Ken Ham on Dinosaur Extinction, De-extinction, DNA, and Dino-Bird Distinctions

The premise of Jurassic Park was that DNA was retrieved from blood in insects trapped in amber. However, repeated tests of amber dated to be millions of years old has thus far yielded no evidence of intact DNA molecules.

Can scientists bring back an extinct dinosaur?  Way back in 1990, a novel by Michael Crichton and subsequent movie by the same name, Jurassic Park, in 1993 used futuristic genomic biology to suggest how we might de-extinct the dinosaurs. Could we really retrieve dinosaur DNA from preserved dinosaur blood sucked up by an ancient mosquito and preserved in amber?  Or maybe even clone preserved dinosaurs cells? Unfortunately–or fortunately!–real research conducted in the intervening years has dispelled most of these ideas but that hasn’t kept some from dreaming of new ways to bring back extinct organisms, including dinosaurs.  

Today, we are not talking about cloning a dinosaur from preserved cells since no such cells exist.  Rather the latest ideas have scientists starting with a modern bird lineage and gradually changing–via new genome editing tools that have been developed in the past few years–its genome, to gradually transform that bird into a small theropod dinosaur.  

You might wonder, how would scientists know what changes to make to the genome in order for this transformation to take place?  That is a good question, given that we do not have direct access—ancient DNA—to genomes of extinct dinosaur species.

The proposed technique for accomplishing this transformation involves taking the complete genome sequences of many bird lineages and comparing them to the genomes of crocodiles and other reptiles. Reconstruction of the diapsid ancestral genome permits chromosome evolution tracing in avian and non-avian dinosaurs.  This comparison allows one to find all the common gene sequences between the two and to predict the sequence of those genes of the common ancestors.  In addition, birds genomes are known to contains thousands of dead—inactivated—genes that, presumably, their ancestors—the dinosaurs—used. For example, all birds have several genes written into their genomes for making enamel teeth but no living bird species makes enamel-based teeth today (See: A flock of genomes reveals the toothy ancestry of birds).  By making changes to the genome of a bird, scientists could potentially re-activate these genes causing a chicken to become something more like extinct birds and dinosaurs (See here and here  and here for examples).  

Whether a dinosaur genome can be  inferred by comparative genomic studies of modern animals to make a whole dinosaur is debatable at best. However, I have little doubt—since it has already been done—that some dinosaur-like characteristics can be achieved through modification of modern bird genomes.

A dinosaur-bird is anathema to young-earth creationists

Young-earth creationists (YECs) insist that birds and dinosaurs are separate and unique creations called “kinds.” Even among what they call birds, they recognize about 200 bird “kinds” as separate and unique creations, for example, penguins vs. ostriches vs. waterfowl. As separate creation one would expect that, the transformation of one “kind” into another “kind” should not be possible..    

The AiG research team along with Ken Ham recently penned a blog post expressing their abject rejection of any dinosaur-to-bird connection and, therefore, any possibility that this approach to de-extincting a dinosaur could be successful.  However, in providing their rationale, they once again reveal numerous misconceptions about dinosaurs and birds. This isn’t the first time we have seen Ken Ham misunderstanding ancient birds and dinosaurs. For other examples see: Ken Ham Doubles Down on His Misunderstanding of Bird Feathers, Ancient Birds and Young-Earth Creationists and Penguin Teeth and Modern Birds: Ken Ham’s Misinformed Understanding of Fossil Birds.

Let’s look at how these problems manifest themselves in this most recent Ken Ham blog post.  In “Will Jurassic Park be a Reality Someday?”, the AiG research team provides the following rationale as to why dinosaurs and birds cannot be mixed:

The claim that birds are dinosaurs (the article even calls them “avian dinosaurs”) is becoming increasingly popular. Many evolutionists will tell you that dinosaurs never died out—they evolved into birds. This absurd claim ignores the problem I mentioned above—there’s no known naturalistic process that adds the massive amount of information necessary to turn a dinosaur into a bird! These two types of creatures have massive differences (scales vs. feathers, different breathing systems, warm-blooded vs. cold-blooded, and so on) and huge amounts of unique information would be needed to turn one into the other, and there’s no known process that can do that!

