A Primer on Young-Earth Views of Speciation, Mutations and Natural Selection

How did the earth become populated by billions of species of living things? Conventional evolutionary biology provides an explanatory framework to answer that question. Intelligent Design advocates provide another as do Progressive Creationists (Old Earth Creationists).  But a large segment of the population looks to creation scientists (Young-earth creationists—YECs) to answer the question.

How do YECs respond to the question, “Where did all the species come from?”

Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum, by Karina Altman on 10/24/2019.

I have answered this many times however I just listened to a talk given at Ken Ham’s Creation Museum on this very question.  Presented by Karina Altman (B.S. Marine Biology and current zookeeper for Answers in Genesis) it provides a good overview of their current thinking on the topic.  I don’t know Ms. Altman but who the speaker is matters little since most of the AiG speakers are simply reading the slides.  The presentations are carefully crafted by just a few individuals and so no matter who is speaking they are always presenting the view of Answers in Genesis as a collective. As a result, we can safely assume that the new slides in this talk represent the latest YEC-thinking (see footnote for caveat) on this topic.

I have taken a series of screenshots to provide a summary of the YEC answer to the question: Where did all the species come from?  I will show those screenshots in the order they were presented and provide some commentary as a way of reviewing the YEC view of speciation.

The creationist’ view of evolution. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019.

Altman begins her talk with the standard preliminary remarks about contrasting views and seeing the evidence through the correct glasses.   She then asks where species came from and begins by introducing the audience to the evolutionary explanation for the diversity of species.  Her characterization of evolutionary theory is critical since she will contrast it with the creation model of species origins.  In particular the idea that “life came from non-life” and the statement that changes in organisms are “undirected” will be especially important going forward.

Creation is “directed” while evolution is “undirected” is the strong wedge used to force the audience into one of two camps: atheistic evolution or young-earth creationism.  But are these properly framed options?  I don’t think so but let’s stay on task and look at how the YECs are selling their version of evolution to their audience.

The creationist’ view of evolution. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019.

All of the above statements contain substantial misconceptions or misrepresentations and yet they form the foundation of the creation model in response to evolutionary biology.

The creationist’ orchard hypothesis of species origins. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

After setting the table by defining the evolutionary biology model the YEC model is introduced.  I think this set of statements provides an accurate summary of the current YEC understanding of the origins of biological diversity.   Let me explain in more detail what Altman (ie AIG) said about some of these points in the talk:

“Life came from Life”  This was contrasted with the evolutionary biology view that the original life came from non-living material.  Altman says that God made life and thus life came from life.  Yes, God made life and since God is alive it isn’t wrong to say that life came from life or was made by life.  But isn’t this a bit odd to say.   Does a plant or an animal or our being alive really the same as God’s life? His traits are not directly related to ours.  Our cellular metabolism isn’t related to His being alive.   But this statement is also contrary to the word of God.  In Genesis 1:25 God says “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.”   One could hardly say that the “land” was living and so life gave rise to life.

And what about man?  Genesis 1:7 says “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  Now Altman might find a connection here between God and man in that God breathed into man but we generally agree that this isn’t referring to God making Adam’s cells start to function. This is usually taken to be the origin or endowment of the soul/nephesh/image of God on man.  We are told that man’s body was formed from the physical substance—non-living matter—of the earth.

“Changes within animal kinds are directed”  Altman claims that unlike the conventional evolutionary model which she claims involves “no direction” or just randomness the creationist’ evolution model asserts that all changes in species “are designed features that God placed in the genetics of these creatures at creation.”  She is suggesting that the features that we observe that distinguish species were present in the creation and that each of those features was directed (guided?) to their present configuration during the time since creation.

The mechanisms of evolution according to young earth creationism. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

Now it gets more interesting.  After claiming that changes within animal kinds are “directed” we are now told how that direction happens.  You may be surprised that the way that God “directs” changes in species is via natural selection and mutation. Yes, this non-random directing of changes from one species into multiple species is accomplished via the process we call natural selection.

