Posted tagged ‘Genesis 1:26-28’

Build a Better Engine

April 17, 2014

Over the last few years, I have talked to a lot of people who spew propaganda claiming Bible-believing Christians are “anti-science.” Because people like me are skeptical of the history claims of evolutionists and futurology claims of global warming alarmists, we are labeled “anti-science.” Fortunately, discerning between what is and is not a scientific claim is as easy as understanding a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Unfortunately, some refuse to acknowledge the differences, using the “Christians are anti-science” fallacy to create political division. For others,  it’s just another excuse to hate their neighbor.

One pattern I’ve noticed among the “Christians are anti-science” crowd is that the most outspoken individuals tend to have little or no background in science or engineering. When God gives me an opportunity to talk to unbelievers that promote this agenda, I have learned to 1) let them know Christians like me are most assuredly pro-science, 2) present the Gospel, and 3) encourage them to stop doing what they are doing and get into a science and engineering field.

Something I have encouraged more than one unbeliever to do is “build me a better engine.” Promoting the idea that fossil fuels are causing catastrophic global warming is foolish. In spite of increased atmospheric CO2 levels, there has been no warming for 17 years and 8 months now. If, instead of promoting unscientific future climate ideas and labeling those who disagree as “anti-science,” why not do something meaningful?  Why not be actively involved in designing less expensive, more fuel efficient engines, ones that could reduce air pollution and provide better lives for the poor? Wouldn’t a pro-science, love-your-neighbor mindset be better than an unscientific, hate-your-neighbor one? Well, of course it would, but the former is a difficult concept for those who don’t believe the foolishness of God is wiser than men (I Corinthians 1:25).

Unless God changes their hearts and they repent and turn to Christ, foolish actions are to be expected from unbelievers (Psalm 14:1). Fortunately, there are young Christian men and women out there who love God and His creation, and want to “build a better engine” for His glory. Listen to this testimony from David K., a homeschooling senior that is currently using our DIVE Calculus course (bold emphasis mine):

“Thank you also for all the work you have put into the DIVE CDs. Your teaching is clear, easy to understand, and you explain everything really well. Your lectures have helped me immensely, and I don’t know where I would be in math with out them. I definitely agree with you, in that God has allowed us to understand math so that we can get to know Him better. I love looking in Creation and seeing God Himself! I am a senior in high-school, and I plan to go to college to study Engineering Physics, with mechanical emphasis. I want to eventually perform engine research to produce a more financially feasible engine. I would do this by creating a new energy conversion process that does more work per unit of fuel than engines today. I have always had a love for science and math, and I really look up to people like you who know so much and use it for the glory of God. Thank you for being a great example for me to follow.” 

While David K’s words are incredibly kind and humbling to me, I hope they are an encouragement to you! A lot of people are surrounded by hopelessness and despair, but there’s also a lot of hope out there, too!

Are you a young person like David K who loves the Lord and wants to take what God has made and use it to design things that will serve others? Are you currently an unbeliever? Whoever you are, it is important to be intellectually honest and spread the word that Christians are pro-science. History proclaims this truth, as do present actions of humans all over the world.  So, enough of this blog post, get out there and build a better engine!

The War on Humans

February 21, 2014

Killer whales suing Sea World for slavery. Laws against the humiliation of plants. University professors, politicians, and environmental extremist groups like Sierra Club advocating for human population control. What’s going on?! I know all this sounds really weird (or I hope it does!), but certain self-appointed important people think YOU (they would never think this of themselves) have no more value than the pile of goo you evolved from. Therefore, YOU (not them) have no more value than a blade of grass, so in order to “save the planet,” it’s okay to manage and control you like so many lawn trimmings.

Foolish thinking like this has its roots in naturalism, the false idea that the material universe is all that exists, and there is no God. Naturalism is supported by the false ideas of evolutionism and billions of years, which can deceive people into thinking that, over the eons of slow and gradual change, humans certainly aren’t any more special than anything else. Unless of course, you are one of “them.” The latest politically correct way to hate your neighbor is about THEM getting rid of YOU. I hope you’re not one of THEM.

