Modeling the Biblical Kind (Research Article)

Modeling the Biblical Kind (Research Article)

Up to this point in this article series, we have only discussed background. The point of this article series is to model a Biblical kind, then use it to inform our studies of baraminology.  However, all the background was necessary to understand why the Biblical kind model must be so intricate. It has to balance various disparate groupings and ideas to both match Scripture and fit with observable science. In some cases this is a delicate balance. However, it can be done and indeed must be. God would not have given us the kind concept if it could not be explored. Further, it is necessary to understand the baramin in order to formulate a robust creation model. Therefore, this article shall attempt to model a Biblical kind.

Pieces of the Puzzle

 Modeling a Biblical kind requires first and foremost addressing what the Bible says and implies about the Biblical kind. Much of what I say here has been addressed or hinted at in previous articles so the point of this is to tie up all the loose ends. However there are some new concepts as well in what, I believe, is the best available baraminology concept.  I’m calling this concept the enhanced cognita concept of baraminoloy.

This enhanced cognita of baraminology builds upon the Answers in Genesis proposed cognitum concept of baraminology and effectively enhances it, hence the title[1]. It includes uses of everything we’ve discussed so far, even the ever-unreliable statistics. In the next article, we will use the enhanced cognitum method to perform some baraminology studies on various groups of organisms and see how well it works.

Putting these pieces together is like putting together a massive jigsaw puzzle. Unlike Jeanson’s running analogy in Replacing Darwin we have the corner and edge pieces to this puzzle[2]. Only parts of the middle are missing.  While this article series cannot fill in all the pieces, the goal is to give baraminologists some additional tools to work with in their studying of the created kinds.

The first piece of the puzzle coming from the Bible is reproductive groupings. We discussed this way back in article one. From the Bible, every time the kind is used in Genesis, it is a reproductive grouping. “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.[3]” This verse is just one of the several verses in Genesis one which point to the kind as a reproductive grouping, separated from other reproductive groupings.  Genesis six has a similar statement. “And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive[4].” Genesis seven and eight echoes this idea when they mention the animals, with Genesis eight even referring to the groups as being intended to “breed abundantly[5]” after they got off the ark.

This breeding command for the animals points to why hybridization is the gold standard for delineating a Biblical kind. Because the original kinds were created to breed together and multiply in the earth, being able to breed together is the ultimate arbiter. No matter what statistics, DNA, or anything else says, hybridization data has to take ultimate precedence.

Hybridization data apart, there are two other potential arbiters of a Biblical kind. The first arbiter is human intuitive cognitive grouping. In the Garden of Eden, Adam, as the first man, was also the first taxonomist.  He spent part of the sixth day naming the animals. “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.[6]”  From these verses, we can draw some conclusions.

The most obvious conclusion we can draw is from Adam naming the animals. He was able to tell them apart. It really is that simple, but the implication is massive. If he was able to tell them apart to name them, that means there was an obvious, delineated line, between the original created kinds. Further, this line did not vanish prior to the flood. We know this because God told Noah, sixteen hundred years or so after the fall, that he would take kinds on the ark in Genesis six[7].  Obviously, Noah would still have been able to recognize the various kinds if he was to take them on the ark.

This intuitive understanding of what falls into a kind goes along with Marsh’s original idea of the baramin. “But how do we distinguish them(kinds)? By observing their differences in size, in form, in structure, and in growth habit. These distinguishing characters become manifest in each kind as it develops from the fertilized egg.[8]” In other words, based on the appearance and behavior of each creature, we intuitively classify them into groups. Simpson even admitted to a certain amount of cognitum back in 1961[9]. Cain also refers to something he calls the “natural group”, a grouping of animals of unspecified rank in the taxonomic system which can be arranged together naturally[10].

This naturally occurring cognitum is powerful evidence for a Biblical kind. It is exactly what we would expect based on the creation model. The basic kinds were distinct originally and since there has been no breeding between these kinds, we would expect them to retain their distinctness to the present.  This cognitive recognition enables us to make some very definite conclusions about the Biblical baramin.

Because of the cognitive concept of the kind, we can draw some conclusions about baramins in the living world. However, before we do that, we need to address the underlying assumptions we are making in so doing. The first assumption we make in using the enhanced cognitum model of the baramins is that we can trust our logical processes. Everyone makes this assumption, but only creationists have a basis for it.  If God made our brain, then we should expect it to function in an orderly, logical way.  After all, God is a God of order and expects us to act in an orderly fashion[11]. Evolutionists should have no such expectation since, in their view, the brain is a random assemblage of chemicals firing at random intervals.

