No. 212 - ADAM AND THE ANIMALS
by Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.*
When God created the first man and woman, He told them to exercise
"dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air,
and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Genesis
1:28). This divine stewardship of mankind over the animal
kingdom, under its Creator, involves many responsibilities, and
has never been vathdrawn.
Before discussing this stewardship, however, we need to
answer two objections that have been lodged against the Biblical
account of the animal creation and its relation to mankind. The
first is the charge of skeptics that the two accounts of creation
(Genesis 1 and 2) contradict each other, the main "proof" of this
charge being the inference in Genesis 2 that Adam was created
before the animals, whereas the order of events in Genesis 1
clearly indicates that Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day,
after all the animals had been created. The controversial passage
reads as follows:
And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the
field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to
see what he would call them: And whatsoever Adam called every
living creature, that was the name thereof" (Genesis 2:19).
If there were a real contradiction here as to when the animals
were created, it is strange that their Creator, the Lord Jesus
Christ, seemed unaware of it! In answering a question about the
permanence of marriage, He quoted from both Genesis 1 and 2
together, with no intimation that the accounts were not perfectly
He which made them at the beginning made them male and female
[quoting Genesis 1:26], and said, For this cause shall a man
leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: And
they twain shall be one flesh [quoting Genesis 2:24] (Matthew
In the more detailed account of the forming of man and woman in
Genesis 2, there was no need to mention the animals at all until
they were to be brought before Adam to be "introduced" to him, as
it were, and then named by him. The superficial contradiction is
removed simply by noting that there is no distinction in Hebrew
between the past tense and the perfect tense, the context determining
which to use. By replacing the past tense ("formed") by the perfect
("had formed") in Genesis 2:19, one can read the verse as follows:
"And out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the
field. .. ."
Some commentators have argued against this translation, but
its legitimacy is verified by Dr. H.C. Leopold, Professor of Old
Testament Exegesis at the Capital University Seminary (Lutheran)
in Columbus, Ohio, in his masterful two-volume commentary on
It would not, in our estimation, be wrong to translate
Vatsar as a pluperfect in this instance: 'He had molded.' The
insistence of the critics upon a plain past is partly the
result of the attempt to make chapters one and two clash at
as many points as possible" (Exposition of Genesis, 1950,
Vol. I, p. 130).
The two accounts are complementary, not contradictory!
But then, say the skeptics, it is absurd to think that Adam
could name all the animals in part of a single day. This argument
is also used by those Christians and Jews who believe the Bible in
a general way, but who insist that "science" requires us to
believe that the days of creation week were long ages instead of
It cannot be "absurd," however, since God has made it quite
plain that the "days" were literal days (note, especially, Genesis
1:5 and Exodus 20:8-11). This particular criticism ignores two
very important facts: (1) Adam was much more intelligent than we
can even imagine today; (2) he did not have to name every species
of animal, but only the distinct "kinds" of animals that were of
immediate interest and access in his daily activities.
Adam had been created in the very "image" of the omniscient
God, and that image had not yet been damaged by sin and the
curse. Scientists today recognize that modern man actually uses
only a very small part of his brain's potential, but Adam, with
his mental capacity just then created by a purposeful, wise,
loving Creator, perhaps could have used it all! He could surely
have recognized, almost instantly, the distinctive qualities of
each pair of animals as the different kinds passed before him, and
then given them appropriate names.
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of
the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there
was not found an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:20).
Note that the animals so named included only the cattle, the
birds, and the field animals. Not included were the "beasts of
the earth," the "creeping things" and the "fish of the sea"
(Genesis 1:24,26). Thus the vast multitudes of marine animals and
insects, as well as reptiles and amphibians, were excluded. The
cattle evidently were the domesticable animals (horses, sheep,
cows, etc.) and the "beasts of the field" were animals that would
live in the wild in the Garden of Eden and its nearby fields. The
"beasts of the earth" were presumably to live throughout the earth
and would only have infrequent contact with man, so were not among
those to be viewed by him at this time. Nor were the "creeping
things," those animals built low to the ground, which,
while necessary to a functioning ecology, were not of direct,
personal importance to human life. In the context, the purpose of
this assignment to Adam by God was both to acquaint him with the
animals likely to be associated directly with his normal
activities and also to show him that, while he was to have
dominion over them, none were qualified to be a "helper like him."
Only a woman, also made in God's image, could qualify for this
Furthermore, he did not have to name all the species of even
this limited number of animals, but only the kinds-which is a much
broader term, possibly comparable, in many cases, to our modern
taxonomic "family." Although we cannot calculate the actual number
of animals involved, it was not inordinately large, and Adam, with
his vast innate mental abilities, could surely have named them all
in a reasonable part of one day's time.
