This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/did-modern-animals-evolve-from-the-inhabitants-of-the-ark
Thanks to @Joel_Duff for the thought-provoking article. Questions can be directed to him.
Edward Hitchcock wrote in the 1840s that attempts to explain the story of Noah’s Ark in scientific terms always ran into trouble. At that point, people making the claim would say, “Well, God could have made it happen.” Hitchcock agreed that God could do anything, but by invoking God, the scientific claim ceased to be science.
It is interesting that the AIG group is invoking the principles of evolution, on a vastly speeded-up scale, to explain how Noah could have gotten one of every “kind” of animal onto the Ark. They argue that evolution didn’t happen, but that God could have used evolution to create the modern species of animals. Perhaps they are becoming EC’s. I have said before that the primary benefit of the Ark Encounter will be to demonstrate the impossibility of a literal reading of Genesis.
All of these attempts to relate Genesis to the discoveries of modern science totally miss the truth contained in the stories. If we carried this kind of reasoning to the New Testament. we would be spending our time trying to find the street addresses of the houses built on rock and sand, and the names of their builders, while missing Jesus’ statement about strong versus weak faith.
To give you a sense of the rates of speciation we are talking about I did some quick calculations. There are approximately 33,000 living species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. For each of these groups there are certainly far more extinct species but going with identified extinct taxa I find about 3500 species of birds and more mammals. Combined with dinosaur kinds and the synapsids and so forth, a very conservative estimate of the number of species that would have had to have evolved since department Noah’s flood would be 60,000. AiG says all these species were represented on the Ark by a maximum of 1400 kinds. Therefore each kind would have given rise to an average of 42 species over the past 4350 years. That is roughly 1 new species per kind per hundred years. That doesn’t sound too extreme but that also translates to 1400 new species being formed per 100 years or 14 new land animal species evolving every single year. Now that is why we call that hyper- or rapid-evolution/speciation.
Now my 60,000 number was very conservative and AiG says there estimate of 1400 kinds is also very conservative. If there are only 700 kinds then double those numbers and if there are 100,000 or many many more land animals species then double that number again.
Now some young life creationists will suggest that maybe speciation occurred as a very fast rate the first several hundred years but Dr. Jeanson as AiG has attempted to show from genetics that speciation has occurred as a relatively even pace through time. If he is right we should be documenting up to dozens of new species evolving every single year. Now that would be really interesting news but I don’t hear about this speciation and why are YEC bringing these new species to our attention?
Much hemming and hawing in that article…
Could there have been a rapid diaspora of speciation shortly after being released from Noah’s Ark? Are we virtually breathless in pondering the answer? All of which is rather beside the point!
Even if we surmise that all the animals off the ark somehow mustered a truly zealous explosion of speciation … the amazing patterns of life we find on Earth give us a rather definitive answer: Modern animals could not have evolved from the Ark’s inhabitants!
How can I be so dang-sure of this? It’s simple:
Look at the Diverse-Uniformity of mammals we find in Australia (amazing unique forms of mammals - - all marsupials!! - - not found anywhere else in the world, because the absence of more successful placental mammals allowed a small number of marsupials to spread out into all the ecological niches (al la Galapagos style!).
Then look at the mammals outside of Australia! Instead of finding the same kind of Australian marsupials scattered all over the world… we find precious few marsupials at all - - because placental mammals found the evolutionary fast lane that allowed them to push most non-Australian marsupials to extinction.
So how does a YEC explain these patterns?
He must explain:
once released from the Ark, most marsupials made a bee-line to the Australian land-mass, through the meager continental continuity of land provided by the slender Indonesian continental connections to Australia - - before Australia detached itself and moved into the midst of the ocean so fast, some kangaroos probably got whiplash! (< Yes, that is hyperbole).
in contrast, non marsupial mammals took a leisurely meandering everywhere else except Australia… including the leopard, cheetah and tigers - - all notorious slow movers, right?
For Australia, which once had evidence of placental mammals, was not able to keep those forms alive (we can assume they were wiped clean out of Australia because of the flood!) and, other than humans, thousands of placental mammalian “kinds” never made it to Australia !! - - though I’m honor-bound to list the arrival times of the exceptions!:
- - winged bats appear as far back as 15 million years ago (naturally part of the delay was waiting for rodents to become successful flyers);
- - rodents (who had to swim instead of fly) - - other than rats- - took 5 million years longer than bats!