Yes, YECs are claiming that the variation necessary for all natural selection was created in the beginning—except for new mutations which is confusing but we will get there soon enough—but to take that variation and get it to become new species is being described here in completely naturalistic ways.  This suggests that God’s means of making new species can be ascribed to natural mechanisms that we can explore and understand with scientific methodology.

If you don’t think that YECs are ascribing creative capacity to the processes of natural selection just look at the next slide.

YEC understanding of natural selection. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

Answers in Genesis is defining natural selection as “a non-direction process” right after they have explained that “what caused diversity” which they claim is the product of “direction” is the process of natural selection.   Are you as confused as I am?

They are saying it is non-directional but can result in changes to organisms that make them more fit for their environment. How is that not changing an organism in a direction?  Probably we don’t understand what is meant by directional.

These terms, “directional” and “non-directional,” are so vague and mixed with the use of “directed” earlier in the talk that we can read almost anything we want into them but I think to the AiG audience at the Creation Museum these terms are very powerful and do convey a particular message.  It is the idea of God is sovereign and in control and there is a plan for each species since God knows and has determined the future.  Likewise, their audience has been trained to believe that evolution is equivalent to atheism and therefore evolution requires there be no God and thus no possible direction to what will happen.

Natural selection has no “goal” it is striving for, however, this doesn’t mean that natural selection is powerless to change organisms. If they environment gets colder you can expect that natural selection is going to selection genetic combinations, in conjunction with new mutations, that yield adaptive advantages in that colder environment. In this sense there is a move toward a endpoint. That endpoint is to be more adapted to a new environment.

I’m still confused.  Natural selection is “non-directional” and yet is responsible for guiding and directing the evolution of new species?  Maybe the speaker has something else in mind when she says changes are “directed” which is confused with “directional” here? Nonetheless, YECs are relying on natural selection to achieve the goals of God in His plan to fill the world with diverse creatures that are adapted to this world.   It is hard to say how this is different than how an evolutionary creationists or theistic evolutionist might describe the origin of species.

The creationist understanding of natural selection. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

Ah, but now here comes the rub with YECs, they claim that natural selection can’t bring any new information into this world.  So natural selection can’t make anything other than from the variation that already exists in the “kind” at the beginning.  But think about this for a moment.  Even if we grant, despite being scientifically unsubstantiated, an enormous reservoir of genetic variation in the created kind, YECs are still claiming that it is natural selection that “chooses” combinations of genes (alleles) in organisms making them change into distinct species that are adapted to different environments.  How is this God’s directing?  Is this God using means to achieve an end and if we were to measure, study, and describe this process of natural selection could we identify how God acts in the process any differently than any evolutionary biologist might describe the action of natural selection?

Again, I have to say, all of this is very confusing and makes one wonder, exactly how do they think that God is directing natural selection?

In this slide we also see the common charge that natural selection doesn’t make new information but rather decreases or eliminates variation.  This is mostly true but they are wrong to think that evolutionary theory says that natural selection adds information or created information since it doesn’t. That is the role of mutations.

And if you thought this creation view of the origins of diversity was confusing, let us now look at their view of mutations.

YEC understanding of the role of mutations in evolution. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

The now familiar mantra that mutations do NOT result in a gain of information is repeated as is doing so repeatedly will make it true.  But there is a hint here at a slight shift in YEC views of mutations.  They now acknowledge that mutations DO contribute to the variation that we see within a kind and that mutations may result in differences that allow us to distinguish different species. The new way of talking about mutations is that they don’t add new information necessary to make new traits—read that as new body plans/organs—but they may add variation to previously existing features (e.g. changes to metabolic rates, skin and hair color, and scaling of body size).  They don’t consider this “new information” but rather just tweaking of genes that already exist.  The total package of genes—programs for making traits in their thinking—were all placed in the original kind so no new programs are created but these programs can be altered in ways that result in the appearance of new traits.  These are presumably still part of God’s directed plan because mutations were part of His plan to make variation that then could be selected to allow for adaptation to new habitats.

Do you see how YECs are talking about random mutations and non-directional actions of natural selection but still saying it’s all guided by God? How does this really differ from theistic evolution and evolutionary creation positions other than the timescale?  And if God is guiding the process why can’t he add new genetic information by way of mutation if mutations are allowed to change programs so that they can be adapted to new environments?

