How much change could occur within the ‘kinds’ of creatures mentioned in Genesis?
Ten times in the first chapter of Genesis we are told that the plants and animals created by God were to reproduce ‘after their kinds’. (Genesis 1:11, 12a, 12b, 21a, 21b, 24a, 24b, 25a, 25b, 25c) There could be an abundance of variation within each kind, but never could one kind bring forth a different kind. Thus, an unlimited evolution was prohibited and prevented by the Creator right from the start.
He designed and formed a highly complex reproductive program for each of the kinds implanting that ‘code’ in what is now known as DNA. This would permit a tremendous latitude of variation (for the twofold purpose of assuring that each individual would be unique and recognizable as an individual, and also of enabling characteristics of the kind to shift sufficiently to adapt to a wide range of possible future environments), but never so much as to become a basically different kind of organism.
The question is, exactly how much variation is possible? Evolutionists believe such variation is unlimited, especially if mutations are continually being added to the gene pool. However, all known and demonstrated true mutations seem to be harmful (or neutral, at best), so it is difficult to see how this factor would significantly increase the range of viable and useful variations.
In an attempt to delineate the Genesis ‘kind’, Carolus Linnaeus, the ‘father of taxonomic classification’ defined a species as a stable, reproducing population, not interbreeding with other populations. His basic classification system (species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom) is still largely in use today. Linnaeus did recognize the key factor to be reproductive stability, as implied in Genesis.
On the other hand, geneticists have shown that new species, as defined in this way, can sometimes be developed which normally will not breed back with their parent populations, and they have cited such phenomena as experimental proof of trans-specific evolution.
Also, it has been found that what seem to be reproductively isolated species will, under some conditions, cross to produce hybrids (horse and donkey, lion and tiger, cabbage and radish, etc.) Some of these hybrids are sterile, but the very fact that they do breed and reproduce would seem to contradict God’s dictum that reproduction can occur only ‘after its kind’—unless, in fact, such unusual crosses do indeed represent two variations of an originally created kind.
An idea of the wide range of possible variation within a kind can clearly be seen among dogs. Tremendous variations in size, abilities, temperaments, climatological preferences, and other characteristics have been developed in dogs by selective breeding by man within a few thousand years. Not only domesticated dogs, but also wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc., are almost undoubtedly from the same ancestral ‘dog kind’. All of these characteristics must represent originally created characteristics which remained dormant or latent until selective breeding techniques brought them to the surface.
Many changes since Babel
There obviously also has been a tremendous range of human characteristics that have surfaced just since the dispersion at Babel—contrast the African pigmy, and the giant Watusi, the Australian aboriginal and the Scandinavian, the Chinese, and the Englishman.
It is possible that similar ranges exist in other kinds. It is also probable that the most rapid rate of variation (and possible speciation) took place soon after the great Flood. It is known that only a relatively few dominant characteristics are normally expressed outwardly in a large, inbreeding population. In a small, inbreeding population, on the other hand, many new varieties may appear rapidly. Recessive characteristics have much better opportunity to become visibly established in the population under such circumstances, especially if the environment is different from that to which the large parent population has become adapted.
Both situations applied with a vengeance during the first centuries after the Flood. The worldwide environment had been drastically changed and the animals radiating out from Ararat were continually entering other new and different local environments. The populations initially were minimal—six of each ‘clean’ kind and two of each of all the rest. Thus, conditions strongly favoured the rapid development of many new varieties within each kind. As each variety became adjusted to its appropriate ecological niche, it eventually became, in effect, ‘reproductively isolated’ from its cousins and, for practical purposes, might now be defined as Linnaean species, or perhaps even as a genus.
Were it not for the known historical connection, many breeds of dog might today be regarded as reproductively isolated from others (consider the barriers in the way of any natural mating of, say, a Great Dane and a Pekingese).
Clues to original kinds
It may well be that clues to the original kinds may be derived from hybridization studies. Those which can form hybrids may possibly be varieties of the same original kind, even though they may seem very different now.
Man’s attempt to classify plants and animals is sometimes arbitrary. Therefore, the original kinds may have been in some cases what we now arbitrarily define as species; in others as genera. In many cases, in view of the high probability of rapid variation after the Flood it may well have been what we now call the ‘families’ (dogs, cats, horses, bears, etc.). This is an area for potentially important creationist research, through studies of hybridization, post-Flood paleontology, genetics, and molecular biology. In any case, we can be sure that such variation definitely was within the limits of the kind, whatever precisely that may have been.
Futhermore, such variation was ‘horizontal’, at the same level of complexity, rather than vertically upward toward higher levels, as ultimately required for true evolution. Any true vertical changes (e.g. mutations) must have been downward rather than upward, toward degeneracy and extinction, in accord with the entropy principle and the nature of known mutations.
In fact, even apart from the possible effect of mutations, natural selection would tend to favour smaller varieties than those which had thrived before the Flood, due to the smaller amounts of suitable food and more rigorous environmental conditions in general. The fossil record, of course, does show that many plants and animals deteriorated drastically in size during the post-Flood Ice Age. Furthermore, even though each kind had been equipped to adapt to a wide range of environments, the post-Flood environment and climate were so extremely different than before the Flood that many varieties, and even entire kinds (e.g. dinosaurs), finally found it impossible to survive at all and became extinct.