Another more educational post today, this time regarding the classification system of Carrolus Linnaeus. This system is important because it is framework evolutionists and creationists alike use to discuss all living organisms. Evolutionists also use it to attempt to show relationships and ancestry between organisms. Thus it behooves everyone interested in origins to have a basic understanding of how the system works.
First of all, let us cover some background. Prior to Linnaeus, classification or taxonomy as it is sometimes called was a very disorganized discipline. Numerous writers, such as John Ray and Andrea Cesalpino, described thousands of plant species, but animal taxonomy was dependent entirely on the works of Aristotle and his followers. Moreover, there was no set standard for classifying. Each author set his own standard for how he classified plants. That all changed with the advent of Linnaeus. Carrolus Linnaeus was a Swedish botanist who set the framework of classification as we know it today. Born in 1707, Linnaeus instituted the system of binomial nomenclature. Binomial nomenclature is a fancy word for naming something with two names, much like a human’s given and surnames. For example, something as common as corn is named in binomial nomenclature as Zea maize. Linnaean classification consists of eight layers formulated by Linnaeus. Evolutionists have added a level since then but for now, we will focus on the eight Linnaeus knew.
Linnaeus used his classification system to take the chaotic taxonomic world of his day into a new era of organization and standardization. He did this by instituting a set standard that all other scientists would eventually adopt. Linnaeus originally only had five levels to his system, but two others have been introduced since then and will be considered with the rest of the classification system The highest level of the Linnaean system was the kingdom. The kingdom was the broadest group. Lions, porpoises, tortoises, ostriches, giraffes, and anemones would all be found in Kingdom Animalia. The next rank down the list is the Phylum. There are approximately thirty-five phyla in Kingdom Animalia. Lions, giraffes, porpoises, tortoise, and ostriches would be found in Phylum Chordata while anemones are found in Phylum Cnidaria. Just below the phyla are the various classes. For example, lions, giraffes, and porpoises would be found in Class Mammalia while tortoises are found in Class Reptilia and Ostriches are found in Class Aves. One step further down the line, you find orders. An example of this is that lions are found in Order Carnivora while porpoises and giraffes are found in Order Artiodactyla. One step further differentiated down the line is the family level. An example of this is that porpoises are found in Family Phocoenidae while giraffes are found in Family Giraffidae. Below family, Linnaeus proposes the binomial Genus and Species. Genus functions like a human surname, while species functions like a given name. There can be multiple genera’ within a family. For example, Family Phocoenidae contains four genera, but only six species. Genera can have as many species as scientists place there. This complex, yet surprisingly straightforward system was easily Linnaeus’ greatest contribution to science.
However, Linnaeus was not the only one to influence the classification system. Ernst Haeckel, more commonly known for his patently false embryo charts, changed Linnaeus’ Vegetabilia kingdom into Plantae which is how we know it today. Over one hundred years later, Robert Whittaker added Kingdom Fungi and brought back Haeckel’s kingdom Protista. However, modern systems of classification have split Protista into kingdoms Chromista and Protozoa while adding a sixth kingdom Bacteria.
Evolutionists have made some edits to Linnaeus’ original system. The most notable one is the addition of a layer higher than a kingdom, that of Domain. Basically, Domains are larger and even more broad than a kingdom. Plants and animals would be in the same domain. Basically, the idea is to try to tie vastly unrelated organisms together so that eventually they can get back to a common ancestor. However, some evolutionists have gone a step further and introduced the cladistic classification. A clade is essentially an organization of organisms based on their most recent common ancestor according to evolution. This is essentially flipping Linnaeus’ classification on its head. Linnaeus sought to bring order and sanity to taxonomy by classifying plants and animals based on how he saw them as being related to one another in the present. Evolutionists have essentially disorganized all of this into clades, attempting to show evolutionary ancestry, rather than modern relationship.
So why does classification matter to the Creation vs Evolution debate? The primary reason comes to ancestry. Evolutionists would like to take the classification system and try to use it to prove their molecules to man theology. However, like just about everything else in science, the taxonomic system cannot be used for things that happened in the past. It merely shows how animals currently are related to one another, and even some of those are tenuous, as I plan on discussing in the near future. A second reason is the Biblical term “kind” used to describe created organisms in the book of Genesis.
What exactly is a kind of organism? There is not a clear answer to this in Scripture. However, most Creationist scientists place it at roughly the family level. That being said, the word kind cannot be blanketly substituted for the family. For example cuckoos and roadrunners are lumped into the same family and I’m fairly certain the two types of bird cannot interbreed. A created kind would be able to interbreed, at least in its original sense.
The biggest issue is the double standard which evolutionists use for classification. If evolution were, in fact, true, we should not be able to classify anything. The lines between the various phyla, orders families and so on should be so blurred that a system of fixed classification should be impossible. Yet such a system is not only possible, it exists. Certainly, it has flaws and faults, some of which I will be discussing in more scientific articles in the future, but it does exist in a decidedly workable form. Evolutionists may attempt to twist the system to work in their favor, but the mere fact that it exists is something that should be cause for concern in the evolutionary camp.