YEC understanding of the role of mutations in evolution. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

Now we get to the nub of the problem with mutations for YECs.  They are forced to admit that there are beneficial mutations.  They can’t just say that all mutations are bad anymore.  But again they stress that such mutations are not adding information but are causing losses of information.  The example provided to their audience is albinism.  Here a bird which normally is brown and matches its environment has had a mutation that causes it to lose the ability to make pigment and so is white.  This is claimed to be a “loss” of information because the “brown” working version of the gene has lost the ability to function. But this mutation could be considered beneficial if these birds with the white mutation where to migrate to a snowy environment.   Now the mutation confers an advantage (because of natural selection).  But according to YECs that benefit is only local and hasn’t added a new gene to the bird.  Therefore, this is just modifying the instruction set that already existed and so doesn’t count as new information or anything that could contribute to evolution.

These loss of function examples are YEC favorites because they believe this demonstrates the degradation of the genome (genetic entropy). What they usually don’t do is tell their audience about mutations which change the function of a gene such that it forms a new product resulting in new traits.  When confronted with such cases YECs will claim there is still no new information because it is a change in function of a program not the evolution of a whole new function via addition of a whole new set of programs.

YEC understanding of the role of mutations in evolution. Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

Not wanting to acknowledge that beneficial mutations could add truly new things to organisms they have created a new category called “truly beneficial” (see slide below) which they then claim that evolutionist must demonstrate exist in order to change organisms.  What is a “truly beneficial” mutation you ask? For YECs it seems that these are mutations that always increases fitness in every organism that they occur in.

A YEC blogger recently defined beneficial mutations similarly:  “In order for a mutation to be beneficial, it must have no drawbacks, no negatives. Tradeoff mutations do not advance the cause of evolution. For evolution to proceed on its upward trajectory, it requires completely beneficial mutations.”  This statement is chock full of misconceptions about evolution but to stay on point let’s focus on “it must have no drawbacks, no negatives” and “trade-off mutations do not advance.”   We agree that truly beneficial mutations by this definition don’t exist.  By using this definition they have made beneficial mutations impossible but this definition has no basis in reality.

Is there any allele of any gene that always increases fitness or has no drawbacks and no negatives? I can’t think of one. There is no trait that any organism possesses that is always positive in every individual in every species.  The value of every single genetic variant whether you want to think of them as created by God in the beginning of created by mutation is determined in the context of the environment in which it exists.  A brown fur allele is a beneficial allele for a grizzly bear but the same allele would have negative fitness effects if that grizzly bear where to live in the same environment as a polar bear.

A favorite example of a mutation that is NOT “truly beneficial” in the mind of YECs is antibiotic resistance in bacteria. They will claim that the mutation that confers resistance to bacteria is “beneficial” “only in very specific environment.” That environment is one in which an antibiotic is present.  They therefore conclude that since it is not always beneficial to every bacteria that this is not a “truly beneficial mutation” that can result in evolution since evolution is said to require mutations to be “truly beneficial.”   As I said above, this definition means nothing.

No one thinks that such mutations exist and every evolutionary biologist agrees that a mutation can result in positive fitness in one context and negative or neutral fitness effects in another.  They all agree that antibiotic resistance only is helpful to some bacteria but the same mutation has a negative effect on bacteria that are not exposed to antibiotics.  But remember, the variant (allele) of the gene which YECs seem to think is the original created variant has a negative fitness value in the presence of antibiotics and so even that original condition is also not a truly beneficial variant by their own definition.

Lastly, we should point out that trade-offs are part of every single genetic interaction in every single cell and organism on earth so defining evolution as requiring beneficial mutation that have no trade-offs is to define it out of existence without considering the evidence.

Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

Here we have confirmation of their present thinking that there were, at most, 1400 “kinds” of land animals on the Ark and that the hundreds of species that have been created since creation are the product of a starting kind with massive genetic potential.  And how did that original genetic potential become dozens of species of felines and canines? By the action of natural selection and mutations.

