Is Ken Ham’s Rapid Post-Flood Diversification Really Evolution?

I ended my previous article, Ken Ham’s Darwinism, with the following observation: Ken Ham has fully embraced Post-Flood Rapid Evolution as a mechanism of creating the amazing variation we see today. As he slides further down the slippery slope into the rabbit hole of radical accelerated evolution he has now become, ironically, more accepting of naturalistic speciation – Darwinian evolution – than some Old Earth advocates such as Hugh Ross.

The claim that Ken Ham is embracing the essential tenets of Darwinian evolution seems a rather preposterous one given he and his organization, Answers in Genesis, are the most vocal and best known critiques of evolutionary theory.  Below I make my case that AiG, while maintaining its credentials as the premier  (apologies to the ID crowd and others) anti-evolution mouthpiece, is, in fact, promoting Darwinian evolution, albeit a radical, untenable and unobserved accelerated version of the Darwinian model.

Neo-creationism and accelerated speciation (Darwinian evolution)

Following their publication of an article endorsing accelerated evolution within “kinds” after Noah’s flood, AiG published an article (The Evolution of…. Chocolate?) about the origins of the cacao tree whose fruits we use to produce chocolate. In that article, immediately after claiming that the cacao plant “kind” could not be a product of evolution – using their special definition of the term above – the authors go on to make this very revealing statement (highlights are mine):

“Rapid diversification is what we would expect from plant species early on in the post-Flood world. Genetic drift, natural selection, mutation, and others would have all been viable mechanisms driving speciation in a new world going through radical climate changes and ongoing geological upheavals. Once humans found out the potential of the cacao tree and domesticated the plant to produce cocoa, they began the process of artificially selecting the plants with the best traits (and once commercialization took over, this practice became standardized). This process over the past few centuries has led to a loss of genetic diversity. Natural selection is not a mechanism that resulted in the origin and evolution of the cacao tree; instead it is a God-given mechanism that helped the tree speciate, survive, and thrive in the ecological and geographical niche it was in. Artificial selection may have improved productivity, but it cost the plant genetic diversity, which has made it more susceptible to diseases.”

This is a remarkable description of evolution without calling it evolution! The authors are clearly claiming several natural mechanisms are available which can explain the origin of species.  That those mechanisms are “God-given” makes this statement little different than what any theistic evolutionists or evolutionary creationists (BioLogos.org) might write.   Notice though, that embedded in this quote is a disclaimer that natural selection could not result in the “origin and evolution” of the first cacao tree.  The use of the word “evolution” clearly demonstrates that they are using a definition for this word that does not include the origin of “species.”

I am fully aware that Ken Ham and his writing staff have spent considerable digital and physical ink attempting to produce their own definitions of terms such as “evolution,” “historical science,” and “microevolution.”  In doing so they have created their own dictionary of origins terms.  As a result, those that have learned the conventional meanings of these works  will incur no small amount of confusion when attempting to interpret YEC literature.  Below I have produced a graphic to illustrate some commonly used evolutionary terminology found in YEC literature.

A Creationist' Evolution Terminology Guide. I have modified a screenshot image of PPT slide from Ken Ham's debate with Bill Nye. You can find the original image here: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2014/02/12/post-debate-potpourri-part-one/

A Creationist’ Evolution Terminology Guide. I have modified a screenshot image of PPT slide from Ken Ham’s debate with Bill Nye. You can find the original image here: https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2014/02/12/post-debate-potpourri-part-one/

Ken Ham certainly doesn’t think he accepts Darwinian evolution but he and his audience have special definitions of these terms.  Variously described as macroevolution or molecules-to-man evolution, here is one example of a description “evolution” from Answers in Genesis:

Molecules-to-man evolution is a belief about the past. It assumes, without observing it, that natural processes and lots of time are sufficient to explain the origin and diversification of life.