- - rats, who are apparently not stout swimmers, only arrived in Australia 1 million years ago!
- - the canine Dingo only arrived several thousand years ago, perhaps facilitated by aborigines.
- - and rabbits, less than 200 years ago!
But long before these few made their appearance, we have it on Biblical authority that a vast army of marsupial speedsters (!!!) got to Australia long before, and staked out their territorial and ecological monopolies!:
Notable among them - -
- the ever fleet Koala Bear;
- the Loris - - the Slow Loris no less!
- and the aerial powerhouse we must recognize as the Greater Gliders - - a large family of marsupials filling the ecological niche of the flying squirrel!
Dr. Duff, thank you for your thought provoking article!
I have a comment and a question.
Comment: It seems assumed here that micro-evolution (observable natural selection) implies macro-evolution (e.g. water animals evolving into land animals, that is, biblical ‘kinds’ evolving into other kinds). I appreciate you pointing out how even YEC’s have to acknowledge the reality of at least the former - that is important.
Question: What does Genesis 6-9 actually mean? Was there a Noah? Was there an ark? And if not, at what point in the Bible do these stories transition from symbolic to actual? Jesus seemed to think Noah and his family were real people (see Matthew 24:37-38).
It seems to me that to limit your understanding of these passages to what you can understand scientifically may be antithetical to faith. In other words, just because you can’t explain how something happened doesn’t mean that it didn’t. At some point you have to come to grips with what the Scriptures actually say and take a stand on whether you believe it or not.
Mr. Duff, what do you believe about the truth of Genesis 6-9?
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Jesus and Genesis
Do you think Jesus believed the Earth orbited the Sun? Do you think Jesus believed meteors were falling stars? Do you think Jesus believed that if you poured water from a Temple vessel onto something unclean, that the unclean nature instantly traveled up the water column and tainted the entire vessel?
On the latter point, there was considerable debate in the ancient world… even as heliocentrism and falling stars were not actively debated.
NOTE: Did Jesus believe that touching a grave or tomb even with one’s shadow would taint one’s purity?
Craig Keener’s “IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament” (page 105) tells us:
“Nothing spread ritual impurity as severely as a corpse (it made anyone who touched it unclean for a week - Numbers 19:11); Pharisees believed that one contracted impurity if even one’s shadow touched a corpse or grave. Inconspicuous tombs (or limestone ossuaries) would be whitewashed each spring before Passover to warn passersby to avoid them and so avoid impurity; the Pharisees either lacked this telltale warning (Luke 11:44) or pretended that it was a mark of distinction rather than evidence of impurity…”
Following in the same vein as the question by another poster about whether or not Jesus got all his math questions right in school… As we ponder what Jesus said about Jesus … how is it that so many people care what Jesus said about Noah … and so little people care what Jesus said about money?:
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Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy
way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in
heaven: and come take up the cross, and follow me.
And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And
Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have
riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words.
But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that
trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
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The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I
yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to
the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great
possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man
shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven… When his disciples heard it, they were
exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all
things are possible.
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Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all
that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and
come, follow me.
And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. And when Jesus
saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into
the kingdom of God!
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So many just can’t accept that Jesus literally meant what he said… but they are willing to think Jesus knew the world’s history perfectly …
George, that is surely an apt reminder, thank you!
I want to be a Christian who readily accepts what my Savior tells me, and not pick and choose between what I like and don’t like!
Surely His thoughts, ways, and words are higher than ours! Isaiah 55:7-11
"Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:7-11, NASB)
dear mark - what a refreshingly honest reply - keen to learn the Word and not simply defend a position - you are an encouragement to all on these threads - thank you
My name is Miguel. I am not an English mother-tongue writer but I will try to explain my thoughts.
When someone presents the dogs and their great morphological variation in size, etc., as evidence that visible changes also occur within kinds in a short period of time, it seems to me to be the opposite. Why? Because while the dogs had all these changes through artificial selection in some hundred years, the wolfs, from where they derive, maintained their same basic form, that is to say, natural selection could not change the wolf during that period of time. And exactly the fact that from the wolf so many different forms of dogs where “produced” means that the wolf hasn’t by any means reached any kind of plateau were no more changes are possible. So, the conclusion is: the wolf has in it the possibility of many changes in size, color and form, but has maintained its basic form during the time that the dog, through artificial selection, achieved such big variation.
And when dogs go “back to nature” - feral dogs – they tend with time to lose their variety and go back to a typically medium-sized, yellow to rust-colored dog. So, for these reasons it seems to me that the dog is not a good example to explain rapid evolution. Or am I wrong?
