How Long Did Adam Need to Name the Animals?

We know such a tiny amount about life before Abraham, and even less about life before sin messed everything up. But this is one of the few details God made sure we found out about. Let’s have a look at Adam’s busy first day on earth:

Thomas Cole The Garden of Eden

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it…

Genesis 2:19-20 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

After this God gives Adam the first general anesthesia, does surgery, forms Eve, and brings her to Adam.

That’s a pretty busy day!

Why the time needed to name all those animals is important to understand

One of the things I’ve noticed about people who don’t believe God really made the world in less than a week not very long ago is their lack of imagination. If they can’t picture how it could have happened, they explain it away. The concept of God being able to do things we can’t understand doesn’t seem to register with them.

I’ve run into someone who doesn’t believe all the events of Genesis chapter 2 happened on a single day because their brain can’t handle it. Answers in Genesis has an example of the same kind of limited thinking:

Not Enough Hours in the Day by Tim Chaffey:

“Who can imagine that all of these transactions could possibly have taken place in 120 minutes of the sixth day (or even within twenty-four hours, for that matter)?” Gleason Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994, 3rd ed.), p. 201

See? This book author even uses the same word I did: he can’t “imagine” it, therefore it can’t have happened.

I love this quote by Martin Luther:

But if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are. St Paul Lutheran Church Nov. Quotes (Day 9)

Here’s what is so hard for grown ups:

Letting God be Smarter than We Are

I wrote a similar article on this problem recently: Evidence, Logic, and Sharing About the Creator.
How about being the kind of people who don’t mind having a God who can do things we have trouble understanding!

Let’s see what happens when we assume God knew what he was talking about when he tells us all these things happened in:

One Extraordinary Friday

First, there’s the creatures. God wouldn’t need very long to speak all the animals into existence as the sun rises or the evening before (want to picture this? Read The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis Amazon affiliate link). He also wouldn’t have needed long to form man out of the ground or breath life into him.

6 am, Check!

Then, there’s the garden. Growing trees was already old hat for God, so the only thing that would have taken more than a few seconds was showing Adam around and giving him instructions on his new horticulture job.

6:15-30 am, Check!

Next, there’s naming the animals

Adam in the Garden of Eden: From an Old Children's BibleWhen we look at the Bible, it doesn’t say anything about naming the sea creatures, bugs, or other creepy crawlies. Just the “cattle”, the “fowl”, and “the beast of the field”. How many animals would have actually fit into these categories?

Species vs Kinds

This is one of the most important ideas to grasp when thinking about this task, or the animals Noah was responsible for on the Ark. One of the favorite things non-believers like to laugh at us about is the notion of Noah needing to bring dalmatians, sand cats, and every species of bat we know of. He would have needed a fleet of Arks to pull something like that off!

What they don’t realize is, this idea actually goes back to Aristotle, not the Bible.

For some years now, Answers in Genesis has been carefully studying how many animals Noah would have needed to bring with him. As we now know, this wasn’t just so they could think about it, but so they could make models of the “original created kinds” Noah was to provide food and nests for.

These same basic types would have been what God brought to Adam to name as well.

Answers in Genesis has done some estimates on how many pairs of animals Noah would have needed. Here’s what the Ark Encounter says about the total number they expect could have been on board:

“Recent studies estimate the total number of living and extinct kinds of land animals and flying creatures to be about 1,500. With our “worst-case” scenario approach to calculating the number of animals on the Ark, this would mean that Noah cared for approximately 7,000 animals.” How Many Animals? (bottom of the page)

Remember, this is double already from having a dad and mom for each kind. But even 3,500 animals would have been way more than Adam needed to deal with!

Beasts of the Field and Cattle

Most likely this meant the mammals. You wouldn’t call a lizard or crocodile a “beast of the field”. A scientific paper in the Answers Journal (big words, great photos) estimates the total number of mammal kinds, including cows, bats, monotremes, and marsupials. At the end they tell us:

This suggests that closer to 350 mammal kinds were on the Ark. Answers Journal Mammalian Ark Kinds by Dr. Jean Lightner Oct, 2012

Fowls of the Air

We’ve got bats covered: Check.

Pterosaurs, hmm, no one seems to have tried to figure out the root kinds for this group. Over on, they have a “family tree” with eight main branches. Looks reasonable enough to me, but some could easily have been part of the same kind. Eight isn’t bad though!

Dr. Jean Lightner also did a paper with An Initial Estimate of Avian Ark Kinds. [Avian means birds]. She says:

In this survey, 196 “kinds” of birds were identified. While hybrid data was used where it was available, and the cognitum and other data were considered, many kinds were identified by equating the currently recognized family with a kind. This is overly simplistic. Further, bird taxonomy is still in a state of flux, so this should be considered only a rough, conservative estimate.

One thing is sure true, no one can figure out just how to arrange today’s birds. There’s one guy who is constantly writing updates to the classifications birds are now being put in.

For us, if we take the list of bird families Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures has for early 2016, we get 241 kinds known today.

Unfortunately Dr. Lightner said her article didn’t cover the extinct birds we only know from their fossils, so this doesn’t include birds like Archaeopteryx. I bet whatever Adam called that little guy was easier to say than what we call his bones now!

No one else in the creation community has written about them either- yet.

I’d tell you what the evolutionists give us at the family level, but it’s practically impossible to get them to arrange things neatly. Not only is it hard to put together a family based on just bones, but they badly want them to be half dinosaurs still. The only place I found that would dare group these birds was Wikipedia. Not my favorite thing to link to, so I’ll just tell you how many groups they include:


That’s it. Of course, they have lots more species, but that’s all they have for the family level.

Now to Pull it all Together

The most Adam likely had to name in one day:

Mammals: 350

Flying Creatures: 241 plus 43

for a grand total of 634 creatures.

If Adam took an average of 15 seconds to name each he would have needed less than 3 hours to finish his assignment. Tim Chaffey from the article Not Enough Time gives him some breaks to grab a drink and snack, for a total of 4 hours.

put it nicely in an article for Creation Magazine years ago:

So, even in the unlikely event that there were as many as a thousand animals paraded before Adam, how long would it have taken him to name them?
There are 3,600 seconds in an hour, so Adam could have completed his task in under an hour. If he did it in a more leisurely and contemplative fashion, it would have taken a few hours at the most (excluding time out for ‘coffee breaks’!). Surely a pleasant day’s work, leaving plenty of time for God to create Eve from Adam’s side that same afternoon. Naming the animals: all in a day’s work for Adam

10:30 am, Check!

Now it’s time for Adam’s reward, Eve. 🙂

So, Do We Need to Explain Away God’s Timeline for the Sixth Day of Creation?

Have a look at the facts for yourself, but if I start with the Bible rather than people’s ideas, I don’t see any problem with our Creator God and my super smart first ancestor accomplishing these tasks in a single, normal day. Do you?

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. Mark 10:6

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