Equines of the Bible: Horse Series Part V

Thus far in this series  about horses we have we have explored some of the  interpretations of the fossil record of horses and demonstrated the difficulty of defining the boundaries of species of modern horses.   We have seen that evolutionary theory and most modern young earth creationists propose that the domestic horse, the donkey and the zebra all had a common ancestor.  But what does the Bible itself have to say about whether a horse is a horse?  Of course there are many (hundreds in fact)  references to horses in the Bible but what Biblical evidence is there for the diversification of horses from a common ancestor?  Well, none that I can find.

The Bible contains very clear evidence that there were a diversity of types of horses in Biblical times.  This includes the wild donkey that made its home in the wilderness, the domesticated donkey, the mule (a horse x donkey hybrid) and multiple types (pale, white, black) of domestic horses.   For example we find as early as Genesis 12 when Abram travels to Egypt that Abram had donkeys: “And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels”. (Genesis 12:15, English Standard Version).  Near the end of Genesis we find that Pharaoh had many thousands of horses that pulled his chariots.  Exodus 9:3  (ESV) shows that donkeys and horses were clearly distinguished from one another at this time: Behold, the hand of the LORD will fall with a very severe plague upon your livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks.    In the book of Job we find descriptions of the wild donkey in addition to the horse.  God describes to Job the behavior of the horse especially vividly:

Hast thou given the horse strength;
Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper?
The glory of his nostrils is terrible.
He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength:
He goeth on to meet the armed men.
He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted;
Neither turneth he back from the sword.
The quiver rattleth against him,
The glittering spear and the shield.
He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage:
Neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha;
And he smelleth the battle afar off,
The thunder of the captains, and the shouting.”
(Job 39:19-25 KJV)

A photo from the Pech Merle Prehistory Center shows a cave painting of pair of spotted horses, found in the Pech Merle Cave in Cabrerets, southern France. Scientists estimate the drawing, measuring about four metres wide by 1.5 metres high, is about 25,000 years old. Source: AP

A photo of an acient cave drawing from the Pech Merle Cave in Cabrerets, southern France showing spotted horses.  Scientists estimate the drawing, measuring about four metres wide by 1.5 metres high, is about 25,000 years old. Creationists believe these cave sites were inhabited just a few hundred years after the flood and so they should see this as evidence that horses like today were already present at this time.  Source: AP

What do the hundreds of references to these equines in the Bible tell us?  If nothing else they tell us that even in the earliest Biblical times these animals looked and acted much the way they do today.  We can go back to at least 2000 BC and find donkeys and horses.  If there were only two representatives of all equines (zebras, donkeys, horses plus 20 or more extinct species) preserved on Noah’s ark which was only 350 years earlier according to YEC calculations, how are we to understand the biblical evidence that donkeys, wild donkeys, and horse breeds could already be recognized just hundreds of years after a global flood?   There isn’t any genetic scenario that I can conceive of whereby such dramatic divergence could take place in such a short period of time.   The Bible gives us no evidence of missing links and transition species that would give so much as a hint of this fast evolutionary scenario that creationists have been promoting.

In effect, creationists have ignored this “Biblical” evidence in constructing their views on the origins of animals. I think we are seeing a case of where creationists are chasing their own tails trying to explain biological diversity in their hopes to compress thousand of living species into a few species on Noah’s ark.  But rather than providing greater clarity, they have done nothing but highlight the bankrupt nature of their theological and scientific assumptions.   The Bible provides no accounting of what animals were on the ark aside from a few specifically mentioned (dove, raven etc..). Putting fewer animals on the ark may help the ark seem more scientifically feasible but by doing so creationist have put themselves in the position of having to propose radical evolutionary theories for the origin of 10s of thousands of species from only a few individuals.   This is not only scientifically ridiculous but doesn’t even fit any of the evidence from the Bible itself that the animals of the Bible are described as similar to today’s animals.

In summary, the authors of the Bible treat the animals around them as if they are the same ones that God created from the beginning of the world (see my series Consider the Ostrich) not some radically morphed versions of a prototype kind.  There is no evidence of super-fast adaptation/evolution in the Bible and neither is there even any extra-biblical evidence of such rapid speciation from which to draw support.


  1. very interesting! I too, find it odd that creationists of this stripe are seemingly unaware of the fact that their own scenario requires faster and more dramatic evolution than anything actual evolutionists and old earth creationists have proposed. so much cognitive dissonance!


  2. Are you aware of any creationists the split down equines into a slightly larger subset, say a “horse” group and a “donkey” group?


    • It appears that YECs are coming to a consensus that all members of the equine family are single kind including the 150 or so fossil species. There may be some that don’t think the very small 3 toed fossil horses were the same kind but I haven’t seen any in the past 5 years argue against a single horse kind. Jeanson, in his book Replacing Darwin which just came out this year, places a big emphasis on horses,donkeys and zebras and builds his whole argument for speciation around the fact, in his mind, that all the horses are derived from a pair on the ark.

      Liked by 1 person

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