The Evolution of Creation Research

Why is creation research a growing and developing field of interest? Due to the vast differences between naturalistic, evolutionary and biblical worldviews, the need for such research is significant, as Todd Wood explains in his 2013 review of creation research. A biblical worldview is used by creationists to understand origins and the world around us in the context of the Bible. Genesis gives an account from God about how He made all things in six days and what happened to the world following that week. Creation research seeks to explain the world around us by the catastrophes the Bible teaches about (e.g. the Flood and Babel). Scientists can do this through studies in: 

  • Biosystematics (to understand created kinds)
  • Speciation (understanding the diversity of those created kinds)
  • Biogeography (learning how animals have moved and filled the earth)
  • Natural evil and pathology (what are the origins of certain features in a fallen world?)
  • Biological similarity and design. 

Baraminology, the study of created kinds, asks questions about what organisms God originally created and which organisms today are related within those kinds. Pioneered by Frank Marsh in 1947 [1], baraminology looks at the similarities and discontinuities between organisms to assess their relationships. The data is carefully analyzed using statistical analyses and corrective techniques to keep errors low (e.g. bootstrapping, multidimensional scaling; [2]). Important groups have been studied with this method, such as Hominidae (the family to which humans belong) and Equidae (the family of horses) [3,4]. While evolution explains relationships within these families as evidence of common, ancestral descent, baraminology suggests that these may represent created kinds.

The horse transitional series has been studied by both evolutionists and creationists. By H. Zell (User:Llez) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11633334
From Cavanaugh et al. 2003 [4]. The Baraminological Distance Correlation of Equidae. Creationists have studied the horse transitional series using statistical analyses. Positive correlation between the various genera of horses leads to the conclusion of an original created kind of equids that diversified over time.

In addition to understanding which organisms are related by God’s original design, Wood explores in his review how studies of speciation can explain how animals and plants have diversified over time. There are many possible ways for species to form and adapt. Some examples include allelic diversity, karyotypic changes, and mutations. 

  • Allelic diversity (suggested by Byron Nelson in 1927 [5] and Tinkle in 1967 [6]) is one possibility in which God created organisms to originally have heterozygosity in their genes. This would allow for great diversity as animals reproduced and hybridized. However, this alone would not explain all the species we see today. 
  • Changes in species karyotypes (the arrangement and number of chromosomes a species has in its DNA) can play a large role in diversity within created kinds, as found by Lightner [7]. The way DNA is packaged and arranged profoundly affects which genes we express. Sometimes parts of our DNA can move around (these parts are called transposons) and can be expressed differently. With these variations, diversity can increase and species can develop from the original organisms God made. 
  • Mutations are another way in which God may have allowed for great diversity to take place within created kinds. Even a change in one nucleotide of a gene can cause an expression to vary (these Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, or SNPs, are often thought to be predictors for certain traits like hair or eye color). 

Biogeography is a field which asks questions about where animals and plants came from and how they arrived at their current locations. Creationists are especially interested in this field due to the challenges regarding Flood models–for example, since the continents moved great distances during the Flood due to plate tectonics, how did the animals disperse from the Ark and reach places like North America? Some suggestions involve floating rafts of vegetation and debris which can carry animals overseas [8]. Storms and strong winds may also carry plants and animals, and there are even modern examples of this happening [9]. 

Pathogens such as viruses and bacteria may have had an original, non-lethal purpose before the Fall.

Natural evil is an important and complex area of study. The pre-Fall world is described by God as “good” in Genesis 1-2, and most biblical creationists consider there to have been no death of animals or humans before the fall. This understanding is due to the Hebrew words for “life” and “death” and how they apply to humans and animals apart from plants [10,11]. Apart from natural death, creationists ask questions regarding predators, parasites, toxins, and pathogens. Where did special adaptations for predation come from if all animals were originally all herbivorous in diet (Genesis 1:29)? Perhaps God specifically designed these features for an original purpose which has since changed after the Fall [12, 13]. The role of bacteria and various pathogens may be similar. Most microbes and viruses, it is noted, are actually non-pathogenic (less than 1% are pathogenic!) [14]. Therefore, there must have been an original purpose and some change has left several of them harmful to other organisms. Francis [14] suggests a type of biomatrix between microbes and their interaction with macroorganisms. Some non-pathogenic organisms could have undergone genetic or environmental changes that led to harm. Have there been degenerative losses of good features that caused microbes to become harmful? Though possible, this is not a simple or flawless hypothesis, as pathogenic bacteria genomes are not significantly different in size than a non-pathogenic bacteria [15]. If there were genetic losses that caused harm, there is not outstanding evidence for them.  

