Young-Earth Evolutionists? Talking about Hyper-speciation and Theological Implications

I recently attended the annual meeting of the American Scientific Affiliation held at Wheaton College.   About 300 professional scientists who are professing Christians had gathered to discuss a variety of topics related to science and faith.  Monday morning I delivered my presentation titled:  “Young Earth evolutionists? Adaptation of young-earth creationist models, and implication for the church.”  This was part of a morning session on the topic: Teaching Faith and Science: In Church.   I only had 20 minutes and like all presenters I wish I had had 30 minutes given the breadth of material I had hoped to cover.  When I returned home I expanded the presentation to include items I had to leave out at Wheaton. I have recorded that expanded version and share it with you below.

Below I have reprinted the title and abstract for my ASA talk. For those who were able to attend the presentation you will recognize that it fell short of accomplishing all of the goals set forth in the abstract which had been written many months prior.  This isn’t an uncommon experience for conference presenters. We have great aspirations when we write our abstracts but then when it comes time to make our presentations our time limits and the vastness of our subject material suddenly becomes a bothersome reality.

In particular I wasn’t able to compare the scientific and theological implications of the young-earth evolution model with those of progressive or evolutionary creationist.  I hope there will be a part II at some point where we can explore these connections and provide further talking points for church leaders.

“Young earth evolutionists? Adaptation of young-earth creationist models, and implication for the church.” by R. Joel Duff and Gregg Davidson.

Abstract:  Navigating the waters of debate over the origin and development of life has become increasingly confusing as traditional lines are blurred between evolution and special creation.

Leading young earth creationist (YEC) organizations voice strong opposition to evolution while simultaneously promoting models for life history that mirror many aspects of classical evolution. Exhibits, such as found in the Answers in Genesis theme park, The Ark Encounter, present a model in which a few specially created “kinds” on the Ark experienced hyper-fast adaptation solely by natural mechanisms after the Flood to produce the myriad species seen today. At the same time, YEC arguments are moving away from historical biblical orthodoxy.

In this session, we will review current YEC models of the origins of diversity and compare them with conventional evolutionary and progressive creation models with an eye on key biblical implications that are important to the church.

18 thoughts on “Young-Earth Evolutionists? Talking about Hyper-speciation and Theological Implications

  1. Great talk. I especially liked the questions at the end. I currently go to a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod where at their last annual meeting voted to make the Answers in Genesis view church dogma. I have written my pastors about that and asked them if that is now considered church doctrine, do I need to find another church. I will also send them this presentation. Thanks for all you do thru your blog.

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    1. Thanks and i apologize for the repetition at minute 7. I didn’t fully edit out some repeat tries but hopefully that will be reprocessed in a few hours. I have been reading about the recent LCMS situation. that is unfortunate since I respect that denomination for many other reasons.


  2. As someone who grew up in a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, where YECIsm was not advocated by the pastors or leaders, I am dismayed to hear that the Synod has now chosen to adopt YECism as part of their doctrine.


  3. Looks like you missed a slide zooming in on the almost-the-same carnivores. I liked your point at 25 minute mark that sin is an uncredited creative/creation force in the YEC dogma.


  4. Okay i listened. The first error is classification. if we have kinds we don’t have carnivores. Thats just a dumb human concept. If diversity was fast soon after the flood then why not. Then why not a great die off.? i don’t agree with wolves being just that. i see them as a bigger group including bears and seals, probably, and marsupial wolves and many critters in the fossil record. YEC can continue to squeeeze biology into original kinds. There are no rules.
    i also am confident dinosaurs can be squeezed into kinds such as theropods into birds. etc etc.
    by the way. I don’t think it was the ark that made YEC start squeezing biology into kinds. it was just a general observation. we must do it with people which is a great clue.


    1. Robert, you have wonderfully illustrated one of the primary lessons of the talk. You have a much expanded view of the inclusiveness of kinds and hence broad acceptance of common ancestry. You go well beyond other creationists on this account but you are the direction that creationism has been moving (other than the lack of support for the monophyly of some of your groups).


      1. yes thats right. i tried, and failed, to get my idea on marsupials as just placentals that adapted to a new situation. they rejected it. The mechanism seems to not exist for them. Yet I predict they will have to go into a greater inclusiveness as you said. it doesn’t work well otherwise.

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    2. Robert, did you really listen? Did you ever hear the Simon and Garfunkle song about “people listening without hearing….?” Are you seriously suggesting that bears, seals, wolves, and marsupial wolves are all the same “kind?” Plus, based on your previous statements we’d have to throw in all other marsupials and all their placental counterparts as well. At this point, why not just declare a “mammal” kind? You crack me up by still suggesting that we do similar things with humans. No, just the opposite. If you did, you and other YECs would group humans with all other great apes, and even other primates, and of course all hominids, but you don’t.


