What is a “Kind”? Fox News Article Quoted by AiG Speakers Contradicts their own Definition

I have said before that reading young-earth literature or attending one of their seminars can be a confusing experience.  Many times they present internally inconsistent arguments seemingly unaware of how one thing they say contradicts something another creationist has said or even what they have said themselves.  For example, on the November 29th edition of Answers and Genesis’ Facebook Live News show included a bewildering array of confusing mixed messages and misunderstandings but one particular item I found especially fascinating because it is relevant to my current research interests.

During an especially confusing discussion of a Fox News opinion piece about a scientific study of mitochondrial DNA AiG’s Bryan Osborne tried to sum up the how this Fox News article was using recent research finding to build a case in support of their particular biblical interpretation.   At one point he stated: “There is a quote in here that is really fascinating, that I want to read before we move on, uh, from the authors of the research, they said this research…”  He then went on to read the following passage (below) from the Fox News article which is not a quote from the authors of the research but rather is apparently the personal interpretation—a misinformed one—of the author, Dr. Michael Giullen, of the Fox News article.  Here is the portion of the Fox News article Osborne read:

“line up with the Bible in at least two notable ways. First, it affirms that we and our fellow creatures on Earth arose from a recent and profound creation event, orchestrated by some unknown mechanism. And second, the DNA barcodes reveal that species are quantized. Instead of there being a continuum of animal varieties, as one might expect from millions of years of gradual evolution, creatures fall into very distinct, widely separated populations – what the Bible describes as “kinds,” from the Hebrew word min.”

Ken Ham and his son-in-law Bodie Hodge on either side of Osborne appear to agree with the “quote.”  As I noted above, Bryan Osborne incorrectly attributes the quote to the authors of the research which makes no sense at all but I suspect is just an oversight on his part though Bodie Hodge appears to also believe this is a quote from the research authors and the audience would be forgiven if they thought that the researchers themselves had come to this conclusion.   

However, I’m more interested in how all three of them seem to be unaware that the second part of the quote directly contradicts their own stated beliefs including words that Ken Ham uttered not more than a few minutes earlier in the program.

If you don’t see the problem let me try to explain.  The Fox News author, Michael Guillen, has interpreted Stoeckle and Thaler’s original research within his understanding that God created “kinds” of animals and that the “kinds” of the Bible are equivalent to what we call species. This is not at all what Ken Ham, Bryan Osborne or Bodie Hodge believe.  They believe that a biblical “kind” refers to the equivalent of what taxonomists call a “family” of organisms.

Read the Fox News article again. The author talks about “kinds” which Ham says are families of species such as canines or felines. But Michael Guillem is reporting that Stoeckle and Thaler have discovered that each species is like a separate galaxy with empty space in between and he is equating the fact that each species looks so separate from each other as incredible support of God’s creating every “kind” separately from each other.  Why doesn’t that immediately strike Ken Ham and Bryan Osborne as being wrong? Did Osborne not read the next paragraph of the Fox News article and see that what he is talking about it the uniqueness of species and not what they believe are “kinds?” Here is what the very next sentence says: “What the new study discovered, he explains, is that “If individuals are stars, then species are galaxies. They are compact clusters in the vastness of empty sequence space.””  Here Guillen really is quoting one of the original researches saying that species are compact cluster in the vastness of empty sequence space. It is species that are separated from each other not “kinds” as Ken Ham believes. Why then does Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge not disagree when this statement contradicts their belief that each species is NOT a kind but rather simply one of what might be dozens or hundreds of variations of a “kind?”

Why would Ken Ham expect that each species within a “kind” should be so obviously separate from each other?  I don’t know. I strongly expect that they just didn’t read the Fox News article very closely just as they never really either read or at least thought about the original research paper.   They really don’t understand that neither Michael Giullen nor Stoeckle and Thaler’s original research is providing evidence that supports Ken Ham’s hyper-evolutionary views of rapid speciation within “kinds.”  If anything these results are damaging to this view.


The research that the AiG is talking about has been a point of discussion for several months. I have written about the creationist’ reaction and misunderstanding of this research previously: Did 90% of Animals Species Appear about the same time as Human Beings?

With respect to what modern YECs (neocreationists) belief with respect to the definition of “kind” and the origins of species via rapid-speciation (hyper-evolution) I have written about this on many occasions. Below are a few of those articles:

Ken Ham’s Darwinism: On the Origin of Species by Means of Hyper-Evolution Following Noah’s Flood– Here I take a big look at how Ken Ham and AiG are changing the landscape of young-earth creationist’ approach to biological diversity.

Is Ken Ham’s Rapid Post-Flood Diversification Really Evolution?  I look even closer at the words of AiG and Ken Ham and ask: is what they are saying different from standard evolutionary theory or is it something similar but cloaked in different terminology.

