“Kinds”

Time for a discussion of “kinds”, i.e. “created kinds”, known to some as baramins. More specifically, holobaramins, an originally created (no ancestors, that is) population and all its descendants. But from now on I’ll just call them kinds, as long as we can agree on the intended meaning. There can be no kinds within kinds. Each one is a separate tree in a creationist’s phylogenetic orchard.

I don’t mean to go on long. This is really intended as a place for creationists to attempt to answer important questions of baraminology. Can a kind encompass more than one species? How can you know whether two species belong to the same or different kinds? Would we expect to see something obvious to differentiate them?

I’ve seen several criteria proposed, some of which work in only one direction. If two species hybridize, it’s claimed, they must be the same kind; but if they don’t, that doesn’t mean they’re different kinds. If a transition between two species is not “mechanically feasible”, they must be different kinds; but if it is, that doesn’t mean they’re the same kind. Other criteria I’ve seen are “discontinuity”, whatever that is, intuitive recognition (seriously, that’s an actual claim), and of course biblical exegesis. Can we agree to leave out the last?

Finally, can some creationist use those criteria, or any other, to designate at least a few entities that he is sure are kinds? Then we’ll have something concrete to argue about.

72 thoughts on ““Kinds”

  1. The discipline of Baraminology was founded by Walter ReMine and Kurt Wise (a student of David Raup from University of Chicago and Stephen J. Gould.

    There was a very nasty split between Walter and Kurt, where Walter wanted to argue purely in terms of phenetics, transformed cladistics, taxonomy, development, etc. — discontinuity. Wise (and others like Todd Wood) wanted to base it on Biblical ideas like clean and unclean animals.

    So there are two versions of Baraminology. I prefer Walter’s version.

    ReMine Baraminology is built from the bottom up. That is if we have hybridization experiments, we can declare the individuals as coming from a
    common ancestor. We can then leave question marks or accept as a default position that something didn’t evolve from something else. But this approach has a nice feature, hypotheses of a Baramin can be falsified by experiment.

    For example, when I talked to Walter in passing, we were discussing whether foxes have been experimentally shown to be in the Dog/Wolf/Jackal/Coyotee baramin through hybridization or species ring tracing. If we exclude foxes from the Dog/Wolf/Jackal/Coyotee baramin, the hypothesis could be falsified experimentally. The problem with UCA (Universal Common Ancestry) vs Orchard Common Ancestry (OCA) is that UCA can’t be falsified experimentally, for that matter it can’t be confirmed experimentally either!

    Each of the created kinds classification can be experimentally verified if true and falsified if false, at least in principle.

    I’ve suggested the following are examples of isolation that likely point to these creatures being separate kinds: Crocodiles, Lizzards, Snakes, Turtles:

  2. phoodoo:
    What’s the definition of a species?

    Why not try to stay on topic for once? Every time there’s a discussion about ID or the likes, all you guys have is handwaving and deflections towards shooting down evolution. Are you so insecure about your “theories” that you’re afraid of discussing them?

  3. What if the ancestors of modern kinds could have mated or hybridized?

    How do you verify an opinion on that?

  4. stcordova: Each of the created kinds classification can be experimentally verified if true and falsified if false, at least in principle.

    So you leave out of the falsification process the first part, you know, the part about “created kinds”. That’s an a-priori, right?

  5. One might add to all this that baramins/kinds are not a natural concept for creationism. They are a recent concession to obvious evidence of genealogical relatedness. Creationists who are into baraminology do not point out that for most of the time since Darwin, creationism has argued for the fixity of species. Species were what played the role of baramins. Until recently, young-earth creationists did not allow for creatures to get off the Ark, and head for their own part of the world, while all the time evolving at a furious rate.

  6. Creationist and even evolutionary biologists like Richard Sternberg created a program called ANOPA to determine morphological distances.

    worldscientific.com

    A freely available paper from Cavenaugh:

    Cavanaugh

    My understanding was ANOPA was able to plot morphological distances without the assumption of phylogeny. Is there a mode or program within PHYLIP that can do the same for discrete characters? I found the PHYLYP “Pars – Discrete character parsimony” program that yields a phylogeny, is there a PHYLIP program that just plots distances?

    Here is a an ANOPA diagram that is used by some of the Baraminologists to plot morphological or molecular distances. Baraminology is also called (by Remine) Discontinuity systematics. You’ll note how the ANOPA plot describes a discontinuity.