We have also learned that this genetic potential doesn’t necessarily contain all of the genetic variants that were needed to give us today’s species diversity. Rather they expect that all the programs for making cats were present in the original cat but there have been mutations that resulted in variation on that theme such as changes in hair color.

Screenshot from a FB Live presentation from the Creation Museum by Karina Altman (AiG zookeeper) on 10/24/2019. https://www.facebook.com/AnswersInGenesis/videos/2489836967972558/

There you have it. It’s simple.  For the young earth creationist, what is the origin of species?

Descendants of original kinds experienced genetic reorganization, modification by mutations and were subject to natural selection which chose the variants that most suited new environments thus changing them over time into groups of individuals with enough genetic differences for us to able to easily discriminate different species. 

Hmm, I feel like I’ve heard of something like that before but not from creationists.

The question I am left with is, where is God in this process? The presentation felt deistic despite the statement that “changes within animal kinds are directed”. God is portrayed as placing all this variation into the original creation and then let them run out their programming. But that programming is also effected by mutations and it is not clear if they believe these are random, pre-programmed, immediately directed or something else.

I don’t ask these questions without having my own answers but rather I ask these questions because I wonder if YECs have really thought about what they are proposing. Have they really thought about how God works in this world?  Have they asked themselves if their answer to “where did all the species come from?” is any kind of improvement or really all that different than those given by Christians who believe species were formed over much longer periods of time but through the same processes?


Footnote:  The version of evolution that Answers in Genesis is espousing here is not completely shared by other young-earth organizations.  For example the Institute for Creation Research has a much less rosy view of the capacity of natural selection to make new species. Other independent YECs have proposed other mechanisms for the origin of species and have either more restrictive or more permissive views on mutations.  What they all have in common is that they all propose naturalistic mechanisms to explain the origin of present day species.

Comments

  1. A realistic TE-driven hypervariation and speciation model can be found here:

    https://www.amazon.de/Darwin-Revisited-understand-biology-century/dp/6202315113

    Like

    • sallyhawksworth says:

      Is this writer a proponent of Intelligent Design, as you are, Peer? If so, it’s probably more informative to use this term rather than TE, which spans a wide range of views. Even YECism nowadays could be seen as a sort of TE, since as shown in Joel’s article above its leading proponents nowadays accept certain sorts of evolution, but TE could also mean the belief that life evolved by naturalistic processes precisely as modern evolutionary biologists claim, but that this was what God had ordained.

      I had the curiosity to click on the link you offered, and found the blurb on the book it was advertising describe how the writer discovered flaws in “Darwinian philosophy”. Huh? Darwin himself would certainly have rejected the idea that what he was writing was philosophy, as opposed to science, and IMO no later person has any business attaching adjectivally the label of some famous person of the past to their own philosophical reflections, or those of some opponent of theirs.

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      • TE is short for “Transposable and transposed Elements”, NOT EvoTheism. The genomes are littered with TEs and they caused the hyperspeciation. You can update yourself in this field here:

        https://www.amazon.de/Darwin-Revisited-understand-biology-century/dp/6202315113

        Cheers,
        PB

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        • sallyhawksworth says:

          Thanks for the explanation. That’s the danger of abbreviations and acronyms, that there can be multiple possible meanings, and readers sometimes guess wrongly which one is intended, or may not be able to think of ANY possibility.

          You already advertised this book in your last post, and as I explained I was put off it by the language of the blurb.So if I feel the need to learn more about transposable elements on the genome than I do now, I think I’ll probably find another source of information, preferably a library book or free online resource, with a more mainstream approach.
          I’m curious. Are you by any chance the author of this work, or a friend or relative of the author?

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  2. No theory of life answers all questions. The same type of examination of Darwinian evolution, or intelligent design, or old-earth creationism will expose flaws in each theory.

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    • Taminator, a major difference is that YECism includes a demonstrably false dogma that the Earth is only 6000 years old, and they must cram all their ideas into this tiny, rigid box, whereas mainstream science and the old earth forms of creationism don’t. Speaking of which, it’s interesting that at the time Morris and Whitcomb wrote The Genesis Flood, it was fashionable for YECs to say the earth was about 6,000 – 10,000 (which some still say), whereas AIG now flatly states that the Earth is 6,000 years old, as if that were supported by clear evidence and/or stated as such in the Bible, whereas neither is true. Indeed, the former countered by mountains of empirical evidence. Similarly odd is the slide statement that there were representatives of 1,400 “kinds” on the Ark. Even saying about that many would be hard to defend, let alone such a specific number, which differs a lot even from previous YEC estimates.

