Digging Deeper into the Movie “Is Genesis History?” (Part 4): Baraminology, Faster Than the Speed of Light, Babel…and David S. Pumpkins

We come now to the second to last post in which I am analyzing the YECist movie, Is Genesis History? In the last four segments of the movie, Del Tackett interviews Todd Wood in the segment, “The Potential of Created Kinds,” Danny Faulkner in the segment, “The Purpose of the Stars,” Douglas Petrovich in the segment, “Where Was Babel?” and George Grant in the segment, “Genesis and Our Culture.” As I said in an earlier post, every segment in the movie really simply rehashed the standard YECist arguments that one can find on Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis website and books. That should not be surprising, of course, because of the 13 people Del Tackett interviewed, not only are all of them YECists, but seven of them either directly work for, or have written for, Answers in Genesis.

The Potential of Created Kinds (with Todd Wood)
As the title of this segment clearly shows, the main focus of Tackett’s interview with Todd Wood was about what YECists call “baraminology”—the scientific study of “kinds.” In fact, this is the first thing Todd Wood mentioned when Tackett asked him about the variety of animals we see in the world today: God created the animals “according to their kinds,” therefore there is a “dog kind,” a “cat kind,” a “bear kind,” a “duck kind,” etc.

Del Tackett and Todd Wood

Now, in case you have never heard of “baraminology” is because no such area of science exists. Baraminology comes from the Hebrew word “min”—the word used in Genesis 1, when we are told that God created the animals “according [bara] to their kinds [min].” YECists contend that this Hebrew word is used in Genesis 1 as God’s own scientific classification system of animals. All kinds of wolves, dogs, coyotes, etc., for example, fall under the “min” of “dog kind,” and therefore, according to YECists, God designed within that “kind” of animal group, the ability to adapt so that natural selection could run its course and develop a wide range of species within each “kind” of animal group.

That’s what YECist claim. But what they don’t tell you is that it was a man named Frank Marsh who, in 1941, coined the term “baramin,” and it was none other than Kurt Wise himself who, in 1990, coined the term baraminology and claimed it was a field of scientific study. Simply put, baraminology is a made-up word and a made-up category of scientific classification of animals that no one outside of YECist circles either uses, or even acknowledges as real.

And what’s more, the Hebrew word for “kinds” simply is not God’s scientific classification system. It’s a generic word that means, you guessed it, “kinds,” as in “God made all kinds of animals.” Or to put it another way, if you had never been told by YECists about how they claim “min” is God’s scientific classification of animals, I guarantee you that you would never read Genesis 1 in that way and come up with that interpretation on your own. No one, and I mean no one, who attempted to just “read the plain meaning of the text,” would ever think Genesis 1 is talking about scientific classification of animals.

So, “min,” is not a scientific term, and “baraminology” is a word that was literally made up by Kurt Wise in 1990. Therefore, Todd Wood’s very first claim (i.e. about “kinds”) pretty much sabotages everything else he has to say. He claims that there were 2,000 “kinds” on the ark (but nowhere in the Bible are we told that); and then claims that Noah was able to fit them all in the ark because most animals are small to begin with, and Noah probably took the babies of the larger “kinds” on the ark (but nowhere in the Bible are we told that).

Wood also stated that natural selection is essentially just the “fine-tuning” of a created “kind,” and that it cannot account for all the changes we see in animals throughout the world—simply put, he rejected the notion of common ancestry for all life. Change only happens within “kind” groups, and therefore, as Wood said, “We don’t see one kind evolving into other kinds.” Of course, the way he is using “kinds,” sabotages his entire argument, because “kinds” is not God’s classification of animals.

Now to be fair to Todd Wood, his basic claim is something I’ve (kind of!) wondered about. He claims that all life doesn’t descend from a single, common ancestor, but rather from the various original “kinds” that God instantaneously created on the fifth and sixth days of the existence of the universe. Instead of a single “tree of life” coming from a common ancestor, Wood claims we should think of a “creation orchard,” with all our varieties of species descended from their particular “tree” of “kinds.”

I’ll be honest, I don’t really get how human beings and a fern can really be related. That seems like quite a stretch. So sure, I’ve wondered, “Couldn’t the original conditions of life spawned different types of original organisms that over time, through natural selection, evolved into the various species we have today?”