Calling a spade a spade

Let’s take a more direct approach. Rather than allowing Ken Ham to define terms to his own advantage, we can look at how the scientific community understands and defines Darwinian evolution. It will become apparent that although the apologists at Answers in Genesis would hotly deny any adherence to the principles of Darwinism, they are in fact fully Darwinist in the simplest possible sense.

A generic definition of Darwinism may be found on Wikipedia as follows:

“Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce.”

Breaking this down, we see several key elements. “Darwinism” states that:

(a) species
(b) arise and adapt
(c) by accumulating heritable variations
(d) which increase the individual creatures’ ability to survive in their natural environment

Is this a good representation of what Charles Darwin actually proposed? We need look no further than the title of his book: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Here we see those same basic elements — new species arise as variations favorable for survival are selected within a natural environment.

The critical word to focus on here is “species.” Darwinism isn’t so much about the origin of genera or families or any other taxonomic categories; it’s a description of how natural selection, genetic drift, and mutations cause new species to arise from parent species. We use taxonomic categories like genera and families to group different species together, but the prime object and concern of Darwin’s theory was the formation of new species.

In his book, Darwin argued from various lines of evidence that nature, through changing or diverging environments, was able to select favorable variations and thus bring about the emergence of new species. He called this “natural selection”. Any acknowledgement that natural selection can achieve speciation makes you a Darwinist.

You may look at that Wikipedia definition above and think the phrase “all species of organisms arise” is a reference to common descent: the progression from molecules-to-man. Now, Darwin did suggest that the process of gradual speciation he observed in nature could be responsible for all living species sharing a single common ancestor. But this suggestion is an addition to the basic theory of Darwinism. Darwinism, in its simplest form, answers the question “Where did this species come from?” with “It came from a previously existing species.”

So when Answers in Genesis says the animals we’re familiar with today were not the original species created by God but are the result of speciation from an earlier ancestor via natural mechanisms, this is pure Darwinism.

Now look again at a recent statement published on the AiG website about Darwin Day:

There is no known mechanism that can change one kind of animal into a totally different kind. Yes, different species can form within a kind—but that is not biological evolution.

As we have seen this author is absolutely wrong. Species formation is exactly what biological evolution is about.  A spade is a spade no matter how much a person may wish to redefine the term.

That there is not a single common ancestor to all living things in Ken Ham’s creation model does not negate the fact that Darwinian evolution has occurred.  Rather it simply means that Ken Ham and YECs in general do not “believe” that the mechanisms that Darwin introduced to explain the diversity of species are sufficient to explain the origin of all life from a single common ancestor.

Neo-creationist accelerated biological evolution 

Answers in Genesis’ neo-creationism (the new creationism) is doing nothing more than appealing to Darwinian evolution, albeit at super-speed, as a way to explain the origin of the species we see today and at the same time shrink the number of animals God needed to put on the Ark. Take canine species for example. Neo-creationists propose a single common ancestral pair of all modern species, which ironically they have identified from the fossil record, was preserved on Noah’s ark.  That pair of ancestors departed the Ark and promptly split into two species.  How? Natural selection, mutation and genetic drift – the hallmark mechanisms of evolution.  Soon each of those species split into new species, again by processes we observe in the present and applied to the past.

Each of the descendants of the first species split went on to form species each evolving under different environmental conditions resulting in natural selection pushing in different directions on new mutations which the original species did not share.  In the case of canines this process resulted in the formation of multiple subfamilies of canines including the foxes vs the dogs. Eventually one of those dog species split into two species which we call wolves and coyotes. Later some wolves were domesticated by humans and artificial selection greatly accelerated even over the accelerated rates Answers in Genesis already proposes for “natural” species.  This process has produced dozens of breeds of domesticated dogs.

All of what I have described above is Darwinian evolution. This is evolution by means of natural mechanisms.

As we have seen creationists will claim that the formation of 30 or more species of dogs from a common ancestor is not biological evolution. Instead they will claim that these species were formed by the sorting of established genetic variation, albeit by natural mechanisms such as natural selection.   They will deny that natural selection has the ability to produce new information which would be needed to continue the process allowing species to diverge to the point that they would no longer be recognized as being the same general kind of organism.