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  3. Taminator says:

    No theory of life answers all questions. A similar examination of Darwinian evolution, intelligent design, or old-earth creationism will expose flaws in the respective theory. We will constantly be learning more as we as a people strive to understand our universe. The viewpoint of young-earth creationism, however, does the best imo, so far, to tie in the biblical introduction of sin into the world and the need of mankind for a Savior.

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    • rjdownard says:

      Gee, in what respect does YEC account for the data field better than evolution? Since the antievolutionary literature (including YEC) misses 90% of that field (I measure this directly in my source methods study of the topic), we’d have to inquire whether you have undertaken any source fact-checking of what you’ve read. For example, did Adam & Eve (or Noah & the kids) have ALUs in their genomes, and if so, how many? And if not, how did they come to be in our genome? Those are the sorts of questions that don’t even arise in the YEC technical literature (including by Sanford, Jeanson, Tomkins etc) because it is, in the end, merely a dogmatic cartoon, and not a viable scientific model, let alone a superior competitor to the established naturalistic paradigm.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Taminator says:

        Judging from your comment and fairness, I take it that you also consider “Lucy” to be a cartoon since she is a combination of pieces from different sites.

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        • I think you are overstating the situation. One small piece of a vertebral bone was identified as baboon. All the other pieces have subsequently been confirmed to be from the same body. That small fragment had never been included in any study and so none of the conclusions about the body of “Lucy” are in any doubt despite the baboon fragment. You make it sound like the skeleton is a some larger mixture and there can be no confidence in any of the studies on Lucy.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Taminator says:

            Please share with me how the artifacts found at AL 288-1 are linked to those found at AL 129-1.

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            • rjdownard says:

              And what “artifacts” are those, Tam? And what secondary creationist apologetic source did you cull the examples from?

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              • wikipedia or any college textbook on the subject. Knee joint was found approx 1.5km distance and different elevation from rest of Lucy. However, this knee joint “proves” that Lucy walked upright.

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                • rjdownard says:

                  Evasion. You’re repeating tropes you’re culling from creationist sources you’re too cowardly or ill-informed to identify. Don’t try to bandy source claim issues around people who are aware of the talking points, Tam.

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                • sallyhawksworth says:

                  Do I gather from these exchanges, Taminator, that you are under the impression that the word “artefact” can be correctly used as a label for pieces of bone, animal or human? This could only be the case if the bone has been deliberately used by a later human as raw material to be transformed into a manufactured item – a tool or art work. The bone handle of a knife, or a carving done by some primitive artist on a piece of bone, is an artefact. Bones left after a creature has died and decayed, or after predators or scavengers have discarded them, are not artefacts.

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                  • To be fair to Taminator, if I move a bone during excavation, even by accident, the new position of the bone can be described as an artefact. So if s/he is denying that a set of bones actually belong together, and saying that they only appear to do so as because of how we arrange them, s/he is using words correctly when claiming that the appearance of matching in the assembled skeleton is an artefact.

                    The claim is of course absurd, but that is a matter of fact, not semantics

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        • rjdownard says:

          Make no such presumptions, Tam, you’re not good at it. Please share with us all the sources you have relied on regarding the Lucy fossil, and hominids generally, and how (or whether) you fact checked them. So far you’ve been reluctant to share that base with us. What is your model that you defend? Do you accept that australopithecines existed as taxa? If so, what do you make of them? And when do you think they lived? If you have a model, Tam, please apply it to the data, clearly and without rhetorical dodges.

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      • “For example, did Adam & Eve (or Noah & the kids) have ALUs in their genomes, and if so, how many?”

