.
So what Animals were Named?
1. The cattle (Hebrew: behemah)
The Hebrew term used here usually refers to animals which lend themselves to domestication what we might call domestic fauna. Though no creatures were wild in the modern sense, they would not all have been equally suitable for use by man.
It is interesting to note that most of the different breeds of what we call cattle today can be traced back to a single basic type, namely the aurochs, which itself is probably descended from the same created kind as the buffalo and bison group.3
Likewise, all the varieties of dog we have today have been bred from one basic dog/wolf type. Similar considerations may well apply to many other species of animals we use today, such as the horse.
All of this gives a total of a few dozen kinds at the most of behemah for Adam to name.
2. The fowl of the air
The Bible mentions some 50 different birds, whereas modern ornithologists divide the bird class into about 8,600 species. Of these, some 5,100 are in the order Passeriformes (perching birds), divided into suborders, families, and subfamilies; and there are about 3,500 species allotted to all other orders of birds in their families. Thus there are 285 species in the pigeon family, 127 species in the cuckoo family, 18 species in the penguin family, and so on.4 So how many birds did Adam have to name?
It is instructive to consider what Encyclopaedia Britannica says about parrots. The avian order Psittaciformes [parrots, lories, cockatoos] contains more than 300 species of generally brightly colored, noisy, tropical birds, to which the general name parrot may be applied.5
We do not know whether all such parrots today are the descendants of one created kind, or whether the parrots of today descended from a handful of original kinds, which had (created) similarities to each other such that today we group them all under parrot.
If they were from one created kind, then instead of the 300 we have today, there would have been only one for Adam to name. Even if there were, say, three parrot kinds originally, it would have been fully legitimate (just as today) for these all to have been given the general term parrot. Therefore, only one representative from the three kinds would have been needed in the naming procession for the name parrot (in whatever tongue Adam spoke) to have been given.
By the same reasoning, Adam probably named one pigeon, one cuckoo, one penguin, and so on.
Colliers Encyclopedia lists a total of 163 families of all living, fossil, and extinct birds.6 This means that if Adam named only one representing each such modern group, to which the same general name could be applied, then there could have been fewer than a couple of hundred birds involved.
3. The beast(s) of
Was Adam Equal to the Task?
We learn language by association, but Adam, from the moment he was created, had language. Therefore he (and then Eve) must have already had built in programs in their memory banks, so that when God said, Dont (Genesis 2:17), they immediately knew exactly what this meant. It seems that they must also have known what it would mean to die, even though they had never seen anything dead.
It is therefore reasonable for us to conclude that, at the naming parade, Adam could speak a precise language, using one or two words in place of a long description, just as our one word elephant refers to a large, big-eared, trunk-nosed, tusked quadruped.
It also means that he did not need to ponder each decision. His naming of each different kind of animal could therefore have been both quick and appropriate, and also without confusion, for he would have had the capacity to recall the names he already had allocated with a pre-Fall memory that was crystal clear and voluminous.9
So, even in the unlikely event that there were as many as a thousand animals paraded before Adam, how long would it have taken him to name them?
There are 3,600 seconds in an hour, so Adam could have completed his task in under an hour. If he did it in a more leisurely and contemplative fashion, it would have taken a few hours at the most (excluding time out for coffee breaks!). Surely a pleasant days work, leaving plenty of time for God to create Eve from Adams side that same afternoon.
Adam had been given dominion over the animals (Genesis 1:28), and God now provided him with the opportunity to exercise this responsibility in a way which established his authority and supremacy in ancient times, it was an act of authority to impose names (cf. Daniel 1:7) and an act of submission to receive them.
This exercise also shows that Adam was not an ape-man, and indeed it was intended by God to show that he had no ape-like siblings among which to find fellowship or a mate (cf. Genesis 2:20b: for Adam there was not found an help meet (i.e. helper suitable) for him).
Contrary to the wishful thinking of evolutionists, the first man was not some stooped, dimwitted, grunting hominid, separated from his ape-like ancestors by a genetic mutation or two. The Bible portrays Adam as being essentially different from the animal world, because he had been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).
This term refers primarily to mans God-consciousness his capacity for worshipping and loving God, his ability to understand and choose between right and wrong, and his capacity for holiness.10
A secondary meaning includes such things as mans mental powers, reason, and capacity for articulate, Grammatical, symbolic speech. In Adam, before sin, these capacities may have dwarfed anything we know today.
God in His omniscience would have foreknown the rise of humanistic naturalism in the twentieth century. This episode, way back in the Garden of Eden, highlights for those who have an eye to see it, the false and unbiblical nature of the evolutionary theory of human origins!
References and Footnotes
|Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.|
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