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BBC: “Can religious teachings prove evolution to be true?” Bungled baraminology does not beat us at our own game.
Bloggers are crowing that Dr. Phil Senter has again used “creation science to test the validity of evolution” and won the day. Last year Senter’s article in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology claimed that creationist baraminology proves dinosaurs evolved into birds. His latest article claims that baraminology proves there were only eight kinds of dinosaurs, too few to have diversified into all those in the fossil record in just a few thousand years. BBC blogger Matt Walker mocks that this new “discovery” will solve our Noah’s Ark space problem.
Baraminology “classifies organisms according to a creationist framework. Animals fall into types, or baramins, which were created independently, but have diversified since.” Baraminologists enumerate the visible differences between organisms and group them according to created kinds. Dr. Senter, applying statistical baraminology to the fossil record, claims, “The results show enough morphological continuity within Dinosauria to consider most dinosaurs genetically related, even by this creationist standard.”1 He further claims that “at least 13 transitional forms have been found” to bridge the gaps between so-called dinosaur kinds.
Since he acknowledges that “mathematics has no creed,” he accepts the statistical aspects of baraminology. Then he analyzes the fossil record in such a way as to consider creatures with only sparse morphological similarities to be part of the same kind.
Well, Dr. Senter may have “done it again,” but he hasn’t done anything new. He is still misapplying baraminology to the point of absurdity. Since he acknowledges that “mathematics has no creed,” he accepts the statistical aspects of baraminology. Then he analyzes the fossil record in such a way as to consider creatures with only sparse morphological similarities to be part of the same kind. He ignores all other pertinent baraminological principles to draw conclusions no sensible creationist would ever reach.
Creationist baraminologists acknowledge the limitations of the information obtained by the statistical method. Greater weight must be placed on the capacity to interbreed, the presence of unique structures, and genomic analysis than on statistics. Since fossils are notoriously incapable of interbreeding, undergoing genetic analysis, or demonstrating the behavior and physiology of the organisms they memorialize, all baraminological classifications of extinct animals are limited. Without DNA and whole animals to analyze, any claims about genetic relatedness and transitional forms are pure speculation. As creationist Dr. Gordon Wilson states, “We may erroneously assume a high degree of overall similarity because of similar skeletal evidence.”2
The next time Dr. Senter wants to play a game, perhaps he should read all the rules.
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