The second assumption we make is that the kinds can be visually distinguished.  Unlike the first assumption, this one can be tested. However, testing it requires hybridization to be accepted a priori as the gold standard of a kind.  This implicitly assumes the Bible is true. Obviously, no evolutionist would agree to that premise, but every creationist agrees to it on principle.  Accepting this principle also accepts that the basic kinds have not changed into another kind since their creation. This was Marsh’s operating principle. “If we stick to the facts, we must recognize that no present-day natural process is capable of accomplishing the change necessary to bridge the discontinuity between kinds now so widely evident in nature.[12]

With those assumptions out of the way, when we look at living things in the natural world, we can distinguish most created kinds fairly easily. For example, looking at the felines, it’s obvious they naturally fit together. From tigers to tabby cats, felines clearly belong together. The same goes for zebras, donkeys, and horses. They exhibit very similar traits and thus are grouped together. This also would apply to the five species of rhinoceros.  This makes sense in light of the Biblical kind.

However, in some cases, such as the aforementioned Mustelid family, the cognitive method produces mixed results. Weasels and otters look fairly similar, but wolverines are vastly different. If hybridization data is not available, and the cognitum is difficult to determine, then it becomes necessary to rely on other data.  The most reliable form of data after the cognitum is DNA data.  However, DNA data comes in many forms. Which forms should be considered most accurate and thus most useable for baraminology?

Perhaps the easiest option available here is to simply use chromosome number.  Splitting based on chromosome number seems natural enough to the basic genetics student. After all, chromosomes contain the basic information of life so classifying by number would seem to be classifying based on information available. However well this works in the present, it does not in the past. This is due to something called chromosome fusion, which has been documented to happen in some life forms[13][14]. In the past, the total number of chromosomes may have been different than they are now, which may explain some of the loss of information involved in speciation.  Polyploidy may also have been involved, particularly in plants, so chromosome number will not work as a DNA indicator of the Biblical kind.

If chromosome number will not do, then what data will? It would seem the best arbiter would be mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This type of DNA is located in the mitochondria of the cells of eukaryotic organisms. This will not work for prokaryotic organisms since they lack mtDNA. We’ll return to prokaryotes in a moment. Mitochondrial DNA is thought to be passed almost exclusively through the female line, though this is changing slightly as male mtDNA is being discovered to be passed on as well[15]. However, both secular and creationist scientists use mtDNA to construct relationships between species[16], with many evolutionists going even further, constructing phylogenetic trees based on mtDNA[17][18]. This being the case, analysis of mtDNA data is worthwhile for most creatures.

In prokaryotes, mtDNA data is non-existent. However, what we consider “nuclear DNA” is still available, though it is less valuable for a number of reasons. For one, DNA is not bound in the nucleus in prokaryotes so it is harder to access. Further, because of recombination and bacterial gene transfer, tracing ancestry with prokaryotic DNA is much harder. Because mtDNA recombines with identical copies of itself, if the rate of mutation is known, ancestry can be traced using mutation rate, at least along the female line.

What then should we consider to be similarity based on mtDNA data? For this, mtDNA sequencing must be compared. If the mtDNA sequences share the same genetic sequences, but have different mutations, then it is likely the two creatures were of the same baramin on the ark but diverged soon afterward.  If they are different in sequence, then they are not the same baramin. If the sequences are the same and share similar mutations, it is likely that they are the same baramin and only diverged fairly recently.

However, mtDNA has massive limitations. Building a mtDNA tree is complicated, and imprecise. Further, for many species, mtDNA data is lacking, or limited to one or two sequences. Until such time as either the technique improves, or more information becomes available, mtDNA will not work well as a delineator of the Biblical kinds.

Cladists typically use cytochrome c data when discussing genetics. This is because cytochrome c is found across most eukaryotes and is remarkably similar in most of them. However, using cytochrome c is a terrible decision for the baraminologist.  Because the amino acid chain is very short, cytochrome c is often very similar in creatures that are not closely related. For example, it is identical in chimpanzees and humans, which share a mere 84% similarity based on recent genetic studies[20]. Thus cytochrome c is essentially useless for baraminology studies. The fact that it is used at all in cladistics is an example of evolutionists use of confirmation bias.

