Pharyngula

The science of antediluvian plushies

One creationist claim that’s commonly laughed at is this idea that 8 people could build a great big boat, big enough to hold all the ‘kinds’ of animals, and that those same 8 people were an adequate work force to maintain all those beasts for a year in a confined space on a storm-tossed ark. So the creationists have created a whole pseudoscientific field called baraminology which tries to survey all of taxonomy and throw 99% of it out, so they can reduce the necessary number of animals packed into the boat. Literally, that’s all it’s really about: inventing new taxonomies with the specific goal of lumping as many as possible, in order to minimize the load on their fantasy boat.

In the past, I’ve seen them argue that a biblical ‘kind’ is equivalent to a genus; others have claim it’s the Linnaean family. Now, Dr Jean K. Lightner, Independent Scholar (i.e. retired veterinarian), has taken the next step: a kind is equivalent to an order, roughly. Well, she does kind of chicken out at the Rodentia, the largest and most diverse group of mammals, and decides that those ought to be sorted into families, because otherwise she’s reducing the number of animals on the ark too much.

Given the characteristics that unite this order and the controversy in suborder classification, one could argue that the obvious cognitum is at the level of the order. Given my personal observations of squirrels and rats, which usually are placed in different suborders (except on the dual suborder scheme where they are both in Sciurognathi), I find this suggestion appealing. However, for the purposes of this project the order is too high for such a diverse group without considerably more evidence. For this reason the level of the kind will be considered to be at the level of the family.

She needs “more evidence” to be able to squish all of the rodents down to one common ancestor 4,000 years ago! You know, there’s no evidence given anywhere in the paper: it’s just a series of abbreviated descriptions of each order (or, for the rodents, family). She made this determination by looking at photos on the web. That’s it. She comes to the conclusion that only 137 kinds of mammals had to be on Noah’s Ark (350, if you count extinct species, which of course she should — Ken Ham is adamant that all kinds were on the ark).

In this paper 137 kinds have been tentatively identified. If the fossil record is taken into consideration, this number could easily double. Beech (2012) listed terrestrial vertebrate families represented in the fossil record. In the list of mammals 210 to 218 families are not recognized here. This suggests that closer to 350 mammal kinds were on the Ark. The large number of extinct families may be partially from a tendency for paleontologists to be splitters. However, much of it reflects the fact that a large amount of the diversity previously found in mammals has been lost.

In this serious attempt to quantify the kinds represented on the Ark, the numbers which resulted are lower than many had anticipated. Previous work had estimated the genus as the level of the kind, knowing this would significantly overestimate the number, in order to emphasize that the Ark had sufficient room for its intended purpose (Woodmorappe 1996). In discussing the results of this study with other creationists, many are surprised at how incredibly spacious the accommodations on the Ark would have been. In any case, this work is a reminder we have a Creator who cares for His creation and, even in judgment, He provides a way of salvation to those who will trust in Him.

Ah, that spacious ark. “Only” 350 mammals had to be cared for by those 8 custodians, and she hasn’t considered the birds and reptiles and amphibians yet. Of course, that’s still a lot of poop to shovel…except she seems to have solved that problem, too.

Here’s the quality of her scholarship: this is one of her kinds, the greater gliding posum. Look carefully at that photo. Notice anything odd about it?

Maybe you’d like a closer look to be really sure. RationalWiki noticed this peculiarity.

Hmmm. It reminds me of the time we found that Harun Yahya was using photos of fishing lures to illustrate modern insects. What great science!

But it does solve a lot of problems if the ark were stuffed full of plushies! It’s also a phenomenal marketing opportunity — the museum will be the gift shop!

Comments

  1. #1 Andreas Kyriacou
    Zürich, Switzerland
    November 18, 2012

    Oh, what a pity, the plushie has been replaced.

  2. #2 lagnar
    November 19, 2012

    Since the dinosaurs were still extant,by their thinking, how
    much room was needed for them? Seems that the ark would
    fill up rather quickly, wouldn’t it?

  3. #3 GregH
    November 19, 2012

    Not only that, but I just noticed a replica wooden model of The Ark at our local hobby shop is $110, ffs!! And if it’s an accurate replica, you’d be lucky to get 100 species of anything with fur on board. “What’s a cubit?” indeed.

  4. #4 Nick Theodorakis
    November 19, 2012

    Wait, what? Are they saying that the current diversity of mammals (and presumably other animals) is because they *evolved* from the ones that were on the ark?!

  5. #5 Christine Janis
    November 19, 2012

    Er — so basically every defined mammalian family is now a “kind”. Where’s the scholarship in that?

  6. #6 Flo
    November 19, 2012

    Nick Theodorakis,
    exactly that. They believe in the arbitrary distinction between “micro- and macroevolution”. They are willing to accept radical evolutionary changes in a tiny timeframe but JUST as long as these changes occur within the same KIND of animal, that category that they decided to define based on… I guess the looks of the animals.

  7. #7 Russell
    November 19, 2012

    In prediluvian times, cubits and qbits were still entangled, making it easy to pack the RNA and DNA of all kinds into a mini-bar, thus justifying the science of baraminology.

  8. #8 Robert Lassiter
    Grifton, N.C. 28530
    November 20, 2012

    Now let me see? The Earth is 6,000 years old and has not aged since Archbishop Usher deciphered that age in 1638. Wouldn’t the earth now be 6,374 yrs old? Just saying….

  9. #9 Robert Lassiter
    November 20, 2012

    What about the estimated 15,000 species of nematodes? Noah was a collector’s dream come true.

  10. #10 brightmoon
    nyc
    November 21, 2012

    thanks i needed that laugh…although on second thought the fact that these idiots want to teach this crap as science ISNT funny at all

  11. #11 Green Eagle
    November 22, 2012

    “this serious attempt to quantify the kinds represented on the Ark” Ha. This reminds me of a newspaper article I saw years ago about an upcoming national flying saucer convention. One of the organizers had this to say: “There will be no kooks at this year’s convention; only scientists and people who were actually abducted by flying saucers.”

  12. #12 Squirrel
    November 23, 2012

    Here’s the sentence that gives away the game:

    “Given my personal observations of squirrels and rats, which usually are placed in different suborders (except on the dual suborder scheme where they are both in Sciurognathi), I find this suggestion appealing.”

    How many times have you heard people say, half in jest, that squirrels are just rats with fluffy tails?

    This creationist’s “personal observation” is probably of the same character. “Eww, they’re just rats trying to look cute!” Therefore she places them in the same kind, or order, or deeply-worn groove in her mind.

    Busted!

  13. #13 theTentman
    November 23, 2012

    Is it April Fool’s Day?

  14. #14 Peter Hinow
    Milwaukee, WI
    November 24, 2012

    It’s an interesting exercise: can you do “creation research” with the standard aristotelian-galileian methods?
    By the way, what did the predators eat?

  15. #15 pholkiephred
    North Cuba (South Florida)
    November 24, 2012

    No wonder they say Noah crashed the Ark into a Mountain, the navigator was probably the forerunner of the guy who came up with these theories and he was so busy trying to escape the Veloco-raptors on board that he forgot to tell Noah to watch out for the rocks.

  16. #16 Jim Demers
    NYC
    November 28, 2012

    I think she mis-spelled “specious”.

  17. #17 canid
    December 1, 2012

    I guess it’s like washing your Teddy Bear with bleach and it evolves into a Polar Bear.

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