There are many problems with this response most of which I have addressed elsewhere and that others more capable than myself have written about in detail.  I will point out that it doesn’t matter if information is lost or gained in the process of forming a new species, if species are formed via natural selection, mutations and genetic drift then evolution, as understood by the vast majority of the scientific community, has happened.  Furthermore, these responses are completely at odds with modern genetics. Genetic sorting of a fixed set of original information from a common ancestor preserved on the ark to form hundreds of species requires information gain in the form of new character formation and radical genomic transformation and therefore is not solely degenerative.

Summary

Answers in Genesis is employing Darwinian evolution to explain the majority of the diversity of species we see around us today.  Two cat-like animals 4350 years ago gave rise 80 or more species of cats of different sizes, colors, behaviors and environmental tolerances. The only interpretation here is that creationists are saying that most species formed via Darwinian evolution.

Yet, they are doing so with a twist. They are accelerating the rate of evolution beyond what any Darwinian evolutionist would ever dream possible.  In this sense are they really anti-Darwinian? It is all so confusing but what seems abundantly clear is young earth creationists are increasingly willing to appeal to natural mechanisms – even some that don’t really exist – to explain the origin of species.  In fact, YECs are more likely to seek naturalistic explanations for the observed patterns of diversity than are Intelligent Designists or Progressive Creationists who appeal to supernatural actions in the formation of species through time.

As you read the YEC literature and the inevitable responses to this post it may help to remember the immortal words of Inigo Montoya “you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

A comparison of models of how organisms have changes, or not changed, throughout Earth's history. This is a slide from one of my seminars that I use to give a simple overview of different models for the origins of modern diversity from a theistic viewpoint.

A general comparison of models of how organisms have changes, or not changed, throughout Earth’s history. This is a slide from one of my seminars.  I use it to give a simple overview of different models for the origins of modern diversity from a theistic viewpoint.  Figure by Joel Duff, please feel free to download for any use.  Send suggestions of improvement to me: historiaplantarum@gmail.com

Note: This article includes many helpful textual revisions from David MacMillan following publication.

Comments

  1. Great post. I have thought for some time that the scientists behind creationism (at least at AiG) were starting down the slope. I agree that this is a big step. Another interesting development is the embrace of some of the newer evolutionary ideas (epigenetics, gene regulation) as mechanisms of evolution. Yes, they use that term. What they are arguing is that evolution can proceed without DNA mutations, which (I am afraid to tell them) is sort of mainstream biology these days for those who are not wedded to extreme neo Darwinism). So, remarkable as it might seem, I do seem a gleam of hope that evolution (maybe called something else) will eventually become acceptable to fundamentalists. So, keep up the good work, there is hope for a true reconciliation.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Looks like the Hamster Gang know so little about the thing they just know is impossible that they don’t realise they have come close to a description of it of which Darwin might have been proud had he known about genetic. Of course natural selection can and will reduce genetic diversity as it selects for the fittest form. Meanwhile, genetic diversity may or may not be increasing randomly by an independent process. Only creationists insist that evolution always involves increased diversity and complexity (whilst carefully ignoring parasites).

    Is there a mole in the creationist camp? It seems unlikely that enlightenment is slowly dawning in that bastion of endarkenment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jesuswithoutbaggage says:

    As one who was a YEC until the 1990s, I noticed the beginnings of the drift when they began describing ‘kinds’ as being something other than the species level. But when they first started talking about support for micro-evolution (but NOT macro-evolution) I asked myself, ‘How is this substantially different than regular evolution?’

    Of course the answer is that God created the original ‘kinds’ because the Biblical history of that event tells us so!