But I must say that I also have many difficulties in thinking that natural selection could bring about the enormous complexity of the human soul (communicating through highly abstract and complex music, poetry, literature, dance, painting, words; Thinking about and studying the world using abstract thinking, philosophy, mathematics, feelings, intuition, believe in God, science; having a notion of evil and good, hate and love, heroic and criminal acts, to deserve or not to deserve; etc., etc., etc…
Hi Miguel, I think you presented your thoughts very well. You are quite correct about domestic dogs. We have teased them apart from wolves by selecting for just a few traits. Natural selection can’t work this quickly and, just as you suggest, we don’t see it working so quickly to sculpt species because there are so many features being selected for at once such that each one may confound the selection on another. So breeds of anything just aren’t the place to look for rapid speciation or rapid variation.
This is the most impressive example of multiple genetic evolutions I have yet seen! Note that with each “splash” of a new colony of bacteria (shown in white) … we are seeing a successful evolution of a new strain of bacteria.
It’s not a new species… but it is a new expression of genetics… imagine this going on for a thousand years.
Then ask yourself… would the resulting bacteria from now be compatible with the bacteria strain of the future?
Speciation is cumulative changes… eventually a new strain turns on its ancestors and starts to eat it, kill it, or flee from it!
I am copy/pasting this from another thread:
Using movie technology developed in Hollywood, these scientists developed an impressive way to show how the environment (Hey! @Relates ! ) can induce rapid changes in the genetics of a bacteria population!
It is living proof that as a population becomes stressed and almost wiped out (in this case, just in the frontier region of a giant bacteria culture!) … small changes in chromosomes can quickly spread throughout the stressed region, and create a new genetic baseline for normalcy in the population.
The cyclical process repeats itself every time it bumps into a new concentration of toxic antibiotic chemicals in their environment.
No “intelligence” here … just the constant interplay between life form and environment!
As you are a Botanist, I have a group of questions on the issue of plants and the flood:
What would be the result of a one-year total flood in the vegetation? Would the majority of plants survive? If not, why do you say so?
Could some terrestrial species survive under water for such a long time? Their seeds?
Could they survive floating in the water a whole year? Would they get enough nutrients from the water? Could their seeds survive? (surely some species, like some Coconut- trees do it today, can have their fruit or seed traveling in water for a long time – but do most plants have that capacity?)
When the Bible talks in the Flood account about the dove that brings a new Olive-leaf in its beak to Noah, I have always imagined it as coming from a tree that survived the flood. But could that ever be from a grown-up tree? From a seed that had germinated sometime after the deluge was finished? (from a branch that floated in the water the whole year would not make sense because it was a new leaf).
Another question: when the Bible talks in the account of the Flood about the raven and the dove, don’t we have already there modern species? Or would those be considered by AG like general forefathers of the Corvidae and Columbidae family branches?
Thank you very much!
Sorry. Just to clarify a point in my previous questions. When, in my first question, I ask if the majority of plants would survive the Flood, I meant to ask if the majority of plant SPECIES would survive it (not individual plants).
Thank you once more!
I have a follow up question if anyone wants to tackle it. It requires a tremendous amount of biological activity to produce soil that can support plant life. After a year under what I suppose is sea water, how much, if any, of that life would survive? I am thinking earthworms, nitrogen fixing bacteria, etc. And what about aquatic life? If the water was salty it would kill all the fresh water life, if fresh it would kill all of the marine.
Indeed! Can’t you just picture an elderly man surely suffering from scurvy trying to grow crops in saline muck?
Of course, the AIG scenario is also that there was remodeling of the earth’s surface with rapid movement of continents, lots of volcanic activity, etc. that pretty much wiped out all traces of pre-flood earth, so it is very difficult to reconcile with anything surviving. My thought is we should look at the Noah story with the goal of understanding what the lessons learned mean to us, and try to understand why it has been preserved in the biblical text for us to have.
To me the main lesson I take from it is that mankind is fallen (sort of a redo of Eden) but that God provides salvation and a new beginning, leading us out of the chaos.
I know there is a whole thread on the question I’m about to ask you … but I just wanted to be able to correlate to one aspect of the questions we are exploring on this particular thread:
Do you personally conclude that the Ark and Flood stories in the Bible are erroneous? Or are they some other category of writing? Perhaps figurative or metaphorical?