Let’s start with the “massive differences” they claim separate birds and dinosaurs. Three are listed and all three are false distinctions.  Thus one wonders how YECs define birds and dinosaurs if they are using characteristics that don’t correctly distinguish between the two groups?

Do feathers define a bird?  

Starting with scales vs. feathers, even some YECs don’t agree this draws a distinction between birds and dinosaurs.  I have written about how YECs have changed their minds and disagree with one another about whether feathers are unique to birds (For more discussion see my article:  How have young-earth creationists responded to feathered dinosaurs?) or not.  Research over the past decade has clearly demonstrated that many theropod dinosaurs did have a variety of types of feathers. If YECs include these theropod dinosaurs as birds, then they will be faced with a conundrum, because many of these birds share “dinosaur-like” characteristics with the “true” dinosaurs. So to which “kind” do they belong?

Do birds breathe differently than dinosaurs?

It is probably true that living birds have anatomically-different breathing structures than many dinosaurs did.  It also appears from paleontological research that all extinct lineages that are considered to be “birds” had a similar breathing system to living birds. But did all dinosaurs use a different breathing apparatus than birds? The answer is certainly no. Some dinosaurs had lungs that were more like bird’s lungs than reptile’s.  This has been known for ten years  (some examples here, here and here) and has gained support as more well-preserved fossils have been discovered.   In fact, it now appears that a unidirectional airflow lung is common to the ancestors of alligators, dinosaurs and birds and thus dinosaurs that had a different breathing arrangement are the exceptions rather than standard condition.

The AIG research team links to another AIG article in support of their claim that there is a clear distinction between birds and dinosaurs, but that article is from 2008.  The claim might have been excusable at that time, though there was some evidence to the contrary that should have given them pause. At any rate, their claim doesn’t hold water today.  

Warm-blooded vs. cold-blood distinction

Similar to the breathing system claim, it is true that all living birds are warm-blooded and all living reptiles are cold-blooded, but it does not follow that all dinosaurs were cold-blooded. Many—maybe most—were cold-blooded, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that many theropod dinosaurs (those walking on two legs, of which some are thought to have become modern birds) were warm-blooded. Similarly, they likely incubated their eggs and took care of their young much like birds do today. Instead  Ham links to another YEC article from 2008 for support. And that article is written as if the authors only considered, or were aware of, dinosaur research from before the year 2000.

Where are the massive differences between dinosaurs and birds?

If these supposed differences do not clearly delineate all birds from all dinosaurs, what characteristics can?  Ken Ham says that feathers, body heat production and lung design represent massive differences between dinosaurs and birds. But when we look at the fossil record, we discover that none of these traits are exclusive to one group vs. the other. So where are the massive differences? They must be found in the “and so on” that follow the aforementioned characteristics, but we don’t know what these other traits are, because the blog post does not say.  

A taxonomic puzzle that YECs pretend doesn’t exist

There are extinct species possessing traits similar to birds and dinosaurs, which are very difficult to classify, despite the YEC rhetoric that says that all animals are easily placed into certain categories.  The bottom line is that it is very difficult for anyone, including every expert who has studied dinosaurs, to know where to draw the line between a “bird” and a “dinosaur” (for instance).

It is difficult to understand why YECs like Ken Ham believe that assigning organisms to mutually exclusive “kinds” or even larger categories is simple, when clearly it is not a simple process to assign fossil species to either dinosaur or bird categories (or human vs non-human for that matter, see: Tricksy Hominin Fossils: Hobbitses are Human but Homo naledi is not).  They treat the subject as if they have infallible knowledge of what a bird is despite the fact that the Bible never defines the specific characteristics of birds. In fact, the Bible never defines the characteristics of dinosaurs, nor even mentions their existence. The Bible doesn’t state explicitly that only birds have feathers. In fact, the Bible references the creation of flying creatures (sometimes translated as “birds” in the English language). For example in the New King James Version (Gen 1:20): “let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens of the earth.”  These flying creatures seem to include bats and, one would presume, even Pterosaurs, which were flying reptiles.  

To add further confusion, YECs refer to penguins as “birds” because they have feathers.  Furthermore, they also believe that penguins were created to swim in the ocean and not to fly,  thus mixing modern secular taxonomic categories of birds with their own categorical system, which is confusing and has no Biblical support.

