Posted tagged ‘genealogy’

Spotted Dolphin

May 21, 2012

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The Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) is one of about 40 species currently classified in the family Delphinidae.

A spotted dolphin comes in for a close look at my camera.

Reaching lengths of 8 feet, spotted dolphins are usually smaller than Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, and tend to travel in bigger groups, or pods, of 20 or more. Like most dolphins, spotted dolphins are very family-oriented, which brings up an interesting question. Because they normally tend to stick together as a family, dolphin pods are by nature reproductively isolated. And most biologists consider reproductive isolation to be the most important factor in contributing to diversification over time. But why are there only about 40 classified species of dolphins? Some say dolphins have been around for tens of millions of years, which seems like plenty of time to have more than 40 species develop on our watery planet.

Besides reproductive isolation, dolphins are classified as different species based on traits that humans consider different enough to distinguish one population from another. But compare the 40 or so “species” of dolphins to the 150-plus “breeds” of dogs currently registered by the American Kennel Club. All breeds of dogs are considered to be one “species”, Canis familiaris, all developed over the last 2000+ years. However, just like a laborador retriever can successfully breed with a golden retriever, so too a spotted dolphin can successfully breed with the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Yet we classify them as different species, placing spotted dolphins in genus Stenella and bottlenose in genus Tursiops!

The truth is, a lot of confusion exists regarding how to define a species. Much confusion is remedied though, when we think of dolphins as one big family, or baramin. “Baramin” is the Hebrew word for “kind”, and is used many times in Scripture to describe God’s creative acts.  Scripture is clear that their are different kinds of things, and that “all flesh is not the same flesh” (I Corinthians 15:39). Also, as Peter Leithart explains, the “The Bible unveils a God who gives enough and more than enough”, and we see this attribute revealed in His creation, too. We see one family of dolphins, which God gave “enough and more than enough” to adapt and diversify over time.

So few dolphin species, so little time

And speaking of time, that brings me back to the question of “why only 40 dolphin species?” With their natural tendency towards reproductive isolation, one might think that if the earth were as old as some say, we wouldn’t have dozens, we would have hundreds of dolphin species. I believe the fact that we don’t see much diversity is good evidence that the best interpretation of earth age is the one that lines up with the genealogies recorded in Scripture. It is not-so-common knowledge that research reveals both the genetic and geneaological trends in humans point to thousands, not millions or billions of years of earth history. It certainly seems the dolphin baramin displays a similar trend.

Dolphins, oil and gas, and Christian stewardship

Here are some video clips from a May 2012 trip into the Gulf of Mexico, about 30 miles SE of Freeport, TX.

I want you to consider everything you see in the video, not just the dolphins. Included are video clips of a pod of about 18-20 spotted dolphins.  But you’ll also see a clip showing massive schools of fishes surrounding an oil and gas production platform. Think about it; what you are seeing is a man-made structure that also serves as an artificial reef, providing food and shelter for giant schools of snapper, blue runners, etc. And the spotted dolphins have come to reap the fishy harvest! Some conclusions I hope you will draw are 1) the dolphins are better off because of man’s activities in the Gulf, 2) the fish are better off because of man’s activities in the Gulf, and 3) Humans are better off because of man’s activities in the Gulf!

So, the next time you hear about the “evils of oil and gas”, or the “endangered marine mammals”, or “humans are destroying the planet”, remember this video! Followed properly, God’s dominion mandate for Christians in Genesis 1:26-28 will make our planet a more productive place, not just for mankind, but for all kinds. Only a fool would destroy the planet, but only a fool would overprotect it, too. God gave us an entire planet and then some to use, so let’s use it wisely!

Do you have a question or comment? Please post it below.

21st Century Research Smashes Molecular Clock Myths

December 1, 2011

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Belief in evolutionism requires one to reject the authority of Scripture regarding special creation of humans, along with different created kinds, or baramins, of living organisms. Biblical history must also be rejected, because millions of years are apparently required for nature to perform its evolutionary magic. Belief in evolutionism forces one to cling to a number of 19th and 20th Century hypotheses that use artificial constructs like the geologic column and Thomas Malthus’ population data as evidence for bacteria-to-people evolution.