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    • Thanks for the observations. You are quite right that this move toward kinds being broadly defined has been taking place for quite a while. I find that many Christians that would consider themselves 6 day creationists are shocked to hear this idea now but its not really that new. What is new is the language that is being used to describe these changes to kinds. The word speciate is being used, natural selection is being invoked. Adaptation via mutations are being considered as part of the process. The appeal to natural causes is becoming more pronounced and the admission that there are fossil common ancestors is also fairly new. Next they are going to have to figure out how to deal with transitional fossils between these species in kinds.
      The Ark Encounter is driving that transformation. They have been forced to provide more details about the flood in order to create their attraction. That has made them draw more specific conclusions than they have had in the past.
      As an aside, I wonder what Noah and his family will look like. Will they look like modern humans or hominids which AiG says are just modern humans. Now it might make sense to see H. erectus as the ancestor of all humans today and so they may need to adjust the peoples appearance as long as they are radically changing the look of all the other animals while claiming they are the same kind.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        I suppose Noah’s family will be white like Jesus. :-)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Martha Baring says:

        It’s interesting to see the idea of mutations being included as a factor in speciation. Many of the creationist fans still think of mutations as being only harmful; they think the useful genetic variation in speciation within kinds was put there in the original creation.
        (It seems as if AiG has some new science writers. I have wondered why Purdom didn’t write more of the posts than she does. I think she did write once that some mutations were beneficial.)

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        • Good observations. I do think there is some begrudging acknowledgement that mutations may play a role in speciation. There is still the sense that they can’t add new information and only serve to somehow add variation but not new abilities. Of course how a mutation that adds new variation isn’t new information isn’t clear. But its a bit like the evolution story. Evolution is making new kinds while making species is must microevolution. There seem to be two categories of mutations: those that add new information and completely new genes/capacities to an organism and those that just add some variation to themes that already exist. The first can’t happen but he second are fine.

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  4. The cognitive dissonance is amazing. I was raised with a very strict version of YEC (which I’m sure Ken Ham would have approved of) which claimed that speciation has never been observed to occur.

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    • wowfunny251 says:

      Whether speciation has been observed before or not depends on how you define a species.

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      • The precise definition of species is irrelevant. The point is that the YEC movement seems to have gone from “speciation never, ever occurs” to “a single pair of animals can evolve into dozens of diverse species in different ecological niches in a matter of centuries”.

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    • wowfunny251 says:

      Well..it’s relevant to whether or not the claim “we have observed speciation” is true or false. For example, some consider darwin’s finches to be an example of speciation, others take the position that they consist of a single species and the variants are mere sub-species.

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    • wowfunny251 says:

      “is there anyone who doesn’t consider cows and sheep to be separate species?” Not that i’m aware of. But that is irrelevant to whether or not the statement “we have observed speciation” is true. We didn’t observe cows and sheep evolve from a common ancestor (assuming it happened).

      My point is that what you said you were raised on “we never observed speciation” may or may not be true depending on the definition of “species” you use.

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  5. A similar arguement can be made about creationist “accelerated evolution” in that prefall all animals were herbivores and after less than 1000 years some turned into obligate carnivores. This means changes to digestive systems etc… much faster than Lenski could have ever imagined with his Ecoli cultures.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Anthony Whitney says:

    Wow, Joel I’m genuinely surprised here. I’m getting the impression that you’re almost intentionally ignoring or misunderstanding the biblical creationist view of speciation vs evolution. Yes, ‘darwinism’ claims ownership of a mechanism that it believes drives molecules to man evolution. We biblical creationists also observe this same mechanism but we totally reject that it could produce particles to people evolution. We observe that in nature, and in artificial environments, speciation, natural selection, selective breeding, call it what you will, is ALWAYS a process of genetic information loss. Very occasionally a mutation suits the needs of an organism ie wingless beetles on a windy island, but that is still a loss – the ability to fly. Unfortunately, to coin a phrase that CMI invented, the ‘evolution train is going the wrong way’. Genetic info is being corrupted, not created. To observe all the species of dogs that have been created either artificially or naturally, due to genetic filtering etc and claim that’s ‘evolution’ is not only misleading, but dishonest. If you could show how that first genetically rich canine came into being, using the mechanism evolutionists have jumped onto, now that would be impressive. Unfortunately that can’t be done, because the fruit of this mechanism is always ‘devolved’ from its predecessor, not evolved.

