Species, baramin, or kind – the inadequacy of classification schema

Frequently in discussions between evolutionists and creationists, a central point of disagreement revolves around the origin of species, of which evolution claims to be the primary engine. Creationists deny that evolution is capable of such a feat, and even deny that species as a proper classification of organisms. In keeping with Biblical text, they instead adopt kind, or more properly baramin as the proper distinction between different types of organisms, and deny evolution the power to create this level of distinction.

 The problem with both classification schemas is that they are both based on either vague or arbitrary criteria. In the case of baramin, the Bible gives no detailed description of what distinguishes one ‘kind’ from another or any criteria by which to measure such a distinction. As Genesis is not a detailed science text, such criteria are not expected.

 However the term ‘species’, despite its long history and centrality to both biology and evolutionary theory, fairs no better. In fact the species problem is a long recognized issue in biology. In the simplest terms a species is an interbreeding population which is reproductively isolated from other populations; in reality populations are in constant flux, and despite years of relative isolation populations often find ways to interbreed.

 And the problem gets worse when considering the prehistory of life; indeed, a recent analyses of dinosaur ‘species’ found that up to a third of the dinosaur species may in fact not be species at all, but instead be different age groups and sexes of the same type of dinosaur.

dino_species

Species or stages?

Such a finding also underlines the weaknesses of fossil interpretation when investigating life’s past. Indeed, this has the potential to call into question much of the supposed record of evolution said to be found in fossils, which purports to demonstrate the gradual appearance of species over time.

 As someone who favors intelligent design and who is a critic of evolution, I don’t necessarily have a dog in this fight. Indeed, I think it is better to focus on the origin of information, body plans, living systems and capabilities rather than quibble over classification schema that are virtually impossible to actually define. But I have found, clarity is rarely the goal of such discussions.

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6 Responses to Species, baramin, or kind – the inadequacy of classification schema

  1. Bettawrekonize says:

    The problem is that evolution (UCD) really has no evidence so they must pick something that’s not evidence and present it as evidence. They can’t really explain anything so they make up a classification system and try to claim it’s evidence. If they truly had evidence they would present it. They do not so they must quibble over things that aren’t evidence and try to make them out to be evidence.

  2. In the simplest terms a species is an interbreeding population which is reproductively isolated from other populations; in reality populations are in constant flux, and despite years of relative isolation populations often find ways to interbreed.

    You missed a key component. It isn’t merely isolation which makes a species. It is the inability for one population to interbreed with another. It is possible for two populations to be separated yet still be one species. It is not until they are unable to produce fertile offspring that the term “species” gains its primary definition.

  3. jackhudson says:

    You missed a key component. It isn’t merely isolation which makes a species. It is the inability for one population to interbreed with another. It is possible for two populations to be separated yet still be one species. It is not until they are unable to produce fertile offspring that the term “species” gains its primary definition.

    I don’t think that is true at all; grizzles and polar bears are separate species, and yet they can and do produce fertile offspring in the wild. Dogs and wolves produce fertile offspring; certain whales and dolphins can produce fertile offspring, servals and domestic cats, zebras and horses, the list goes on and on.

    We consider many organisms to be separate species despite their ability to produce fertile offspring. The definition of species simply isn’t that rigorous, and it certainly has no bearing on organisms which are no longer alive, because we have no way to tell what the productive viability of prehistoric organisms was.

  4. The few exceptions to the rule do not defeat the rule. There are species of skunks (as well as many other animals) which are considered different species because one is active during the day and the other during the night. They can reproduce, but almost never do.

    This and the examples you offered don’t defeat the rule because the gene flow is statistically insignificant between the populations.

    The definition used for species is one which is pragmatic. It has a clear use and offers a method for measuring biodiversity. Since you are but a coy creationist, I am suspicious of your motive for making an issue of this, but at any rate, the definition is more rigorous than for which you give it credit.

    The term is partially a matter of human convenience. We separate populations because time, distance, geography, extinctions and other factors allow us to do so. This also, however, has an obvious use. It serves an obvious purpose to call polar bears one species and grizzly bears another; they almost never breed, so what applies to one population may not apply to another.

    The fact is, if we could resurrect one representative of every generation in a lineage dating back, say, 100 million years, we could not pick out a single point where a mother of one species gives birth to a daughter of another. It doesn’t happen. It can’t. But that doesn’t make the common definition of species useless or poorly defined. It’s a term which is useful; it is useful for classification, research, and a number of other actual or potential areas.

  5. …it certainly has no bearing on organisms which are no longer alive, because we have no way to tell what the productive viability of prehistoric organisms was.

    I suspect your ulterior motive lies in these words somewhere.

    The term isn’t so narrow. Species is important in classification as it pertains to traits and further to characteristics. Changing physical structures can offer a history of a species, which then meets with the history of another species, potentially offering new insights into medical research.

  6. […] of genetic modification, and that significant morphological differences represent distinct species. We have seen how such an assumption fails when interpreting dinosaur fossils, but this is genetic verification that it is a bad assumption when interpreting other sorts of […]

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