The Bible and the History of All Living Creatures

This is a speculative, literal reading of the stories of the Garden and the Flood. Did Adam and Eve eat of the tree of life? Did unicorns live in the Garden of Eden? What was the first living kind to become extinct? Whom did Cain marry? What sort of living kinds became extinct in the Flood?

After the world was created and the land was separated from the waters, God called for the waters to bring forth “the moving creature that hath life, and the fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of the heaven.” (Gen. 1:20) These were the first living creatures.

The next day “God made the beasts of the earth … and the cattle according to their kinds, and everything that creeps upon the ground ….” (Gen. 1:25) Later that day “... God created man in his own image, … male and female ... .” (Gen. 1:27) “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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’” God gave man and all the animals “… every green plant for food.” (Gen. 1:30)

Although God declared all that He had made "very good," images are not identical to the real thing and so man may have had a defect of some sort. Perhaps some spiritual quality was lacking. Thus we find that [YHWH] God made a man from the dust of the earth and breathed the "breath of life" into his nostrils and the "man became a living soul." (Gen. 2:7) God planted a garden in Eden as a special place for this special man to live. The man was given all the fruit of the trees of the garden for food except the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The man was alone; there was no other living creature in the garden. He had God alone to keep him company. All the other living things were still out in the world outside the garden. “Then the Lord [YHWH] God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; … ’ ” (Gen. 2:18), so God made all the beasts and birds and presented them to Adam to name and to see if one of them might be a fit companion for him. (Gen. 2:19) It is possible that these are the domestic animals since they are, in some sense, companions. However companionable they may be, none of them was considered to be a fit companion for Adam. Even the dog, known as "man's best friend," was not a suitable companion. It is worthy of note that the male and female man created previously were not suitable companions.

Since none of the creatures was a suitable companion for the Adam, God created woman. (Gen. 2:22)

Based on the information in Genesis then, Adam and his companion woman lived in a garden specially prepared for them by God. Probably the domestic animals were there as well, and all were vegetarians. The only forbidden fruit was that of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; the fruit of the Tree of Life was not forbidden. The fruit of the Tree of Life apparently kept Adam and his woman and the animals alive. All lived together in peace and harmony eating the fruit of the trees of the Garden and partaking of the Tree of Life when necessary.

It was not so outside the Garden. There was no Tree of Life to sustain the creatures that didn't live in the garden; they had to procreate or become extinct.

It is not clear how long the animals and Adam and the woman lived in peace in the Garden of Eden, but it is apparent that they did not have offspring during that time. It was an age of innocence and eternal life. There was no need of offspring from any of the animals there because the Tree of Life kept them alive. There was no knowledge of good and evil to lead to killing or even to accidental death.

But a drastic change was coming; Satan and sin entered the picture.

Let’s see how the story continues. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature ….” (Gen. 3:1) It is very possible that the serpent had eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and that that is what had made him subtle. Can we say that the knowledge of good and evil brings Satan into our lives? Had Satan entered the serpent? It is a weak argument when we argue from what is not said, so perhaps it was just that the serpent was more subtle because God made him that way. There is no evidence here to decide either way. Nevertheless, the serpent tempted the woman, the woman tempted her husband and they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their eyes were “opened” (Gen. 3:7) to good and evil. They recognized their nakedness and the consequence of what they saw was the reproductive process that we know today. Then the man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20).

The first death or extinction of an animal kind was also recorded here. God slew animals to obtain skins to provide clothing for Adam and Eve. (Gen. 3:21) There is a very good possibility that these animals had not yet reproduced and thus are probably the first species to become extinct. It is tempting to imagine that these were the unicorns. Why else would unicorns have such a prominent place in mankind’s story telling? But since that is not recorded in the Bible, it's not something to be taken seriously.

The result of sin was that the natural order, the good thing that God had created in the beginning, got all crossed up. Animals started eating one another, Adam had to work hard for a living, and Eve had to begin suffering the difficulty of giving birth so that they would not become extinct. They no longer had access to the Tree of Life because God had placed flaming swords before it to block access to it “lest [they] … eat, and live for ever.” (Gen. 3:22)

The results of sin continued to plague the earth. Adam and Eve’s oldest son, Cain, killed his younger brother, Abel. Cain then ran off to the land of Nod and took as a wife a wild creature with no name. (Gen. 4:17) Some of this is speculation, of course. Since her name is not given, I assume that she may have been from some wild, uncivilized group of creatures that had descended from the male and female that were found to be unsuitable for Adam when God was seeking a companion for him.

The offspring of Cain and this woman would have been a mixed group outside the line of Adam. They became the herders, musicians, and metal workers of the world. None of them survived the flood. However, they must have been very prolific because so many remains of defective humans are found in the fossil record.