I have written about YEC taxonomic confusion in a series of posts about the significance of ostriches mentioned in the book of Job.  

Consider the Ostrich: Job 39 and God’s Commentary on His Creation

Consider the Ostrich: Comparing Theistic Models of Biological Origins

The Prelapsarian Ostrich: Paradise Lost of a Portrait of a Good Creation?

There is a more rational alternative to Ken Ham’s pigeonholing (pun intended!) of animals into simple categories that is available to YECs based on their own ideas for other organisms. Why don’t they simply hypothesize that the lineages of animals possessing both dinosaur and bird-like features were neither birds nor dinosaurs but rather represented a separately created category of animals all of whom are extinct today?  They could appeal to their own assessment of synapsids as an example.  Synapsids were a diverse group of animals that are neither amphibians, reptiles, or mammals, but were their own distinct type of animal that, like the dinosaurs and extinct lineages of bird-like dinosaurs, also are all extinct today.  Extinct, that is, unless you include one lineage of synapsid that became all the mammals. Significantly, Ken Ham and the Ark Encounter accept that these wholly different animals—the synapsids—once existed so why don’t they propose that there was yet another wholly kind of animal created, very similar to a dinosaur in most respects, but that also had feathers, bird-like lungs and were warm-blooded?  How different would this be than saying that God created civets separately from cats and hyenas, even though they share similarities with one another?   


Update: In fact, some YECs have made the suggestion I make above. In an abstract for this years ICC (International Conference on Creationism) the authors draw the following conclusion after studying the fossil record: “The existence of multiple created kinds of non-avialan dinosaurs, non-avian avialans, and avians without an enormous morphological gulf between these groups, although historically unexpected in creationism, is argued through this study to be an accurate picture for their designed organization.”    Here is a clear admission that Ken Ham is wrong in assuming that dinosaurs and birds are separated by massive differences.


It is important to remember that YECs believe that penguins, ducks, ostriches, raptors, etc., were all created as separate kinds with no ancestral relationship to one another. How then do these “kinds” share many similar combinations of characteristics if common ancestry is not the cause?  They talk about God using a common template for creating kinds that are similar (e.g. from an AiG article Common Design Means Common Ancestryit would make sense for the Creator God to use similar design plans for his creatures when best suited for particular functions.”). In this model, God uses some common elements for multiple “kinds” while adding unique traits for each kind.

But this begs the question, why couldn’t a particular characteristic, like a feather, be a design element that God chose to use in one bird-like kind, but not use in another? Put another way, why must all “birds” have feathers?  YECs might point to the fact that all birds have non-functional genes for teeth as evidence that God made a template bird—presumably in his mind before creating the world—that had usable genes for making teeth that He then used to make all “kinds” of animals we identify as birds. Presumably there were a few kinds of birds that used the tooth design template, but those lineages all went extinct even after surviving the trip on Noah’s Ark.  The only kinds of birds that survived to the present are the 196 kinds of birds (Avian Kinds according to AiG) in which God de-activated that part (the existence of teeth) of the “bird” template when he created them. The de-activated gene becomes a common feature of may bird kinds creating what some YECs will confess is the appearance of common ancestry for these lineages, however YECs insist that the appearance of common ancestry is actually evidence for common design.

Is the lack of dinosaur DNA evidence in support of a recent global flood and young age of all fossils?  

Continuing on in Ken Ham’s blog post we find the standard YEC claim about DNA preservation:

“Will Jurassic Park become a reality? Probably not. DNA is highly complex, and even if some DNA has survived since the flood of Noah’s time, it’s likely far too degraded (even in just a few thousand years) to reconstruct a complete genome.”  

The phrase “even if” is a new wrinkle in the typical YEC response to ancient DNA. It’s the first sign I’ve seen that AiG might be hedging against the possible discovery of dinosaur DNA.  By why hedge? Why not predict, absolutely, that scientists will recover dinosaur DNA someday? They should be asking themselves, “Why don’t we find dinosaur DNA?” This especially since YECs constantly appeal, however inappropriately (see footnote 1), to amazing soft tissue preservation.  YECs should also consider that DNA has been retrieved from the earliest Egyptian Pharaohs more than 3000 years old in conditions that are not conducive to DNA preservation.

