Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Chapter 2: Species and Kinds

The Bible teaches creation of different kinds, which are broader than modern 'species'....Biblical creationists have long taught variation and even speciation from these kinds.  From the Ark account, they have long deduced that comparatively few Ark vertebrate kinds gave rise to a wide variety of species (The Greatest Hoax on Earth, page 29).

Creationists have often pointed out that Noah didn't need to take wolves, coyotes, dingoes, Chihuahuas, Great Danes, spaniels, dachshunds, etc. on the Ark, because it was sufficient to take a pair of wolf-like creatures with all the potential for diversifying into different varieties (The Greatest Hoax on Earth, page 47).
The creationist model of rapid diversification and speciation after the Flood is particularly interesting because it contains a partially testable element: the creationist taxonomic system called baraminology (the study of the "created kinds" or "baramins", discussed by Sarfati on page 36).
The Creation Biology Society, an affiliation of biologists and other researchers dedicated to developing a young-age creation model of biological origins, is at the forefront of baraminological research (until 2011 the Society was named the Baraminology Study Group). The Society's members follow the approach set out by Sarfati in the second chapter of The Greatest Hoax on Earth: they assume extremely rapid diversification and speciation within kinds following the Flood but do not believe such change is possible across the boundaries dividing different kinds.
Critics of creationism have conceded that baraminology is surprisingly rigorous and internally consistent.[1]  However, in recent years non-creationist scientists have also used baraminological systems to prove aspects of evolutionary theory. See, for example, Philip Senters work:
Nevertheless, baraminology applies some rigour to the often vague concept of created kinds. As an example, a 2008 paper by Kurt Wise (published by the Baraminology Study Group) applies a baraminology criterion to the fossil record of mammals.[2]  Wise argues most large groups of mammals come from pairs of individuals after the Flood and the fossil record of mammals comes from post-Flood burial events such as those occurring during the Ice Age.[3]  His paper's conclusions include the claim that all elephant-like organisms (proboscideans) in the fossil record (as many as 350 different species) belong to one kind and came from a single pair after the Flood. Wise's remarkable claim echoes an article by Sarfati from 2000 in which he stated: "the entire order Proboscidea probably comprises only one created kind".[4]

Wise and Sarfati's conclusions show the creationist model requires an incredible amount of diversification, beyond the species level, in only 4,500 years (almost a kind of 'hyper-evolution'). This presents a problem to the traditional creationist argument that a greater amount of evolution ("macroevolution") could not have happened over a much longer period of geological time. Creationists are aware of this problem and have re-focused their argument on the claim that any form of evolution ('micro' or 'macro') is unable to increase genetic information. Sarfati adopts this line of argument in The Greatest Hoax on Earth (see pages 43-44).

The claim that evolution cannot increase genetic information presents its own problems. It means God must have endowed the original created kinds with tremendous genetic variation and potential, so that those on the Ark could then produce tens of thousands of new species in less than 4,500 years. However, if the created animals changed at the same rate in the 1,500 years between the Fall and the Flood, the genetic variation would have been sorted into many lineages (species within a kind). This is problematic because if only two animals representing a kind were on the Ark then whichever two were selected would already have some degree of genetic isolation and would thus have less genetic potential than the original created kinds. Therefore something must have stopped natural selection operating in the same way before the Flood, or each of the original created kinds was a genetic super-animal. Any such hypothesis (as is so often the case with these kinds of issues) is of course unfalsifiable.

[1] See for example: Alan Gishlick, 'Baraminology', Reports of the National Center for Science Education, Vol 26, No 4 (2006)
[2] Kurt Wise, 'Baraminology and the Fossil Record of the Mammals', Occasional Papers of the BSG, No 11 (2008), pp 1-11.
[3] According to most creationists, there was only one Ice Age, and it followed the Flood. The majority of fossils of land animals were laid down during this Ice Age. See: John Morris, 'Why Don't We Find More Human Fossils', Institute for Creation Research
[4] Jonathan Sarfati, 'Mammoth - riddle of the Ice Age', Creation, Vol 22, No 2, pp 10-15 (2000)

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