If mtDNA and cytochrome c will not work, then what DNA data will work? Currently, there is no good answer to that question. Whole genome analysis could be an answer, but this is likely decades in the future at best. Further, such an analysis is only useful if it compares average sequences of dozens of organisms of a given species to the average of roughly the same number of sequences of a different species.  Such information is even further in the future.

In the present, however imprecise, mtDNA seems to be the best option, but it not a solid foundation at present. Baraminologists should only use it as a support to hybridization and cognitum data, rather than stand-alone evidence of discontinuity between kinds. While mtDNA does have its uses, it is, at best, limited.  Although using it is undesirable, in some cases there is little choice.

In some cases, mtDNA is completely off the table. This would particularly apply to prokaryotes, fossils and creatures where mtDNA data is not yet available. However, hopefully, in most cases, hybridization and the cognitum will be sufficient to delineate a kind. In cases where it is insufficient and genetic data is impossible, then statistical baraminology should be used.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in previous articles discussing statistical baraminology, explain why it is a poor basis for baraminology. However, in some cases, statistics is the only option available. Fossils, in particular, are problematic in some cases, as some bizarre creatures are found fossilized that cannot be placed easily. One example is the fossil “beardog” group[21]. They look like a weird cross between a bear and a dog. Is it a bear, a dog, or its own baramin? Most creationists agree that these fossils represent their own created kind based on the discontinuity in the fossils[22].  However, to the best of my knowledge, no full baraminology studies have been done to determine this.  Since statistical baraminology is the only way to measure this, as it is impossible to hybridize living bears or dogs with extinct beardogs, any such analysis is, at best tentative.

There is a use for statistical baraminology in cases such as that cited above, but it is incredibly limited.  We’ve discussed the limits of statistical baraminology extensively in previous articles so we will not belabor the point here.  Instead, we will attempt to answer this question. What aspects of statistical baraminology should be retained?

Probably the most important aspect of statistical baraminology to retain is its holism. Wood and Murray make a strong point in arguing for a holistic approach to baraminology[23]. If we are forced to use statistics, then using every available trait for which there is data is a must.  This does require a heavy reliance on evolutionary datasets, but there is little choice in this regard.  Holism is an excellent principle when attempting to determine relationship and reduces the amount of arbitrariness in the system.

However, when Wood says holism, he means something different than I do. Wood includes hybridization data as part of his dataset, whereas I break it out completely and use it as a gold standard. The enhanced cognita model will only use statistics as a last resort when no other information is available. Hybridization is by far the most important piece of the puzzle, something Wood seems to completely overlook. Not to be overly critical of Wood, he is a far more intelligent man than I am. However, in this instance, his reliance on the methodology of secular science is interfering with his worldview.

A Biblical Model

 Now that we have assembled all the pieces, it is time to put together a Biblical model of the baramin and explain how to apply it. In the next article, we will perform some example baraminology studies to demonstrate just how well the enhanced cognita concept works with real creatures.

The first step of the enhanced cognita model of baraminology is to search the literature for hybridization data. This sounds intimidating, but it really is not. Scientists are just human and frankly, many scientific papers are rife with speculation anyway when it comes to conclusions about worldviews. Generally, it will be good to use the family name for the animals you are looking for in the search rather than the common name. This is because common names are often shared across multiple organisms, whereas family names are usually not. Google scholar is a good resource for searching for scientific papers. Just about every paper cited in this article series is open access so you can do a lot with scholar.  Alternatively, your local college library may have access to journals that google scholar does not have free text for.

Hopefully, depending on your choice of organism, you will be able to find hybridization data. Once you’ve found this, you will need to construct a hybridogram.  A hybridogram is essentially a visual compilation of hybrid data and can be easily generated on a spreadsheet.  There will be some visual representations of a hybridogram in the next article.  Wood supplements these with DNA data in instances where hybridization data is lacking[24]. However, as mentioned above, this is not always practical. Even sequence similarity, which Wood relies on, is not perfect, nor is it available for every creature.

Once the hybridogram is complete, information is available. If any two species can hybridize, they are the same created kind.  If two species do not hybridization with each other, but both hybridize with the same third species, then they also can be considered part of the same kind.

