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This article is from
Creation 10(4):15–16, September 1988

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[Editors’ note: Although this article by Dr Morris—often called ‘the father of modern young-earth creation’—is now about 30 years old, we are reposting mainly for historical reasons, largely to counteract anti-creationist revisionism. This article shows that leading creationists have long taught that the biblical ‘kind’ is much broader than a biological species. This refutes claims by some atheists and long-agers in the church that this is somehow a modern invention. Also, long ago, he pointed out that the post-Ararat environment with small, isolated populations would be good for rapid variation (cf. allopatric speciation), and differentiated between mere change and the uphill changes required for evolution (modern creationists have refined this with the information concept). He also rightly accepted natural selection. Some of Dr Morris’ ideas have naturally been overturned by modern creationists, e.g. the canopy theory and superior pre-Flood environment. He argued for six of each clean animal restarting the population, consistent with the common view that there were seven clean animals on the Ark, with three breeding pairs and one for sacrifice. CMI now leans towards seven pairs of clean animals. Dr Morris was a man ahead of his times and the modern creation movement is indebted to his remarkable contribution.]

Looking at the original kinds

How much change could occur within the ‘kinds’ of creatures mentioned in Genesis?

by Henry M. Morris


Ten times in the first chapter of Genesis we are told that the plants and animals created by God were to reproduce ‘after their kinds’. (Genesis 1:11, 12a, 12b, 21a, 21b, 24a, 24b, 25a, 25b, 25c) There could be an abundance of variation within each kind, but never could one kind bring forth a different kind. Thus, an unlimited evolution was prohibited and prevented by the Creator right from the start.

He designed and formed a highly complex reproductive program for each of the kinds implanting that ‘code’ in what is now known as DNA. This would permit a tremendous latitude of variation (for the twofold purpose of assuring that each individual would be unique and recognizable as an individual, and also of enabling characteristics of the kind to shift sufficiently to adapt to a wide range of possible future environments), but never so much as to become a basically different kind of organism.

The question is, exactly how much variation is possible? Evolutionists believe such variation is unlimited, especially if mutations are continually being added to the gene pool. However, all known and demonstrated true mutations seem to be harmful (or neutral, at best), so it is difficult to see how this factor would significantly increase the range of viable and useful variations.

Genesis ‘kinds’

In an attempt to delineate the Genesis ‘kind’, Carolus Linnaeus, the ‘father of taxonomic classification’ defined a species as a stable, reproducing population, not interbreeding with other populations. His basic classification system (species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom) is still largely in use today. Linnaeus did recognize the key factor to be reproductive stability, as implied in Genesis.

On the other hand, geneticists have shown that new species, as defined in this way, can sometimes be developed which normally will not breed back with their parent populations, and they have cited such phenomena as experimental proof of trans-specific evolution.

Also, it has been found that what seem to be reproductively isolated species will, under some conditions, cross to produce hybrids (horse and donkey, lion and tiger, cabbage and radish, etc.) Some of these hybrids are sterile, but the very fact that they do breed and reproduce would seem to contradict God’s dictum that reproduction can occur only ‘after its kind’—unless, in fact, such unusual crosses do indeed represent two variations of an originally created kind.

An idea of the wide range of possible variation within a kind can clearly be seen among dogs. Tremendous variations in size, abilities, temperaments, climatological preferences, and other characteristics have been developed in dogs by selective breeding by man within a few thousand years. Not only domesticated dogs, but also wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc., are almost undoubtedly from the same ancestral ‘dog kind’. All of these characteristics must represent originally created characteristics which remained dormant or latent until selective breeding techniques brought them to the surface.

Many changes since Babel

There obviously also has been a tremendous range of human characteristics that have surfaced just since the dispersion at Babel—contrast the African pigmy, and the giant Watusi, the Australian aboriginal and the Scandinavian, the Chinese, and the Englishman.

It is possible that similar ranges exist in other kinds. It is also probable that the most rapid rate of variation (and possible speciation) took place soon after the great Flood. It is known that only a relatively few dominant characteristics are normally expressed outwardly in a large, inbreeding population. In a small, inbreeding population, on the other hand, many new varieties may appear rapidly. Recessive characteristics have much better opportunity to become visibly established in the population under such circumstances, especially if the environment is different from that to which the large parent population has become adapted.