If a YEC could find just one bone from any single member of the 100 different “kinds” of dinosaurs and pterosaurs that YECs claim died less than 4500 years ago, they should be able to retrieve some DNA from that bone.  This would be a tremendous achievement and would grab headlines all over the world. Would not the ability to extract DNA from an animal believed to have gone extinct over 65 million years ago force scientists to reconsider the “evolutionary timeline” that they currently follow? (see footnote 2)

Ham asserts that DNA is unlikely to have been preserved in Flood deposits because it degrades too quickly, but it is unclear why he believes this.  There is an abundance of evidence that contradicts his opinions regarding ancient DNA. Consider that scientists have retrieved ancient DNA from many remains preserved in pre-Ice Age deposits.  In the context of the YEC timeline of Earth’s history, these deposits must have been laid down within just a few hundred years of the Flood, and yet they have yielded entire genome sequences! (See references)  Why then should Ken Ham believe that recovering DNA from remains that are supposedly a mere 200 years older and laid down during a global flood is impossible? Quite the contrary, YECS should expect, and predict, DNA to be widely preserved in Flood sediments.  Hence, they should believe that retrieving at least partial dinosaur DNA is not only possible but highly likely if they truly roamed the earth after a global Flood less than 4350 years ago. After all, YECs are quick to point out the soft tissues have been preserved in many dinosaurs bones so why not DNA?  

I have examined the response of YECs to ancient DNA more thoroughly in the article: Where’s the DNA? Young Earth Creationism and the Search for Ancient DNA.  

According to Ken Ham why did dinosaurs go extinct?

“Two of every kind of dinosaur were taken on the ark with Noah, and, after the flood, all dinosaurs (as far as we know) eventually died out for the same reasons creatures die out today (lack of resources, shrinking habitat, climate change, humans killing them, and so on).”

This ad hoc explanation has always sounded a bit desperate. Why would nearly one hundred “kinds” of dinosaurs and pterosaurs (and all 78 kinds of Synapsids for that matter!) all have survived a  worldwide flood on Noah’s ark only to expire almost immediately after departing the ark? Equally perplexing is that fact that nearly every kind of  modern bird (none of which are found in the supposed “Flood” portion of the fossil record) survived after the Flood.  The wholesale loss of dozens of kinds, which are not related by common ancestry to one another, doesn’t make sense. Even if YECs are right about rapid extinctions, why did dinosaurs, pterosaurs and synapsids leave no evidence of their short life on Earth after the Flood?  

YECs should be enthusiastically scouring the world for these remains in an attempt to find dinosaur DNA.  It shouldn’t be hard to find at least one good sample. If humans really did hunt dinosaurs after the Flood, they would certainly have kept their claws, horns and bones as souvenirs and for tools just as humans have collected trophies  and other parts from every other animal they have hunted over time. The crazy head-projections of a Pterosaur (see image below) would be such an incredible trophy that it should have been passed down from generation to generation.  Wouldn’t those remains, and the DNA found in them, be fantastic evidence that they were alive less than 5000 years ago rather than having died more than 66 million years ago!?  Afterall, we have sequenced the genomes of ancient hunters living in Africa (see reference) so if we can sequence the hunters 4000 years ago why can’t we sequence the DNA of the hunted?  Actually we have and can (see references) but no dinosaurs are known from ancient hunting sites.

Welcome to Noah’s Park: An adventure 4350 years in the making

The lack of a widely-promoted YEC initiative to find young dinosaur bones and attempt to recover DNA from them is both curious and very telling. After all, what YEC devotee wouldn’t be wildly enthusiastic about donating vast sums of money for a YEC dinosaur DNA project to prove secular science wrong?  And yet, they don’t seem to want to invest their considerable assets in projects that truly test the predictions of their own worldview even if a positive result would greatly benefit them. Rather than a replica of a dinosaur on their Ark Encounter theme park attraction, wouldn’t a real dinosaur-bone and DNA evidence exhibit provide the greatest attraction?  

Cover image for this article: Jurassic Park portrayed veloceraptors with scales but the evidence points to a feathery plumage covering most of their body. This is Velociraptor mongoliensis at the American Museum of Natural History display at CoSi in Columbus OH. Photo: Joel Duff.

