I’ve written fairly extensively about baraminology in the past. Between preliminary studies of dinosaurs, fish, plants and even some mammals, I’ve been looking into this for some time. I’ve also spoken with a few others in the field and talked about their ideas as well. So it should come as no surprise I’ve finally gotten around to looking into statistical baraminology. I’ve been mildly critical of it before, but I wanted to ensure I thoroughly understood it before writing an article critiquing it. After reading through some of the methodology papers published by the statistical baraminologists, I’ve become convinced the method is irredeemable.
I want to start with a disclaimer that this has nothing to do with the individuals involved, nor is it a reflection on their character. Everyone has had wrong, false, or simply uninformative ideas. While I disagree with the ideas of these gentlemen, that does not mean they are bad people or not Christians. It simply means we have different ways of looking at things.
Statistical baraminology relies on a statistical algorithm that reviews a character matrix. The data for this character matrix is almost always obtained from published evolutionary peer-review journals. These data are then plugged into an equation that determines how far apart organisms are based on shared character states. Theoretically, the more characters two organisms have in common, the more closely related they are.
The problem with this idea, is that this is basically the evolutionary homology argument. Evolutionists love to claim that common structures are proof of common ancestry. The creationist counter, rightly, has been, common design accounts for the common structures we observe. Statistical baraminology flips this on its head and makes an explicitly evolutionary assumption from its foundation.
This foundational issue showed itself in the very first study that was performed. In that study, done in 1998 on humans and apes. Biblically, we know man was made in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and thus shares no ancestry with the apes. Therefore, it should not possible to detect a relationship between humans and apes if the method is valid. Turns out, it is. The researchers who premiered the method determined that it was impossible with molecular data included in the dataset, to separate humans from apes. Therefore, they post-hoc removed it and used only morphological and ecological data. After doing so, they discovered that they could find a difference between primates and humans. They concluded as others would later, that the problem was the chromosomal and molecular data and it has been very sparsely used since then.
The second paper that was done was also published in 1998 by the same authors. This one was done on cats. This time ecological data was uninformative. However, this time, the molecular data was informative and pointed toward cats being all of the same kind. This brings up an inherent conflict. Is DNA good evidence or isn’t it? If we trust it for cats, why shouldn’t we trust it for primates and humans? Ironically, a later study on cats, done with just morphological data, found that cats group with some other, unrelated organisms.
This presents a massive problem. Essentially, different studies have come to accurate conclusions using contradictory characters. However, in order to reach those conclusions, they have to toss out pieces of data. Further, it has also reached some unpalatable conclusions, such as splitting geese, ducks and swans, which are connected by hybrid data, and placed fossil australopithecines in the humankind. Worse, evolutionists have used it to demonstrate that all dinosaurs are the same kind, which is patently false, as we are working on demonstrating here ate In His Image.
There are a lot of other issues with statistical baraminology, which would take much more space than a single blog could cover. Basically, though the key issue is homology. If not all common traits are the result of ancestry, then the method does not work. Unfortunately, this was not taken into account when the system was devised. This has led to numerous false results and nearly a quarter a century of either wasted or questionable studies.
This leads into the question of where do we go from here? If the statistical systems don’t work, what will? I don’t know for sure. I’ve written extensively about this, but I’m not sure we have a complete answer. Statistics clearly isn’t the answer, at least in its current form. Morphology has its uses but only goes so far. Hybridization has issues too, especially with fossils. Genetics seems a good possibility. The problem again, is fossils. Fossils mostly do not have DNA. So the problem has not yet been solved. I am however, optimistic about finding an answer. I’m working on it, others are working on it. I will probably be releasing an updated concept sometime this year.
Do you know what’s going to happen when you die? Are you completely sure? If you aren’t, please read this or listen to this. You can know where you will spend eternity. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us, we’d love to talk to you.