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    • I could see how you might think that I don’t know the YEC view. I really very well read on it though it is a very very confusing world because so many YEC authors have different misconceptions and thus they tend to be very confused in their writing. Thus it is very difficult to distill the real views of YECS on evolution other than down to very broad principles like kinds can’t change into other kinds.

      CMI just doesn’t understand the literature very well. To accept the principle mechanisms of evolution CMI and other must argue for de-evolution that there is loss of information. If they acknowledge that mutations and natural selection can lead to information gain and they have already accepted that natural selection and genetic drift can cause speciation they will have no way of stopping the evolution train from explaining the diversity of life. You statement that these processes lead to information loss is just wrong. Regarding dogs you are assuming that someone a common ancestor of Dogs had all the variation needed to become all the canine species alive today. There is no reason to believe this in fact there is no reason to believe that that could be true without postulating some sort of brand new form of genetics we have yet to discover. The ancestor of all canines that AiG is going to propose was on the ark did not have all the features of today’s canines and thus new combinations of genes and even new genes themsselves have been added to that ancestors genome. This idea of common ancestors and their genetic capacity will be addressed soon on my blog. You say that fruit of natural selection is always loss of information but evolutionary theory does not state that natural selection is the source of variation. You have to show that mutation can not add information not natural selection. Whenever you read statements about natural selection not being able to create new information that should be a warning flag that there the whole story is not being considered.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anthony Whitney says:

        Joel, I’d disagree with your statement that CMI doesn’t understand the literature very well. Amongst their contributors are PhDs of Biology, Marine Biology, Micro Biology, Zoology and physical chemistry. One contributor, Dr John Sanford, was a geneticist with many patents to his credit, including being a collaborator on the ‘gene gun’ technology. I submit that if these guys don’t understand the literature, then no one does.

        I’ve been reading their material on this subject for years, and from a layman’s perspective it has always seemed internally consistent and not confusing. Trevor below explained very well the position they take on this. One way they simplify the discussion is by avoiding the term ‘micro evolution’. Because the term ‘evolution’ carries the implication that we’re discussing genetic changes with an increased specificity of information, they see it as confusing the issue to use that term. Like Trevor stated, what has been empirically observed, is speciation by the filtering of existing information and mutations, which corrupts existing genetic information, but importantly, not creating novel information.

        I respectfully suggest that you might benefit by spending some more time on the CMI website. While its all good, I would recommend articles by Rob Carter, John Sanford and Jonathan Sarfati.

        I may have been unclear with the dog analogy, I’m quite happy to admit that genetic mutations have also played a role in the diversification of this kind, but these have always been mutations that corrupt existing info, usually involving a loss of function. For eg dogs with floppy ears have been selected for because of their ‘cuteness’ however in reality these dogs now have impaired hearing compared to their doggy relations whose ears can stand erect. Occasionally a mutation has imparted a survival advantage in the wild, in a particular ecological niche. For example huskies can only grow long thick fur. While they thrive in cold climates, they have lost the genes for short fur and hence cannot survive outside of that ecological niche. This is therefore a net loss of genetic info ie ‘devolving’.

