Question:

I have a question regarding making sense of the six days of creation and 24 hour days. How long did it take Adam to name the animals? Did he name all those animals within one literal 24 hour period on day six of the creation week?


Answer:

"Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him" (Genesis 2:19-20).

First, let's establish a time frame. Both Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day, the same day that land animals were created. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27). It is from Genesis 2 that we learn that Adam was created first and then Eve was created later.

God knew it wasn't good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). The plan was to create a companion for Adam, but first God wanted Adam to see for himself that he needed a companion, hence the naming of the animals and Adam's conclusion at the end.

Now, we subdivide the animals in finer detail than back then. We have hundreds of types of dogs, cats, cows, etc. But essence all dogs are a dog, call cats are a cat, and all cows are a cow. So the number of animals presented to Adam were far less than you might imagine. Also note that it was only the cattle, the beasts of the field, and birds of the air which were presented to Adam. Insect life (creeping things) and fish were not a part of the naming. The number of "kinds" presented to Adam would not have been so large that Adam could not see and name them in a portion of a day.

Thanks for the response, it makes sense if Adam named the animals in a less finer detail then we have them named. I am wondering how we know that back then the animals weren't separated by name as much as they are now where we have many types of dogs, etc.? Is there any historical evidence for this?

It isn't that hard. We talk about the various races of mankind; yet, from the Bible and DNA evidence we know that all people descend from one pair of people: Adam and Eve. The variations we see are brought about by isolating characteristics in various regions. In the same way we know that all dogs really come from one generic breed. We give names to the various isolated characteristics, but they are all a part of the same original pair of dogs.

A "kind" in the Bible is roughly what can interbreed and produce viable offspring. A greyhound and a German shepherd can breed and produce offspring which can breed as well. They are then of the same kind. "Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so" (Genesis 1:24). This definition is a broader than our definition of species. "Genus" or "family" appears to be closer to what the Bible refers to as a "kind."

What was brought onto the ark was a representative of each kind. "Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive" (Genesis 6:20). Every possible variation wasn't necessary, just a pair that had the homogenous mixture of all possible variations.

Another point is that in ancient literature and in the Bible, there are fewer names for the different types of animals. The Bible refers to hawks, we talk about the numerous types of hawks. The Bible talks about pigeons, we talk about the various types of pigeons.