    Personally I don’t like ANOPA, the modern Gene Browsers can do a lot for you to identify discontinuities, imho. Anyway here is a sample of some software used by Baraminologists:

    Figure 5: 2D ANOPA plot with group 1 and group 2 two sigma confidence
    ellipse’s. The overlap of the confidence ellipse’s suggests two
    overlapping data clusters representing at best two statistical sub-
    populations of a single statistical population. The overlap area of the
    two confidence ellipses are small, indicating a connection, but a
    statistically important discontinuity as well. Point #18 lies outside of
    the group 1 confidence ellipse, showing it to be a statistical outlier,
    which might be subsumed into group 1 with less points in the upper
    middle excluded from the group. Point #20 resides right on the group 2
    confidence ellipse, showing the group 2 confidence ellipse is not over
    estimated. Given the slopes of both confidence ellipses, it is apparent
    there is a regression correlation relationship between t0 and d2 for
    these two subpopulation’s. The middle band of the 3 cluster bands seen
    in the 3D ANOPA plot can be seen to represent an overlap area.

  7. stcordova,

    As usual, you respond to none of the questions asked. You talk about hybridization, but never declare that it can delimit kinds. You say that crocodiles, lizards, snakes, and turtles all belong to different kinds, but you never explain why and you never say whether crocodiles (or any of the others) are a kind. I set this thing up to give you a chance to make some clear statements. Please take advantage. This mush will not do.

  8. stcordova:
    Creationist and even evolutionary biologists like Richard Sternberg created a program called ANOPA to determine morphological distances.

    Please try to stay on-topic. The only reason to introduce ANOPA is if you think it can diagnose kinds. By the way, nobody has ever offered a justification for using ANOPA, as far as I know. What is the point of plotting morphological differences unless it serves to delimit kinds?

  9. Incidentally, snakes are a subgroup of lizards. Some lizards are more closely related to snakes than to other lizards. Why is it that lizards are a separate kind from snakes, again?

  10. stcordova: I’ve suggested the following are examples of isolation that likely point to these creatures being separate kinds: Crocodiles, Lizzards, Snakes, Turtles:

    Sal,
    In any method devised so far is there a case where it was possible to actually distinguish between two baramins?

    If so, got a reference?

  11. OMagain: Sal,
    In any method devised so far is there a case where it was possible to actually distinguish between two baramins?

    If so, got a reference?

    Let’s clarify: It isn’t enough to say “Species X and Y belong to different kinds”. You have to actually delimit the kinds. It seems to me that kinds ought to be easy to recognize and to support with data. Why not?

  12. GlenDavidson:
    Was it just to make creationists look stupid that the Designer designed life so that the design is undetectable from common descent?

    Because it seems to be the result.

    Glen Davidson

    I don’t want to start any blasphemous rumours, but I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor And when I die I expect to find Him laughing

    …just some random music reference, I mean why not XD

  13. As usual, you respond to none of the questions asked.

    Baloney. No need to waste my time on your discussion here. Bye.

  14. stcordova: Baloney. No need to waste my time on your discussion here. Bye.

    Seriously? I have myself asked you quite a few questions that you have ignored completely. And those are just mine

  15. stcordova: Baloney. No need to waste my time on your discussion here. Bye.

    What, flouncing already? Have I insulted you somehow? Is it that you actually did answer one or more of the questions posed in the original post, and I have failed to take note? If so, I apologize. Please remind me which of the questions (repeated below, for convenience) you have answered here and what the answer was.

    Can a kind encompass more than one species?
    How can you know whether two species belong to the same or different kinds? Would we expect to see something obvious to differentiate them?
    Finally, can some creationist use those criteria, or any other, to designate at least a few entities that he is sure are kinds?

  16. GlenDavidson: Was it just to make creationists look stupid that the Designer designed life so that the design is undetectable from common descent?

    Probably it was to test their faith, do you believe the Bible or your lying eyes?

  17. stcordova: Baloney. No need to waste my time on your discussion here. Bye.

    I guess to stay and answer questions was just mechanically unfeasible .

  18. If the Designer wanted biology to supply answers to questions, why did it design life in the first place?

    Kind of leaves you speechless, doesn’t it evilutionists?

