Table of contents
The Sixth Day of Creation
On the sixth "day" of creation, according to the Word of God, the earth brought forth a living soul, and there appeared on the earth animals, that is, cattle, reptiles and beasts. In conclusion, God created man — man and woman — according to His image and likeness, that is, spiritually similar to Him.
When He had finished the creation of the entire visible world with the creation of man, God saw that all He had made was very good.
On the sixth and final day of creation, the animals that live on the earth and man were created. Just as the Lord addressed the water to bring forth fish and reptiles, so now for the bringing forth of the four-legged creatures He addressed the earth, in the same way as he addressed it for the bringing forth of plant life. One must understand it in this way: the Lord granted the earth life-producing power, and not, as certain naturalists think, that the earth, warmed by the rays of the sun brought forth the animals on its own. In all the vast realm of nature there is not the slightest hint that any one kind of animal could have come from another, for example that grass-eating animals turned into animals of prey. It is even more contrary to nature that the origin of animal life could have come from inorganic beginnings, from gases, minerals and the like. "When God said, ‘let the earth bring forth,’" says St. Basil the Great, "this does not mean that the earth brings out what was already within her; but He Who gave the command gave the earth the power to bring it forth" (Hexaemeron).
In accordance with contemporary scientific research, one can conceive of the history of the sixth day of creation in the following account. The water and air were filled with life, but a third part of the earth still remained empty — the dry land, that part which was most convenient for the life of living creatures. Now the time came for populating it.
"And God said: let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beasts of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good" (Gen. 1:24-25).
Scientific research, rising higher through the various layers of the earth (after the layer containing the monsters described above, along with fish and birds), comes across a new layer in which new organisms appear — the four-legged creatures. First there appeared on the earth species of enormous four-legged creatures that are no longer to be found: dinotheres, mastodons and mammoths (a kind of elephant with a huge, awkward form); then, the more developed animals, and finally, their present forms: lions, tigers, bears, horned cattle, etc.
On seeing this gradual appearance of various kinds, science involuntarily poses the question: how did all these species come to be? Are they unchanging forms that received their beginning in the creative-formative act or did they slowly appear, one from another, and all from one primal form?
As is well-known, in the last century Darwin’s theory of evolution gained wide popularity. How does Darwin’s theory apply to the Biblical history of creation?
The writer of Genesis says that the plants and animals were created "according to their kind," that is, not one plant or animal form, but many plants and animals. This does not mean that all the forms or variations within a species that exist now had to have their beginning in the original creative act. The Hebrew word min, which is translated with the meaning "kind," has a very wide meaning that is not contained in the scientific meaning of the word "species." It is broader than this in every way, not including all the present species and variants of animals and plants; at the same time it does not deny the possibility of a gradual development of these forms.
That changes can truly occur within a species is proved by indisputable facts. Many variations of plants, such as roses, carnations, and dahlias, as well as certain animals, such as some variations of chickens and pigeons which can be seen in zoos, developed not many centuries ago. Changes can also occur under the influence of climatic conditions, different soil, food, and the like. On this basis one can assume that the number of plant and animal forms in the primal world was not as great and diversified as at present.
The writer of Genesis, describing the creation in the strict sense (bara) of the first origins of animal-organic life, does not categorically deny the possibility of the development of other forms within a species. However, this does not give any basis for the acceptance of the theory of development in all its completeness: it clearly and definitely affirms that the animal and plant organisms were directly created "according to their kinds," that is, in various definite forms.
This theory does not have any firm basis in science either, and at the present time has suffered many serious objections. We will not cite all the scientific reasoning, but will point out at least one. The well-known American scientist Cressy Morrison (former president of the New York Academy of Sciences) says:
"The miracle of genes, a phenomenon which we know testifies to the creation of everything living.
Genes are so infinitesimally small that if all the genes of all the people alive in the world today could be collected together, there would be less than a thimbleful. A thimble would not even be full! Nonetheless, these ultramicroscopic genes, and the chromosomes that accompany them, in every living cell of everything alive, are the absolute keys to all human, animal and vegetable characteristics. A thimble is a small place in which to put all the individual characteristics of five billion human beings. However, the facts are beyond question. Do these genes and cytoplasms, which may be collected in such a tiny space, contain the key to the psychology of every living creature?
This is where evolution begins! It begins in the cell which holds and carries the genes. This fact, that several million atoms contained in the ultramicroscopic gene could be the absolute key that governs life on earth, proves that there was an intention to create everything that is alive, that someone foresaw them ahead of time, and that this foresight comes from a Creative Intelligence. No other hypothesis here can help solve the riddle of existence."
On the sixth day of creation the earth was already populated in all its parts. The world of living creatures was like a magnificent tree, whose roots consisted of the most simple organisms, and whose highest branches were the highest animals. But this tree was not complete, there was not yet a blossom which could complete and adorn; there was not yet man, the king of nature. Now men too appeared.
"And God said: Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them" (Gen 1:26-27).
Here for the third time a creative act (bara) occurred in the full sense, for man has in his nature something which had not been created in nature before, namely spirit, which distinguished him from all other beings. Thus the history of the creation and formation of the world was finished.
"And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day... And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it."
In the period that follows after this, that is, in the seventh "day" of the world, which, as the Holy Fathers teach, is continuing even at the present time, God ceased to create. He blessed and hallowed this "day," and called it the Sabbath, that is, "rest;" and He commanded that men also rest on the seventh day from their regular work and dedicate it to the service of God and neighbor, that is, make this day free from worldly affairs — a holy day.
Upon completing creation, God left the world to live and develop according to the plan and laws established by Him, or, as it is generally said, according to the "laws of nature." At the same time, He never ceases to care for all creation, granting each creature what is necessary for life. God’s care for the world is called "Divine Providence."
Note: The account of the creation of the world is to be found in Genesis, chaps. 1:1-31; 2:1-3.