Pray that unbelievers and confused Christians would get back to trusting His word, remembering that humans are special, created in His image, and commanded by God to wisely manage His creation (Genesis 1:26-28). Also, here are a couple of resources you can share. First is the new film and e-book by Wesley J. Smith titled War on Humans. You can watch the film below.

Second, show a skeptic the following graph. I used actual data from 222 countries, and sorted them by per-capita GDP. I found the top countries have a per capita GDP almost double that of the bottom half. That means they also have more funds available to properly steward God’s creation. But here’s the shocker for the human-haters. The population density of the top countries is over 5 times greater than the bottom countries.

average gdp vs population density

The biblical mandate to wisely “be fruitful and multiply” plays out in the real world with more people and more funds available for stewardship. The human-hater model, which equates stewardship with massive population reduction of other humans (not themselves), will result in less prosperous countries, and therefore a reduced ability to steward.

Ultimately, environmental issues are not really about human population. They are about human sin. If we reduced human population by 90%, which University of Texas professor Eric Pianka suggests, there would still be plenty of people left to make enough nuclear bombs to commit mass murder, but also environmental havoc, on a global scale.

God wants us to know His creation and use it. And biblical dominion doesn’t mean domination. Not even close. Nor does it mean keep our human hands off of as much of it as possible. Let’s stop rebelling against His commands in Genesis 1:26-28, repeated in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Let’s just trust him instead, humbly repent when we fail, and try a little harder to love our neighbors.

A Citadel of Christian Values

July 27, 2013

Robert Fiske Griggs (1881-1962) is best known for discovering The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, site of the biggest volcanic eruption in over 100 years. He is also known for the 1922 book he authored of the same name (click here for a free pdf version). What he is less well-known for is being a godly husband and father to four children. His oldest son, David Tressel Griggs, became a fairly well-known scientist himself. In a biography about him, published by the National Academy of Sciences (surprised?), it says that David’s “parental home was a citadel of Christian values, based on love, fidelity, and truth.” 

Wow! Biographies like that should remind us of a few things, one of those being that there is no battle between science and religion. That is make-believe nonsense propagated by anti-Christian bigots. Christians are commanded to “do science” from the get-go in Genesis 1:26-28.

More importantly though, this should remind us all to hope and pray that we will leave a legacy like the Griggs family has. We should ask ourselves “What will people write about my family when I am gone? Will they say it was a citadel of Christian values, too?”

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

Hebrews 12:1-2

Free thinkers to protest the freedom to think?

July 13, 2013

Really? People who tout themselves as “freethoughts” activists are going to protest free thinking? Where? When? Why? How? What should I do?

Where: Outside the Texas Homeschool Coalition’s annual homeschool convention in The Woodlands.

When: August 2 & 3, 2013. The protesters (atheists) are planning an orientation meeting Thursday, Aug. 1 from 8-9 p.m at the Bayland Community Center.

Why: The freethoughts activists are protesting the freedom of Americans to trust God’s word as true in every aspect, including historically true. For some reason, they are particularly concerned about dinosaurs. They are upset with how Christians like myself interpret dinosaur history!And historical interpretation is what they are protesting, not testable, repeatable science.

The fossil record shows many things lived at the same time as extinct dinosaurs, including extant (meaning still alive) starfish and coelacanths. Apparently, the so-called freethoughts activists say we’re lying about the human-dino coexistence thing because we have yet to uncover a fossil of a human riding a dinosaur while holding a coelacanth that ate a starfish. Unless this fossil grouping is found, then atheists will claim the Bible is a book of lies and Christians who believe it are liars. Therefore, since freethoughts activists apparently never lie, and possess a perfect understanding of history, we can trust them over God’s word! And if we don’t buy into their belief that freethoughts activists are the source of historical truth instead of God, they will make laws to suppress our skepticism. Of course, I’m joking here, but are the atheists? Unfortunately, I don’t think so.