But where Wood goes so wrong that I find it impossible to believe him is that he is claiming that the millions of species we have today, essentially evolved (although he wouldn’t use that term) from the 2,000 original “kinds” that came off the ark about 4,000 years ago. To get from an “original 2,000 kinds” to what we see today over the course of a mere 4,000 years would require a kind of hyper-evolution in which a new species would develop practically every day. Furthermore, since there are animals like horses, camels, and sheep, etc. mentioned as far back as the life of Abraham (Genesis 12-25), are we really to believe that natural selection happened so quickly to those “2,000 original kinds” within the span of about 200 years? Really?

Let’s face it, the kind of hyper-natural selection that YECists claim happen is impossible. You don’t get from an “original dog kind” to coyotes, wolves, dogs, hyenas, and all the other types of “dog kinds” within 200 years through the process of natural selection.

Related to this fact, is the final thing Wood talked about: Neanderthals. He showed the skull of a Neanderthal and a skull of Australopithecus, and claimed that Neanderthals were clearly human beings, and Australopithecus was clearly an ape—hence, that supported his contention that natural selection does not happen “across kinds.”

The thing is, though, is that Neanderthals have a clearly distinct genome. Yes, we know that they were genetically close enough to homo sapiens to mate with them, because most Asians and Europeans actually have between 1-2% Neanderthal DNA. Wood claims that Neanderthals were simply a people group that got isolated from the rest of Noah’s descendants, and eventually merged back in. Now, that part is true: Neanderthals were a people group who were isolated, then developed their own genome, and then later were able to join back up with homo sapiens. The part of Wood’s contention that is not true is his claim that that whole process took about 200 years.

As I argued in an earlier post, this is simply impossible: 200 years is simply not enough time for a people group to develop their own distinct genome. That would be like claiming that a band of Revolutionary War soldiers somehow became isolated from the colonies, and over the course of 200 years became Neanderthals, and then, as Americans expanded throughout the continent, they found these Neanderthals who descended from Revolutionary War soldiers, and they then mated their way back into the human race.

200 years is not enough time for that to happen. Although Wood seemed like a nice guy, nothing he said was scientifically believable or biblically sound.

Danny Faulkner and Del Tackett

The Purpose of the Stars (With Danny Faulkner)
The next segment was devoted to astronomy. In it, Del Tackett interview the resident astronomer at Answers in Genesis, Danny Faulkner. They looked up into the night sky through a telescope and admired the cosmos. Faulkner pointed out the Andromeda galaxy and said that it was over two million light years away. Tackett then asked a great question, “How is that possible, given the fact that Faulkner believes the entire universe is only 6,000 years old?”

Faulkner began his answer by referring God’s creation of the plants and vegetation in Genesis 1:12 on day three. On day three, Faulkner contended, God made the vegetation grow at a super-fast rate, so that by the end of that day, there was vegetation and plants all over the entire earth. Think of it this way:

With that, Faulkner then discussed the creation of the stars on day 4, and claimed God did the same thing with the starlight that He did with the plants on day three: He “rapidly brought the starlight to earth on day four.”

That was his explanation. He was serious. Del Tackett found it fascinating. I wrote three giant !!!’s in my notes. First, let’s just get this out of the way: that is not a scientific claim in any way, shape or form. Secondly, just consider the fact that his explanation for the Andromeda galaxy being 2 million light years away was based on his own private assumption that God “grew” all vegetation and plants on earth in a single day, in super-fast, rapid motion. And thirdly, such an absurd claim is the result of biblical illiteracy…and a kind of wooden literalism that is has fossilized so much that it is absolutely petrified.

What can one possibly say to that? That’s what YECism is: the result of a fossilized wooden literalism that has made its adherents absolutely petrified of science and the surrounding society.

After that, Faulkner completely dismissed the “Big Bang” theory on the grounds that it can’t be reconciled with the Bible. He then accused Christians who believe the Big Bang theory of trying to interpret Scripture in terms of current cosmology. Since science is always changing based on newer discoveries, one shouldn’t try to interpret the Bible according to modern science and the “current paradigm.” Instead, Faulkner said, “We need to interpret the universe in terms of Genesis, and not the other way around.”