Fortunately, the more we learn about Earth and life in the 21st Century, the more they proclaim the glory of their Creator and the Truth of the incredible story revealed in Scripture. An example of 21st Century research is the mounting evidence against the idea of molecular clocks. Natural history researchers look at differences in genes along with fossil evidence to determine when two species diverged from a common ancestor. For the human species, researchers use molecular clocks to predict the date of “Mitochondrial Eve”, our Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) that supposedly originated in Africa.

Molecular clocks came into use in the 1960s. In the 1990 edition of Biology by Neil Campbell, an age between 200,000 and 400,000 years is given for “Eve” (p. 669). Moving ahead to 2004, we find in the 10th edition of Biology by Starr and Taggart that Eve is now only 100,000 to 200,000 years old (p. 471). The fact that the estimates were cut in half, on top of the huge error involved (50%), would make any reasonable scientist question molecular clocks.

And they do. As we entered the 21st century, we saw F.J. Ayala’s paper titled “Molecular Clock Mirages”. In 2006, world renowned evolutionary biologist Thomas Cavalier-Smith stated in a paper “Evolution is not evenly-paced and there are no real molecular clocks.” And then there’s F. Chang’s study using genealogy and statistics to predict an MRCA of less than 1,000 years ago. Chang began with an overly-simplified model, so over the next few years he added to it, and in 2003 colleague D. Rohde published research revealing an MRCA of between 2,000 and 5,000 years ago. And molecular clock skeptics Thorne and Wolpoff voiced their opinions in the 2003 Human Evolution Special Issue of Scientific American, flatly stating “putting aside the idea of a molecular clock, one can interpret the genetic data in a much more reasonable way.” (p. 52).

In 2004, Rohde, Chang, and Olson published their latest findings in Nature, and their computations shift the MRCA from Africa to somewhere in Asia. They also calculated that “all modern individuals have identical ancestors by about 3,000 BC.” Mentioning that their computer simulation was “far too conservative”, they used some more realistic numbers to come up with a “mean MRCA date is as recent as AD 55 and the mean IA date is 2,158 BC.”

The identical ancestors (IA) point differs from the MRCA. The MRCA is believed to have had many contemporaries of both sexes, and some of these also left unbroken chains of descendents down to today’s population. The IA differs in that it pushes further back in time to the point where populations can be divided into two groups: a group that left no descendents today, and a group from which all modern humans descended from. Such a scenario could arise from a population bottleneck, and the obvious example that comes to mind is the Flood described in the book of Genesis, which occurred around 2500 BC. The date of the Flood is within the range of IA dates computed by Rohde et al. During the Flood, a human population of 8 survived, and all others perished. While Rohde et al’s research does not “prove” the Genesis Flood, it definitely doesn’t rule it out.

In 2008, a paper by Matsen and Evans tried to tie genetics with the genealogy of Rohde et al, and they simply concluded genetic diversity is related to the number of descendants, confirming the ability of Rohde et al’s model to explain the human diversity we see today as resulting from a very recent ancestor.

21st Century research using genealogies instead of genetics may be a bit confusing, but the reason for that is not just the complex mathematics involved, but the basic fact that confusion exists over what happened in the past. To add to the confusion, in 2008 fossil collectors discovered a human footprint alongside that of a dinosaur. Fossil evidence like this is no problem for Christians who trust the historical accuracy of Scripture, but it is a huge contradiction to many others’ beliefs about the past. Is this fossil real?

The truth is, there will ALWAYS be confusion about what happened in the past because we cannot go back and verify it. Natural history research is not the same thing as testable, repeatable science, and should be approached as a “mixed question”, requiring inputs not just from science, but mainly history, followed by art, and philosophy. “Belief” in past events though is based on faith, either a God-given faith (Ephesians 2:8-9)in the story revealed in Scripture, or a blind faith in something else. Everybody believes in something, what do you believe?

Natural History and Scientific Research are Different

December 4, 2010

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There are almost no disputes among Christians and non-Christians that Jesus Christ was a real person and lived about 2,000 years ago. Even though the last book of the Bible was written over 1,900 years ago, historical record-keeping since that time is sufficient enough for us to believe this date. To my knowledge, there are no active debates claiming that Jesus lived 500 years ago, or 6,000, or 10 million, etc. etc. It is a historical truth that Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago, and the written and physical evidence testifies to the veracity of this claim.