How: So how did all this come about? Well, it started when some Houston-area atheists realized that Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis would be a keynote speaker at the THSC Convention. Because Mr. Ham trusts the authority of Scripture, he trusts the Bible’s account of history over other versions that attempt to insert evolution and millions of years to the story. Mr. Ham blogged about the atheists intolerance to Christianity, as well as their unprofessional debate challenge.

What should I do?: First, pray! Then, do! Pray that if the protest actually happens at all, that it will be peaceful. Pray that all Christians (including you!) will make an effort to show the love of Christ to the atheist protestors, and engage them in thoughtful discussion. And bring your friends who may be considering homeschooling, too!

Pray for opportunities to kindly show atheists the folly in their reasoning about so many things. Using reason, the law of non-contradiction (a law of logic created for us by God) states that you cannot be “A” and “not-A” at the same time. You cannot promote yourself as a “freethoughts activist” or a “skeptic” while at the same time protesting someone else’s right to think freely and be skeptical about the way you think yourself. You can’t be “pro-freethoughts” AND “anti-freethoughts”, “for skepticism” AND “against skepticism”, “pro-science” AND “anti-science”. Only an unreasonable fool would think they could.

Pray for opportunities to show atheists that their protest is not about scientific things, but about historic things. Christians are not anti-science. In fact, click here and watch how to start a Christian homeschool science co-op. Or click here to learn more about my company and our goal to encourage homeschoolers to finish calculus in high school, and add a few science and math CLEP and AP exams to the transcript along the way. Our goal is to raise the standard in math and science education, not lower it to government school levels or worse.

Pray for ways to show the atheists that they cannot be pro-science and anti-science at the same time. Science confirms human life begins at conception. Therefore, in order to protect all human life, we need to protect all babies in the womb, from the moment of conception onward. Anything less is murder. To defend the right to murder a baby in the womb is anti-science and just plain wrong.

Also, in the 21st century, high school and college biology textbooks are becoming bloated monsters. Something has to go to make room for teaching 21st Century advances in biology, including epigenetics and bioinformatics. Many chapters have way too many pages devoted to speculative historical claims about origins, dogmatically asserting only one interpretation (evolutionism). A pro-science person would want to reduce or remove the history to make room for 21st Century science. An anti-science person would reject the 21st Century science in favor of page after page about origins. Ask the atheist which they would choose to include in an already oversized biology textbook, new science or history? If they would rather keep the history, then they are anti-science, which contradicts their claims of being pro-science.

A great analogy I read recently said “To use science to promote atheism is like using a man’s child to prove he does not exist.” Only a fool would say Christians are anti-science. One of God’s first commands to Christians in Genesis 1:26-28 was to think scientifically. Do we have different interpretations of history than atheists? For the most part, yes. But even Christians don’t all have identical interpretations of history, and neither do non-Christians for that matter. Natural history research is not the same thing as scientific research, and not discerning these two is what generates most of the anti-creationism hysteria.  Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method and a young-earth creationist, warned us to be careful about muddling the two. The way we each interpret history is something to discuss, not protest. 

Finally, pray for repentence! God changes hearts, and He can change the heart of the most hardened anti-Christian activist. Remember what He did with Paul, a man who was wise in his own eyes until God opened his eyes and allowed him to see the true Source of everything, including reason. Simple logic reveals you cannot claim to be a freethinker, while at the same time protest the rights of thousands of Christian parents to freely consider the best educational options for each of their children. Pray that God will use the THSC convention to remove the blinders from many.

Rise, kill and eat!

June 29, 2012

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And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Not so Lord!’ For nothing common or unclean has at any time entered my mouth.’ But the voice answered me again from heaven, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common.’   Acts 11:7-9

When was the last time you rose, killed, and ate? In other words, when was the last time you caught your own meat, cleaned it, and cooked it? What about your children? Acts 11:7-9 is one of many verses that make it clear God wants us to participate in His creation. Being wise rulers over God’s creation means we need to be involved with it, finding a balance between overexploiting and overprotecting. If you don’t know how to catch, clean and cook something, there are thousands of helpful resources out there. Here are a couple of videos I made on the subject:

Now rise Christian, kill and eat with your family and friends!