        Of course they had. ALUs are a class of TEs dedicated to inducing variation in offspring. They had millions of them in the genome which worked as genetics switches for alternative gene expression (which is the same as variation). See my article:

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30736359

        or my book:

        https://www.amazon.de/Darwin-Revisited-understand-biology-century/dp/6202315113

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        • rjdownard says:

          You’ve cited your own work there, but if there were indeed “millions” of ALUs in Adam & Eve only 6000 years ago, did those include all the presently known ones that generate diseases in humans? That would seem a particularly sadistic thing to design into the “perfect” Edenic genome.

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    • sallyhawksworth says:

      The YEC viewpoint certainly SHOULD do a better job of tying in with “the biblical introduction of sin into the world” etc than any properly scientific theory about life’s origins and development, because that is exactly what it is designed to do. It is based first and foremost on the bible, and its proponents cherry pick, distort and misrepresent just as much real science as they need to in order to persuade their biblical literalist followers that their invented narrative of the history of life on earth has a basis in reality. It does not. The Jewish creation and origin myths to be found in the early chapters of Genesis have precisely the same worth as scientific data or scientific theory as do the creation and origin myths of Australian aboriginals, native Americans, ancient Greeks or ancient Scandinavians. That is, none at all, whatever their artistic and literary merits, or their importance historically in their respective cultures.

      Back in the seventeenth century, Bishop Ussher made a valiant attempt to collate current data and understanding from historical sources (which for him included the bible) and natural science in dating the world, and estimated it was created in 4,004 BC. That was an intellectually respectable position to hold – THEN. It not only isn’t now, it hasn’t been, scientifically speaking, for a couple of centuries. The evidence from every scientific field is overwhelming that the earth is not just millions but billions of years old. The ONLY reason that anyone with any scientific education would nowadays have for disputing this would be that this does not compute with some things written in an ancient text that they have been taught they must accept as unchallengeable truth. But unless we humans are prepared to challenge whatever we currently believe to be true about the world, in the light of new data, or new theories, and to adapt or totally discard old ideas where they are shown to be defective, then we are not doing science at all, and we are not continuing to learn.

      Liked by 2 people

    • sallyhawksworth says:

      When people refer to “Newtonian physics”, it is usually to contrast it with “Einsteinian physics” or quantum mechanics, or some other field within modern physics where Newton’s models are no longer the best and most complete understandings of the operations of the physical universe, because of later developments in technology and knowledge completely out of reach of Newton and his contemporaries. Huge areas of physics, however much further developed, are still founded on Newton’s discoveries and theories, but we don’t tend to call these “Newtonian physics”. It’s just physics.
      It seems to me that if the term “Darwinian evolution” means anything at all, than it means “evolution as described and theorised about by Charles Darwin” (Charles rather than his less famous but still remarkable grandfather Erasmus, though he too wrote about evolution :) )”. But that was roughly 150 years ago. Modern evolutionary biology, though founded on the insights of Darwin(and Alfred Russel Wallace), has come an immense distance since then. Darwin knew nothing about chromosomes, let alone DNA, just as Newton knew nothing of atoms, let alone subatomic particles. And In the future, unless civilisation completely collapses, what we think we know now in physics and biology will be revealed as incomplete or mistaken compared with the understanding of those future scientists. But they won’t be discarding the idea of evolution of living things by means of natural selection in favour of Young Earth Creationism, any more than they will be discarding the idea of the solar system in favour of a geocentric universe.

      So if by”Darwinian evolution” you mean “modern evolutionary theory” then yes, it is doubtless mistaken about some things, and there will be much more to learn – and IS being learnt every year. However, YOung Earth Creationism has nothing to teach modern scientists, and the only way a YEC is going to be able to gain scientific understanding of the history of our planet is if he ispreparedtoremove from his eye the gigantic beam of the dogma of biblical literalism.

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      • Yes I should have used the phrase “modern evolutionary theory.” There are many questions modern evolutionary theory has not answered. As an example, modern evolutionary theory does not answer the question of how any biological systems were initially formed since by definition, all components of a system need to be present and working together to perform it’s function. DNA requires a recording medium, a language, a recording mechanism, and a reading mechanism to function as an information transport system, as one example. Individual components have no need to exist without all of the other system components existing and working together. This is the classic who made the clock paradigm.