Both situations applied with a vengeance during the first centuries after the Flood. The worldwide environment had been drastically changed and the animals radiating out from Ararat were continually entering other new and different local environments. The populations initially were minimal—six of each ‘clean’ kind and two of each of all the rest. Thus, conditions strongly favoured the rapid development of many new varieties within each kind. As each variety became adjusted to its appropriate ecological niche, it eventually became, in effect, ‘reproductively isolated’ from its cousins and, for practical purposes, might now be defined as Linnaean species, or perhaps even as a genus.

Were it not for the known historical connection, many breeds of dog might today be regarded as reproductively isolated from others (consider the barriers in the way of any natural mating of, say, a Great Dane and a Pekingese).

Clues to original kinds

It may well be that clues to the original kinds may be derived from hybridization studies. Those which can form hybrids may possibly be varieties of the same original kind, even though they may seem very different now.

Man’s attempt to classify plants and animals is sometimes arbitrary. Therefore, the original kinds may have been in some cases what we now arbitrarily define as species; in others as genera. In many cases, in view of the high probability of rapid variation after the Flood it may well have been what we now call the ‘families’ (dogs, cats, horses, bears, etc.). This is an area for potentially important creationist research, through studies of hybridization, post-Flood paleontology, genetics, and molecular biology. In any case, we can be sure that such variation definitely was within the limits of the kind, whatever precisely that may have been.

Futhermore, such variation was ‘horizontal’, at the same level of complexity, rather than vertically upward toward higher levels, as ultimately required for true evolution. Any true vertical changes (e.g. mutations) must have been downward rather than upward, toward degeneracy and extinction, in accord with the entropy principle and the nature of known mutations.

In fact, even apart from the possible effect of mutations, natural selection would tend to favour smaller varieties than those which had thrived before the Flood, due to the smaller amounts of suitable food and more rigorous environmental conditions in general. The fossil record, of course, does show that many plants and animals deteriorated drastically in size during the post-Flood Ice Age. Furthermore, even though each kind had been equipped to adapt to a wide range of environments, the post-Flood environment and climate were so extremely different than before the Flood that many varieties, and even entire kinds (e.g. dinosaurs), finally found it impossible to survive at all and became extinct.


  1. Marsh, Frank L., Variation and Fixity in Nature, Pacific Press, Omaha (Nebraska), 1976.
  2. Lester, L. and Bohlin, R., The Natural Limits of Biological Change, Zondervan, Grand Rapids (Michigan), 1984.
  3. Pallaghy, C., Plants and Darwinism—the Limitations of Natural Selection, Creation 9(4): 35–40, 1978.
  4. Denton, M., Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Burnett Books, London, 1985.
  5. Genesis 1:11, 12a, 12b, 21a, 21b, 24a, 24b, 25a, 25b, 25c.

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Readers’ comments

Jeannette P.
Thank you for another fascinating article!

It is hard to imagine the adaptability needed by survivors of the Flood. Yet the created genome was well equal to the challenge.

The following example also shows just how accurate and fine-tuned that adaptability can be.

A hill farmer told me that different populations of hill sheep have their own home ranges where they had often lived for generations.

He said that the sheep from one hill would not thrive so well even on an adjacent hill under almost identical conditions.

Isn't our Creator wonderful!!!
Christian R.
It’s amazing to read that a lot of what Dr Morris said almost 30 years ago is still supported by science today. Just look at how much evolutionists have had to change their interpretation of scientific evidence in the past 30 years in comparison!
Lester V.
In the “Editor’s Note” you referred to “superior pre-Flood environment” as one concept Dr Morris promoted, but has since been overturned. Could you elaborate on what this refers to?
Jonathan Sarfati
Fair question. I was talking about the concept of a water vapour canopy that protected people from damaging radiation and kept an even climate. See my paper Flood models and biblical realism; I am also giving a talk on this topic in the Creation 2018 SuperConference.
Robert W.
The Bible says God made each creature ‘after its kind’ (Genesis 1:21-25). This phrase literally means ‘by’ or ‘to’ its ‘division’. So the word for ‘kind’ denotes some kind of ‘division’, and has a cognate verb meaning ‘to split’. In the early chapters of Genesis, therefore, this word simply refers to some form of ‘division’ in the animal or plant kingdom. And as these divisions clearly didn't exist before creation, this must mean that all creatures were formed around various configurations or themes.

