The Bible and Biology
Biology is “a science that deals with things that are alive (such as plants and animals)…a branch of knowledge that deals with living organisms and vital processes.” (m-w.com). If we want to have an accurate knowledge in this science, we must hear what the Creator of life has to say on this subject. “God, who made the world and everything in it…is Lord of heaven and earth…He gives to all life, breath, and all things…for in Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:24-25, 28). The Biblical perspective in the realm of the science of biology–the nature of life, the various forms of life, etc.– is sound and accurate.
The Origin of Physical Life
“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth’; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb…and the tree…” (Genesis 1:11-12). “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so” (1:24). “Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air” (2:19). “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground” (2:7). These scriptures affirm that the physical substance which forms the “body” of all living things is “the dust of the ground (earth).”
Biologists have determined that all living organisms are made up of the various chemical elements which are found in the earth itself. In other words, the elementary materials out of which the earth was made (which we know to be the various chemical elements) were used by God to create the bodies of all living organisms (plant and animal) and of man himself. “For out of it (the ground) you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (3:19). “The first man was of the earth, made of dust…” (1 Corinthians 15:47).
Differences in Physical Life
While our chemical makeup is the same, there are some distinct differences between plants and animals, and animals and humans. One basic difference, noted by the Bible and confirmed by modern biologists, between plants and animals and man is “the breath of life;” animals and man possess “the breath of life,” but plants do not. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). During the Flood, “…all flesh died that moved on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man. All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, all that was on dry land, died” (7:21-22).
The Scriptures reveal another principle by which to identify animals that possess life in the real Biblical sense: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (9:3-4). “For the life of the flesh in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). The fact that the blood sustains life is a relatively modern concept, especially associated with William Harvey’s discovery in 1616 of the circulation of the blood. The blood carries water and nourishment to every cell, maintains the body’s temperature, and removes the waste materials of the body cells. Blood also carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body’s cells. The importance of the heart in the blood circulation is also anticipated in Prov.14:30: “A sound heart is life to the body.” The heart, blood system is the vitally essential basis of every “living creature” that God created. Plants do not possess this heart, blood system and so they are not really living creatures in the Biblical sense.
Human Life is Unique
“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him: male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27). Here it is revealed that man is distinct from all other types of living creatures. Whatever this image is, it is more than mere existence, physical life or breath; animals have all that, but they are not made in God’s image, which is the basis for man’s spiritual life.
Experimentation on animals yields some information on characteristics of the living matter of which human bodies are composed, but cannot yield correct insight into the behavior of man. This is one of the mistakes of modern behavioral and social science, due to the erroneous belief that man evolved from animals. Since man is made “in the image of God,” his actions must be inherently connected with this fact and its implications.
Life “According to its Kind”
God created all plant and animal life “according to its kind” (see Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 24-25). Each plant has “seed…in itself according to its kind;” all animals have the ability to “be fruitful and multiply…according to its kind.” Evolutionists charge that creationists believe that “species” is the same as the Genesis “kind”. But scientific creationists do not define the Biblical “kind” as narrowly as the species category. Most would liken “kind” to “family.” The bear family (“kind”) contains many species (polar, grizzly, black, etc.); the dog family (“kind”) contains many species (wolf, coyote, domestic dogs, etc.). Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 give numerous examples of what the Bible appears to mean by “kinds.” Some well identified animals are the raven, hawk, eagle, locust, grasshopper, mouse, ox, sheep, goat, camel, swine, etc.; there are various species in all of these “kinds” (families).
The Bible clearly affirms that distinct categories within the plant and animal kingdoms have existed from the beginning, rather than all being connected in an evolutionary chain of existence. Each “kind” was created to reproduce “according to its own kind,” not to become some other kind. This fact excludes theistic evolution as an option for Christians who believe the Bible to be God’s Word.
God told Noah: “…of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive” (Genesis 6:19-20). If the “kinds” correspond in general to our modern families in the animal kingdom, each family of “unclean” animals would have been represented by a single pair (male and female) and the “clean” animals by three pairs plus an extra animal (see 7:2-3).
After the Flood waters receded: “Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark” (8:19). These “families” were to “abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth” (8:17). As each family migrated away from the ark, each family would soon divide into an array of species, each with characteristics appropriate for the particular environments into which it had entered. The original bear family on the ark has become the polar bear, the grizzly bear, the brown bear, and all other bears. The original pair of dogs has become the wolf, the coyote, the domestic dog, etc. Since the “clean” kinds were represented on the ark by three pairs rather than the single pair of “unclean,” it would be expected that the number of species in their families would now usually be greater than in the case of “unclean” kinds. Biologist’s studies confirm this turns out to be the case. The word of God was scientifically accurate in all biological truth long before scientists discovered and elaborated upon it. It still is accurate and trustworthy in all that is said about the life of plants, animals, and man.