    And so “dialog” with the creationists ends with “evolution is impossible” and with no evidence for design, kinds, or creationist thought. Any explanation for the patterns of life is, of course, not on their agenda–other than bleating “common design.”

    Glen Davidson

  19. Minor historical aside: as I understand it, the idea of “kinds” comes into the discourse by way of Thomistic interpretations of Aristotle. A few days ago I spent the day reading Aristotle’s On the Soul (Joe Sachs translation).

    One thing that became quite clear to me on this reading is that Aristotle is committed to the fixity of ‘forms’ (morphe) because his entire methodology is to explain change (growth, motion, alteration of qualities) in terms of forms. For the forms themselves to change would require a “meta-form” that determines how the form itself undergoes change. That is clearly unintelligible by Aristotle’s own lights. So the fixity of kinds emerges not some dogmatic commitment due to ignorance of the natural world but as a principled impossibility within the strictures of Aristotelian metaphysics.

  20. newton: I guess to stay and answer questions was just mechanically unfeasible .

    Didn’t Behe and Dembski try to prove tha evolution is impossible?

    Their abject failure should be a clue.

  21. KN,

    Minor historical aside: as I understand it, the idea of “kinds” comes into the discourse by way of Thomistic interpretations of Aristotle.

    No, it has nothing to do with Aquinas or Aristotle.

    It’s biblical:

    11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.

    Genesis 1:11-12, NIV

    And:

    20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.

    Genesis 1:20-21, NIV

    And;

    24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.

    Genesis 1:24-25, NIV

  22. petrushka: Didn’t Behe and Dembski try to prove tha evolution is impossible?

    True enough, what is mechanically unfeasible is to provide any alternative explanation beyond an unknown designer designed something somehow

  23. Kantian Naturalist: For the forms themselves to change would require a “meta-form” that determines how the form itself undergoes change. That is clearly unintelligible by Aristotle’s own lights. So the fixity of kinds emerges not some dogmatic commitment due to ignorance of the natural world but as a principled impossibility within the strictures of Aristotelian metaphysics.

    Yes, “species” comes from the ancient Greeks, got built into medieval Christian philosophy, and so notions of fixity of species were there at the start of modern biology. But in the 1800s the notion was losing ground, even before Darwin.

    By the 20th century, creationists were hanging on to it despite biologists having firmly rejected it. This is where we were just before Baraminology.

  24. Maybe I’m slow, but didn’t this “kinds” nonsense become popular when creationists couldn’t use physics to prove that the ark could hold all of the species that currently exist? Maybe Phoodoo, Frankie or Sal could provide a history.

  25. Pretty sure Ken Ham’s ark teaches kinds.

    One of the nearly forgotten relics of creationism is the belief that extinction is impossible. That claim went the way of the dodo, but it has been revived with the claim that kinds can generate all the sub kinds.

  26. dazz,

    Well, if you don’t think first having an understanding of what evolutionists means by species is important to this discussion, you are even more out of it than I thought.

  27. phoodoo,

    We’re talking about “kinds”, not species. For obvious reasons, creationists don’t insist on an equivalence.

    ETA: Obvious to us. To you, who knows?

  28. keiths: We’re talking about “kinds”, not species. For obvious reasons, creationists don’t insist on an equivalence.

    Some do. The question is what the creationists around here think. So far nobody has been willing to identify any single kind or say whether a kind can contain multiple species.

  29. If you don’t even know what the definition of species is, how do you know you are talking about two difference things?

    Kind of dumb to say there is no equivalence if you only know what one means.

  30. keiths,

    Sure, and that’s how the Hebrew “miyn” is translated into English in the King James, too.

    My point though is that Biblical translation doesn’t happen into a vacuum; every translation involves choices that are affected by the ontological commitments of the translators and their expected audience. Even folks who know Biblical Hebrew still have to interpret (especially if they are hard-core and have to figure out the vowels from context clues!).

    Nowhere in the Bible (to the best of my knowledge) is it claimed that a “kind” (“genus,” “miyn”) is ‘fixed’. That’s a commitment that comes into Christian theology from Aristotle, who would have regarded any change in ‘form’ (morphe, eidos) as unintelligible due to his philosophical commitments about how any change at all is best understood.

    By the way, “miyn” is translated as “genus” in the Vulgate. Does anyone know how it is translated in the Septuagint or other Greek translations of the Hebrew?