It has been suggested that the word ‘kind’ refers to ‘species’. However, although the word is sometimes used in relation to a species, its meaning is clearly not limited in this way. For example, in Leviticus 11, it refers to a species, the ostrich (Leviticus 11:16; Deuteronomy 14:15), but in the same sentence it is also used to describe much larger divisions, such as the stork (Leviticus 11:19), an order that comprises one family, 6 genera and 19 species.

Scientists might argue that this classification betrays the writer’s ignorance of taxonomy. However, the Hebrew word merely denotes some form of ‘division’ in the animal or plant kingdom; it does not refer to any particular kind of division.

What makes something a separate species is still a controversial question, and at least 22 competing definitions have been developed. One common definition says that organisms are different species if they are genetically incapable of reproducing with one another. However, this definition cannot be applied to organisms that only reproduce asexually. Nor can it be applied to the vast majority of fossils, as DNA is missing. It is also not feasible to test the genetic incompatibility of the millions of different varieties of organism that exist today.
J. K.
Good article, but: “Now ironically rejected by the organization he founded”. Note by editor.
Last time I checked the ICR acknowledged the observable process of natural selection. However they rightly emphasized that it is a subtractive not additive process. NS can only cull genotypes from the population, shrinking the gene pool and expediting the process of inbreeding.

Please fix
Jonathan Sarfati
I’m not sure when the last time you checked was, but their publications in recent years certainly affirm Dr Randy Guliuzza’s rejection of natural selection, which I have addressed. I would be happy to be proved wrong though. In any case, CMI and ICR scientists have had friendly collaboration on other things.

That NS is subtractive not additive is what we say; we teach that “NS can only cull genotypes from the population.” E.g. I’m on record saying, “Natural selection is a culling force, not a creative force.”

Dr Guliuzza’s then-colleague Dr Nathaniel Jeanson certainly thought that he was rejecting NS when he wrote:

The fact of natural selection
A Critique of Randy Guliuzza’s Claims

How the biblical kinds diversified into the species we see today is a pressing research puzzle in the young-earth model of origins. My analysis specifically evaluates Randy Guliuzza’s two central claims with respect to this question: (1) that natural selection does not exist; (2) that “programmed filling” is superior to natural selection on biblical and scientific grounds. I show that Guliuzza fails to provide scientific or biblical justification for these assertions. Therefore, Guliuzza’s claims represent speculation misstated as scientific fact, and the role of natural selection post-Creation and post-Flood remains an open question.1

At the same time, another ICR scientist co-authored a ‘viewpoint’ in our journal that referred to “Guliuzza’s strong argument against the concept of natural selection”.2 This paper also contrasted this view with Dr Jason Lisle’s—and Dr Morris’—“view of natural selection as a passive filter.”


  1. Jeanson, N.T., Answers Research Journal 6:285–292, 2013.

  2. Gaskill, Ph. and Thomas, B., Recent challenges to natural selection, J. Creation 26(3):76–78, 2012.

Heather S.
Just a suggestion—maybe it’d be an idea to have a footnote about the dinosaurs at the end of the article. I've read your resource Dire Dragons and found the record of dinosaurs and humans coexisting up to even the Medieval [actually Renaissance—Ed.] period most compelling, particularly the Carlisle Cathedral sauropods around p. 60, and the Nothosaurus in the Spanish tapestry from the 1600s around p. 100.

So if some dinosaurs were still alive in the medieval period according to your own resources from your store, you can’t really have an article that says they died out because of the change in the Earth’s environment after the Flood. Even if said article is thirty years old. A little footnote might solve this problem and avoid confusion.
Jonathan Sarfati
I’ll post your comment in lieu of the suggested footnote. What you say is true, and I don’t think Dr Morris would have had a problem with it. All the same, as a generalization, CMI scientists would agree with him that most dinosaurs became extinct soon after the Flood, but there were some exceptions that persisted for much longer, as that book documents.

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