The “Kinds” of Genesis 1: What Is the Meaning of Min?

This is a paper by a Seventh Day Adventist about the meaning of “Min” in Genesis 1.

She is either a young earth or young biosphere creationist, and this paper looks at the meaning of “according to their kind.”

The interpretation of mˆîn—what is meant by a “kind”—is thus fundamental to a proper understanding of the relationship between science and religion. The chief purpose of this article will be to consider the word mˆîn in Genesis, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.

She is makes a good case that “according to their kinds” doesn’t tell us about reproductive fixity of kinds. The same phrase appears in Numbers and Deuteronomy in lists of unclean and clean animals, where it couldn’t possibly mean reproductive fixity.

I would agree with Payne in his mediating view of mˆîn. According to this proposal, mˆîn refers to a “multiplicity” of animals and denotes boundaries between basic kinds of animals, but is not linked directly to reproduction.

Again, this view is substantiated by the Hebrew syntax of Gen 1. There, mˆîn does not refer to reproduction at all (since to®sΩeœ} refers to the earth or sea producing, not the animals themselves).

That being said, she still rejects evolution. The fact that she notes that Genesis 1 doesn’t teach reproductive fixity of kinds is pretty interesting nonetheless. It seems to go against the reading of Kurt Wise, AIG, and the whole bariminology of YEC.

What do you think? @davidson, @deuteroKJ, @Joel_Duff

Here is the author: Rahel Wells :: Andrews University


YEC leaders have disavowed fixity of species for many years now, interpreting “min” to include groupings of modern organisms with a common basal ancestor at the taxonomic level of genus, family, or even order. Some go so far as to say all rudiments (including cows and sheep) may have derived from a common pair on the Ark (Lightner, 2012). It looks an awful lot like (hyper-fast) evolution, but they insist it is not because they argue speciation only occurred by LOSS of genetic information. Joel Duff has a good summary article on his blog site (link below). Lots more on this also in my book Friend of Science, Friend of Faith.

Lightner, Jean K. 2012. “Mammalian ark kinds.” Answers Research Journal 5:151–204.

Duff article: Are Ruminants Derived from a Common Ancestor? Ruminating on the Meaning of Noahic “Kinds” – Naturalis Historia


That’s true, but she argues it can’t be interpreted as fixity of the kinds either.

So why does she reject evolution?


Here’s my article on “kinds”: Genesis Kinds: Creationism and the Origin of Species - Google Books

Interestingly, it’s published in a YEC journal, but it’s essential thesis disagrees with their premise. (It’s funny that I’ve seen it cited on AiG, which means the authors of the articles didn’t actually read it. But kudos to Todd Wood, Kurt Wise, and Paul Garner for allowing the article in the journal even though it didn’t help their case.)


I read through until I got to the preview limit. I’m not understanding why the thesis disagrees with their premise. Which premise and why does it disagree with it?


It’s not that it comes to an opposite conclusion, but that the issue of “kinds” in Gen 1 is part of the text’s theological polemics and not trying to serve the interests of “baraminology.” One could hold both, of course, but YECs put a lot of stock on that Hebrew word and certain assumptions about what it means.


Yes indeed. And by citing the Leviticus passages, Ms. Schafer is reminding YECs of the MIN-distinctions between various birds—that they are NOT of the same “kind”—which directly challenges Ham & Co.'s ark-economy argument that entire taxonomic families and orders came from a single ark ticket-holder pair (or seven-pairs, if a clean animal.) [Yes, most YEC ministries are not completely “literalistic” about the ambiguities of the pairs versus seven-pairs problems.]

To put this another way, as “baraminology” has prospered in YEC circles in recent decades, they managed to greatly reduce the number of animals on the ark by only taking aboard a much small number of baramin (such as a proto-ruminant pair, a proto-finch pair, a turtle pair)—and then rely upon hyper-evolution in the first hundred years or so after the flood to produce the present day diversity of species from each such baramin ancestor. [Of course, they never use the term hyper-evolution. And they apparently assume that hyper-diversification took place very quickly because they assume that avoids the obvious problem of explaining why we don’t observe that kind of light-speed evolution today or even within the biblical record.]

I recall the Leviticus passage she cites as basically stating that even very similar raptor birds were considered to be different MIN (kinds). So while Ham et al like to think of MIN as a “big” category word (even going as far at times as claiming all bacteria are the same KIND!), the Leviticus passage uses MIN in “narrower” ways. She is basically saying what Hebrew lexicographers have known all along: MIN is not a taxonomic term and efforts to create an entire “science” of baraminology based on its meaning are woefully anachronistic.

I agree that the journal editors simply accepted Ms. Schafer as a fellow YEC and ignored the serious implications of what she was saying.


To be precise, she refers to multiple MIN within the family Accipitridae and within the family Ardeidae. Possibly others.