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  7. I enjoyed this interesting and thought provoking post. Nonetheless, I take issue with the notion that YECs are tacitly adopting Darwinism. I think your definition of Darwinism, in the way you have reduced it, is mostly sound, but I’m not sure its reflective of the greater debate. When YECs hear the term “Darwinian evolution” or “Darwinism,” we begin formulating arguments not against natural selection acting on random variation per se, but rather against the notion that this sort of mechanism can create large changes leading to molecules-to-man evolution. So in effect, I think what your post points out is not that YECs accept something that we didn’t know we accepted, so much as it highlights a need to better understand the dividing lines between the positions. I think a better dividing line is whether or not microevolutionary changes accumulate into macroevolutionary changes, because it more fully represents the true divide that exists between what old earth and young earth camps believe Darwinian evolution can achieve. If, as you said, “any acknowledgement that natural selection can achieve speciation makes you a Darwinist,” then so be it, but in the moment that a YEC is termed a Darwinist, the debate loses its boundaries.

    In this same vein, I want to nuance an issue. I would modify point D under your definition of Darwinism. Rather than saying that variations “INCREASE the individual creatures’ ability to survive in their natural environment,” [capitalization is mine for emphasis, not tone :) ], I would say that variations “IMPART the ability of the species to survive.” To say that variation “increases” ability is the essence of Darwinism that YECs reject. It suggests universal common descent which YECs deny, and it suggests a continued trajectory of mutational accumulation leading to entirely new genomes and body plans that YECs don’t believe can arise by that mechanism. Rather I would use the term “impart” to demonstrate a role for random variation in propagating a species in adverse environments, without implying near-infinite transformative power. This modification should help clarify why “Darwinism,” although perhaps semantically accurate, doesn’t do justice to the greater debate.

    In the end, you were right to predict that YECs will “deny that natural selection has the ability to produce new information which would be needed to continue the process allowing species to diverge […].” In fact that’s what I just did :). So rather than accepting that YECs are actually Darwinists, I think your post highlights a need to recast the dividing lines. I think the actual debate lies with your comment that “these responses are completely at odds with modern genetics.”

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    • So at what point do you think the accumulated small changes that you accept lead to different species become impossible so they can’t lead to big changes? What in the natural mechanism you also seem to accept, suddenly stops working? People with enquiring minds need to know these things.

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    • Yes, the word Darwinism comes with more meaning that I have attributed it. I am trying to show that the basic meaning of what Darwin was doing was describing the origin of species. Now he did take his mechanisms and apply them to the broader question of how to explain the full breadth of variation. This is very much what most people are thinking of when they think of evolution. My reaction here is to show that YECs are gradually adopting much of what is the nuts and bolts of what Darwin described in his book. I didn’t have room to talk about the tension in the YEC community about the term natural selection and what it can and can’t do. In my chart of YEC terminology I shows that YECs are gradually developing their own evolution terminology. In the end they will need to define these things not just one gross morphology but show how the mechanisms actually work. They will need to answer questions like the following with their own mechanism with real observational evidence to back them up: how do 20 species come from a pair of animals? Hw are their differences maintained through time? How can chromosome numbers be changed easily over short periods of time? Where does the variation present in modern species come from (eg. 150 different version of the CFTR gene that the original pair could only have had a small subset of? Even if new alleles can be generated super fast how did they become sorted into different species so quickly? In population genetic models even with strong selection and small populations to sort populations into species such as species of canines from an orginal source populations of variation would take far longer than any YEC model will allow. There must be a missing mechanism of evolution. Jean Lightner suggests this is the case in her article on AIG of animal kinds on the ark. She says that neo-Darwinian mechanisms couldn’t created the differences we see today ad thus other mechanisms must be at work. She no hint as to what those other mechanisms must be and I can’t imagine what they would be but she seems to suggest those mechanisms do not include supernatural intervention. So some YECs are trying to use the known mechanisms of evolution and point to real studies that show fast speciation while others are seeing that the current mechanisms won’t work.
      I’m getting a bit off track here. The next article on my blog will look at the problem of how are creationists going to delineate where a kind begins and ends? Once they start to use fossils it is hard to use their criteria of interbreeding as evidence of being in the same kind. The slippery slope for Ken Ham and others is determine how far back they can go with common ancestry. Why not bears and seals having a common ancestor on the ark? Now, I understand that Ham is seeing this change as degradation but then the question realloy is have fast can genome degrade and into what? IF there was common ancestor to all carnivores on the ark why couldn’t it have changed into all the carnivores alive today? Where is the limit to how much variation an original kind could have? I am sure the Ham would say it couldnt’ have been a single common ancestor to all living things but once interbreeding is no longer the text they are going to need a new criteria for deciding how broad a kind can be.

