And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Day Four (sun, moon, and stars) was about filling Day 1 (light and dark). Day 5 (fish and birds) was about filling Day 2 (waters and sky). Finally, Day 6 (land animals) is about filling Day 3 (land and vegetation).
One thing I find interesting about Days 5 and 6 is that God uses creation to do the creating. “Let the waters teem with life” and “let the land produce living creatures.” Life comes from non-life. That’s a statement that has sparked a lot of scientific debate over the years. Scientists are still trying to discover just how that happened. Why is there life instead of non-life? I have no idea when it comes to the nuts and bolts of it, but it does seem that wherever God is, there is life. Once everything was in place on this planet, life was virtually inevitable.
Or as we see in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”
People often wonder about the seeming conflict between science and faith. Do we take Genesis 1 literally? If so, then what about evolution? What about dinosaurs?
Frankly, that’s not what the creation song is about. It’s not interested in the science of creation. It’s not even written with a scientific worldview in mind. It predates the scientific method. One more time for people in the back: Genesis is not about science. Science is concerned with discovering the how. Genesis is more interested in the who and why. The God of the Bible creates out of love and community, and his creation is imbibed with a sense of purpose and order – and it was good.
The writer of Genesis 1 depicts three basic groups of animals – domesticated livestock, wild untamed beasts, and reptiles. Add those to fish and birds, and that’s basically the way the ancients understood the natural world.
God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Another question scientists try to answer is What separates humans from animals? Technically, human beings are mammals, and we’re closely related on a DNA level to primates like chimpanzees and bonobos. But as far as we know, human beings are the only sentient, self-aware, conscious beings in the entire universe. Some would say that we’re no different than the non-human animals. I think the fact that we can make those kind of assertions proves that we are different.
Where does consciousness come from? Where does our sense of love and community and justice come from? Where does our morality come from?
I believe it has something to do with the very Image and Likeness of God embedded into each and every homo sapien on the planet. There is a little bit of God’s own nature inside each one of us. Forgetting or ignoring that fact has led to some of the greatest atrocities in history – persecution, genocide, hate crimes, slavery, human trafficking. When we dismiss the Imago Dei inside our brother or sister, we dehumanize them. Only when we dehumanize them in our minds can we justify violent actions against them.
Every living creature has the “breath of life” in it, but only humans bear the likeness of God. Thus we are his ambassadors and co-rulers. We are tasked with the creative process, ruling over and tending to the rest of creation just as God would do.
This is why, I believe, that Jesus says the greatest command in Scripture is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – AND – to love your neighbor as yourself. Or as John would put it:
Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
(1 John 4:20)
Love for God and love for others cannot be separated because God has created us in his own image. Or as Victor Hugo would write in his famous novel Les Miserables, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
How would the world be different if we all acknowledged the Image of God in each other human being we encountered every day?
Why is it so difficult to remember that all people are created in God’s likeness?
What are some specific ways we can live out the mission God gave us?