God thought it was important to keep genealogical records leading up to Christ’s birth, and He inspired men to record these in Scripture. Chapters 1-11 of Genesis record the genealogies from Adam to Abraham, and Chapter 1 of Matthew summarizes the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus. Adding up these dates, plus the time since Jesus lived, we can estimate that God created the Earth and everything else about 6,000 years ago.

What I find interesting is that some of the same people who believe Jesus Christ lived 2,000 years ago, have a huge problem believing the Earth is around 6,000 years old, even though both ages are based on written and physical evidence. Why is there so much confusion, especially among Christians, about the age of the earth? One of the main reasons is that we confuse natural history with science. Real science has to do with observing God’s creation, asking questions and developing hypotheses, then performing experiments and analyzing and discussing the results. But wait, there’s more! Real science must verify the results, and this is IMPOSSIBLE to do when studying past events. Whether you believe the Earth is younger or older (although 6,000 years sounds really old to me!) you can theorize all day long, but unless you have a time machine, you can never verify your ideas. Natural history is not real science because it cannot follow the scientific method.

Just as virtually all Christians (and even non-Christians) believe that Jesus Christ lived about 2,000 years ago, there is no reason not to believe the Bible’s historical account of the +/- 4,000 years leading up to Christ. In order to reclaim the authority of God’s word regarding Earth age, one thing that must change is that we have to stop equating natural history with science. This is an error that, according to PhD geologist John K. Reed, crept in around the 19th century with the help of Georges Cuvier (“prehistory” with no written record) and Charles Lyell (uniformitarianism).  Click here to access Reed’s excellent article.

Many people, such as geologists, biologists and paleontologists are called “scientists”, but in many cases, they are really just “researchers”. If a historian wants to study Theodore Roosevelt, he will “research” the man, and draw conclusions from his research. Others will disagree with his conclusions, and the disagreements come because the researcher did not know about or even deliberately excluded important historical evidences, both written and physical. These disagreements can be overcome by including the previously omitted written and physical evidence. Still other disgreements will come because the researcher makes claims that are impossible to verify. Those claims will always be disputable.

The same types of disagreements arise when “scientists”, who are really acting as natural historians, make claims about the age of the earth, or other past events. Some of the claims will fit the evidence better than others, but ultimately, the claims are unverifiable conclusions about Earth history, not Earth science.

Most of the justification by Christians for an old Earth comes because they treat the study of Earth history as a scientific, not historic endeavor. For example, in a recent article in Modern Reformation, 8 geologists discussed how “science” points to an old Earth. As is always the case (whether an old or young-Earth argument), they support their case with a few examples.  However, they fail to distinguish between science and natural history. The same is true of a critique in BioLogos of Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a speech he gave titled “Why does the Universe look so old?” The BioLogos article begins by stating their purpose is to help “the Church, especially the Evangelical Church, come to peace with the scientific [emphasis mine] data which shows unequivocally that the universe is very old and that all of life, including humankind, has been created through a gradual process that has been taking place over the past few billion years.”

Because groups like BioLogos and the 8 geologists in the Modern Reformation article fail to distinguish between science and natural history, they make one-sided, dogmatic “scientific” claims about the age of the Earth. They don’t realize that they are really making historical claims that are impossible to verify. The truth is, we all have the same set of evidence, the differences come in the interpretation of that evidence. As an example, see Reed’s rebuttal of the 8 geologists’ Modern Reformation article.

In Genesis 1, we read that God created in 6 days. Some say these days were “periods of time” and possibly each longer than 1 day. Because the verses also mention morning and evening, I believe God was talking about 6, 24-hour days. This is verified in Exodus 20:11. If I practice “Sola Scriptura”, letting Scripture interpret Scripture, it seems obvious enough that God created in 6, 24-hour “periods of time”.  Treating Earth history as just that, history, I can find physical and written testimony that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. And just as most of us have no problem believing Jesus Christ was a real person who lived 2,000 years ago, we should have no problem believing there were about 4,000 years from the Beginning to Christ’s birth. Studying natural history can be an interesting, fun, and adventure-filled pursuit, but it is not real science, and shouldn’t be treated like it is. Be wary of the opinions of those who insist otherwise.