If hybridization data is unavailable, or incomplete, then the cognitum should be employed.  Obviously, this step is somewhat subjective, but it can be made slightly less subjective by using the discontinuity matrix proposed by Wise[25]. I’ve updated this matrix to more accurately reflect the enhanced cognita method (see below).  Some questions are borrowed from Wise, others from Wood, which I’ve noted using their initials since they share the same last initial.

The discontinuity matrix is incredibly useful. Completing it may demonstrate that organisms which seem discontinuous may not be.  Alternatively, it may demonstrate discontinuity between organisms which seem to be continuous based on a simple appearance.

Usually, at least with extant taxa, a hybridogram and discontinuity matrix should be enough to determine if creatures are part of a created kind. This relies completely on reproductive groupings and human cognitive ability, which are the best available tools for baraminology.  However, there are some taxa where this is impossible. In such cases, DNA datasets are required.

As mentioned earlier in the article, DNA datasets are hardly the most reliable model of baraminology. However, there are cases where they cannot be avoided. Whole genome sequence analysis is perhaps the most reliable mechanism but this leads to the question of, how much similarity is there within the Biblical kind? We cannot say for certain. However, we can deduce a few possible thoughts from the human, chimp genome studies previously mentioned. Since it has been determined that humans and chimps are roughly 84% similar, and they are not part of the same baramin, anything within the same kind should be more than 84% similar[26].  Of course, this is not a solid number since the chimp genome is a train wreck, as it was built assuming ancestry with humans and the 84% is likely to decrease as an actual, valid chimp genome is assembled.

Figure 9.1

Question Yes? No?
Is there Scriptural discontinuity? (TCW, KPW)
Is Hybridization data lacking?
Does hybridization fail outside the group? (KPW)
Are there extinct organisms classified in this group?
Do most members of the group possess unique structures or metabolic pathways for their group? (TCW)
Is the group more morphologically similar within the group than it is with things outside the group? (TCW) (KPW)
Is there strong genetic discontinuity among many genes? (TCW) (KPW) (Note this information may be unavailable)
Does this group occupy a specialized environment? (TCW) (KPW)
Does this group have fossil evidence linking it to other groups? (KPW) (TCW) (Note, do not take evolutionists word on this)
Does this group naturally appear discontinuous from other groups?
Are there any members of the group with highly specialized traits?

Using DNA data sets require a knowledge of DNA and computer programs that frankly, is not available to most amateur baraminologists.  This is why I have caveated genetic data on the discontinuity matrix.  Genetic data is nice, but unnecessary for a baraminology study.

When all else fails, particularly in the case of fossils, statistics may be employed to establish a rough idea of the baramin. This relies exclusively on datasets produced by evolutionists so should be taken with a grain of salt. Such is the case in Wood’s study of the swans and geese. His study using statistics revealed discontinuity between geese and swans. The only problem was, extensive hybrid data connects geese, ducks, and swans.  To his credit, Wood admitted this and concluded “…no reliable baraminic conclusions can be drawn from this dataset.[27]”  However, the fact that statistical baraminology has yielded this kind of result multiple times indicates that it has an internal failing[28].

That said, statistics are a necessary evil when confronted with the fossil problem.  Fortunately, when this problem presents itself, there are resources available which help solve the problem. All that is necessary is a spreadsheet software and a specialized software called BDIST, which Wood has graciously made available for free on the internet[29]. The BDIST, which stands for baraminological distance, converts the ones and zeros of the statistical baraminological dataset into the graph showing either continuity or discontinuity.

Obtaining a dataset for statistical baraminology requires going into the evolutionary literature. Generally searching google scholar for “phylogenetic trees” or “cladistics” of a given organism will provide multiple articles, some of them open access, discussing the purported evolutionary ancestry of the organism of choice, However, not all of these will contain their datasets.  Wood suggests that, in such cases, writing to the corresponding author of the paper and asking for it is a valid recourse. While I have not attempted this, I would recommend not mentioning baraminology or the Bible if you decide to attempt this as that is practically a guarantee of access being denied.

Conclusions

Based on what we have discussed in this article, a robust Biblical model of the baramin remains somewhat elusive.  However, the enhanced cognitum concept of the kind appears to be the best model available for delineating the kinds.  As baraminology continues to advance, and as more information becomes available in the mainstream scientific community, the enhanced cognitum concept will undoubtedly be improved, and perhaps even replaced.  This is expected, and welcome. The ultimate goal of baraminology is to correctly identify the original created kinds so that we may understand the mind of our God in a deeper way.  The mechanism used to identify the kinds is largely irrelevant, in an ultimate sense, so long as it identifies them correctly.

