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This is somewhat related to How did all the animals fit into Noah's ark?

One of the comments read: "How does one propose to produce the various species/sub-species simply from 'some sort of cat', after the fact?" This was in response to how Noah brought a 'kind' of cat into the ark and now we have pumas, jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, etc. I was curious myself and another person suggested asking this as a new question.

Basically, the argument would go along the lines of..."How does a single breeding pair turn into both Chihuahuas and Great Danes in under 5000 years? If Noah’s ark had only 1 pair of each kind, the speed of evolution required to get some of the variation that exists needs to be much faster than reality." (This was taken from which has a few other points for this argument)

How would Young Earth Creationists answer this?

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Are you at all interested in answers from denominations that allow for somewhat less literal readings of the OT? Or at least less literal readings of the genealogy? I.e., it's possible that the OT presents a very "condensed" genealogy? Or that the magnitude of the flood is hyperbolized? Or are you only interested in "challenging" OT "super-literalists"? –  svidgen Jan 16 '13 at 20:58
Yes, I would be interested in those as well. –  Chandrew Jan 16 '13 at 21:02
One thing you have to do with Noah's ark when you come up with arguments against it(and this applies to almost anything) is actually read the story. Many arguments against it don't even represt what the account said, such as "It couldn't have rained enough in 40 days to cover the earth" when in reality the story doesn't actually claim the rain caused the flood, it says the fountains of the deep broke open AND it rained for 40 days. Noah didn't take 2 of every kind, there was alot of things he didn't have to take. See for lots of info –  2tim424 Jan 16 '13 at 23:23
The literalist response to this is: The problem of genetic diversity from the various kinds of animals on Noah's ark is much less daunting than the question "If we all evolved from some single-celled organism that spontaneously developed from some 'primordial soup', where did we get the genetic material for all forms of life on earth today?" Clearly that initial organism must have contained all the genetic diversity if this line of thinking is true. Other than the absence of the magic ingredient of millions of years, the problem is much greater for the pure evolutionist. –  David Jan 17 '13 at 0:11
@David just for info, it has been pointed out that I may have (when reading it, and via a previous comment - now deleted) mentally put quote marks in different places to what you had in mind. Sorry 'bout that. –  Marc Gravell Jan 17 '13 at 22:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Scientifically speaking, evolution is not required for variations within a species. The only requirement is that all of the genetic information seen in the species today was present in the first generation. From then on, species experience the isolation of genes through geographic and other factors.

The breeding of new species of dogs does not produce new genetic information--it merely isolates particular genetic information that is already present in the species. This is a key point--selective breeding does not result in any new information, but actually the loss of information, as only the chosen genes are kept.

In cattle, selective breeding often results in weaknesses within a certain breed. Hereford cattle are quite susceptible to Pink Eye, but if you have Hereford Angus cross, the weakness in the Hereford Breed, that resulted in a loss of genetic resistance to Pink Eye, is merged back with the lost genetic information that is still present in the Angus breed, yielding a herd with higher genetic resilience.

Different breeds of dogs can still interbreed with each other, as can different breeds of cattle, so there is no new species and no evolution. Evolution is the creation of new species--variation within a kind is not evolution.

Dogs have, indeed, shown a higher variability than other species, but they are all still dogs. Another key point, though, is that this doesn't happen in nature, but with a great deal of intervention and unnatural forces brought to bear upon the process (by humans).

The word used in Genesis is probably best translated "kind". Noah didn't bring Chihuahuas, Poodles, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and every other kind of dog. He brought two mutts, which is basically what you get if you take all the breeds and interbreed them together to undo the genetic isolation.

Furthermore, Noah didn't bring a Chinese, a Korean, a Vietnamese, a Russian, an Arab, a European, a Jew, an African, and a Hawaiian. There were only eight people, but those eight people contained all the genetic information necessary to produce the variations we see today that have been caused by genetic isolation through geographic and other factors.

There are a lot of resources online about this. Here's just one.

