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Discovery Magazine 8/1/2017

Bear Variety: Proof of an Infinite Creator

Smokey the Bear, Winnie the Pooh, Po from “Kung Fu Panda,” Baloo from “The Jungle Book,” the Berenstain Bears, Lots-o’-Huggin’ from “Toy Story 3,” Teddy Ruxpin, Little John from Disney’s “Robin Hood,” Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo, Fozzie Bear, the Coca-Cola Polar Bears, the Care Bears, Paddington…. Obviously, we love bears. So much so, that they are the last thing many kids see and touch before they fall asleep. So we feel confident that you will enjoy learning about God’s amazing bears in this issue of Discovery.

Sun Bear American Black Bear

According to dictionaries, a bear is a large, strong mammal that has coarse, long, heavy fur, a small tail, relatively small limbs, lives in the colder areas of America and Europe/Asia, and can eat plants, insects, or meat. Eight distinct species of bears exist today (Polar, Brown, Sun, Sloth, American Black, Asiatic Black, Andean, and Giant Panda bears), and there are many others that have gone extinct over the centuries since the Flood (including the Cave Bear and the  American Giant Short-Faced Bear).

Brown Bear Giant Panda Bear

The idea of a “species,” however, is a modern concept that would not have existed at the time of Moses when he, through inspiration, wrote the book of Genesis some 1,500 years ago. Instead of “species,” Moses used the term “kinds” when telling us what creatures God created in Genesis 1, and what creatures were brought onto the Ark in Genesis 6-9. “Kinds” is thought to be a broader term than “species”—closer to our modern idea of, for example, “dogs” (including wolves, coyotes, domestic dogs, foxes, jackals, and dingoes), “cats,” “elephants,” or in this case, “bears.”

Polar Bear Andean Bear

Creation biologists have studied the living and extinct bears to determine if they should all be considered to be part of the same “kind” [a discipline in Creation science called baraminology (bare-uh-min-AW-low-gee)]. They have concluded that the eight bear species today (and the extinct species of bears) all belong to the same “kind.” That means that since bears would be considered “unclean creatures” under the Law of Moses (Leviticus 11:27), two representatives of the bear kind would have been on the Ark (Genesis 7:2). Those two bears would have had enough genetic information in their genes to produce the variety of bears we see today. From those two bears on the Ark 4,500+ years ago came the diversity within the bear kind that we see today (as well as the fossil record and extinct bears) as they reproduced in the centuries following the Flood.

Asiatic Black Bear Sloth Bear

In the same way that there is variety within the “human kind” (do you look exactly the same as someone from China, India, or even your parents?), there is a lot of variety within the bear kind that God created. The fact that there is an immense amount of variety within the hundreds of “kinds” of creatures on the Earth says something about our God: He likes variety. Imagine if only one species existed on the planet, and every representative of that species looked and acted precisely the same way: no variety of colorful flowers or birds; no variety of animals; no variety in smells or tastes or sounds; and no variety of even humans—just one look and one behavior. Would that be boring? The variety we see on the planet makes it exciting to look at and study, and helps us to know that God cares about our happiness and wants us to enjoy life. So the infinite examples of variety in the creation help us to know more about our infinite Creator. God can be seen in “the things that are made,” including the mighty bear (Romans 1:20).

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