Ark Encounter Common Ancestors: The Increasing Inclusiveness of Biblical Kinds – I take a quick look at the history of how young-earth creationists have been gradually broadening the definition of a “kind” over the past 50 years and ask how inclusive a kind may become in the future.

Walking Whales On Board Noah’s Ark: The Inevitable End-point of Creationists’ Post-Flood Hyper-Speciation Belief? -Combining the observation that no whales fossils exist in Flood rocks and the evidence that ancient whales had more land animal features some YECs are willing to consider that Noah had a walking land animal on the ark that then evolved into the present day whales.

The Origin of the YEC Hyper-Speciation Model of Biological Diversity –  A quote from a creationists publication from 1945 suggests that their hyper-speciation beliefs go back at least that far.  However, YEC followers still generally believe that speciation is evolution.

Comments

  1. Since Ham wants to cram all kinds into the Ark, he wants as few kinds as possible. And yet in the dietary laws as applied to birds (Leviticus 11), kind seems to be pretty specific, with hawk and kite indifferent kinds. A bit of a problem

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ronald Myers says:

      Alas,the Hamites will say that in Genesis 1 kinds refereed to groups of species but by the time Moses came along, full species development had occurred and therefore God needed to enumerate the species. Yes, this rebuttal either has its logical problems or theological problems in the Hamite scheme of things. I think Paul Braterman has hit on a good counter argument to Ham’s concept of kinds. Either the Torah was written by Moses in contemporary (to the exodus) Hebrew or it was to some extent compiled from more ancient sources with minimal language updating. It is my guess KHam would reject the latter. at which point Genesis 1 becomes inaccurate

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  2. Just the fact that the article states this all happened 100-200K years ago throws any AiG YEC interpretation out the window.

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  3. I suspect Ham realized the glaring contradiction between the Fox News quote and what he believes about basic “kinds”, but hoped most listeners would not. I think AIG does that a lot, counting on most of their followers having little scientific background. I think they assume most will go along with almost anything they say, without thinking too much about it. Glad you’re here to help them think more about it. :^) By the way, how often have you noticed anyone from AIG or other YEC groups reacting to articles and postings here, either by making their own comments, or altering or clarifying their statements or views in response? Do you think they follow this blog?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glen, you put your finger on the core problem; how to reach those who most need this material

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    • I agree, they often know that the stories they quote aren’t as supportive as they might make sound. Part of their cover is that they refer to popular press articles to gain their “facts” about the original research. In this case, what is ironic about the Fox News article is that it was probably written thinking it was supporting the YEC view but the author didn’t understand the YEC view well enough to make the original research fit it and so ended up contradicting the YEC view even if they were sympathetic.
      I have no doubt that AiG and other YEC organizations have someone who reads everything here. Some YECs authors have commented but employees of YEC organizations don’t (I suspect they aren’t allowed) comment on blogs, discussion board etc… They will say that if there is a problem with their work that we should send them comment through their website comment page.

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  4. The matter of species / kinds is much more complex than just mtDNA barcoding. Rather it is a matter of unique genetic information. In my opinion, it is more likely that kinds are defined by sets of distinct regulatory genes and the best candidates here are microRNAs. For instance, humans have 2555 microRNA genes not present in chimps. The number of unique chimp microRNA genes has not been established yet, but it might also be thousands. There is clustering of barcodes, however, and these clusters may reflect kinds. Still, I am convinced that microRNAs are the better discriminators.

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  5. The moment a Christian friend of mine posted that Fox News article, I thought you’d jump on it. It only took me a few minutes to glance at the article to see how it was twisted out of context.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Robert Byers says:

    i’m sure a intelligent, famous man like Ken Ham is consistent in his points. Maybe some confusing but so what. the great point is that God created kinds on creation week. The fall came and Kinds started to diversify. the snake is the great example. the snake kind lost its legs. So the snake is one kind. all the types of snakes, spitters and squeezers, ae spinoffs. this starting over at the ark too.
    NOW is it possible there was many “kinds” of snakes on the ark? We know there was two kinds of birds on the ark!
    It seems to me there was one kind of snake and then great diversity after the flood.
    how does anyone put creatures into greater assemblages or biological relationships?
    It could only be by comparing morphology. Etc etc.
    YEC has rightly in these later years expanded what a KIND can include.
    its desirable to have as few kinds on the ark because of the numbers of types of creatures on earth.
    in fact YEC should include marsupials within the kinds called placentals.
    In fact all classification of creatures other kinds seems wrong. YET there were on the ark two kinds of birds. it requires attention to details to figure it out.

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  7. Ashley Haworth-roberts says:

    Comments were made here after Guillen flagged his Fox article, on 24 November.
    https://www.facebook.com/michaelguillenphd/
    I also commented to Guillen (not a YEC) disagreeing with some of what he said. I cannot now track down exactly what I said or where I said it (but received no notification of any reply). From memory I took issue with the ‘creation event’ idea (partly because the study only covered species including our own which are extant ie not all the extinct ones which were around earlier).

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