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Also keep in mind that this was a miraculous event, where the animals in questions were not rounded up at random, but rather presented themselves to Noah... therefore the God has the easy opportunity to make sure that the necessary genetic material was present in each of the specimens. –  Joel Coehoorn Jan 16 '13 at 18:39
These comments aren't really the optimal way to have an extended discussion. I think that if the answer were phrased as "this is what people believe" and not "this is the Truth" then it would not be such a debate magnet. It is OK, and even helpful, to own up to the fact that this area is highly contested and that not everyone believes the view described. –  James T Jan 17 '13 at 0:11
<Unconstructive comments removed.> I like James T's suggestion. And yes, please no discussions in comments. –  El'endia Starman Jan 17 '13 at 3:52
"Evolution is the creation of new species--variation within a kind is not evolution." The definition of evolution in this answer is not a conventional one, as understood by biologists. –  Oddthinking Jul 5 '14 at 1:17
The question and site policy has significantly changed. You might want to edit your answer. Reference: –  fredsbend Jul 5 '14 at 17:11

Basically there are three ways that genetic diversity happens:


Sexual combination:

Gene Flow:

All of these processes do in fact have the potential of generating new genetic information. Different factors will increase or decrease the rate of variation, but the fact is that the successive combination, recombination, duplication, and mutation of genes will produce new genes. Throw in horizontal transfers, especially inter-species transfers, and you've got quite a lot going on. Now add natural (or artificial, in the case of animal husbandry) selection and voila, evolution.

So, was there enough time between Noah and now?

Most breeds of dogs are at most a few hundred years old, having been artificially selected for particular morphologies and behaviors by people for specific functional roles. Through this selective breeding, the dog has developed into hundreds of varied breeds, and shows more behavioral and morphological variation than any other land mammal.

I suppose so - at least for dog breeds.

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The question and site policy has significantly changed. You might want to edit your answer. Reference: –  fredsbend Jul 5 '14 at 17:11

Some denominations do not insist that believers take on a literal interpretation of all OT events. In particular, many events in Genesis may be read by Catholics either as allegories, "condensed" stories, and/or hyperbole.

So, taking the story either as hyperbole and/or allegory, the question is rendered moot. By this interpretation, we don't need to explain modern genetic variation, because the story didn't happen precisely as documented. The events that the story were based on have been documented in such a manner as to highlight the theological value. By this reading, there certainly may have been a very massive flood, which Noah was instructed to build an big boat for, onto which he was also instructed to stow a lot of local animals. But, it may also have been a small flood, or some other "flood-like" event that resulted in a corresponding spiritual, symbolic covenant with God.

Taking the story as a "condensed" story, by which I mean the details of and surrounding the story actually took place over a longer period of time to more people, we allow ourselves the interpretation that Noah and his family represent a much larger group of people, who built many boats (or other "anti-flood" mechanisms) to survive, with livestock, through a predicted or divinely revealed flood, series of floods, etc. And it's possible that far more time has passed than is represented by the genealogy -- it's possible that each "person" in the tree is actually a metaphorical or poetic means of referring to an era.

But even in this case, we also don't necessarily rule out the possibility that it's a "literalization" of primarily spiritual events. The story could be allegorical, condensed, and hyperbolic. It may have happened over a long period of time to many people in a mostly spiritual manner.

Finally, the Catholic Church also doesn't insist that we don't take it literally! And as such, if God flooded the whole Earth, saving only Noah, his family, and whatever animals they brought on board, we must also assume that God was capable of supernaturally repopulating the earth. I.e., after the flood, God temporarily accelerated reproduction and genetic mutation to provide us with the variety we have today.

In brief, from a Catholic perspective, if we want a purely scientific explanation for the modern day genetic rainbow, we need to query the scientific community and ask "is this feasible?" However, we're not restricted from coming up with creative possibilities on our own, provided they don't trash the theological value of the scripture. As far as the Church is concerned, the theological value of the story is of prime importance.

Any interpretation that doesn't destroy the known theological significance is fair game.

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I appreciate the answer. I wasn't fully aware of other interpretations. Good to know other views. –  Chandrew Jan 17 '13 at 22:10
The question and site policy has significantly changed. You might want to edit your answer. Reference: –  fredsbend Jul 5 '14 at 17:11

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