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Baraminology

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Etymology:

"Baramin" is from the Hebrew bara for "create" and min for "kind".

Baraminology is a recent creation science origins model and classification system — technically, a creationist biosystematic method — consisting of the study of "baramins", or created kinds. It roughly coincides with cladistics, the system used by evolutionary scientists. Baraminology observes the fact that that all animals are descended from the original created kinds, and in the case of land-dwelling creatures, from the pairs taken on Noah's ark. It seeks, among other things, to establish the relationship between different species of the same baramin.

Orchard.gif Evolutionary tree.gif Lawn.gif

Baraminology is based on the creationist "orchard" of variation within created kinds (top), which contrasts with the evolutionary "tree of life" (middle) and the old idea of "fixity of species", still often attributed to creationists by anti-creationists (bottom).

Contents

Basis

The creation account in Genesis one repeatedly says that God created living things to reproduce "after their kind"[1], and this is taken to mean that each "kind" of living thing is genetically isolated from other "kinds".

Baraminology is based on the idea that even though creatures do not evolve in an unlimited way, they were designed with an ability to adapt to their environment. This ability is not open-ended (per evolution), but within the limits of their design.

Baraminologists attempt to determine the original "created kinds" from research into whether or not different organisms are able to reproduce with each other. However, this criterion has limitations, in that it only works for sexually-reproducing species, and failure to reproduce may be due to two groups within the same baramin having varied enough that interfertility has been lost.

Relationship to evolutionary taxonomy

Baraminology has much in common with evolutionary taxonomies. Once in existence, a species will always produce descendants with similar characteristics. Those characteristics may change with time enough that the old species may eventually be recognized as a different species from the original organisms, or the descendents may eventually diverge into a number of distinct species. Species may also become extinct.

Except for the occasional argument from the Bible or theology, baraminology also uses the same range of criteria as evolutionary taxonomy, such as hybridization, ontogeny, lineage, structure (morphology) and physiology (function), fossils in rock layers, and ecology.

The main difference between baraminology and evolutionary taxonomy is the expectation of what will be found, within the limitations imposed by the imperfections of the fossil record. Baraminology expects the ancestry of all living things to be traceable to the species created during Creation Week, whereas evolutionists expect to be able to trace the descent of all living things to a single, first form of life. On that basis, the evidence capable of distinguishing the two is most likely to be the fossil record of the organisms deepest in the geological column.

Evolutionary biologist Phil Senter has used classic multidimensional scaling, a baraminological technique, to show the relationship between Archaeopteryx and dinosaurs.[2] Senter makes some commentary:

It will, however, oblige creation scientists to take two major steps in the right direction: (i) the acknowledgement that by the logic of baraminology, Archaeopteryx and at least two other genera of feathered animal that are even more birdlike are evolutionarily related to dromaeosaurids and a plethora of other birdlike dinosaurs and (ii) the acknowledgement that theropods with ziphodont teeth were carnivores. These steps, if studies such as this accumulate, have the potential to lead down a slippery slope with a paradigm shift at its end. Creation science has already reversed its position on several evolutionary topics, and many (but not all) creation scientists now accept the existence of natural selection (Brand & Gibson, 1993), beneficial mutations (Wood, 2002), the reality of the geologic column (Tyler & Coffin, 2006), the lack of geologic evidence that Phanerozoic sedimentary strata were deposited by the Genesis Flood (Robinson, 1998; Tyler, 2006), and the evolutionary relatedness of members of the fossil ‘horse series’ (Wood & Cavanaugh, 2003; Wood, 2005a,b), all of which were typically disputed by creation scientists in decades past (e.g. Morris, 1972; Gish, 1995). With each reversal of position, resistance to evolutionary theory lessens. Studies such as this can only further that process. It is therefore my hope that this study inspires others to make it merely the first of many of its kind.

Notably, Todd Wood points out that organisms can be classified into baramin does not preclude organisms from evolving (in the conext of other criticisms of baraminology).[3]

Often baraminology is dismissed as the anti-evolution argument "this structure is too complex to evolve" repackaged in formal terminology. While I am of the opinion that holobaramins had separate origins by God's direct creation, I personally do not use baraminology to argue that an organism or group of organisms could not have evolved. Rather, I interpret holobaramins as separate creations of God. It is possible that a macroevolutionary theory could be devised to account for the discontinuity between holobaramins. It is also possible that baraminology could become a "too-complex-to-evolve" argument if used as an apologetic rather than as a technique to understand organisms.