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      • So speciation isn’t diversification?

        I’ll ask again, what makes the mechanisms you seem to accept become impossible at some point? We can maybe discuss what that point it later…

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        • Just wrote a long response and went to another page without saving:-( Can’t type that all gain but will just say that you are “asking again” but the first time you asked you were asking Trevor who is arguing that genetic variation is sorted not created and thus he would probably argue there is a limit to how far that original variation can be stretched. Since evolutionary theory says that mutation is the raw source of variation as long as there is mutation there is always the possibility for new variants for natural selection and genetic drift to play with and so the limits to change have no theoretical limits with the caveat that withing lineages certain types of mutations are no longer available ie. the type of change that can occur is historically contingent.

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      • This is a response to the general question of why natural selection can’t create macroevolutionary changes by accumulating microevolutionary variation. Joel has already hinted at what my answer would be; namely that the creation of entirely new organisms requires a tremendous amount of new information, yet natural selection primarily capitalizes on the loss of information. Let me see if I can respond more specifically, though, in light of Rosa’s card deck analogy. Examples of antibacterial resistance are often used to demonstrate how natural selection can create a new trait (i.e. the ability to evade death by antibacterial drugs). But the mechanism is almost always a mutation that breaks some sort of a molecular switch, usually a repressive one (akin to removing an ace from a deck of cards). A common example is the loss of repression of bacterial efflux pumps that remove antibiotics from the bacterium. This is just the dysregulation of an existing mechanism, not the creation of a new one. Another recent example from the Lenski experiment saw the spontaneous rise of a strain of E. coli capable of aerobic metabolism of citrate. Yet this was simply a tandem duplication of an existing promoter which disrupted the repression of citrate uptake in the presence of oxygen. The result was published in Nature as a bacterial “innovation,” when in reality it was simply the duplication of a current mechanism which resulted in the same metabolic pathway just in a different environment. These changes have not moved the organism any farther up the evolutionary tree. No new information has been provided. They remain the same organism, just a little more adapted to a particular environment. This is the nature of the limit that Rosa referenced. The reason it can’t be surpassed is because the mechanism to add the required information doesn’t seem to exist.

        But even more importantly (and I mean this sincerely and not in a dismissive or slippery way), the burden of proof actually lies with the individual who claims that micro changes accumulate to macro changes, not with those who claim they don’t. Those of us who are incredulous have put forth a rationale as to why we don’t think the possibility exists, but as scientists we can’t unequivocally demonstrate that something doesn’t exists; we can only empirically show that it does. Moreover, I say this in the context of the modern discussion of this very topic summarized nicely by Reznick and Ricklefs in their 2009 Nature review (Darwin’s Bridge Between Microevolution and Macroevolution). They note that Darwin envisioned a smooth continuum between micro and macro changes with the former leading to the latter, but they admit that what we see today doesn’t line up with that notion, a conclusion which has not changed much since debates in the early 1980s. In all fairness, Reznick and Ricklefs are not espousing any sort of YEC perspective, and they expect that a better integration of the sciences will eventually demonstrate how molecules-to-man evolution takes place. Nonetheless, my perspective remains that we can’t find the bridge between micro and macro because the created species or kinds are far too static (by design) to simply wander, by natural selection, into higher forms. And I expect that research will eventually bear that out.

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  8. So change in allele frequency is a sorting process? How does sorting change frequency, please? When I sort a pack of cards, the number of the different types of ace doesn’t change, however, if I selectively remove one it does.

    And you still haven’t said what sets this assumed limit. If the process doesn’t change why doesn’t it work any more when it reaches this limit?

