Verses 20-23: Then God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let winged creatures fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens." And God created great reptiles (in the original Hebrew, the big ta’ni’neem) and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged animal according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let winged animals multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
Once earth’s atmosphere was ready, strange new creatures appeared quite quickly in the water, and later ventured into the air, and still later onto the land. Scientists call this sudden appearance of animals the “Cambrian Explosion,” or the “Big Bang” of animal life. These first animals were models for of all the animals to come after them. If you saw these strange creatures, you might think they were aliens from another planet, but they were earth’s first animals.
In His wisdom, God gave these animals the ability to change with their surroundings. Though some changed into new forms, such as fish, insects and dinosaurs, they retained their original models. The scientific name for a general model is phylum.
Note that in the entire Creation chapter there is only one animal that has an adjective of size, the “great reptiles.” And in the fossil record, the largest of animals just happens to be the dinosaurs, which were reptiles. Again the wisdom of the Bible is matched by the recent discoveries of science. Whether the big ta’ni’neem actually refers to dinosaurs is not certain. But it is intriguing that the one animal the Bible tells us was big is the reptile, and fossils agree. The meaning of ta’ni’neem as reptile is learned from a comparison of the Hebrew words for snake and reptile as they are used in The Book of Exodus chapters four and seven. Those are the chapters in which Moses is told by God to confront Pharaoh and have his shepherd’s staff first turn into a snake (na’hash in Hebrew), chapter four, and then into a reptile (ta’ni’neem) chapter seven.
For generations a debate has centered on whether all living creatures were created complete within a few days’ time, or whether they evolved gradually over long periods of time. The fossil record and the Bible suggest that neither view is entirely correct. There is, again, no contradiction between Torah and Teva, only between inaccurate interpretations of the evidence and the text.
At least three events throughout the history of life defy scientific explanation, about which evolutionists can only speculate. These events in the history of life point to direct action by the Creator, rather than being caused by His natural laws alone.
1) The appearance of the first life, microscopic single-celled organisms soon after the earth’s crust hardened (the oldest evidence of life dates to about 3.6 to 3.8 billion years ago, found in ancient rocks in Greenland). From the first evidence of liquid water on the earth, also some 3.8 billion years ago, to the advent of life there was not enough time for life to have arisen by chance from non-living chemicals (if, indeed, this is even possible given infinite time).
2) The relatively sudden appearance of complex animal life, called the “Cambrian Explosion,” about 530 million years ago. The fossil record shows single-celled organisms before the Cambrian, and then with essentially no hint in the underlying fossils, all the body plans, or phyla, that exist today appear at the Cambrian, with no complex ancestors from which to evolve. Two problems make gradual evolution from single cells to these complex life forms very unlikely: the absence of transitional forms and inadequate time for evolution by mutation and natural selection to occur. The late paleontologist, Harvard Professor Stephan J.Gould, an avid agnostic, wrote that this is one of the great trade secrets of paleontologists. The fossil record does not confirm the gradualism of Darwinian evolution. Niles Eldredge, former curator at the American Museum of Natural history in New York City, the gold standard of naturalism, wrote “The pattern we were told to find in the fossil record does not exist.” Unfortunately, its non-existence has not hampered school text books from teaching that it does exist.
3) The appearance of consciousness, language and complex thought in humans.
Once a person examines the evidence, they must then decide if the mind-boggling complexities of life, the universe, and natural laws (including adaptive evolution) came about by blind natural forces, or were creative processes overseen and guided in wisdom by the Source of all life, God. Since science cannot definitively prove whether God exists or does not exist, and there is no evidence showing a transition from non-living matter (rocks and water and few simple chemicals) to life, either decision comes down to a matter of personal decision and faith.
Perhaps it is time to move past the cliches of the creationist vs. evolutionist debate. The real conflict is between materialist/naturalistic evolution, which attributes remarkable changes to earthbound explanations alone, and a theistic view, which sees in the history of evolution a remarkably intelligent and purposeful progression from simple to complex, from erev to boker. For some, the major obstacle is the matter of time–6,000 years vs. millions of years–but we will approach this topic later. Time need not be a sticking point.
The late British writer and Journalist G.K. Chesterton said:
It is really far more logical to start by saying… ‘In the beginning some unthinkable power began some unthinkable process. For God is by its nature a name of mystery... But this notion of something smooth and slow, like the ascent of a slope, is a great part of the illusion. It is an illogicality as well as an illusion; for slowness has really nothing to do with the question. An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves. For a man who does not believe in a miracle, a slow miracle would be just as [unbelievable] as a swift one…. There runs though all… history this curious and confused idea that difficulty is avoided, or even mystery eliminated, by dwelling on mere delay... The question here is the false atmosphere of facility and ease given by the mere suggestion of going slow.
These are insightful words, and ahead of their time, considering that they were written in 1925. Even if the Creation occurred over billions of years from our perspective looking back (which actually does equal six days from a perspective looking forward, as we will see), a miracle is a miracle, no matter how much time it takes!
Clarifying translation: God said, “Let the waters teem with living creatures [Hebrew nefesh hi’yah], and winged creatures [The Hebrew word here is oaf which means in biblical Hebrew any animal with wings as we learn from its use in the Books of Exodus and Leviticus (Exodus 7:14; Leviticus 11:20)] that fly about over the earth across the expanse of heavens.” [At this stage in the development of life on earth, the winged creatures would be flying, insect-like animals. This matches exactly the fossil record. Once again the wisdom of the ancient Bible is matched by the modern discoveries of science.] And God created the great reptiles [The Hebrew word is ta’ni’neem. This word appears later in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 4:3; 7:10, 15) where by comparing its use there we see that ta’ni’neem means reptiles] and every living being that creeps, with which the waters teemed after their kinds; and all winged creatures of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the seas; and the winged creatures shall increase on the earth. And there was evening [Erev: chaos] and there was morning [Boker: order, clarity], a fifth day. Again a climb in the level of order of life on earth, erev giving way to boker.