At this point, no ideal mechanism exists to identify kinds. Thus any baraminology studies we perform have the potential to be flawed, simply due to the mechanism. The studies we perform are, as it were, making the best of a bad hand. Some aspects work better than others. Hybridization is more reliable than the cognitum. The cognitum is more reliable than statistics.  Baraminology does have its weaknesses still.  However, the concept itself is far more robust than any other option. It works far better than the colossal cladistics failure.

[1] Lightner et al, 2011.

[2] Jeanson, 2017.

[3] Genesis 1:21

[4] Genesis 6:19-20

[5] Genesis 8:17

[6] Genesis 2:19-20

[7] Genesis 6:20

[8] Marsh, 1976.

[9] Simpson, 1961.

[10] Cain, 1954.

[11] 1 Corinthians 14:40

[12] Marsh, 1976.

[13] Minoru Murata and Thomas J. Orton. “Chromosome fusions in cultured cells of celery.” Canadian Journal of Genetics and Cytology Volume 26, No. 4 (1984) Pages 395-400. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/41772819/Chromosome_fusions_in_cultured_cells_of_20160130-15219-19m91ft.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1545331697&Signature=FDUCKXl1A5kkQQS3CLIpH52x5ZA%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DChromosome_fusions_in_cultured_cells_of.pdf

[14] Vladimir Pavan Margarido and Orlando Moreira-Filho. “Karyotypic differentiation through chromosome fusion and number reduction in Imparfinis hollandi (Ostariophysi, Heptapteridae)” Genetics and Molecular Biology Volume 31, No. 1 (2008) http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S1415-47572008000200012&script=sci_arttext

[15] Shiyu Luo, C. Alexander Valencia, Jinglan Zhang, Ni-Chung Lee, Jesse Slone, Baoheng Gui, Xinjian Wang, Zhuo Li, Sarah Dell, Jenice Brown, Stell Maris Chen, Yin-Hsiu Chien, Wuh-Liang Hwu, Pi-Chuan Fan, Lee-Jun Wong, Paldeep S. Atwal, and Taosheng Huang. “Biparental Inheritance of Mitochondrial DNA in humans.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Volume 115, No. 51(2018) Pages 13039-13044. https://www.pnas.org/content/115/51/13039

[16] Jeanson, 2017

[17] Anna V. Goropashnaya, Vadim B. Fedorov, and Pekka Pamilo. “Recent speciation in the Formica rufa group ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae): inference from mitochondrial DNA phylogeny.” Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution Volume 32 (2004) Pages 198-206. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/e7ef/b8c53396e348049a621904b7221662d8bb05.pdf

[18] Kerry l. Shaw. “Conflict between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA phylogenies of a recent species radiation: What mtDNA reveals and conceals about modes of speciation in Hawaiian crickets.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Volume 99 No. 25 (2002) Pages 16122-16127. https://www.pnas.org/content/99/25/16122?cited-by=yesl99%252F25%252F16122&utm_source=TrendMD&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Proc_Natl_Acad_Sci_U_S_A_TrendMD_0

[20] Jeffrey P. Tompkins “Comparison of 18,000 De Novo Assembled Chimpanzee Contigs to the Human Genome Yields Average BLASTN Alignment Identifies of 845” Answers Research Journal Volume 11(2018) Pages 205-209. https://assets.answersingenesis.org/doc/articles/pdf-versions/arj/v11/chimpanzee_contig.pdf

[21] Susumu Tomiya and Zhijie Jack Tseng. “Whence the beardogs? Reappraisal of the Middle to Late Eocene ‘Miacis’ from Texas, USA, and the origin of Amphicyonidae (Mammalia, Carnivora)” Royal Society Open Science Volume 3 No. 10 (2016) https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rsos.160518

[22] Brian Thomas “Beardogs: Bears, Dogs, or Something Else?” Acts and Facts July, 2018 Institute for Creation Research https://www.icr.org/article/beardogs-bears-dogs-or-something-else

[23] Wood and Murray, 2003.

[24] Wood and Murray, 2003.

[25] Wise, 1990.

[26] Tomkins, 2018.

[27] Wood, 2008.

[28] Lightner et al, 2011.

[29] This software can be found here http://www.coresci.org/bdist.html

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