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  9. Just noticed this – probably my next port of call when I have chance to read it without distractions:
    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2015/12/dodging-darwin.html

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    • Anthony Whitney says:

      I wouldn’t bother. Even from your perspective it’s not that well written. No references, or details, lots of assumptions and hand waving.

      BTW Ashley, what’s your interest in this whole debate? Are you a Christian who thinks along the same lines as Joel, or an atheist with a strange interest in Christians bickering amongst themselves? 😊

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      • Hi Anthony, Davids article will be crossposted here on NH today. It is very much a follow-up to my two recent posts which explore the gradually evolving views of YECs with respect to how much change can occur to living things and what the mechanisms of that change are. If you knew David you would know that he is very well read in this area and is very familiar with all parties and thus in a good position to write on this topic. What is doing is pushing the YEC logic to its natural conclusions. It is clear that the AIG staff are stretched very thin with respect to people and time and so although they are doing “research” on baramins it is very preliminary stuff. They probably have not through all the possible conclusions that their own theories have produced. They should look at my articles and Davids and my future posts as an opportunity to test their own ideas and help them produced better ones. Obviously they won’t like our conclusions but if they don’t at least think about our criticism and take note of our observations can they claim they are doing science?

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        • Anthony Whitney says:

          Joel, what you say is fine and I agree with you – any scientific / theological concepts need to be able to stand up to robust criticism. It’s actually why I’ve started reading your articles – to refine my own beliefs.

          My main issue with the article is, how can I, or AiG engage with his piece if there are little to no details or references. For example there is a diagram showing all the supposed ancestral forms of the 8 carnivorous baramins. Yet these ancestral specimens aren’t named by the author, or referenced to scientific literature that justifies why these specimens should be considered ancestral. Similarly throughout the rest of the article there are lots of assertions and supposedly factual statements that also lack any references, proofs or details. How can one engage with the piece when this is the case.

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          • Hi, sorry, I’m running very behind on returning feedback. Regarding the Davids article, references would have been nice but he is making a very general point that is based on some pretty general principles. He is mostly responding to the same article that got me thinking more about baramins and what AiG has been doing with them. That article is the “Reimagning Ark Kinds” by AiG. https://answersingenesis.org/noahs-ark/reimagining-ark-animals/ What David has done is taken the logic and methods that AiG has suggested for how they are determining the extent of kinds and the original members of those kinds and asking where those methods will lead. In that AiG article they specifically mention what they think the basic cat and dog kinds are. In both cases they are fossil species that secular scientists have recognized as representing the oldest known ancestors of what could still be considered cats and dogs. AiG seems to have taken a new step here in defining kinds since they only have morphology to work with since hybridization studies are impossible. All David has done is ask, if we go to the literature and ask what is the ancestor of each of the carnivore kinds what do we see? We see a cat species that probably had at best a partial ability to retract their claws but living cats are known for that ability. Thus the foot anatomy of a cat foot and a dog (and other carnivores for that matter) ancestor are far more similar in their fossil ancestors than any living members today. What anyone at AiG will do if they actually look closely at the characters of these fossils will be very interesting. So far they haven’t really done much other than draw a very general picture of the “original” kinds on the ark and if you look at them their artists have done nothing more than to accept the results of historical science and picture extinct species the way that historical scientists have suggested. I think that article by AiG is an important one which makes the authorship curious since they have very little experience with science and biological taxonomy in particular. I would have thought that Lightner or Purdom would have been needed to tackle this important topic that was sure to bring a lot of scrutiny.

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    • Hey Joel, just wanted to express my gratitude for taking this debate seriously as a scientific endeavor. I appreciate that your focus is to force rigorous and thorough research rather than to just discredit and silence opposing opinions. This is what we all need.

      Like

  10. I did reply briefly to Anthony’s question and am mystified as to why my reply is not visible.

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  11. Formerly evangelical Christian. Now largely agnostic and pro-science.

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