The animals were created for various purposes. Some would
serve for transportation (e.g., horses), some for labor (e.g.,
oxen), some as house pets (e.g., dogs), and in various other uses.
We can derive various spiritual lessons and analogies from all of
them (note Proverbs 30:24-31 and Job 12:7,8). God also foresaw
the entrance of sin, of course, and therefore the future use of
some animals for clothing (e.g., sheep, for their wool).
Eventually, after the great Flood, God even allowed men and women
to eat "every moving thing that liveth" as long as it was not
"flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof"
(Genesis 9:3,4). Note also I Timothy 4:4.
Initially, however, human beings were to have lived strictly
on "every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the
earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding
seed," and land animals were to have lived on "every green herb"
(Genesis 1:29, 30). Even animals that are now carnivores were
originally herbivores (for that matter, they can still survive on
a herbivorous diet, if necessary-as can people!). The sharp teeth
and other structures that are now used in eating flesh seem to be
"horizontal" variants, or mutants, of structures originally used
in gnawing bark, tough roots, and the like. It may even be that
God accomplished genetic engineering on the animals to forever
remind Adam and Eve of the awful consequences of sin, as suggested
also by the introduction of "thorns and thistles" as a part of the
curse (Genesis 3:17, 18).
Note that, while people were permitted by God to eat the
flesh of animals after the Flood (and thus, by extension, to use
them also for clothing or research or other worthwhile purposes in
the service of mankind, under God), animals were not given
permission to slay people (note, e.g., Genesis 9:6; Exodus 12:28).
Although animals are objects of God's loving concern and care (Job
39; Luke 12:6), they are not related to man by evolution, as most
present-day animal-rights activists allege. The divine rejection
of this age-long heresy of the "great chain of being," of
evolutionary continuity with the animals, is perhaps one
additional reason why God has made such a clear distinction as
this between them.
An additional very significant use of certain animals-defined
as "clean" animals-was for sacrifice. The shedding of the blood
(representing the life) of an animal upon a sacrificial altar,
when presented in faith by its owner as a substitute dying for his
personal sins, was accepted by God as an "atonement" (that is, as
a temporary "covering" until Christ would come as the "Lamb of
God" to take away the sin of the whole world) for his own soul
(see Leviticus 17:11).
The efficacy of such atoning sacrifices depended implicitly
upon the recognition that death was God's judgment upon sin. The
death of any of God's creatures containing the "breath of life"
and the "living soul" (Genesis 1:21; 9:22)-and this includes at
least all the higher land animals-was therefore not God's natural
order in His "very good" original created world (Genesis 1:31).
Animal death, as well as human death, entered the world only when
man brought sin into the world (Romans 5:12). This is one very
cogent reason why Bible-believing Christians should reject the
concept of long geological ages with unnumbered billions of
animals (even human-like creatures) suffering and dying in the
process of evolution, struggling for their existence and seeking
to be among the fittest who survive. For, if the speculations
concerning death preceded sin, death is then not the penalty for
sin, and Christ's death paid no penalty for sin.
Now, although man indeed is still to exercise dominion over
the animal kingdom, and though he does indeed have the right to
use animals for food and other needed purposes, even when it
involves their death, God still cares for the animals, and so
should we. This is made especially clear in the divine monologue
at the climax of the book of Job, when God-instead of dealing with
the mystery of human suffering as debated throughout the previous
chapters of the book by Job and his friends-dealt exclusively with
the evidences of His creation and His providential care of all His
creatures. He "causeth it to rain on the earth where no man is"
and "provideth for the raven his food" (Job 38:26,41). He has
"given the horse strength" and enabled the eagle to "make her nest
on high" (Job 39:19,27). Christians have no business
participating in animal or nature worship, but, likewise, have a
clear command to wisely use and manage nature and animal kind.
Finally, in the great Kingdom age yet to come, God says:
In that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts
of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the
creeping things of the ground: And I "fill break the bow and
the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them
to lie down safely (Hosea 2:18). The wolf also shall dwell
with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
and the calf and the young lion and the fatting together: And
a little child shall lead them.. .. They shall not hurt nor
destroy in all My holy mountain: For the earth shall be full
of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea
(Isaiah 11:7, 9).
Index - Evolution or Creation1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160 | 161 | 162 | 163 | 164 | 165 | 166 | 168 | 169 | 170 | 171 | 172 | 173 | 174 | 175 | 176 | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | 196 | 197 | 198 | 199 | 200 | 201 | 202 | 203 | 204 | 205 | 206 | 207 | 208 | 209 | 210 | 211 | 212 | 213 | 214 | 215 | 216 | 217 | 218 | 219 | 220 | 221 | 222 | 223 | 224 | 225 | 226 | 227 | 228 | 229 | 230 | 231