Many mammals share biological similarity, such as the arm bones in humans, dogs, birds, and whales. While this may be attributed by evolutionary scientists to common descent, creationists see the patterns that God has made in Creation as intentional design. Image by Волков Владислав Петрович – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37704829

Creationists have been very interested in design and biological similarity. This is in part because of the challenges of natural evolutionary models, but it is also because God is a good creator who designs beautiful things [16]! Knowing Who God is allows us to study His creation in a special way. One of those ways is appreciating similarities between organisms. Man is able to recognize patterns and features that God has placed into His creation, and this is an evidence of intentional design. Other features of design may include mosaic-like organisms that possess both derived and primitive-looking features, as special adaptations for the environments in which they live. For example, it is suggested by creationists like Kurt Wise that Tiktaalik (traditionally thought to be a fish-to-tetrapod transitional form) was uniquely designed for a “floating forest” type of environment that may have existed in the pre-Flood world. Other “transitional forms” need more evaluation from creationist research, and this is an exciting field of study to learn about the special, unique, and exotic organisms God has made. 

Creation research is a dynamic, growing, and changing field. Science is an ever-changing and developing field, and as new discoveries are made, creationists are able to refine models for origins and the Flood, as well as how organisms are related and designed. We can study God’s creation and see his attributes which bring Him glory. 


“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…” Romans 1:20 (NKJV).


Source:

Wood, T. C. (2013). A Review of the Last Decade of Creation Biology Research on Natural History, 2003-2012. The Proceedings of the International Conference on Creationism.

References and Further Reading:

[1] Marsh, F.L. (1947). Evolution, Creation and Science. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association

[2] Wood, T.C. (2008a). Baraminic distance, bootstraps, and BDISTMDS. Occasional Papers of the BSG, 12, 1-17.

[3] Wood, T.C. (2010). Baraminological analysis places Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba in the human holobaramin. Answers Research Journal, 3, 71-90.

[4] Cavanaugh, D.P., T.C. Wood, and K.P. Wise (2003). Fossil Equidae: a monobaraminic, stratomorphic series. In R.L. Ivey (Ed.), Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism (pp. 143-153). Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship.

[5] Nelson, B.C. (1927). “After its Kind” The First and Last Word on Evolution. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

[6] Tinkle, W.J. (1967). Heredity: A Study in Science and the Bible. Houston, TX: St. Thomas Press.

[7] Lightner, J.K. (2008a). Karyotype variability within the cattle monobaramin. Answers Research Journal, 1, 77-88.

[8] Wise, K.P. and M. Croxton (2003). Rafting: a post-Flood biogeographic dispersal mechanism. In R.L. Ivey, Jr. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism (pp. 465-477). Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship.

[9] Froede, C.R. (2003). Dust storms from the sub-Saharan African continent: implications for plant and insect dispersion in the post-Flood world. Creation Research Society Quarterly, 39, 237-244.

[10] Stambaugh, J. (2008). Whence cometh death? A biblical theology of physical death and natural evil. In T. Mortenson and T.H. Ury (Eds.), Coming to Grips with Genesis (pp. 373-397). Green Forest, AR: Master Books.

[11] Stambaugh, J.S. (1992). ‘Life’ according to the Bible, and the scientific evidence. Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal, 6 (2), 98-121.

[12] Wilson, G. (2004). The origins of natural evil. Occasional Papers of the BSG, 4, 8.

[13] Wilson, G. (2007). Designed for defense: reptiles and amphibians thwarting predators in a fallen world. Occasional Papers of the BSG, 10, 22-23.

[14] Francis, J.W. (2003). The organosubstrate of life: a creationist perspective of microbes and viruses. In R.L. Ivey, Jr. (Ed.), Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Creationism (pp. 433-444). Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship.

[15] Wood, T.C. (2007). The origin of pathogenic bacteria by degeneration or design. Occasional Papers of the BSG, 10, 8-9.

[16] Henriksen, J. (2010). An architectural paradigm. Journal of Creation, 24, 99-105.

*The views expressed in this article reflect those of the author(s) mentioned and not necessarily those of the editorial staff.

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R.Thompson
R.Thompson
April 8, 2021 11:52 AM

This article shares valid observations based not only on common-sense facts discovered through our five senses but adjusts those observations to revelation facts discerned by faith in our all-wise and all-powerful Creator and His creation of the heavens and the earth.
Congratulations to Noel Grimes for her excellent article.

Julie Lay
Julie Lay
April 8, 2021 4:19 PM

Great article! There’s so much more to learn about God’s creation. I appreciate the scientists who devote their lives not only to discovery but also to the One who made all there is to be discovered.

robert byers
robert byers
April 12, 2021 7:54 PM

Ame n. All research leads to the bible being true.
Yes biogeography is a creationist friend. however we must see another continent movement, up and down, to explain pathways and then ending them. In other words biology had to quickly fill the post flood world and then stop people filling it easily in order, I suggest, to fulfill the prophecy of one son , Japheth, being enlarged. the world , post flood, still was to obey Gods commands.

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