In my open letter to Ken Ham I derided the notion that animal “kinds” means what biologists call “Families.” It struck me as an epicycle to be able to have the ark thing work (which I am sure it is, but it is not unique to Ken.) So, I was wrong, I guess I am not infallible. But then again, I don’t think most of the folks in the pews understand what kind of “creationism” is being taught.
Now, at one time “creationism” (at least as I understood it) meant that species don’t change. God created lions, tigers, giraffes and great white sharks. Each was fine tuned to its place in nature, and for the most part nothing changed from Adam’s time down to ours. Well, that is not what is coming out of the creationism factories these days.
Before we can talk about the creation process, we have to remember something very important. The world that we see around us is not really as a result of the “creation” per se, but rather the world that has developed after the Flood. Remember, god killed everything on the land, except what Noah could carry on his ark. So, it really doesn’t matter what the world looked like as the first raindrop fell, at least for land animals. The only thing that counts is what came off the ark and what happened to them. And I’m not sure at all the people understand what the “creationists” are now saying.
What they say is that Noah loaded up two of every “kind” animal. Now, you might think that would mean what we call “species” today, but that is not what is being said by the modern ark makers. They have calculated that some 950 “kinds” of animals were on the ark. Roll that around in your brain, they believe that just under 5000 years ago there were a grand total of 950 animals and eight human beings on the land. Now, I suppose we could do some math about how we got from eight to 7 billion people in 5,000 years, but that does not amaze me that much. Here is the real question: How did we get from 950 “kinds” of animals to the some 20,000+ species we have today? In 5000 years?? And don’t say “they evolved.”
Well, they changed, but they didn’t evolve. Of course not. Apparently god is more of an app maker than a creator, according to modern creation theory. Apparently each “kind” of animal can morph into other of it’s “kind” when it finds itself in a new environment. They say that “kinds” are roughly equivalent to a “family” in modern taxonomy.
Apparently Noah didn’t for example, have a polar bear, black bear, grizzly bear and sun bear on board. He just had a pair of “ursidae.” And these Ursidae, after wandering off the ark, went out and morphed or “rapidly speciated” into all the bears we have today. Apparently every bear has DNA which allows it to grow into any other kind of bear, depending on what environment they end up in. So, god didn’t so much create “bears” as much as he created a DNA program that grows many different kinds of bears. And implanted that into bear skins.
So essentially all the bears of the world (and all kinds that have gone extinct “since the Flood”) derived from one bear pair. And there is no evolution? Now, they have set up fences of sorts in that one “kind” cannot morph into another. So, a polar bear, taken to another habitat would eventually start having grizzly bear cubs (must be true!) but won’t start having wolf cubs.
Now, this epicycle is necessary to keep Noah from having to round up some 20,000 “kinds” of animals to go on the ark (not including insects, which creationists say he didn’t bother with). But the ramifications seem pretty stunning to me.
Animals are not so much “designed” as programmed. Their genes are a sort of generic program that generates new varieties depending on environment. And this program has some sort of limits built into it so that it doesn’t cross the “kind” line. Whatever that is!
Has anyone told the people in the pews this? In the old days creationism made some sense. God created grizzly bears, polar bears, raccoons and squirrels. They were separate species and made specifically for their niche in nature. And of course grizzly bears could not have polar bear cubs. That was always the creationist retort to evolution, does a chicken lay an egg and a duck come out? No! That would be silly. But for a polar bear to morph into a panda bear in a couple of hundred years (as would be required for one set of bears to have come off the ark 5,000 years ago) you pretty much have to have one species of bear giving birth to another. Which leads to an interesting question. Have there already been all the kinds of bears there can be? And even with rapid speciation that must mean there are intermediate forms of some kind. Why don’t we see those? Why don’t bears just get progressively whiter as you go north? And why aren’t there polar bears in the Antarctic?
Oh, that is right, I don’t need to disprove creationism, science already did that. This animorph theory would mean all bears would have to have exactly the same DNA so that if the environment changes they can morph into another type (not kind!) And also, when the last polar bear dies, no problem, just take a couple of truckloads of brown bears up there and just wait for them to change.
But to me the biggest question is how does this really play in Boise? It is one thing to teach that god created a zoo full of animals. Oh, the perfectly designed neck of the giraffe! It is quite another to teach that god created a bunch of animorphs. Giraffes and okapi are in the same family (please don’t make me look up if the creationists consider them the same “kind!”) So, Noah could have had an okapi on the ark and within a couple of hundred years it becomes the perfectly designed giraffe? Just by running a DNA program? Intermediate species? Polar bears birthing panda bears? Yep, “creationism” has all that now. Go tell it from the mountain!
So what we have is evolutionary theory says that living things can change over long periods of time and isolated groups of them can change so much that they become different species. Creationists that animals faced with a new environment “morph” into a better adapted species of the “same kind.” A polar bears can become sloth bears in a few generations. Which makes more intuitive sense?
Sure, let’s teach the controversy. Since animals can change species, the only questions left are over what time periods and within what limits. We would have to ask why not make the “kinds” even higher on the taxonomic scale, like a generic carnivore. They certainly share many common characteristics. If leopards can morph into lynxes, why not have a “carnivore” that can become either a cat or dog? Same thing! Oh, that would be evolution!
Creationism says that animals evolve, but only so far and then stop. And they really want to teach that? They really are dumber than I thought.