“Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.…” Gen 1:24-25
These verses don’t introduce a new topic to most of us: God created the animals after their own kind and later told them to be fruitful and multiply. That makes sense—we see it every day. However, there’s an important idea to note. The animals were to reproduce according to their kind. In fact you see the phrase “after their kind” repeated several times. Why stress it? Was God anticipating thousands of years in advance the need to refute the theory that animals don’t reproduce after their kind but instead mutate and create new species? Why was He emphasizing in writing what is plainly seen in nature that each kind produces its own kind?
Perhaps it is because of what comes next in Gen 1:26 : “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” It seems our kind is His kind. We are created after His own image and, therefore, kind. What represents a kind? Obviously, God is not limited to a physical body, so exactly how do we represent Him? First, we must consider what makes us different from the rest of creation, since He did not make the same statements in regards to them. The animals and earth are beautiful, but they are lacking three specific things that we embody: personhood, the ability to create, and free will. Now, animal-lovers may argue some of these points, but we could reasonably maintain that while these three attributes may be found in some degree among animals, they are certainly best represented and displayed in humans.
First, let us consider personhood. We are distinct and different from each other. We have many, many things in common, but we still have our own distinct fingerprints, personalities, and issues. I am Tatyana, and, while there may be others who look similar to me or think similarly to me, they are not me. Second, we have the beautiful gift of creativity. Unlike the animals, we can make things: stories, buildings, works of art, and the list goes on. While animals may be able to create a place to live, we create homes—places of beauty and rest. Finally, we imitate God in our ability to exercise free will. Despite the negative assumption of a materialistic/evolutionary worldview which would state that all our decisions are either instinctual or the results of the machinery of life, we live our lives as moral agents, able to choose between right and wrong.
Why is this important? It is important first because the message of the gospel hinges upon this truth. The amazing height of human value is shadowed only by our colossal fall which is only possible because we had first been placed in a position of tremendous worth. Despite what many claim about Christians, this very claim expounds a high view of humanity. It also adequately explains how humans can do such amazing and horrific things.
It is also important because God displays in concrete form the principle of begetting. One kind creates another. In order to have a creative person who can demonstrate free will, we must all come from a Being who is at least equal to or better in regards to these attributes. It is impossible for this world to be created by a blind force because then all of the world should reflect this same feature: no mind, no personhood, no creative force. It might be tempting to buy into the idea of a God who is an inanimate force since this God would not ask for anything. However, it is an illogical assumption to believe that we who are begotten would operate in a form so entirely foreign to that of our creator.
We gain then in these passages of Scripture a new understanding of God and man. We see our God—imaginative, loving, powerful (and embodying and perfecting every human trait we value). We also see ourselves—also imaginative, loving, and powerful in our own way. Looking to our source, we see our potential, but we also see our need. After being given a gift this amazing and ruining it, we realize it takes an even larger amount of grace to mend the breach. And, thankfully, this God whom we serve is also the Jesus who came to serve. He continues in the garden of Gethsemane the love story that was begun in the Garden of Eden. And, just like in the garden, we have the opportunity to accept or reject this great gift.