Do we need the Endangered Species Act?

April 30, 2012

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A complex story about trout and people

My first experience catching cutthroat trout was in 1989 while fishing in Grand Teton National Park.

Snake River Finespotted Cutthroat trout, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1989. Note the golden color, typical of cutthroats, along with the lack of spots in the middle (medial region), but increasing towards the tail (caudal region).

Since then, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to fish for trout as far away as Eastern Russia, and as close to home as our family’s pond.

Hatchery rainbow trout from Crystal Lake Fisheries in Ava Missouri, stocked in my pond in Texas for the winter of 2006-07. These are “Emerson strain” rainbow trout, registered with the National Trout Registry. Note the more concentrated spots in the caudal region, similar to the finespotted cutthroat pictured above.

Because trout are both fun to catch and good to eat, they are pursued with passion in the United States and elsewhere.  So much passion in fact, that over the last 150+ years, populations of native species, particularly  the so-called “subspecies” of cutthroat trout (referred to after this as “native” trout), suffered major declines and even extinction. The decline of cutthroats native to certain regions of the western and eastern slopes of the Rockies has been a classic example of the “tragedy of the commons”, where demand for a thing greatly exceeds what nature can supply.

In an effort to meet the demand for trout-filled streams and lakes at the turn of the 20th century, private, state, and federal agencies started building fish hatcheries. Today, virtually everywhere in the United States with trout habitat, you will find a hatchery nearby, ready to add more fish to streams and lakes on a “put and take” basis.

So native trout populations in the American West were first reduced primarily through overfishing, but also from habitat destruction. Today, the major threat to native trout populations comes from stocking nonnative trout, primarily brown trout and brook trout which tend to drive out the cutts, but also rainbow trout, with which cutts readily hybridize.

Brown trout from the Jemez River, New Mexico, 2012. The Jemez River is former habitat for Rio Grande cutthroat trout, which now occupy only about 10% of their historic range. Eastern Russia’s lenok trout (see photo below) lack the red spots of the brown trout, and brown trout lack the “cut”, but the two species do share similarities in color and shape with each other and with many other trout populations across Eurasia.

State and federal fisheries managers want to satisfy the great economic incentive of having trout-filled streams and lakes. For example, the value of trout stockings by the Leadville Fish Hatchery in Colorado is estimated at $2.75 million annually. And while many Rocky Mountain hatcheries are moving towards production of native trout, they also feel compelled to satisfy the desire of folks to just catch a trout, especially the highly esteemed (overesteemed?) rainbow. Originally from the McCloud River, a tributary of California’s Sacramento River, rainbow trout have probably been introduced to more places worldwide than any other fish species. They have misplaced and reduced native species time and again. And about the same time Hitler and his army of fools were applying social Darwinism, miles and miles of American streams were being poisoned to remove “inferior” species, replacing them with the “superior” rainbow. An excellent account of the history of rainbow trout stocking can be found in Anders Halverson’s An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World.

Greenback Cutthroat Trout, Leadville National Fish Hatchery, Colorado, 2010. Note the bright pink-red patch over the gill and along the side, similar to the Alaskan rainbows(see photos below). The Leadville Hatchery stocks rainbow trout, as well as Snake River and Greenback cutthroat trout.

So while native populations are making a comeback in places, their progress is stymied when government agencies set tight regulations and catch limits on nonnative trout, in effect protecting something that maybe doesn’t need so much protection. But in America, governments are designed to be run by the citizens, so if we want our government to change the regulations, we need to change our thinking about what we want. Do we want to simply catch a trout and have a successful trip and a tasty meal? Or do we want to have a fishing experience unique to a particular area’s natural history and culture? We should want both, but it is obvious enough that we could do more regarding the latter. Communities should work harder to patiently remove nonnative trout and reestablish native trout species. This can be done in a way that also satisfies the desire to simply catch and eat trout, regardless of species.

What is a species?