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        • sallyhawksworth says:

          Paley’s Watch, it’s most often known as, Taminator, since Paley most famously used this analogy. And Richard Dawkins’s The Blind Watchmaker was of course written in response to this argument. Have you ever read this for yourself, I wonder,or indeed The Origin of Species? Or any other explanation of biological evolutionary theory written by a modern evolutionary biologist? I would guess not, or you would not make ID arguments which take no account of what actually happens during the development of individual organisms, or of the evidence in the rocks and in DNA of the history of life on earth. Living systems are very different from static lifeless mechanical systems. Think of the changes that every human, or other multicellular organism, undergoes during its lifetime from hour to hour, from day to day, from year to year, as it develops from a single cell, a fertilised egg, a seed or spore, into maturity and producing offspring, similar yet different to itself. How different are the systems of an egg, a caterpillar, a pupa, a butterfly, yet they are one and the same organism, seamlessly changing from one to the other while continuing to live and function. And although we do indeed have much unknown about the earliest origins of life on earth, the fossil evidence demonstrates very clearly that it was very different from the multicellular life we see around today – and we know a vast deal more about the changes thattheearthhas undergone over its history than we did even one generation ago. Why, a friend of mine in her seventies who did a university degree in geology told our science class that she was taught nothing then of plate tectonics, which was considered a far out and improbable hypothesis in those days. And indeed I was already alive before Watson and Crickpublished the structure of DNA. Geology and biology have come so far in my lifetime. How much further are we likely to come in the lifetime of someone born today?

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  4. What is the oldest use of the term “Orchard” to describe this model? I find it interesting that Explore Evolution, an alternative textbook (as in “alternative facts”) put out by the Discovery Institute in 2007, presents what it calls an “Orchard model”. Though, being Old Earth creationists, the Intelligent Design movement in the US did not have the same motivation.

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    • rjdownard says:

      Excellent question. I think the “Of Pandas and People” book (especially the 1993 edition with its ID participants) is a benchmark in the “draw unlabled lines on a chart” mode of analysis, implying by the lines discontinuities that can’t be otherwise defended at the data level. As I recall charts of that type were circulating in the ID lecture circuit by the early 2000s. If any out there have further info, I’m sure we’ll all be interested in knowing of them.

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  5. rjdownard says:

    Love it! You’re showing the continuing confused quagmire that is YEC systematics. Jackson Wheat and I are delving into these matters in “The Rocks Were There” (vol 1 should be out by Christmas), and this post is a splendid addition regarding the tracking of their views.

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  6. Robert Byers says:

    I think they do a great job of answering questions about complicated matters. nobody witnessed anything. So mechanism has to be discovered. Evolutionism has failed. creationism has few ideas on how bodyplans change in biology. so mutations are invoked. however it must be a error to see mutations as the engine if its by chance. God , post fall, simnply has allowed biology to change as needed. All we can say is that biology did change after the flood to bring present results. Then everyone guesses.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sallyhawksworth says:

      As you say, Robert, no human witnessed anything of the creation of the earth, or the history of the earth prior to the existence of humans. Creationists tend to ignore this obvious fact and treat the narrative in Genesis I as though it WAS a witness statement, even though it clearly couldn’t be. Evolution HAS however been witnessed directly in modern times – we are seeing it for instance currently as bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics and other drugs – and the evolution over a much longer time scale in the past of humans and all other living things can be deduced from mountainloads of evidence. As to the mechanisms, we already know quite a lot about them, and are discovering more all the time. No matter how often you assert “evolutionism has failed” your saying so will not make it so.

      Liked by 2 people

      • rjdownard says:

        Unfortunately for the creationists, we can read their non-approach to that broad data field, from the detailed genetics and biology to the fossil record (the failure to address the therapsids being but one glaring measure of their data avoidance and lack of a working creationist model for life).

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    • “creationism has few ideas on how bodyplans change in biology.”

      This book knows:

      https://www.amazon.de/Darwin-Revisited-understand-biology-century/dp/6202315113

      Several of the chapters were published in J. Creation from 2008-2009. So, YECs do have a frontloaded theory that works.

