Ark Kinds Research—Is It Scientifically Rigorous?

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A few weeks ago, a group of creation scientists (including myself!) published an article in Answers Research Journal entitled, “Determining the Ark Kinds.” As we state in the abstract, “. . . a research effort has been initiated to provide information necessary [for the Ark Encounter project] for the best possible reconstruction of the animal kinds preserved on the Ark.” We are very excited about the collaborations that have been formed and the significant work that has already been accomplished by those involved.

Recently, a person named “Aonghas Shrugged” posted on Yahoo! Answers this question in response to the article: “Doesn’t Answers in Genesis’ new ‘Ark kinds identification project’ sound less than rigorously scientific?” He then quotes this one-sentence statement from our article: “Using current taxonomic placement as a guide, pictures and/or personal experience with the animals will be used to find obvious groupings.” The person posting then wrote, “Pictures and ‘personal experience’? Why not genetic and genomic data? Why not phylogenetic trees? [Or are they afraid that being too scientific in studying the Biblical ‘kinds’ will only affirm the theory of evolution?]”

In the article we go into much more depth about our methodology, including the use of hybridization studies, genetics, and statistical baraminology for determining the ark kinds, which Aonghas Shrugged conveniently “forgets” to mention. I asked Dr. Jean Lightner, DVM and one of the main research scientists on this project, for her feedback. She stated the following in an email:

Taxonomists use observation/personal experience in classifying animals. Why shouldn't we, building on the work of qualified scientists that have preceded us?

The difference is in the starting assumptions. Evolutionists believe all life shares common ancestry. The conflict between morphological data and genetic data has caused some serious upheaval in current taxonomy. If common ancestry were true, this would certainly not be expected. We have chosen to recognize that God created separate kinds. We anticipate that clear discontinuity (systematic differences) should still be apparent in the descendants of the Ark kinds. In some cases at higher taxonomic levels, the conflict between morphological and molecular data appears to be indicating this type of discontinuity. There are many more issues and details involved, but they will be discussed in the subsequent papers.

For those who believe it lacks scientific rigor, I encourage them to read the scientific literature and see the issues evolutionists face as they try explain the patterns seen within their worldview. The data does not "neatly fit" the common descent scenario, even though evolutionists consistently interpret it within that paradigm. There is no scientific reason to restrict oneself to that paradigm, at least if we are seeking the most realistic explanation of what happened in the past as opposed [to] just one that assumes there is no Creator.

I wholeheartedly agree! Morphology (anatomical features of an organism) and genetics (sequence of the DNA of an organism) often give conflicting results in determining supposed evolutionary relationships, as Dr. Lightner observes.  For example, some scientists believe that humans are more closely related to orangutans than to chimps.
Schwartz and Grehan contend . . . that the clear physical similarities between humans and orangutans have long been overshadowed by molecular analyses that link humans to chimpanzees, but that those molecular comparisons are often flawed: “There is no theory holding that molecular similarity necessarily implies an evolutionary relationship; . . . and molecular data that contradict the idea that genetic similarity denotes relation are often dismissed.” [1]
Chimps are more closely related to humans based on genetics, but orangutans are more closely related to humans based on morphology—so which should be used in determining evolutionary relationships and phylogenetic trees? As we can see, within the evolutionary paradigm the answers are not clear-cut as Aonghas Shrugged would have us believe.

I encourage you to read our article in Answers Research Journal (it was written to be understandable by a lay audience) on this exciting new research project, and be in prayer for us as we tackle this enormous but very important research.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!


[1] Physorg.com, “Humans Related to Orangutans, not Chimps,” June 18, 2009, http://www.physorg.com/news164508477.html.

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