Anti-Evolutionism: Now With Ultra-Fast Evolution

The Natural Historian blog recently focused on one of the more bizarre aspects of Ken Ham's variety of young-earth creationism: it says evolution as mainstream biology understands it is wrong and impossible, and yet claims that evolution worked much faster than mainstream biology posits, in order to get from the small number of “kinds” in the ark to the large variety of species today. As Bill Nye emphasized, we should see new species appearing daily if that were true. But we do not – and the Bible does not mention anyone witnessing it either. And so Ham's claim is false, even if judged in terms of the “observational science” he says he accepts.

The meme image below highlights that the resulting worldview Ham adheres to is blatantly self-contradictory:


Literalism = Misconception and Incoherence
Straight Outta Young-Earth Creationism
Mythicism, Creationism, and other Conspiracy Theories
Do the Fundamentalist Rocks Cry Out?
  • TomS

    Flood to Abraham is 292 year (Masoretic; others about 1000 years).

    The story of Abraham mentions mentions diverse bovine speces: cattle, goats, sheep.

  • Nancy R.

    When Terry Mortensen, a leading AIG spokesman, gave a sermon at my church a couple of years ago, he declared that “we must reject evolution and millions of years.” What he must have been implying, however, is that “we must accept evolution and thousands of years.”

  • arcseconds

    I’ve finally gotten around to watching the debate. I’m up to the audience questions now — 45 minutes left to go!

    This was, I think, Nye’s best point. Did Ham even ever address it? It’s obvious that evolution from a few thousand progenators of ‘kinds’ in a few thousand years requires much faster evolution than the evolution proposed by mainstream biologists, but having it illustrated with numbers and hammered home that ‘this should be obvious, yet we don’t see it’ was illuminating.

    However, there is a certain amount of disingenuity here. Many of the species included in the calculation will be species that we really wouldn’t notice until the last couple of centuries or so. Many of them will be bacteria, many will be beetles.

  • David_Evans

    Another question for Ham: if the “kinds” on the Ark each had the ability to diversify into thousands of species in the 4360 years after the flood, why had they not done so in the 1656 years before the flood (figures from AiG)? I reckon each kind should have become at least 20 subkinds in that time, greatly exacerbating Noah’s crowding problem.

    • Brian Bowman

      If you asked him that, he could rationalize it, and the rationalization would become gospel.

      “Anyone who can worship a trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism can believe anything…just give him time to rationalize it.” ~Robert A. Heinlein (1984) Job: A Comedy of Justice

      • Gary

        “trinity and insist that his religion is a monotheism”…a coincidence that Heinlein wrote this in 1984? Ministry of Truth, anyone? George would smile.

        • Brian Bowman

          Got a wild conspiracy theory for 1816?

          “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.” ~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, July 30, 1816

          • Gary

            1816 was before my time.

    • arcseconds

      I thought of that too, but presumably Ham could reply that Noah took one of ‘each kind’. So if the original ungulate had spawned 20 subkinds by the flood, a breeding pair of just one of the subkinds would suffice.

      I get the impression that Ham’s crowd and others who take this ‘kind’ stuff seriously think that kinds are a basic feature of the world’s ontology, and while there might be prolific variation over time within a kind, they all remain essentially members of that kind.

      This also allows for them to account for extinct species. The early horses like eohippus etc. might have all descended from the original Edenic horse (eohippus, maybe), then got wiped out by the Flood. The breeding pair taken onto the ark spawned modern horses and zebra.

      I wouldn’t be suprised if they had this model specifically in mind, either.

      • stuart32

        Wouldn’t it be convenient if each kind had its own genetic code? Then kinds would have a genuine scientific basis. It’s a shame God didn’t think of that.

        • arcseconds

          You mean, if they used a different mapping from bases to amino acids, or maybe different bases, or a different nucleic acid structure altogether? That would make things a bit more clear cut, I suppose.

          One of the fundamental problems with the way Ham & co approach science is the fact that they never think through the consequences of their ideas. Science for them is just a matter of coming up with a semi-plausible, post-factum rationalisation of why we see what we see, if you squint a bit and don’t think too hard about it.

          They seem to think that the morphology of a kind are fixed, and a terrestrial mammal could never become a whale. But they admit that kinds can change the details of their morphology. So what exactly is stopping some lineage of a kind becoming radically different from the other representatives?

          Especially given the hyper-evolution that they believe in.

          Basically, as far as I can see, no thought has been given to the consequences of admitting this hyper-fast evolution.

          And what is driving this hyper-evolution, anyway? Natural selection and genetics?

          • stuart32

            Yes, it could be a more fundamental change like using something other than DNA, but a different mapping would probably be enough. There is some slight variation in mapping within single-celled organisms but none within animals. If chimpanzees and humans had a different mapping it would be impossible to argue that they shared a common ancestor. So there could be a scientific basis for the distinction between kinds.

            In fact, I would suggest that something like a difference in genetic code is actually a prediction of the theory of kinds. Morphological differences are not enough. The whole point about morphological differences is that they can be placed on smooth continuum, and this is what you would expect of evolution. If you use morphological differences as the basis for your distinction you would end up saying that tadpoles and frogs are different kinds.

            • arcseconds

              Well, if we thought that God wanted to make it very clear that the kinds were very different from one another, we might expect that.

              But there doesn’t seem to be any really compelling reason to think God has that as a priority. Maybe he wants to demonstrate how much he can accomplish with the same stuff?

              (I think we know what creationists will say about this: God is like unto a good computer programmer, resuing his code)

              However, I think this illustrates once again one of the problems that beset creationism, and for that matter, ID, in their scientific presumptions: there just don’t seem to be any constraints on the activity of the divine (or the designer) at all, consequently anything can count as their activitiy.

              Anyway, presumably creationists can appeal to the same criteria as mainstream scientists in distinguishing kinds from one another. Ham said they seem to be roughly equivalent to the families of mainstream systematics. I don’t think they’re really in hot water here.

              • stuart32

                I think that the creationists could be put in hot water, at least in theory. They believe that there can be evolution within kinds but not between kinds. There is an unbridgeable gap between kinds. The fact that lions and tigers can interbreed shows that there isn’t an unbridgeable gap between them, that they are members of the same kind.

                What we need to do is to bridge the gap between humans and chimpanzees. Humans and chimps can’t interbreed, but the gap could be bridged by a series of intermediates. Modern humans should be able to breed with Homo erectus, Homo erectus should be able to breed with Homo habilis and Homo habilis with Australopithecus. Then we trace it back to the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, and from there we trace it back down the line to chimps, all the way interbreeding descendants with progressively more distant ancestors. In fact, it might be much easier than this. It could be that humans can breed with Australopithecus directly, and Australopithecus can breed with chimps.

                All we need now is a bit of Jurassic Park technology to resurrect the extinct species. If I was a creationist I would feel much safer if humans and chimps had different genetic codes; then I would know this scenario was impossible. Mind you, if I was a creationist I would “know” it was impossible anyway:-)