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The Species Question

Author: 
Ian Taylor

1. The key to understanding species is to acknowledge intelligent design in all living things and the presence of information in genetics. This information can be lost, may be replaced from a variant within the kind but can never be created by random events. The Greeks believed that all life was related from simple to complex later called, in Latin, the SCALA NATURA. Jews and Christians believed in the "fixity of kinds," however, there were some gray areas. The Hebrew word MIN became'''species" by the Latin Vulgate translators and then "kinds" by the KJV translators. The horse and ass or donkey are an example of a gray area. The horse and the ass can breed and produce the mule, however, the male mule is always sterile suggesting at one time that the horse and the ass were separate "kinds" God has seemingly provided a sterility barrier to keep the creation the way He had made it. However, one in 900 female mules is fertile and, when back-bred with a stallion, produces "after the male kind," a horse; when back-bred with a jack-ass, it produces an ass. In this case, it seems that the horse and the ass were of the same kind but were "diverging" or, as we understand it today, genetic information was being lost; this is most likely the case. In ancient Israel there was division among the rabbin. According to Scripture, the Jews were not permitted to "multiply horses" and, aware of Leviticus 19:19 which forbad mixed breeding, the Jews had the Philistines breed horses and asses on their behalf and bought back the more useful, though sterile, mule. Farmers today purchase genetically modified and sterile seed, and, like the Jew, once committed have no recourse but to pay the breeder's price. God is evidently displeased when man deliberately breeds between kinds and makes it very clear in the prophetic words of Zachariah (9:9) that His Son will ride on a pure-bred ass, not a sterile mule.

2. The Swedish naturalist, Carl Linne Linneaus (1707-1778), classified the plants then the animals in a massive work still referred to today; he did this on the basis of similarities of appearance (homology). Later, Darwin and others took homology to mean relatedness i.e. reintroduction of the old Greek idea. In France, Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) proposed inheritance of acquired characteristics (Lamarckism) as the mechanism by which one kind could gradually become another. He gave as his example the giraffes acquisition of a long neck by generations of giraffes reaching for the top-most leaves of the trees. A century later, Gregore Mendel (1822-1884) showed that Lamarckism could not be true because the characteristics of any living thing are fixed at conception, thus any physical change acquired during life, including injury, cannot be passed on to its offspring. In this way, the Creator has ensured the perfect preservation of His created kinds. At the same time, Mendel showed how variation within each kind was not only possible but predictable although limited. For many years Mendel's classic work was not accepted by Darwin's followers since it totally negated any possibility of evolution taking place. Nevertheless, textbooks today teach both Mendelian genetics and evolution side by side which must surely lead to confusion in the minds of many students.

3. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) took a degree in theology at Cambridge University then was accepted as the naturalist on board H.M.S. Beagle for a five-year voyage of exploration (1831-36). He read Charles Lyell's recently published Principles of Geology (1831) and became convinced that the earth was extremely old. It was precisely these very long times that Darwin needed to justify his theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (note use of capitals) but there was no possibility of being able to prove it by experiment. Upon publication of his Origin of Species' in 1859, many people welcomed this as a perfect explanation for the world as they saw it since, without actually saying so, it eliminated the need for supernatural creation. Thus, there was no longer need for a Creator Who is also Judge. Darwin's Natural Selection is based upon the idea that a slight change in the environment allows only those born who are most fitted for the new environment to survive. "Survival of the fittest" is a more positive and acceptable way of saying "death to all the majority who were previously perfectly fitted for their environment." Darwin did not address the fact that when the environment changes too unfavorably, the animals simply move out of the area! The reasoning behind Natural Selection is a tautology just as is the reasoning behind Lyell's Geologic Column. The former provides all the variety, the latter provides all the time while neither argument can be tested.

4. Darwin thought he saw evidence for Natural Selection in the finches (Geospiza) of the Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the western coast of South America. He saw differences in the beak of the finches living on each of the various islands and reasoned that a pair of these birds had been blown off the mainland and had multiplied and adapted to each of the various environments. This is probably true and is simply a species responding to its environment but Darwin perceived this minor change as evidence for the major change demanded by evolution from molecules to man. Many people are convinced of evolution by this type of evidence. Darwin had no live finches for breeding experiments so he used pigeons. Pigeons will breed to several fancy shapes but only so much variation is possible; with further breeding they revert back to the common type (Columba livia). This nicely demonstrates stasis in nature, that is, the fixity of kinds. Darwin believed that with sufficient time the variation would eventually get to the point where the variant becomes an entirely new creature. This is often claimed when a variant cannot produce offspring by back-breeding. A species is defined as being able to produce fertile offspring thus by this definition the variant has indeed become a new species. When this happens it is claimed as proof of evolution and called "speciation" or "evolutionary divergence" but is in reality simply due to loss of genetic information. Multiple generations of pure bred dogs, for example, become degenerate through loss of information but may be restored by crossing with mongrels. Another example is Caucasians having lost the ability to produce as much melanin as coloured people.

