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Baraminology is a creationist system that classifies animals into groups called "created kinds" or "baramin" according to the account of creation in the book of Genesis and other parts of the Bible. It claims that kinds cannot interbreed, and have no evolutionary relationship to one another. Along with the rest of creation science, baraminology has been criticized for its pseudoscientific characteristics by the US National Academy of Science and numerous other scientific and scholarly organizations.
The term was devised in 1990 by Kurt P. Wise, based on Frank Lewis Marsh's 1941 coinage of the term "baramin" from the Hebrew words bara (create) and min (kind). The combination is not meaningful in Hebrew. It is intended to represent the different kinds described in the Bible, and especially in the Genesis descriptions of the Creation and Noah's Ark, and the Leviticus and Deuteronomy division between clean and unclean.
Baraminology borrowed its key terminology, and much of its methodology from the field of Discontinuity Systematics founded by Walter ReMine in 1990.
ReMine (1990) coined the four key terms, with Greek prefixes, to distinguish kinds or groups: holobaramin, monobaramin, apobaramin, and polybaramin. They have similarities to the terms monophyly, paraphyly and polyphyly used in phylogenetics.
A holobaramin is an entire group (past and present) sharing a common ancestry, and therefore a genetic relationship. For example, humans are said to form a holobaramin, since (according to creationist beliefs) they were created as a single kind and therefore share no ancestral or genetic relationship with other animals. However, modern biology and evolutionary concepts show that all known life descended from one common ancestor, and so would form one holobaramin by this terminology.
A monobaramin is any part of a holobaramin. So, for example, dogs could be seen as a monobaramin from the holobaramin of the dog kind which also includes wolves. However, the term is very loosely defined, and even a few individuals of a species count as a monobaramin.
An apobaramin is any number of complete holobaramins grouped together. For example, all animals together would form an apobaramin since (in Creationist beliefs) they were not a single kind of animal at the moment of their creation. This concept does not exist in evolutionary biology, as all organisms are believed to share a common ancestor.
A polybaramin is a group made up of parts of different holobaramins. For example, the mammals currently alive in North America would form a polybaramin. Like monobaramin, this is also loosely defined, with Wayne Frair giving as an example "representatives of all human races, the two species of United States box turtles, one dog, one lion, one tiger, and one sunflower plant." Like the other concepts, no equivalent exists in evolutionary biology.
Distinction of created kinds
The question of determining the boundaries between baramin is a subject of much discussion and debate among creationists. A number of criteria have been presented.
Early efforts at demarcation
The concept of the "kind" or "baramin" originates from a reinterpretation of Genesis 1:12-24:
|“||And God said, let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind … And God created great whales and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind … And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind, and it was so.||”|
The traditional criterion for membership in a baramin was the ability to hybridize and create viable offspring. Frank Lewis Marsh coined the term baramin in his book Fundamental Biology (1941) and expanded on the concept in Evolution, Creation, and Science (c. 1944), in which he asserted that hybridization was a sufficient condition for being members of the same baramin. However, he asserted that it was not a necessary condition, as observed speciation events among drosophila had been shown to cut off hybridization.
There is some uncertainty about what exactly the Bible means when it talks of "kinds." Creationist Brian Nelson claimed "While the Bible allows that new varieties may have arisen since the creative days, it denies that any new species have arisen." However, Russell Mixter, another creationist writer, said that "One should not insist that "kind" means species. The word "kind" as used in the Bible may apply to any animal which may be distinguished in any way from another, or it may be applied to a large group of species distinguishable from another group ... there is plenty of room for differences of opinion on what are the kinds of Genesis."
In 1990 (and again in 1993), Walter ReMine proposed various criteria that he said were each sufficient by themselves to establish continuity between any two organisms. His criteria include (a) the ability to interbreed the two organisms, or (b) the ability to experimentally demonstrate comparable biological transformation in living organisms today, or (c) a clear-cut lineage between the two organisms. These criteria can be used in various combinations, among various organisms, to establish greater and greater continuity. He argued that the failure of all these methods is required in order to establish discontinuity.