Some reference of note on ancient DNA studies:  

Mathieson, Iain, Iosif Lazaridis, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Nick Patterson, Songül Alpaslan Roodenberg, Eadaoin Harney et al. “Genome-wide patterns of selection in 230 ancient Eurasians.” Nature 528, no. 7583 (2015): 499.

Meyer, Matthias, Juan-Luis Arsuaga, Cesare de Filippo, Sarah Nagel, Ayinuer Aximu-Petri, Birgit Nickel, Ignacio Martínez et al. “Nuclear DNA sequences from the Middle Pleistocene Sima de los Huesos hominins.” Nature 531, no. 7595 (2016): 504.

Cole, Theresa L., and Jamie R. Wood. “The ancient DNA revolution: The latest era in unearthing New Zealand’s faunal history.” New Zealand Journal of Zoology 45, no. 2 (2018): 91-120.

Lan, Tianying, and Charlotte Lindqvist. “Paleogenomics: Genome-Scale Analysis of Ancient DNA and Population and Evolutionary Genomic Inferences.” (2018): 1-38.

Mitchell, Kieren J., Agustin Scanferla, Esteban Soibelzon, Ricardo Bonini, Javier Ochoa, and Alan Cooper. “Ancient DNA from the extinct South American giant glyptodont Doedicurus sp.(Xenarthra: Glyptodontidae) reveals that glyptodonts evolved from Eocene armadillos.” Molecular ecology 25, no. 14 (2016): 3499-3508.

Haile, James, Duane G. Froese, Ross DE MacPhee, Richard G. Roberts, Lee J. Arnold, Alberto V. Reyes, Morten Rasmussen et al. “Ancient DNA reveals late survival of mammoth and horse in interior Alaska.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106, no. 52 (2009): 22352-22357.

Seersholm, Frederik Valeur, Mikkel Winther Pedersen, Martin Jensen Søe, Hussein Shokry, Sarah Siu Tze Mak, Anthony Ruter, Maanasa Raghavan et al. “DNA evidence of bowhead whale exploitation by Greenlandic Paleo-Inuit 4,000 years ago.” Nature Communications 7 (2016): 13389.

Beck, Raymond Kelly. The molecular genetics of prehistoric hunting: Inferring prey population histories with ancient DNA. The University of Utah, 2015.

Haak, Wolfgang, Peter Forster, Barbara Bramanti, Shuichi Matsumura, Guido Brandt, Marc Tänzer, Richard Villems et al. “Ancient DNA from the first European farmers in 7500-year-old Neolithic sites.” Science 310, no. 5750 (2005): 1016-1018.


Footnote 1:  Soft tissue preservation is a complex topic but for our purposes here the YEC exaggeration of how well dinosaur bone tissue has been preserved contradicts their approach to ancient DNA. If cells could be so well preserved what reason do they have to believe that pieces of DNA would not also be preserved? 

Footnote 2:  YECs generally believe that preservation of DNA beyond a few thousand years is impossible and so any DNA found in dinosaurs, or synapsids or pterosaurs for that matter, should confirm the YEC model of earth-history in their minds.  However, the maximum lifespan of DNA molecules in the environment is not known and poorly understood.  There are some studies that have suggested that meaningful DNA preservation much beyond one million years is unlikely but the science of DNA preservation and retrieval from specimens is still young and it is not know if there might be special situations that allow for DNA to survive for many tens of millions of years under the right conditions.


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Comments

  1. Christine Janis says:

    More pertinent to the issue of the bird and dinosaur lung similarities is the work of Colleen Farmer, showing that the flow-through lung of birds (i.e., unidirectional flow of air), long thought to be unique, is actually present in both crocodiles and lizards. E.g.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0944200615000549

    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00360-016-0983-3

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John A Holzmann says:

    Very side issue to your primary point :) : I was struck by your description of birds as flying “over the ‘surface of the earth’” (with quotation marks even highlighting the words surface of the earth). I think the Hebrew of Genesis 1:20 is pretty clear they flying creatures fly above haeretz/the earth [no mention of surface] and across the face [surface?] of the raqia/firmament/sky dome.

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  3. In fairness, genetically editing a bird to realize its latent enamel-teeth producing characteristics sounds like the start of a horror movie. Maybe called “Smiley.” I think YECs should oppose these projects, not on theological grounds, but on “Seriously, people, don’t you watch movies? A bird with TEETH? Does NOTHING sound like a bad idea to you?” grounds.

