Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Did Adam name all the animals in 1 day?

An argument against God creating the universe in 6 six days revolves around the creation of man on the 6th day and the tasks assigned to him. Here is an example I came across some time ago, though similar arguments have been made countless times.

Andrews itemises 12 events which he thinks would take too long to accomplish in a mere 24 hours; though it should really be in 12 hours.
  1. God creates the various living creatures along with wild animals and animals that become domesticated [nephesh/soulish creatures] (Genesis 1:24-25).
  2. God creates Adam in the divine image (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7).
  3. God gives Adam a mandate of dominion over creation (Genesis 1:28).
  4. God makes the plants available as a food source for man (Genesis 1:29-30).
  5. God plants a garden and puts the man in it (Genesis 2:8).
  6. God gives Adam instruction concerning obedience to God’s specific commands (Genesis 2:9, 16-17).
  7. God commissions Adam to cultivate the garden (Genesis 2:15).
  8. God commissions Adam to name or classify the animals (Genesis 2:19-20).
  9. God declares Adam’s need for a suitable helper (Gen. 2:18, 20).
  10. God induces sleep and performs surgery on Adam (Genesis 2:21).
  11. God creates Eve (Genesis 2:22).
  12. God ordains that Adam and Eve enter into a divinely constituted marriage relationship (Genesis 2:23-25).
Adequate responses are given in the comments. I would like to reiterate them and add some further perspectives.

These tasks can be categorised three-fold: God's activities; God's interaction with man; and Adam's tasks. Using the above roughly chronological scheme we can group the items
  • God: #1, #2, #4, #5, #10, #11.
  • God and man: #3, #6, #7, #9, #12.
  • Adam: #8.
One could quibble over the grouping, is #9 God or God and man?, but they are generally correct.

The reason for my grouping them is that the various activities are limited by man and not God. So all the items that God did alone, half of the 12, could take less than a second combined. That said, I have no problem with God sculpting Adam from clay then Eve from Adam over a short period of time.

God's interactions with man take time because man is finite. The 5 items listed would take a measurable amount of time, but as they are all commands they need not take much time at all: a few minutes. And #3, #6, and #7 (along with #8) may be all part of one conversation.

Thus, despite a list of 12 items it really boils down to one: Adam naming the animals.

Before addressing Adam's task I would like to identify a concern in Andrews' modification of the text. For item #1 he writes about the animals that become domesticated. Now it is true that animals have become domesticated since creation (dogs) and James 3:7 confirms this, however Genesis does not say this. Domestic livestock were created that way
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:24-25)
See also when God creates man he gives them dominion over the livestock (Genesis 1:26).

For item #8 Adam is supposedly told to name or classify the animals. Genesis does not say that Adam is to classify the animals (which has connotations of taxonomy), Adam is told to name the animals; the same way that Adam names the woman (Genesis 2) and God names the day, the sky, the land, etc (Genesis 1).
Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call (qara') them. And whatever the man called (qara') every living creature, that was its name (shem). The man gave names (shem) to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.

...Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called (qara') Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:19-20, 23)
Domestic animals (livestock) existed from creation and Adam is told to name, not classify, the animals.

Is this task feasible in a day? Most certainly. The naming of the animals is closely tied to the dominion mandate. Humans are made in the image of God which includes rulership.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and 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.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
God brought the animals to Adam and we are told he names 3 categories of animals (Genesis 2:20):
  1. Livestock
  2. Birds of the heavens
  3. Beasts of the field
This is a highly restricted set of the earth's fauna.

Andrews points to Whitcomb and Morris stating in The Genesis Flood that there were 30,000 species of land animals at the time of the Noadic Deluge. I make no claims for the accuracy of that particular figure, but it is only partially relevant. Speciation between creation and the flood expanded those numbers significantly. Even so, Adam was naming a limited number of land animals. He wasn't naming the animals that creep on the ground, a category that exceeds the livestock, birds, and beasts combined. Returnig to speciation: Adam was naming cats, not all the types of cats we now have that descended from these first animals such as lions, tigers and lynx; and bears, not polar bears, brown bears, and black bears; and oxen, not bison, water buffalo, and yak.

As to the time Adam took to name them, he need not take much time at all: a few seconds, if that. The point of naming relates to the dominion mandate not to obtain a degree in taxonomy. Adam (and Eve and their descendants) were to rule over the world including its fauna, that is the point of Adam naming them. In bringing the animals to Adam it also appears that God wished Adam to note that the animals had companions but Adam did not. The activity of naming served to consolidate Adam's dominion mandate and his aloneness.

There was plenty of time for the activities of the 6th day of creation. The only activity that took significant time was the naming of the animals. A close reading of the text reveals this to be a limited number of animals for a specific reason that need not have taken much time at all.

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