Well, he’s partly right: we shouldn’t interpret the Bible according to modern science. As I’ve said before, I think concordism is misguided. There is no need for it, any more than there is a need to somehow make the scientific description of the body’s reaction during sex somehow “fit” with a Shakespearean love sonnet. Genesis 1-11 isn’t doing science, and it isn’t giving historical details—it’s a different genre altogether. Therefore, by the same token, we shouldn’t “interpret the universe” in terms of Genesis 1-11 either…because Genesis 1-11 is doing science and it isn’t giving historical details.

When you insist that Genesis 1-11 is science and history, you end up with some pretty whacky stuff and impossible claims, as should already be obvious by now. Still, there is one more point to make.

Where Was Babel? (With Douglas Petrovich)
In the next segment, Del Tackett asked Douglas Petrovich about the location and historicity of the tower of Babel. In a nutshell, Petrovich said was convinced that the tower of Babel was the ziggurat in the city of Eridu, and that the temple at Eridu was the blueprint for all other towers, ziggurats, and pyramids throughout the world. He then claimed that the story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 was the only way of explaining the variety of languages in the world.

Here’s the problem. Yes, Eridu is considered to be an extremely old city, but it is believed to have been founded in 5400 BC. YECism claims Noah’s flood happened 4,000 years ago in about 2000 B.C. though. Not only that, but here’s where YEC claims and basic chronology really just don’t work. According to conservative biblical scholars, the period of the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) was roughly 1800-1500 BC. That means that, according to YEC claims, all the following had to have happened from the time of Noah’s flood (2000 BC) to the birth of Abraham (1800 BC):

  • Dinosaurs came off the ark, spread across the globe, and then became extinct;
  • A singular ice age began and ended;
  • The event at the tower of Babel happened at Eridu (which was founded in 5400 BC!)
  • Some of Noah’s descendants went off on their own, became isolated with the rest of humanity, developed their own genome, resulting in Neanderthals, and then re-made contact with the rest of humanity and interbred with homo sapiens, and died out;
  • The pyramids of Egypt were built after the tower of Babel incident (the great pyramid at Giza was constructed by the Pharaoh Khufu between 2580-2560 BC…that would be about 580 years before the flood!).

Can anyone honestly believe all that happened within a span of 200 years? Yet nevertheless, that’s what YECists claim, and that’s what YECism’s insistence that Genesis 1-11 must be history leads to.

Conclusion
But the thing is, if you believe “min” is God’s scientific classification system for animals, if you ignore the provable historical fact that Kurt Wise made up the word “baraminology” in 1990, if you believe the speed of light was just too slow for God, so that He “turned the speed of light up to 11” on day 4, so that Andromeda’s rays could reach earth by the end of day four…

…well, you just might believe there was one single ice age that lasted less than 200 years and that caused the dinosaurs that had spread throughout the world to go extinct, that a group of descendants of Noah went off by themselves, developed their own genome, became Neanderthals, rejoined the rest of humanity, interbred with them, and then went extinct, that the tower of Babel was Eridu, a city that was founded about 1400 years before you claim Genesis 11 happened, and that the pyramids in Egypt that were constructed around 2600 BC came after the time period the YECists have for the tower of Babel (that would be somewhere between 2000-1800 BC).

The historical claims of Is Genesis History? are frightfully incoherent and impossible. From their claims of “kinds,” to starlight, to the tower of Babel, nothing adds up or makes logical sense. In a way, it is kind of like the Saturday Night Live Halloween skit, “100 Floors of Fright,” starring Tom Hanks. David S. Pumpkins keeps popping up all over the place, and nothing makes sense…

…Any questions?

1 Comment

  1. The YEC claim that the speed of light was somehow many times faster in the past is such amazing nonsense. Even if there was some mechanism that allowed light to be faster (or slowed it down), it is hard to imagine how matter could exist in such conditions. E = mc2 would mean that the energy is multiplied if the speed of light is multiplied. How could the elements in a star exist if the energy is multiplied thousands of times (because the speed of light was somehow multiplied)? I don’t know how hot plasma can get (I am not a physicist). The YEC argument for a greatly multiplied speed of light would seem to require more energy and heat than the Big Bang itself! And yet we see distant objects like galaxies, that are clearly made of matter – if the light from these distant objects was originally thousands of times faster, then these light-emitting objects could not exist as ordinary matter. YEC is trying to treat the speed of light like it can be completely isolated from everything else. But you cannot just take one thing and imagine it does not affect anything else. In this sense only, light cannot exist in a vacuum (bad pun).

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