One of the Pentateuch meta themes is that separation is required for identity. The journey from the formless and desolate world of Genesis 1:1 lay in separating Light from darkness; waters above from waters below, dry land from water; Israel is chosen and separated from the other nations; Levites are chosen for the priesthood, clean animals are identified and separated from the unclean; crops, textiles, and animals are not to be mixed. To my knowledge, no other culture is as far reaching in imposing such prohibitions against the confounding of identities. In the middle eastern milieu populated by Egyptian and Babylonian chimeras, Israel would permit no such confusion.

If the Genesis text is supposed to be accessible to the original writer and audience, it is futile to expect lexical support for concepts which are foreign to that language and culture. Hebrew arose in a culture where a person’s experience of the natural world was limited to perhaps a few dozen domesticated animals and a few hundred wild creatures, if that. These creatures all had names, and Genesis 2:19 reinforces that sense of identity.

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

So first up task for Adam was naming the animals. Every last one of them. The Israelites might have thought those were the very names they used, or otherwise corresponding names lost to Babel, but in any event covering the animals from aleph to tav so that they were identifiably the same.

There is nothing in the Biblical text supporting the idea that there was any variation in the named creatures. Whether min can designate collective grouping of named animals, or otherwise, does not infer that members of that grouping would be associated by descent or be in any way malleable from one to the other. This is of course my reading, and I believe it is hermetically defensible, but really it is merely the conception throughout the history of the church ( I would be very interested in any counter examples ). This long held, plain reading, understanding of the fixed created order is recast as an “extreme” interpretation by Schafer, quoting Marsh. Having read the paper, I find her attempt at an interpretation, concordant with what she terms microevolution but exclusive of macroevolution, is be an exemplary case of eisegesis.


I don’t agree with much of the rest of your post, but I found this part really helpful.

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I’m still trying to figure out this word and its implications.

But I’m wondering if many views havechanged. I was watching a debate from two years ago and Jeanson from AIG made an off hand comment basically that the word can mean whatever works in science. I’d have to pull up the exact quote so don’t quote me. :smiling_face: I’m just wondering if it isn’t really a big deal. Obviously YEC have to still explain how animals on an ark could lead to all the diversity we have today

As far as I know, YECs by and large still stress it. While Jeanson isn’t a credible source on Hebrew, I’m all for him letting science in the discussion. If one assumes that the word has the same scope in its 2-3 main contexts (creation/flood, food laws), the, as @AllenWitmerMiller just pointed out, Lev 11 and Deut 14 help us understand Genesis. If it can mean anything, then it means nothing, at least nothing useful (and thus irrelevant and we must wonder why the text uses it at all).

BTW, this is one of the reasons I adamantly object when people claim Young Earth Creationism is the historical consensus, because the creationism entails these hard-to-believe models that no one dreamed of before the 1940s (when it was introduced by a Seventh Day Adventist). Even if it were true, and even if I were convinced of it, I would have to admit that it’s a novel idea. But that would hurt the apologetic.


When I was part of the “creation science” community a half century ago, it annoyed me greatly that Whitcomb, Morris, and Gish were emphasizing this alleged same historical consensus—especially among the Church Fathers and the Reformers—but whenever anyone pointed to the massive consilience of evidence and agreement within the scientific community on the age of the earth, they complained, “That’s the Ad Populum logic fallacy. Just because an idea is popular with most of a group doesn’t make it true.”

Cherry-picking and double-standards helped drive me out of YECism.


Thanks. I’ve never studied the history of creationist scientific models, but it is interesting. I keep wondering what people are talking about when they say it was introduced by Seventh Day Adventism. :sweat_smile: In the church I grew up in, as well as the Christian schools, neither evolution or creationism models were really discussed. I had a vague idea of the arguments of each. We only discussed the related Bible passages.


You may want to investigate the roots of “creation science” and modern YECism in the “visions” of Seventh Day Adventist “prophetess” Ellen White as promoted by her friend George McCready Price. White claimed to have been transported back to creation in a vision where she witnessed each of the six-days and also to Noah’s flood where she saws the plants and animals fossilized in layers.

Price’s writings were fairly obscure outside of SDA circles until WWI or so. They grew in influence fairly slowly but surely until The Genesis Flood (1962, Henry Morris & John Whitcomb Jr.) took them more mainstream, even from the fundamentalist world into the evangelical world. The rise of the Internet allowed today’s YEC ministries to prosper and promote Morris’ and Whitcomb’s White-Price ideas far beyond any of their wildest imaginations.


@thoughtful, you might really like this book by a historian, Ronald Numbers. @TedDavis might have more to add:


And, @thoughtful, on the upper-right corner of this webpage is a handy timeline of encyclopedic-like summary articles which place Price and “flood geology” in a broader historical context.

Your views of the Bible didn’t factor in? Just people’s actions?

Read carefully: