My fellow blogger ApoloJedi has been doing a thorough debunking of Dr. Hugh Ross’s book A Matter of Days recently. Having never read the book, I’ve been following his review with great interest. His most recent review article brought up Ross’s critique of the young-earth view of speciation. While Ross’s view is laughably out of date, it got me thinking about how the Reasons to Believe (RTB) (Ross’s ministry) handles speciation. So I started digging into their website. Here is their view of speciation and why it does not work.
It is important to understand upfront that Dr. Ross and RTB do not accept the Bible as written. Rather they must eisogete the text to insert millions of years into the Scripture. They do this by claiming that the days in Genesis 1 are not literal twenty-four hours days. Instead, these days are supposed to be undefined long periods of time, despite the entire context of Scripture making it clear these are literal twenty-four hour days. Ross appears to hold to some form of the Day-Age view which requires God to have created in stages, separated by millions of years. This view has all manner of theological problems that cannot be addressed here. In short, it has a repeated death before sin problem, as well as the local flood problem, among other serious theological flaws.
With that as their starting point, it is a wonder Ross and RTB come to a conclusion that is remotely close to accurate. From what I can tell (they are not abundantly clear on exactly what their model requires on their website), they view speciation as highly limited, if it occurs. They imply that, at least for birds, the word min, which is translated from the Hebrew into English as “kind”, the meaning is species. Further, they imply that these species should not interbreed. Their model seems to imply that all speciation events are miracles of God and that many, so-called speciations, are merely species adapting to their environment. The reason for these speciation events is to replace those species lost to extinction. One of the pieces of evidence they point out for this is the fact that no scientist truly knows what a species is.
This model has a lot of issues but it does get one thing right. There are as many definitions of species as there are biologists. I’ve written about this before, but it bears repeating. The evolutionary model has multiple concepts of species because evolution predicts that all species will grade into one another at some point because they all share ancestry. We do not observe this, hence the large number of species concepts as biologists from different fields attempt to solve the riddles in their own field.
Unfortunately, just about everything else about the RTB speciation model is wrong. The assumption of millions of years destroys the validity of the model upfront, as there is no Biblical or scientific justification for the assumption. The contention about min meaning species is also false. A critical analysis of the Hebrew in Leviticus, from whence RTB derives this meaning, reveals that the words for the birds in question are translated differently in different translations of the Bible so there is at least some debate over their meaning. Further, min is not defined as species. It is defined as a biological grouping. Also, Leviticus is written long after the creation miracle. Plenty of diversification could have taken place since that time, even under RTB’s model of adaptation over speciation. There would have been no reason for God to have referred to the originally created groupings if they had diversified to a point the Israelites would not understand. This was the Law, they were to follow it. To follow it, they had to understand it.
The RTB model also postulates that each speciation event is a special act of God. This seems oddly inconsistent with their view that we are currently in the seventh day of God’s rest. Worse still for their model is the idea that species should not interbreed. I can provide dozens of examples of species interbreeding with different species. For example, in less than a minute’s worth of searching, I found a hybrid between two different genera of geese, something the RTB model says should not happen.
RTB would do well to re-examine their current speciation model and look into work done by Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson as well as other such work being done by young-earth creationists. Their model simply does not work. I do not expect them to do this of course, but it does seem very odd that they will accept the pronouncements of secularists when it comes to astronomy and geology, yet refuse to accept them when it comes to biology.
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