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    • In fairness to Horner and friends, they are talking about bringing back teeth and other more typically dinosaurian features on chickens or other small birds. I doubt a toothy chicken, or even a toothy, wing-clawed chicken, especially one kept in a lab, would become a Jurassic-Park like threat to humanity, although care would have to be taken that they did not get loose and disrupt ecosystems. By the way, I just saw Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom last night, and it is by far the goriest of the series (great CGI, typically predictable plot). I could not believe the couple next to us brought their 4 year old daughter to see it (she was obviously traumatized and cowering through much of the movie).

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, YECs claims about dinosaur soft tissue proving a young Earth backfires on them big time. If most fossils were only a few thousand years old, not only should we commonly find largely intact DNA in many of them, but also in Mesozoic and even Paleozoic fossils. Yet as far as I know, not even DNA fragments have been confirmed in any remains from either Era (with the oldest confirmed DNA being fragments in insect and plant fossils from Greenland in Pleistocene ice cores less than a million years old). Likewise with “soft tissue”. Even the controversial Mesozoic examples are small amounts in some late Cretaceous fossils, whereas again, if their view was true, we should routinely find lots of it throughout the fossil record. You are right about their curious failure to even look for DNA in dino bones, but if their view was correct, they should not have to; it should be falling in their laps! Indeed, we should find lots of largely unmineralized Paleozoic fossils, with plentiful soft tissues and DNA. Where are they? Not even one such example can be cited among the zillions of Paleozoic fossils unearthed. Nothing in their Flood geology scenario begins to explain this. Nor can YECs begin to explain the overall patterns of fossil succession. Their tired refrains about “ecological zonation” and “hydrologic sorting” and “differential escape ability” do not begin to explain those patterns, and often just make matters worse. For example, in their paradigm, animals like porpoises and ichthyosaurs should be commonly found together (or at least at the same geologic horizons), as should plesiosaurs and whales, but they never are. These many problems and contractions in YEC writings seem to be prime examples of “cognitive dissonance”, which to me amounts to “willful ignorance.”

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  5. Ken Ham should read the abstracts for this years ICC (International Creation Conference) this summer. http://www.creationicc.org/icc18_abstracts.php Here is one about feathered dinosaurs which contradicts Ham’s statements about the differences between dinosaurs and birds being so “massive.”
    Feathered dinosaurs reconsidered
    M. McLain , M. Petrone, M. Speights
    Discipline: Geology
    Abstract: Birds could not have evolved from land animal ancestors because Genesis clearly states that birds and land animals were created on separate days. As a result, young-earth creationists have consistently opposed the theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Nevertheless, numerous fossils of dinosaurs with feathers, including some very bird-like dinosaurs, have been found in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. We determined to understand what these fossils mean in a creationist context through a survey of their fossil record and statistical baraminological analyses. While the survey demonstrates that feathered dinosaur fossils do, in fact, exist, the baraminological analyses suggest that there are probably at least seven different created kinds of non-avialan dinosaurs. The existence of multiple created kinds of non-avialan dinosaurs, non-avian avialans, and avians without an enormous morphological gulf between these groups, although historically unexpected in creationism, is argued through this study to be an accurate picture for their designed organization. Because of these results, creationists need to rethink the way they understand the organization of life, especially as it relates to tetrapods in order to better represent the full spectrum of God’s created variety.