  31. Kantian Naturalist,

    And this is why I think the whole talk of “kinds” kind of makes sense. You have cats, you have dogs, you have rodents, and so forth, and basically all the different so called species are really just different variations of those “kinds”.

    A deer is an antelope, is a moose, is an elk, is a sheep. And probably they are also the same thing as a bison and a cow and a wildebeast, and a pig and a horse. I don’t know if “kind” refers to all hoofed animals, but until we know what a species is, saying something is a “kind” seems to make just as much sense.

  32. phoodoo,

    If “kind” in the English translation of Scripture just means the same thing as “species” in Linnaean taxonomy, and there’s no commitment to “fixity” of kinds/species in Scripture per se, then Scripture is neutral with regards to evolution or creationism. The debate between evolution and creationism won’t be settled by appealing to Scriptural authority (to the extent that it has any).

    On the other hand, if every species is a variation of a kind, then there’s a different set of issues. But I still don’t see any commitment to “fixity” of kinds (or species) in the Bible. That’s a philosophical commitment that made perfect sense to Aristotle, but there’s no good reason why anyone should accept it today*.

    * No shortage of bad reasons, though!

  33. Kantian Naturalist,

    So I contend its hard to get much further with this, without an understanding of what a species is.

    And I agree, you can’t settle the issue using scripture, because scripture is probably only as useful as the person interpreting it.

  34. KN,

    I was just disputing this:

    Minor historical aside: as I understand it, the idea of “kinds” comes into the discourse by way of Thomistic interpretations of Aristotle.

    The idea of “kinds” comes into the discourse by way of the Bible, not via Aquinas and Aristotle.

  35. keiths:
    KN,

    I was just disputing this:

    The idea of “kinds” comes into the discourse by way of the Bible, not via Aquinas and Aristotle.

    With respect to the term “kinds*, yes, it comes into the discourse by virtue of being the English translation for “genus” in the King James translation But I’m still inclined to think that the idea of kinds as being fixed cones (ultimately) from Aristotle.

  36. Good thread.
    God created kINDS. Yet we don’t know what they were. the fall came and destroyed biology so much as to kide what kINDS are.
    In order to fill the earth and live biology has the ability to adapt and so further the KINDS are messed up.
    The bible says there was a snake kind. It lost its legs and so all snakes are one kind. so one kind taken on the ark means all squeezers and spitters we now have are from this pair or six pairs. So snakes changed as needed.
    Good boundaries are here.
    I say bears, wolves, marsupial wolves, seal are all of one kind off the ark.
    I say marine mammals are from land relatives after the flood.
    of coarse marsupials are the same types as their placental cousins.
    All humans are one kind despite greater looks differences then species in present classification systems.
    So kinds are real. however distorted by the fall and innate mechanisms to allow survival. Peoples looks hint at the mechanism since it was impossible for God to allow selection to weed out folks from reproducing.
    its innate.]

  37. phoodoo:
    If you don’t even know what the definition of species is, how do you know you are talking about two difference things?

    Kind of dumb to say there is no equivalence if you only know what one means.

    How can you define the colors red and orange when you can’t tell me precisely when red stops and when orange starts on the visible spectrum?

  38. Acartia:
    Maybe I’m slow, but didn’t this “kinds” nonsense become popular when creationists couldn’t use physics to prove that the ark could hold all of the species that currently exist? Maybe Phoodoo, Frankie or Sal could provide a history.

    Over at Ken Hambone’s Ark Ripoff Park website he states “kind” is the taxonomic equivalent of “family”. Seems he forgot that makes chimps, gorillas, orangutans, and humans all be the same Hominidae “kind”. 🙂

  39. phoodoo,

    If you don’t even know what the definition of species is, how do you know you are talking about two difference things?

    I actually think this is fair (though I suspect that any proferred definition may be met with the stock ‘no, that’s not it’).

    Trouble is, there are many definitions of species according to their ultility in different fields. The fact that it is difficult in biology to have One True Definition is actually due to evolution, and the fact that apparently discrete forms are actually no such thing, when you add in the dimension of time, the continuity of generations and the possibility of ‘artificial’ hybridisation among long-separated lineages.

    A primer

  40. phoodoo:

    If you don’t even know what the definition of species is, how do you know you are talking about two difference things?

    Allan:

    I actually think this is fair…

    If all of the requisite “kinds” could fit on the Ark, along with their food sources, then we already know that “kind” is not equivalent to “species”.

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