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Q&A: Where Does Speciation Fit in Creation?

From David—South Korea

Hello scholars!

I am a supporter of your ministry and appreciate the hard work you guys put into this effort. I have a question about your creation model. I understand that your model refutes the idea that all life-forms have a common ancestor. However, your scholars have also stated that limited speciation fits into your model. So, where do you draw the line on speciation? For example, does your model state that all cats (from saber-toothed tigers, lions, Bengal tigers, and pumas, down to the domestic short-hair) were created separately by God on a specific “day” of creation? Or does your model state that God created a “cat” and that it speciated into all the varieties of cat we see today?


Thank you for your question, David. We do believe that God, through His miraculous interventions, created various species during the creation week. The term “speciation” has at least sixteen different definitions in the scientific literature. Some of these definitions are so narrow that certain breeds of dogs and gray parrots would qualify as separate species. So, RTB’s understanding of speciation is based on the Hebrew word mîn, which means “biological kind.”

Specific texts within Scripture argue for a narrow definition of mîn. For example, the book of Leviticus 19:19 implies that different mîn can mate, but then states that “different kinds of animals” should not mate. In both Leviticus 11:13–18 and Deuteronomy 14:11–18 the horned owl, screech owl, little owl, great owl, and white owl are all referred to as separate mîn. Only these kinds of owls are described as “unclean,” while eating “any kind” of raven or hawk is declared unclean (emphasis added). Therefore, at least for birds, the definition of mîn appears roughly analogous to “species.” Also, in Leviticus 11:22, the text states “any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper” as separate mîn. In this passage the definition of mîn may have a meaning as broad as a genus.

What all this implies concerning God’s direct involvement in speciation is that God frequently intervened throughout the creation days to design new kinds of life. However, He created each new species with a built-in ability to adapt to changing environments. Because definitions of “species” are so varied and broad, many so-called speciation events may merely be examples of adaptation.

How does one know the difference between what is a miraculous speciation event and what is an example of adaptation? Biblically speaking, we can start by determining when the life-form in question appeared. Did it appear before or during the human era? Genesis 1 and 2 tell us God ceased creating new kinds life on the seventh day. Thus, during the human era only natural processes will occur in evolutionary biology. Before the human era (the six creation days), evolutionary biology will feature a combination of both natural and supernatural processes.

You can find a more detailed explanation of RTB’s perspective on speciation in my book Navigating Genesis.