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    • I’m glad McLain et al and are are acknowledging some of the problems YEC face with dinosaur/bird fossils, but he falls far short of fully and frankly facing the relevant evidence. “Non-avian avialans”? What does that mean? “At least seven kinds of non-avian dinosaurs”? Good grief, there are over 1500 named genera (at least half of which are generally regarded as valid), and at least 15 valid dinosaur families! If YECs start suggesting a baramin is broader than a family, they have in essence become major evolutionists. One thing the authors did get right: creationists certainly do need to “rethink” their understanding of the “organization of life.” Heaven forbid they just accept what compelling evidence shows: that birds evolved from dinosaurs, still are dinosaurs, without any clear distinction between them. Recently Todd Wood (who has written a number of articles on “baraninology”) claimed that dinosaurs and birds could be distinguished by distinct characters, without detailing what they were. When I wrote to him to ask if he could list even a few such characters, he referred me to another one of his articles, which did no such thing. Subsequent efforts to elicit such a list proved fruitless. It’s also interesting that McLain starts out with the premise that the Bible distinguishes birds from “land animals”. So emus, ostriches, kiwis, and other flightless birds are not land animals?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the reference, which I plan to read. Sadly, I get the impression that Ham seldom reads technical papers papers–even ones by his own staff. Many times I’ll see Ham referring to some article in one of their publications or web site, only to later find him making comments contrary to the article. For example, articles by AIG author N Jeason often suggest that natural selection had a significant role in hyperspeciation after the Flood (among other factors), yet Ham (and even Jeason) have since made comments suggesting that natural selection had little if any role in speciation.

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      • Yes, contradictions abound in their literature. In writing my articles it is something very difficult to say “this is what YECs think or believe about X” because I read four different things which all contradict each other. Then if I say Ham believes this, even using a quote, someone will come back and so no YECs don’t believe that with another quote. They don’t acknowledge the contradiction but are only content to say, your wrong about what YECs believe.

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        • I agree, and think one way to help deal with it to point out these contradictions as often as possible, especially when YECs in the same organization contradict each other, or even themselves, as is often the case with the AIG staff. What grates on me is when YECs say such and such is obvious or plain, and then the next YEC says something contradictory to it is obvious or plain. As discussed here, it often happens with dino/bird fossils, and even more so with hominid fossils. where one will say certain fossils are clearly human, and another will declare they are undoubtedly from an ape–each downplaying or largely ignoring the intermediate features.

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          • Just saw a more subtle example. In an AiG article about all humans being “one blood” and descendants of three families on the ark the author looks at mitochondrial DNA differences among humans and states that “In fact, the highest number of mutations recorded in the human race is just over 120.” They go on to show hall all of the types of mtDNA genomes come in three main types so must be Noah’s son’s wives. Probably out of ignorance this author inadvertently is denying that Denisovans and Neanderthals are considered descendants of Noah as well by YECs. But their mtDNA genomes are different than all living humans and Neanderthals are all 200 bp different from us and Denisovans are 350 differences for us so it is not true that 120 is the most difference in “all of the human race” unless they meant to exclude these other humans.

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  6. Yes – this should be studied by Ken Ham supporters: http://www.creationicc.org/icc18_abstracts.php?pk=121

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  7. “And yet, they don’t seem to want to invest their considerable assets in projects that truly test the predictions of their own worldview even if a positive result would greatly benefit them.”

    Observations like this are what help to convince me that Creationists know their own story isn’t true, even if that knowledge is buried deep down. Their entire enterprise consists of denying and explaining away the latest findings of science, not looking for any findings of their own. (I suppose there is the occasional Noah’s Ark expedition, but those things always seem to be led by less reputable charlatans, and ignored by the mainstream Creationist outfits.)

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    • Paul, I agree. Another example is John Morris’ constant refrain that the Paluxy tracks “need more research.” Yet evidently since the mid 1980’s (when we met on site, shortly before my Paluxy “man track” refutations were published), neither Morris (who was president of ICR for many years after his father passed) nor anyone else from ICR has done any research at the sites. Even at that time and earlier, they no did little actual research (such as mapping tracks and rigorously analyzing trackways as real paleontologists do). This irony continued even after ICR moved to Dallas several years ago–less than 2 hours drive from the sites. I take 2 days (each way) to drive to the sites from Cleveland, OH to do more work most summers, and neither I nor any of my coworkers have run into any ICR people there since 1985. Morris also has made many misleading and demonstrably false claims about the tracks over the years, many of which have been documented in my articles at http://paleo.cc/paluxy.htm. Many of his statements directly contradict admissions he made on site in 1985, when he acknowledged exaggerating certain things in his book and articles to foster certain conclusions. His excuse was that he had “pressure from the group” to do this. So yes, there is evidence that even leaders of major creationists groups knowingly misrepresent evidence at times (far too many times) –perhaps using the rationalization that the ends justifies the means. How they can do this while touting their supposed allegiance to “truth” and Biblical principles is beyond me.

      Liked by 1 person

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