This post is based strongly on a paper written by Dr. Callie Joubert and published in Answers Research Journal back in 2011. The paper has been mostly ignored. Baraminology is dominated by fideists, termed young earth evolutionists by ICR’s Dr. Jake Hebert. However, Joubert’s paper may hold the key both to correctly identifying baramins that cannot be identified by hybridization and potentially a complete rework of the current statistical baraminology paradigm that has plagued creation science for the last two decades.
The argument presented by Joubert is fairly straightforward. He argues that the original kinds possessed what he called an “essential nature”. This nature is built into the original kinds, and was the force that held the various characteristics of the kind together into a coherent whole. He further argues that, since the nature was built into the kinds from the beginning, it has not changed. Therefore, we should be able to determine kinds by looking at their essential natures.
The idea of essential nature is useful, but Joubert is only interested in the metaphysical aspect of created kinds. He leaves practical applications to others. However, there are some very simple, straightforward explanations we can draw from the idea of kinds having an essential nature. If the kinds all have an essential nature, they should have features that set them apart from all other kinds. In biology, this could be described as the existence of diagnostic traits. Diagnostic traits are traits that identify groups. Diagnostic traits have never been used in baraminology. But if essential nature baraminology is to be used, diagnostic traits should be the primary decider of baramins when hybridization data is not available.
The idea of an essential nature in baraminology also provides strong support for the cognitive system of baraminology used by Answers in Genesis in the Ark kinds series of papers. When you examine something cognitively, what are you observing? How similar or different it appears to other organisms. What is it that informs that decision? It’s characteristics, particularly those that are found only in the group being examined. In other words, the cognitive system serves as an excellent secondary standard behind the Biblical hybridization criterion for determining baramins.
The idea of kinds having essential natures also helps explain why statistical baraminological analyses are so inconsistent. They rely on datasets derived from the secular literature that may or may not contain diagnostic characters. Even if diagnostic characters are present, they are not valued as such. Instead, they are weighed equally with characters that do not derive from the essential nature of the kinds in question. I understand the hesitancy of baraminologists to weigh characters, but if we look at the kinds as having essential natures, weighing characters becomes essential as part of baraminology.
Biblically looking at essential natures makes sense. Adam was able to identify the kinds of land animals in order to name them in Genesis 2. Obviously, he did so cognitively. However, the reason he was able to cognitively distinguish between the various kinds was due to their inbuilt essential natures. Without those, Adam would have been unable to distinguish between the kinds. The same may be said of current baraminology. Even with all the variation that has taken place since creation, the essential nature has not changed.
The thing is, despite Joubert’s high brow explanation, everyone already knows this. We all recognize dogs, cats, rhinoceroses, and almost all other kinds easily. Very rarely is there confusion, at least among familiar animals. In uncommon, or ill studied animals, confusion exists, but the confusion is likely more due to lack of knowledge and familiarity, not because of a lack of essential nature. For example, I recently purchased some fish. The clerk who sold them clearly knew nothing about the fish but, because I was well-acquainted with the kind in question, I was able to determine exactly which fish were of the kind I wanted. Because I have familiarity with the species in question, I can make a rough classification. Because the clerk did not, they were just fish to her. The more familiar you are with an organism, the easier it is to differentiate between the non-essential traits, and the essential nature.
I’ve been studying baraminology for a few years and writing about it as well. To my knowledge, I’m the first person to apply Joubert’s concept of kinds having an essential nature in a practical sense to baraminology. Once grad school classes wrap up for this session, I plan on working on a full paper fleshing out Joubert’s concept and perhaps applying it to a given organism so stay tuned for that.
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