DeWitt recognizes the same limitations in cladistics in evolutionary and baraminological research:

Baraminology suffers from similar problems and limitations that cladistics does. These are intrinsic to the method and cannot be avoided. Statistical baraminology may have advantages over traditional cladistics because of the ability to test multiple characters simultaneously, as well as three-dimensional representations as opposed to the typical branching diagram. Nonetheless, there is no objective, independent validation that can be done to demonstrate that false negatives and false positives do not occur. In other words, there can be strong similarities without baraminological relatedness as well as significant differences.[4]

Wayne Frair puts it more simply in an article about baraminology, "Creationists frequently have been criticized for merely being antievolutionary without offering viable alternatives, and frequently this is true." [5]

Examples

There have been very few barminological publications, so there is nothing even remotely approaching a consensus covering all organisms. The determinations that have been proposed tend to be roughly at the level of biological families, such as the cats, the dogs, the bears, the horses, or the turtles. The expectation is that the final number of baramins may be a few thousand.

Terminology

Baraminologists have introduced the following terms to describe different concepts in baraminology. These terms are not taxonomic levels, nor are they necessarily actual classifications.

A baramin is the original created kind

A holobaramin is an entire group of organisms which are descended from the original created kind. For example, wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes, and domestic dogs may constitute a holobaramin.

A monobaramin is a group of organisms which are descended from the original created kind, but not the complete set of such organisms. For example, dingoes and domestic dogs would be a monobaramin.

An apobaramin is a group of organisms that may comprise more than one created kind. For example, baraminologists believe that God probably created more than one kind of cat, in which case all cats taken together would comprise an apobaramin.

A polybaramin is a term for a group of creatures thought to be from a single created kind, but which are not. That is, it describes two or more groups which have been mistakenly classified as a single group.

Evidence against Baraminology

Baraminologists sometimes claim to be able to group organisms into baramins, or kinds. However, there is extensive contradiction within in baraminological community about definitions of a baramin and which organisms fit into each kind.

In a recent review article on barminology, Lightner et al. describe the contradictions in the techniques:[6]

These methods have not been without their critics. The strongest reactions seem to be when the conclusions are at odds with how other creationists feel creatures naturally group. A dramatic example was when an analysis of craniodental characters placed Australopithecus sediba in the human holobaramin (Wood 2010). This led to numerous articles expressing disagreement about these specific results and the techniques in general (Line 2010; Lubenow 2010; Menton, Habermehl, and DeWitt 2010; Wilson 2010). Important points in the discussion included the significance of specific anatomic features, the inclusion of inference in certain character states of the dataset, and the possibility that statistical analysis may not consistently point to the level of the holobaramin.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, there are times where the statistical tests have shown discontinuity between animals connected by hybrid data (Brophy and Kramer 2007; Wood 2008, pp. 57–60). In one case (McConnachie and Brophy 2008) a dataset of 102 mostly osteologic characters was used to evaluate landfowl. Three of the putative holobarmins were connected by hybrid data. Hybrid data is considered more conclusive than the statistical tests because it requires considerable continuity at the genetic, metabolic, developmental, and immunologic levels. This discrepancy between the hybrid data and statistical results is a concern because datasets involving fossils are generally limited to osteologic characters.

When pointed out to them, baraminologists often equivocate and claim that the model is still being developed.

See also

Bibliography

References

  1. Genesis 1:11-12,21,24-25
  2. Senter, P. "Using creation science to demonstrate evolution: application of a creationist method for visualizing gaps in the fossil record to a phylogenetic study of coelurosaurian dinosaurs." Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 23(8): 2010, 1732-1743.
  3. Wood, Todd C. "The Current Status of Baraminology." Creation Research Society Quarterly, 43(3) December 2006, 149-158.
  4. DeWitt, David A.. Baraminological Analysis Places Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba in the Human Holobaramin: Discussion."[1] Answers Research Journal 3 (2010): 153-158.
  5. Frair, Wayne. "Creationist Classification-An Update." Creation Matters. 4(1) January-February 1999, 1.
  6. Jean K., Tom Hennigan, Georgia Purdom, and Bodie Hodge. "Determining the Ark Kinds." Answers Research Journal 2011(4): 195-201.
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