But what in the world is a “species” anyways? According to the1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA), the term ‘‘endangered species’’ means any species which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. And the term ‘‘species’’ includes any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature. All species classifications are ultimately based on human decisions, driven by our desire to group things using a system that organizes first by kingdoms, then phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, and species. Species are often broken down into subspecies, as is the case with cutthroats.

Clumpers versus splitters

One problem with the ESA’s definition of species is that it pretty-much ignores the idea of Biblical kinds, while introducing the false concept of “fixity of species”, first introduced by Aristotle. The Biblical kinds, also known as “baramins”, are actually a better, yet still imperfect, way to think about living organisms. Populations that readily hybridize, especially naturally, suggest (but do not prove) common ancestry, while those that don’t readily hybridize may be from different baramins. Thinking of life’s diversity in terms of baramins allows us to account for unity while acknowledging that some genetic and epigentic changes are inevitable as time passes.

Taxonomists are usually either “clumpers” or “splitters”. Clumpers think more in terms of baramins, while splitters think more along the lines of how the ESA defines a species. Sometimes “clumpers rule”, while other times it’s the splitters. For example, at the turn of the 20th century, taxonomists had convinced themselves that over 80 sub-species of grizzly bear (Ursos arctos) existed. Today, there are only 2 subspecies, so as far as grizzly taxonomy is concerned, “clumpers rule” (NOTE: Grizzlies hybridize with polar bears, forming “pizzly” bears!)

It is unfortunate that, regarding the ESA, “splitters rule”. By defining a species as a “distinct population segment”, ESA listings slap a false fixity on populations.  But populations are not designed to stay “distinct” forever, so the ESA is actually promoting an impossible dream rather than anything that resembles reality. And for evolutionists who believe there are almost no limits to how much a thing can change, the logical conclusion for them is that all current populations are in danger of extinction!

Of course, neither the ESA’s “splitter” definition of species, or the evolutionist’s reasoning about life’s diversity, are helpful in describing reality. The reality is that organisms are designed to adapt and diversify, within limits, by naturally aquiring some genetic and epigenetic changes over time. This is what both Scripture and science confirm. 

Cutthroats are a prime example of how slight genetic and epigenetic changes over time can result in visibly distinct populations. Scientists have found that of the 16 so-called subspecies of cutts, their genetic diversity suggests they are virtually all identical, with westslope cutthroat populations sharing more in common with rainbow trout than with other cutts (Allendorf and Leary, 1988). In spite of their incredible similarities, 3 are currently listed as “threatened” under the ESA, one may make the list in 2014 (Rio Grande cutt), and the rest are either extinct (two subspecies) or considered to be of conservation concern (Pritchard et al, 2007).

How can this be? If genetics is the key to distinguishing between species, then it says these are all basically the same “kind”, with differences occurring at a few DNA base pairs here and there. To make matters even more confusing, Pritchard et al found that Rio Grande cutts in headwater streams above natural barriers were statistically less genetically diverse than their downstream cousins. So for “splitters”, not only do we have subspecies, we have sub-subspecies! Where will it end? The genetic tools we have for identifying differences in populations are truly amazing, but the information acquired can potentially make things much more complex than necessary, especially if you’re a “splitter” and feel compelled to classify cutthroats as sub-species, and then some.

Genetic drift happens

Salmonids are known to rapidly diversify, in less than 10 generations, into reproductively isolated populations. Applying this fact to the ESA’s species definition of “distinct population segments”, in 50 years or less, and assuming “splitters rule”, we could have dozens and dozens of new candidates for the ESA, possibly resulting in more and more restrictions on habitat use by humans. And then what will we do to maintain partitioning of these new and “distinct population segments”, create manmade barriers to prevent them from interbreeding with other segments? I would hope not! As far as trout diversity is concerned, it would be wise to get back to letting the “clumpers rule”, lest we end up overwhelming ourselves with more classifications, regulations, restrictions, and taxes to pay for the mess we’ve made.

No biologist, whether they are creationists or evolutionists, believe in fixity of species, but here we have the ESA anyways, trying desperately to prevent the natural fact that genetic drift happens.