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      • Robert Byers says:

        Yes but these are still grasping ideas about mutations. I think biology bodyplan changing is very likely complicated and not easy to guess at. We just know the after the fact FACTS that it did change.

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    • rjdownard says:

      How are you coming accounting for the therapsids, Robert? Not pretending to do so, with rhetorical flourishes like this, but by actually addressing their substance. You have a track record of flummery here, and I for one hold little hope that you can change your behavior.

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  7. cooljesusstuff says:

    It appears that there are shifts occurring in the YEC movement over the last several years. R. Joel (or just Joel?) what do you attribute these changes to?

    Wood,Wise, and Marcus Ross have inspired some YEC’s to pursue real scientific research. They are credible scientists themselves and are aware of current science. Are these, more established scientists, influencing the popular YEC organizations? Could this be the cause of this Darwinian-YEC?

    My pet theory is actually that the Ark Museum backfired. Instead of creating a monument that inspired masses to accept the young earth/global flood view, it created skepticism, People were fine “imagining” all the animals in the ark. But now you can walk through the ark. I suspect this phenomenon forced YEC (or at least AiG) to double down on post-flood speciation to navigate the challenge of space versus diverse species.

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    • rjdownard says:

      Cool has hit on a good point, the impact of the new generation of creationists. The Ark Encounter has clearly incorporated chunks of the revisionist baraminology, but it is a stretch to say that Wood, Wise or Ross have upped the empirical standards of what is at ground level a non-model. Those three are visibly adept at not incorporating all the relevant data, or failing to fact check the info their fellow creationists present. The YEC field remains at odds with the data, and all their activity turns on which of those data they elect to ignore next. That the regular science field is expanding faster than they can manage it adds to their conundrum.

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  8. Gerhold L. Lemke says:

    Relevant to some random points above — I’ve just watched Atlas Pro on “What Did Pangaea Look Like?” (YouTube 10-24-19). ICR makes this the original continent, but AiG would rather have prior plate pieces smash together to make a mountain-high chain now split by the North Atlantic (so that Iceland, YOU should note for YECs to think about, has to pop up near end-Flood in no time at all). The Atlas Pro display shows wet/dry pre-Flood areas where “kinds” should have done best.

    Scientific American (October 2019) is great on pterosaurs. In KISS apologetic (“keep it simple, stupid”), a YEC might have to “think twice” if you asked, “Did pterosaurs of all sizes – found only in Mesozoic strata – fly safely about for the first 100 days of the Flood until Pangaea, already breaking apart, recorded the Permian Extinction? Then only less-advantaged pterosaurs with tails went down between days 100 to 110? Then all the rest through days 110-140 and the Yucatan Impact, after the Yucatan with its Flood load of gypsum had spun south from west of Florida? And THEN the Ark landed ten days later?” So did the Ark Encounter pterosaur die of boredom in a brave new world?

    “To a geologist who believes in creation, the geologic column shows created kinds of plants and creatures killed in the Noachian Flood and mostly deposited over a five-month period.” That’s from the little-known winter 2019 LSI Journal (a quarterly, end-2018) cited here only to let YECs know that they should focus on 5 months (150 days) to get most everything done, Earth’s present continents in place, even when they admit that God had to blank away the Earth heat of this happening. LSI also goes with AiG kinds/species True Belief. I thank God for Robert Depalma’s 2019 report from SW North Dakota on the day the dinosaurs died (in Deep Time). I agree that the “Orchard” show at AiG is a self-delusion, “science falsely so-called” (KJV). It’s ReCreationism that they sell. GLL

    Liked by 2 people

    • rjdownard says:

      Great comment, Gerhold. Nothing is more useful to undermine creationist views than carefully listening to the creationists, observing the factual knots they tie themselves into. On that matter of diluvian supercontinents, as I recall AiG’s Creation Museum glibly posits the Precambrian Rodinia supercontinent as the pre-Flood earth, while Pangaea is just a transitory weigh-stage post-Flood. Trying to explain how the formations could congeal into rock under the frenzied conditions they posit is comparable to the mess you’re noting regarding pterosaurs and the like. The devil’s in the details, and YEC models have more devils running amuck than an H. P. Lovecraft coven convention.

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