The line of descent from Adam to Noah was through Adam and Eve's third son, Seth. Seth's wife isn't mentioned in the historic record, but she was probably one of his sisters. Many times the sons are the only family members named in the record and daughters weren't named unless there was some significant event related to them. Before sin had had an effect on man's heredity, it was not a problem to marry family members and many royal siblings were married through the ages. So the hereditary line is through Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. These men in the line of Adam continued to serve God. In fact, Enoch walked so close to God, that God just took him on home with Him without his having to face death. However, things were not going so well with the descendents of Cain. Things just continued to get worse for a thousand years or so (about 1650 years).

Many assume that all the animal kinds created at creation still exist on the earth today, some 6,000 or more years later. However, this view does not take into consideration the fact that sin entered the world and the idyllic, Edenic setting came to an end. The Bible record shows that at least one kind of animal was killed off to create clothing for Adam and Eve. We also find evidence in the fossil record of many creatures that have existed in past times but that do not exist today. The bones of these animals have been found along with the bones of defective man of Cain's kind preserved during the flood. Mankind has also preserved extra-Biblical stories that relate to animal kinds that existed in the past, but are not represented among the living kinds today. Many of these kinds obviously died off before the flood, but there are others that have died off since the flood. The Bible does not provide any direct record of what these animals were or what happened to them. During that time, mankind, natural disasters, and just sin in general caused many of God’s creatures to become extinct. Traces of these early creatures have been found in animal graveyards and in fossilized bones buried in the earth. In fact, men found so many large bones of unknown creatures during those early days that many thought the bones were the bones of giant men.

Although many of Adam's descendents continued to maintain a relationship with God, others did not. The descendents of Cain were apparently completely outside God's control. Things were not going the way God had planned. He “was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” (Gen. 6:6) He determined that he would destroy all life and get a new start.

This was His plan.

One man, Noah, had “found favor in the eyes of the Lord [YHWH].” (Gen. 6:8), so God revealed His plan to him. God’s plan was to cause a flood to destroy all life on earth, but He would show Noah how to save himself and his family and a sampling of all the earthly creatures – all the birds and the animals and the creeping things of the ground. So God directed Noah to build an ark and to bring into it seven pairs of all ‘clean’ animals and seven pairs of all birds and one pair of each of the ‘unclean’ animals. (Gen. 7:2,3) Noah's grandfather, Methuselah, lived until the year of the flood, but there is no record that Noah took him aboard the ark, so we can be sure that Methuselah died a short time before the final preparation for the flood had begun. Noah's father had died four years earlier than that. Methuselah lived longer than any other human has lived.

We have to consider which animals were taken into the ark. Noah and his family represented Adam's kind, of course, and the animals were representatives of all those that lived on the earth or in the air at that time. The sea creatures were not included because they would have been able to survive the flood and reproduce after their kinds with no problem. Were these all the animals that God had originally created and presented to Adam in the Garden of Eden? No. Many animals had become extinct as a result of sin. However, the animals that were taken into the ark were those that lived on earth at that time. All the animals that lived on earth at that time thus survived the flood and were living when dry land appeared at the end of the flood. “So Noah went forth, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. And every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves upon the earth, went forth by families out of the ark.” (Gen. 8:18,19) So we know that the animals that live today are descendents of the animals that were put into the ark and survived the flood. We also know that the animals that existed on earth at the time just prior to the flood are the same as those living today except for those that may have become extinct since the flood. Mankind has kept a history of animal extinctions and thus we can say with certainty which animals were living just before the flood.

Thus, it is also obvious that no animal kinds (except possibly some of the sea creatures for which we have no record) were killed off in the flood, because samples of all living creatures were taken into the ark and all went forth from the ark following the flood. The only kind killed off in the flood was Cain's kind. No descendent of Cain was taken aboard the ark; all his descendents were killed in the flood. Their strange bones have been found along with the many other kinds that were killed off prior to the flood. We know that those animals didn't survive until the flood because all the animal kinds living at the time of the flood were saved in the ark. None were left behind. The kinds of creatures killed during the flood and whose bones might have been preserved are exactly the same kinds that existed after the flood according to the Biblical account. Thus the fossils preserved by the flood will be of the same kinds of creatures that we know today. The fossils of creatures that became extinct before the flood were preserved in some other way and should be found separately from those preserved in the flood.

The Bible record tells us that God created some animal kinds in the beginning that do not exist today. It is possible that a record of those early animals has been preserved in the fossil record and in bones left to dry on the earth where mankind retrieved them and recorded them in the historical record. Based on what we have found here and the fact that the flood did not restore mankind and the world to its original sinless state, we can say that more of the creatures that God created will continue to disappear one by one until the time of the end when all will be destroyed by fire.


Posted 11/15/05
Some revisions re-posted on 2/14/08