Prior to the 1973 Endangered Species Act, fisheries managers across the West sacrificed diversity for the sake of unity, stocking the “superior” rainbow everywhere. But now with the ESA, we have a complete reversal, with unity (trout are one big family) sacrificed for diversity ( “subspecies” and “distinct population segments”). There has to be a better way.

Imagine no ESA

So do we need the ESA? No. What Americans need to do instead is stop waiting for handouts from the federal government via ESA listings, and instead encourage communities to responsibly restore and preserve the natural history in their region. And in the case of native trout, we need to work towards stocking them more and nonnative trout less.

Consider the Rio Grande cutthroat, for example. Organizations like the Center for Biological Diversity proudly exclaim that their work resulted in Rio Grande cutts being eligible for the Endangered Species list in 2014. But all this really means is more regulations, taxes, and “takings” of property by the federal government to protect a population that apparently already has many “distinct population segments”, and may have dozens more in 100 years. Instead of waiting around for an Endangered Species listing, what if instead local private and public groups made an effort to remove nonnative trout while also propagating Rio Grande cutts for reintroduction? This could be done slowly and patiently, one stream at a time, all without the help of the ESA.

We also know that all cutthroat subspecies will hybridize with each other, as well as with rainbow trout. And since rainbow trout are so genetically similar to cutts, we shouldn’t get too worked up about them interbreeding and waste tax dollars with over-hyped eradication programs. We just need to adjust the rules and get Rocky Mountain fishermen educated and involved in harvesting more rainbows, plus browns and brookies, while simultaneously restocking with native trout.  And for those interested in catching native rainbows, they should head to Alaska, Canada, or Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula, where native ‘bows are plentiful.

Native Rainbow Trout from Lake Creek, Alaska, 2005. Note the reddish-pink patch on its gill cover, typical of lower Lake Creek Rainbows.

Native Rainbow Trout, American Creek, Alaska. 2007. Note the bright red-pink cheek and side, similar to the Lake Creek Rainbow, but also similar to the Greenback Cutthroat Trout. Sometimes, these rainbows have a faint “cut” under their lower jaw, similar to other cutthroat trout.

And speaking of Russia, all the way across the Pacific, near Vladivostok, I have caught lenok trout that display a distinctive “cut” on their throat, and in a way seem similar to both brown and cutthroat trout. It seems that trout really are just one big family, or baramin, containing both unity and diversity.

Closeup of the Lenok trout’s “cut”. Although not as bright as the cut found on many cutthroats, it is a cut nevertheless, and a key identifying trait of all cutthroats.

Lenok trout from stream near Vladivostok, Russia, 2010. Note the golden coloration and large spots, similar to patterns on many cutthroat sub-species.

What is a gene?

Trout were first classified based on phenotype (what they look like on the outside). But now that we also know their genotypes (what their genes look like), we can more readily discern whether a population of cutts has hybridized with rainbows, even if we cannot tell by phenotype alone. But for the people who are most interested in their preservation and restoration, namely fishermen, there is little interest in how much or how little they differ at a few microsatellites (small pieces of DNA a few base pairs in length that are used to distinguish between populations). So now that species and subspecies are being determined by genetic markers, the question of “what is a species?” should be followed with “what is a gene?”

Not surprisingly, scientists are having an equally hard time answering that question, as new information about cell complexity continues to gush forth like water over Yellowstone Falls. Long gone is the simplistic view of genes as neatly arranged beads on a string of DNA. So too is the “one gene makes one protein” idea, as we now know that one gene can code for tens, and in some cases hundreds of different proteins. Not only that, scientists are learning more about epigenetics and things like methyl tags that turn genes on and off. In The Mysterious Epigenome, Woodward and Gills provide a helpful analogy, describing the genes as ships and epigenetics as the captains. Without the captain’s direction, the ship does nothing. But the question remains, from where did the captain get his orders? The self-evident answer is that a Designer gave the orders (Romans 1:20).