To refine this method, the concept of "Baramin Distance" was proposed. The initial study by Robinson and Cavanaugh tested several methods on the Catarrhine primates, including genetic tests and tests based on ecology and morphology. However, one criterion for determining a baramin is whether scripture says the two groups are separate, so methods that did not separate humans from primates were rejected.
Baraminology is not accepted by the scientific community. It has been heavily criticized for its lack of rigorous tests, and post-study rejection of data to make it better fit the desired findings. Baraminology has not produced any peer-reviewed scientific research, nor is any word beginning with "baramin" found in Biological Abstracts, which has complete coverage of zoology and botany since 1924.
Instead, universal common descent is a well-established and tested scientific theory that proposes all life derived from a common ancestor. However, both cladistics (the field devoted to investigations of common descent) and the scientific consensus on transitional fossils are rejected by baraminologists.
- Wood, Wise, Sanders, and Doran, A Refined Baramin Concept
- The National Academies (1999). "Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, Second Edition". National Academy Press. Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved December 7, 2008. "creation science is in fact not science and should not be presented as such in science classes."
- "Evolution". "the NAS states unequivocally that creationism has no place in any science curriculum at any level."
- "Statements from Scientific and Scholarly Organizations.". National Center for Science Education. Retrieved April 1, 2008.
- Williams, J. D. (2007). "Creationist Teaching in School Science: A UK Perspective". Evolution: Education and Outreach 1 (1): 87–88. doi:10.1007/s12052-007-0006-7.
- Frair, Wayne, Baraminology—Classification of Created Organisms Creation Research Society Quarterly Vol 37 No 2 pp82-91 September 2000 (from the Wayback Machine, retrieved 26 Feb 2007)
- Payne, J. Barton (1958). "The Concept of "Kinds" In Scyipture". Journal of the American Science Affiliation 10 (December 1958): 17–20. Retrieved 2007-11-26. [Note this version appears to have been OCR-scanned without proofreading]
- Baraminology Study Group: About the BSG: Taxonomic Concepts and Methods
- Robinson and Cavanaugh, A Quantitative Approach to Baraminology With Examples from the Catarrhine Primates. ...We have found that baraminic distances based on hemoglobin amino acid sequences, 12S-rRNA sequences, and chromosomal data were largely ineffective for identifying the Human holobaramin. Baraminic distances based on ecological and morphological characters, however, were quite reliable for distinguishing humans from nonhuman primates. See also A Review of Friar, W. (2000): Baraminology - Classification of Created Organisms.
- A Review of Friar, W. (2000): Baraminology - Classification of Created Organisms. See also the last two sentences of the abstract of Robinson and Cavanaugh, A Quantitative Approach to Baraminology With Examples from the Catarrhine Primates
- A exhaustive search of the largest scientific publication database using the keyword Baraminology producees zero results
- February 2007 search of Biological Abstracts.
- Theobald, Douglas, 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution
- About the BSG: Taxonomic Concepts and Methods. Phrases to note are: "The mere assumption that the transformation had to occur because cladistic analysis places it at a hypothetical ancestral node does not constitute empirical evidence." and "A good example is Archaeopteryx, which likely represents its own unique baramin, distinct from both dinosaurs and modern birds."
- A Review of Friar, W. (2000): Baraminology - Classification of Created Organisms. (Thomas, August 2006)
- Friar, Wayne (Sep 2000), "Baraminology–Classification of Created Organisms", Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal 37 (2): 82–91, retrieved 2007-07-18
- About the BSG: Taxonomic Concepts and Methods
- Ligers and wholphins? What next? Crazy mixed-up animals … what do they tell us? They seem to defy man-made classification systems — but what about the created ‘kinds’ in Genesis?, Don Batten, Creation ex nihilo, 22(3):28–33, June 2000
- Gishlick, Alan, Baraminology: Systematic Discontinuity in Discontinuity Systematics, National Center for Science Education, retrieved 2007-07-18