Update in the press: Elder has agreed to come on the Beyond the Basics podcast to discuss his work so stay tuned for that in the near future.
I’ve been slowly working my way through Todd Elder’s Created Kinds, Baraminology and the Creation Orchard over the last few months. The slowness had nothing to do with the quality of the book. It had to do with my incredibly busy schedule over the last few months. Now that I’ve finished it, I’m going to go over it and give you all a preview of what to expect in the book, should you choose to pick it up. The book is split into four units that do not tightly connect to one another so I will examine each one individually.
The first thing you notice when you open the book is the artwork, not the content. I suspect Elder did his own artwork because it is definitely computer generated but without the skill that a trained graphic designer would produce. This is not a criticism of Elder, who likely self-published, merely the most noticeable feature in the text. Notably, many of the images appear with sidebars of text which simply rephrase the main text. This seems a missed opportunity to add some additional, more in-depth information outside the main text but perhaps this was not Elder’s goal.
The first unit is described as the Scriptural unit. I applaud Elder for starting with the Scriptures. The unit examines the Scriptural basis for creation, as well as baraminology. It contains numerous references to the original Hebrew, as well as Scriptural references that make the points Elder is trying to convey. This section serves as a great primer on basic creationist thought. Elder does an excellent job explaining the Hebrew and how it ties into baraminology though, bizarrely, he attempts to classify angels in a short section which feels like an unnecessary reach. The only other mark against this section is that there is not a lot new here. Some of the Hebrew interpretation will be new to most people, but, for those of us who have been around creation science for a while, this section will mostly feel like a rehash of things we already know. There is nothing wrong with this, as some people may need foundational knowledge, it is just something to consider.
Fortunately, while there is some rehash in the next section on science, there are also numerous new ideas. Parts of this unit, such as Elder explaining the scientific method and some of the problems with evolution are nothing new. Starting in chapter nine, however, Elder starts to lay out new information. He briefly covers his concept of a species, the Katagenos Species Concept, as an explanation for the variation within kinds. His concept treats species like breeds, which seems logical in light of the Scriptures. He has a whole pamphlet devoted to this concept which I’m attempting to purchase so I can learn more as this concept intrigues me.
Elder argues in chapter ten that the reason species hold together is a concept called heritage mating. Elder’s idea is that genetics, behavior, and environmental cues are the key factors that hold species together and prevent mixing, even when other members of the same kind are available. This concept is intriguing but is not developed enough to make a full comment on as yet. I look forward to Elder expounding on this concept and documenting it.
By far the most interesting concept in the book is what is called the floral formula which is developed in chapter eleven. While Elder admits the concept is not new with him, it certainly is not common. Basically, the floral formula is a notation system that allows a person to know, at a glance, what the general structure of the flower is. Elder takes it a step further and claims that all members of the same created angiosperm kind will have the same floral formula. This idea is intriguing but Elder does not provide data to support this claim. If such data exists, I hope he presents it to the public at some point in the future as it could be a huge advance in baraminological research.
Elder’s third unit deals with the relationship evolution and creation have with society. Veterans of creation science will again feel a slight amount of rehash here as Elder discusses the interface between evolution and culture, as well as what the big questions are and how to answer them. Overall, this section is what you would expect from a creation science book.
The final unit in Elder’s book is the classification unit. Here Elder evaluates the various methods of taxonomy side by side, as well as detailing his proposed classification system, which he terms the Natanzera classification system. This system essentially wipes out the upper levels of classification and modifies the levels from family on down to more closely fit his ideas about baraminology. In this section, he shows off his floral formula concept of plant baraminology, delineating over two dozen plant baramins using the concept, as well as applying a cognitive concept to ferns, and gymnosperms. He then goes over some animal baraminology as well in this section. If you are a baraminology nerd like I am, these chapters will enthrall you. If not, this section may not be quite as entertaining.
Overall, this is a good book. It walks a fine line between being for the veterans of creation science and for those who are new to the field, which is both a strength and a weakness depending on what you are looking for. In my case, I was hoping for more baraminology and was disappointed in that sense. Your mileage may vary, depending on what you want from the book. If you want an introductory look at baraminology, as well as a background in creation science, this book is excellent and I recommend it. If you want a deeper look at baraminology, consider checking out the in-depth look I did last year in a series of articles. Either way, this book is not terribly expensive on Amazon and is worth a look as it has something for everyone. If you’re cheap like me, Mr. Elder was kind enough to provide a pdf download which can be found on the resource page of this website.