5. It has always been claimed that interfertility defines a species; this was based upon common observation and is the definition today even though it better describes the Biblical "fixity of kinds." For example, it was known that the colish鬠the coyot鬠the fox, the fennec, the jackal, the wolf and the domestic dog could all interbreed and produce fertile offspring although they seldom naturally do so. They are all of the same kind but geographical separation has resulted in differences in their appearance. A similar thing has happened to many creatures including man. The dog family has separate genus names because these were given before they were known to be interfertile. In the case of the dog family and others, the evolutionist is faced with two conclusions: Firstly, only one pair of basic or archetype dogs were needed on Noah's Ark and thus not nearly as many animals as might be supposed were necessary. Secondly, mankind could have derived from one mating pair i.e. Adam and Eve, a monogenetic origin and not a polygenetic origin. The dedicated racist is opposed to a monogenetic origin.

6. Textbooks define "species" as: "Groups of creatures that naturally inter- breed and have fertile offspring." A rider is sometimes added that geographical separation can cause intersterility within a species. Until recent DNA analysis, the only way science could tell when animals are related was by time-consuming breeding experiments; these experiments were usually done by breeders but only with domestic animals. Thus, sheep and goats may be related, the camel and the llama are probably related while the ox, the bison and buffalo almost certainly had the auroch as their common ancestor. The tiger and lion are probably related (the tiglon is sterile) while the cat and rabbit are clearly not related (the cabbit is a hoax). Science knows little about actual relationships while of course, fossils are notoriously uncooperative for breeding experiments! Whether two look-alike animals who prove to be intersterile are actually one species in the process of divergence (most likely) or two totally unrelated species in the process of convergence (least likely) is a matter of opinion by the taxonomist. Classification becomes a very subjective field dominated by "splitters" who tend to define the slightest variation as a new species thus creating evidence on paper for evolution in action. Two chickadees (birds), identical except singing different songs, are said to be different species. The "lumpers" more reasonably recognize the same birds as a single species e.g. the Englishman and the Frenchman speak different languages but are clearly the same species.

7. If evolution were true, the fossil record would be full of creatures part-way between one kind and the next — and least-fit for any environment! Darwin lamented over the absence of such "transition" fossils in his Origin,' acknowledged that it was his theory's greatest weakness but diverted attention from this fact by referring to acknowledged separate species as having a "common ancestor." Extravagant claims are sometimes made that transitional forms have been found in the fossil record but in fact, the situation has not changed since Darwin's day and many paleontologists have admitted the absence of transitional fossils. More than that, the bright hope of Darwin's Natural Selection as the mechanism has not been fulfilled; all that has been found is variation within the species and a resolute tendency in nature towards stasis or stability. A new theory was therefore needed and the Dutch botanist, Hugo DeVries (1848-1935) provided this in the 1920's; he based it upon the observation that mutant forms were occasionally produced and he reasoned one might happen to be better fitted to its environment. Every mutant ever observed has been a defective form of its forebear and reasonably less fit to survive. This is the Neo-Darwinian Theory; it is still current today but has been challenged by the theory of Punctuated Equilibria introduced in 1978 by Eldredge and Gould. Their theory admits the absence of transition fossils but then uses this absence as evidence that the changes were too rapid to have left any evidence!

8. In summary, all the facts known about species show that variation within species is common; this is sometimes referred to as micro-evolution but the term is misleading since no actual evolution has taken place. Molecules-to-man (macro-evolution) has never been observed. Fifty years of fruit-fly experiments have produced mutant and unstable varieties that eventually revert back to the common form just as did Darwin's pigeons. Nature seems to be very conservative, preserving the stability of kinds by providing not only a sterility barrier but a kind of "social" barrier. Odd mutants, such as albinos among the human species, rarely find mates; while among the animals, mutants often do not survive long enough to reproduce their kind.

Footnotes: 

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