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 observed that evolutionary theory and most modern young earth creationists propose that the domestic horse, the donkey and the zebra all shared a common ancestor in the past albeit the former millions of years ago and the latter just 4500 years ago. But what does the Bible itself have to say about the origins of horse diversity?
There are many—hundreds in fact—references to horses in the Bible but what Biblical evidence is there of rapid evolution of horses from a common ancestor within the time-frame that 24-hour day Ken Ham and most young-earth creationists believe the Bible demands? Well, none that I or anyone else have found.
The Bible contains clear observational evidence that multiple species of horses existed throughout the time-frame that Biblical events took place. 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 a record of Abram’s travels to Egypt in which he brought 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). By young-earth accounting of Biblical chronology this occurred only 400 years after Noah.
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 domesticated 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)
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 behaved just as these animals do today. From the Biblical record alone we can go back to at least 2000 BC and find donkeys and horses. From cave paintings and other archaeological sites we can find definitive evidence of multiple species of modern equine species much further back in time.
If there were only two horses on the ark that diversified into all of the modern species (zebras, donkeys, quaaga, onager, kiang, and horses) plus 100 or more extinct species the lack of any physical or eyewitness evidence of these radical changes from one to another is rather stunning.* Are we to believe that all this change happened in a just a few hundred years after the Flood and went unrecorded or left any other physical evidence?
There isn’t a plausible genetic scenario known 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.
Ironically, creationists have ignored this “Biblical” evidence in constructing their fantastic claims of rapid post-flood evolution of hundreds of species from common ancestors on the ark. What we see here is a case where creationists are chasing their own tails trying to explain biological diversity in hopes to compress thousands of living species into a few species on Noah’s ark to make the ark more feasible. 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 mentioned by name (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 and untenable evolutionary theories for the origin of tens 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. Every animal in the Bible is described in a fashion that makes it apparent that these species were fundamentally the same then as they are today.
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 or “ideal” 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.
*We should also add that we have other evidence that the horses in the Bible were the same species of domesticated horse we have today rather than any of a hundred extinct species. We have DNA extracted from bones from archaeological sites that are very old that demonstrate that they were the same type of horse that we are familiar with today.