      1. you didn’t hear me after you listened. I was very logical. What a kind is IS not easy anymore to discover. however by bodyplans, based on nymerous traits, one can figure out that a marsupial wolf, our wolves, bears, and even seals etc etc are AT LEAST members of a single kind. NO not the other “marsupials” . they have different bodyplans. like the marsupial lion would be in a kind including all cats etc etc. No there is no mammals. this is a old idea based on grouping creatures based on trivial details. ny this score WE would be mammals. We are not. People do have the primate bodyplan but we are unique in having to RENT a creatures bodyplan because we are made in gods im,age and no bodyplan could represent that. so we just got the best one for fun and profit.


        1. ‘NO not the other “marsupials” . they have different bodyplans.’

          Not even the sparassodontids? (Except, of course, Thylacosmilus.)

          ‘No there is no mammals. this is a old idea based on grouping creatures based on trivial details.’

          Ah, yes: mammary glands, hair (including eyelashes), a three-boned middle ear, a lower jaw composed of a single bone, alveolar lungs, bean-shaped kidneys, a muscular tongue independent of the hyoid apparatus for its movements, muscles of facial expression (including muscular cheeks) innervated by the same nerve (cranial nerve #7) that innervates the neck muscles of other vertebrates, an ankle joint between the shank and the astragalus bone. All features unique to mammals (including monotremes, many more features held in common between marsupials and placentals: I have them, and I don’t pay any rent on them). Unique features, and yet somehow oh so trivial. Not like those robust, indisputably defining characters of feathers and a wishbone that render birds and theropod dinosaurs a kind, rather than the figment of the imagination of some old geezers.

          So how does one choose a good feature
          To use for defining a creature?
          A print in a book
          Might be worth a quick look
          But anatomy is the real teacher.


          1. the traits you list are common to biology. We have them , as a optin, from a creator with a single blueprint. NOW yes one groups bodyplans to draw biological relationships. SO which traits does one group. i say the great number trumps the few nummer. So a marsupial wolf , with these thousands of traits to give it a same bodyplan with other wolves, mAKES it a wolf. the few traits that connect it to neighbours should only be seen as a “hood” trait(s). not define them as a group of creatures and then leap into cONVERGENT evolution to explain the thousands of other traits.
            Its not a good feature but a abundance of them.
            Having mammary glands and hair is just a “hood” trait(s). its trivial in a blueprint of limited options.
            its not just feathers and wisbones in uniting theropods and birds. they don’t do and neither do I. Its thousands of twists and turns of the anatomy and features aplenty.
            Yes old geezers got it wrong. So lets modern man get it right. women too.


            1. ‘So a marsupial wolf , with these thousands of traits to give it a same bodyplan with other wolves, mAKES it a wolf.’

              We still remember, Robert, that when asked to provide just one single trait that made the thylacine exactly like a wolf, to the exclusion of all other mammals, you burbled something about how its head was set on its neck. There are very few traits that are specifically similar between a wolf and a thylacine, and all of them are superficial ones relating to being a medium-sized predator (i.e., a digitigrade foot posture and a relatively long snout). Thylacines don’t even have the limbs to run like a wolf (much shorter metapodials among many other skeletal features), the jaws to chomp on prey like a wolf (relatively weak jaws, no carnassial teeth), or the brain to have the kind of social behaviour seen in a wolf (much smaller braincase than in a wolf).


        2. On the contrary Robert, I heard you, but as usual your claims are as outlandish and illogical as they are lacking in evidence. Now you’re going even further into left field by claiming humans are not mammals. Can you name any other educated person, even among YECs, who supports that claim, or give some actual evidence for it? You just change the widely accepted meanings of terms as you please, which is hardly a sound way to do science.


          1. i made the case why mammal is a false invention for classification. it deals only with a few traits to make a group. There is no reason to group things by glands and hair anymore then by eyeballs.
            I think YEC has no loyalty to mammals as a part of. wE are made in gods image and are in a kind unrelated by reproduction to other kinds. Although we uniquely have the same bodyplan as another kind. we are renting.
            Think aboiut this. Don’t just follow but be innovative, while keeping to evolutionism. If you segregate based on being mammals then why not go further back to include all biology??
            Is hair and milk rerally more defining then akll other traits insiode and out of the body??
            it was just a guess by the old ones on how to group things. Mammal to me is not just wrong but most silly.


            1. No Robert, you made no case, because scientific cases are based on evidence, and as usual you present none, either for rejecting mammals as a legitimate class or your claim that YECs think this is inconsistent with the idea of humans being in made God’s image. Unlike you, most YECs probably understand that accepting mammalia as a taxonomic group is a separate question of that group or other groups originated. You’re also being illogical, since you argue against using specific traits to identify groups, but think your nebulous idea of “body plans” is a better criterion. If that were so, then certainty you or someone would have published a scientific paper doing that. Where can we find it?


            2. Robert, I was wondering, since ichthyosaurs resemble porpoises in general body shapes, are they in the same kind? How about walking sticks and real sticks? Or leaf-shaped insects, and the actual leaves they mimic? Why not, if you’re only going by general appearances?


  5. Glad you attended the ASA conference and that you posted your talk here. Sorry I missed the gathering.


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