And so it seems, the more we learn about cell complexity and epigenetics, the more difficult it becomes to truly define separate trout species based on genetic markers. Genetic markers alone do not tell the whole story of the unity and diversity we see in the trout family. Oncorhynchus mykiss (rainbow trout) and Oncorhynchus clarkii (cutthroat trout) are classified as different species based on pre-Civil War observations of phenotype alone. Today though, 21st Century genetics research and observations of natural hybridization tell us the two are nearly identical. With each passing day, the Biblical idea of a “trout baramin” becomes more appealing. While science can change with time, truth does not.

Trout live in worlds of extremes, of swift currents and lazy pools, flooding spring meltwaters and drought-like autumns, miniscule headwater streams and deep, wide rivers. It is obvious trout were designed to rapidly adapt, as opposed to the neo-Darwinian idea that they were sitting around for millions of years hoping for a gene with a novel function to randomly appear to advance them down the road of evolutionary progress. It seems instead that like other baramins, the trout baramin came pre-programmed with what they need to survive and adapt.

Trout come in many flavors

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout from Cascade Creek in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2012.

So what is going on with trout? What scientists are finding is that very slight genetic and epigenetic changes in isolated populations have led to amazing and beautiful differences in phenotype, giving each region a particular “flavor” of trout. One conclusion is that the adaptive radiation we see in trout is partly a result of changes in climate and topography that occurred in the recent past. We’ve already discussed how rainbows readily hybridize with cutts, but by continuing the stocking of rainbows outside their normal range, we are, in essence, driving the formation of new breeds of trout. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but just because it is not inherently wrong, it doesn’t mean it is the best thing to do either. Restoring native trout to their historic ranges is a good idea, but we shouldn’t be “trout racists” either by overreacting to introduced populations. They’re all one big family anyways, right?

Preserving trout’s many flavors

Restoring historic ranges of native trout does not require the Endangered Species Act. In fact, the ESA could be repealed, or simply ignored, and reintroduction efforts could still move along beautifully. As mentioned earlier, the ESA is unhelpful because it promotes a false idea of species fixity, sacrificing unity for the sake of diversity. The best solution is one that seeks both unity (trout are one big family) and diversity (restoring native trout to their historic ranges). Instead of wasting time with the ESA, local communities should do the work needed to restore and preserve the natural history around them, while also managing it in a way that maximizes people’s enjoyment and use of available resources. Restoration can advance through level-headed efforts aimed at removing nonnative trout, while simultaneously restocking with native breeds.

We are learning more about how to maintain genetic diversity in hatchery brood stocks, and this information can be applied to propagate a breed that is unique to a given area, thereby preserving some of the natural history. In Appendix 51: Westslope Cutthroat Trout Hatchery Brood Stock Histories, a procedure is described where, in order to incorporate genetic diversity into the hatchery brood stock, fish are collected from a number of streams.

The native hatchery fish should probably be stocked in areas downstream of natural barriers.This would aid in preventing at least some intermingling with upstream populations, thereby encouraging genetic diversity. Fishing on stretches of headwater streams should be more restricted than on higher order streams, where primary productivity is usually greater and trout populations are naturally higher.

As we work toward better management of native American trout populations, we must realize that genetic drift is inevitable. And regardless of the level of human involvement, the so-called subspecies of cutthroats of 2112 may not look like the cutthroats of 2012, but that’s okay!

Managing natural resources

Human beings are not just part of nature, we are nature’s managers (Genesis 1:26-28). This also means we are part of  the story of natural history. And 100 years from now, I hope my great-great grandchildren will be able to look back and see that our efforts to manage nature paid off in a way that celebrates the unity and diversity He so obviously put into His creation. And I pray that future leaders will not try to discourage unity and diversity through the ESA and its adherence to the fallacy of species fixity, but will instead get local communities involved with restoring and preserving native trout to their historic ranges.

Perhaps in the future, instead of going to New Mexico to fish for rainbows and browns, Colorado to fish for rainbows and browns, Wyoming to fish for rainbows and browns, etc., future generations will live in a world filled with trout that are unique to each region, while understanding the native forms are part of a bigger trout family, just as the evidence from His word and works confirms.