More AIG Hyper-Speciation problems

Observed speciation is rare, yet in the creationist post-flood model, it presumes hyper-speciation. So, creationists argue that the only reason “evolutionists” need to believe the earth is “millions and billions of years” old is to prop up their model of biodiversity, which obviously takes time. But, in their own model, which presumes some non-miraculous mechanism for “speciation within kinds,” two generations is enough time.

Joel Duff ran the numbers using estimates from AIGs own creation museum signage:

But we should also consider that we are talking averages but most “kinds” are not average. Some types of organisms are more diverse (specious) than others. For example, the songbirds (finches and sparrows) are a highly diverse group. Independent researcher Dr. Jean Lightner working with The Ark Encounter believes that all finches and sparrows are the same created kind and thus were represented by only a pair (or seven) of individuals on Noah’s Ark. This large collection of many bird families under the general finch/sparrow type constitute nearly 1500 living species. Here is what Dr. Lightner* has written about these specious birds:

However, perhaps the most astounding group identified based on interspecific hybrid data is Passeroidea. Encompassing Old and New World sparrows, various finches and related birds, this represents an amazing amount of variety in the nearly 1500 species. It is clear that this diversity didn’t arise since the Flood by the standard naturalistic explanations of neo-Darwinism, that is, chance mutations and natural selection (Lightner 2013)!

Leaving aside the surprising statement that this diversity did not arise by mutations and natural selection given that she and other YECs do not believe that God intervened miraculously to make these species in such a short time, this is a quite astounding admission of massive hyper-speciation since the Flood. 1500 species have formed in just 4000 years? Really? (See: Invoking Super-speed Evolution, the YEC Big Bang of Birds)

Actually, the answer is No. It’s worse that that. The 1500 only accounts for the living species of finches not the many lineages of finch species that have gone extinct and not left any descendants for us today. How many extinct species of finch are there? It is difficult to know how many extinct lineages there are but at least 50 are known despite the rarity of preservation in the fossil record. It would not be unreasonable to believe that there are another 1000 species of songbirds that have come and gone in addition to those we have today. If this is the case the YEC must propose that in excess of 2500 species evolved from a single pair of birds in less than 4500 years. That would require the origin of a new species of songbird every two years.

Just imagine an American Robin ( Turdus migratorius ) giving birth to a whole new species every second generation. There are 86 species of thrush (genus Turdus ) which is just one type of songbird and yet there is not evidence to suggest that these species have not existed for thousands of years. Where is the evidence for constant speciation occurring within these groups?


… and did so quite badly.

But before I look at the numbers let’s look at what a species is.

The Biological Species concept defines a species as members of populations that actually or potentially interbreed in nature. That sounds clear and simple for sexually reproducing species but in practice it is not used for defining species. Recently African elephants were declared to be two species even though there are existing hybrid populations. Similarly the several species of Darwin’s Finches have been observed to interbreed. On the other hand domestic dogs are all considered one species despite the huge differences between them. Domestic dogs also freely interbreed with many different species in the dog family, such as the wolf and coyote.

So when AIG says the sparrow/finch kind (which includes not only sparrows and finches, but also cardinals, orioles, blackbirds, and so on) includes 1,471 extant species (ref) we are in many cases talking about varieties that can interbreed and not 1471 reproductively isolated species. This is important because we know from domestic breeding that a variety can form in several generations and does not require a long time.

Duff makes the mistake of assuming

  1. a single main trunk variety from which each new "species" (variety) separates in succession and
  2. that this main trunk starts from scratch after each branch.

Neither of these assumptions is necessarily correct.

An alternative model is that a single variety over a diverse area could be forming several new "species" simultaneously and each of these new varieties could then give rise to more varieties. In each case the new varieties could replace the parent variety giving an extinct variety.

So lets say the original variety splits into just two varieties, each of which can then produce two more. This only needs to be repeated 11 times to end up with 2048 varieties and possibly a similar number of extinct varieties. That would allow for 300-400 years for each new variety to form rather than the 2 years Duff calculates. Now I’m not an expert on these birds but I would expect birds like these to be breeding the season after they are hatched so 300-400 years would probably be 300-400 generations. This is much longer than the time required to produce a new variety under domestic breeding but even a factor of 10 for wild conditions is easily accommodated.

Of course new varieties are unlikely to be produced in a simple geometric progression like this; but even more unlikely to be produced in the simple linear progression Duff proposes. Even so, there is ample time for the current number of varieties to have been produced since Noah’s Flood.

Conclusion: we can safely reject Joel Duff’s duff calculations.

Domestic breeding is the result of humans carefully choosing which animals breed and which offspring are allowed to reproduce. That is nothing like what happens in the wild.

It can happen quite rapidly in the wild depending on the strength of the selection pressure; as little as one generation in the case of Darwin’s Finches as observed by the Grants. Or in 4 years in the case of guppies in Trinidad. Other cases of rapid adaptation have been observed.

As I said 300 generations allows for it not being as efficient as in domestic breeding.

My comment on Duff’s duff calculations stands. Your comment didn’t address that at all.

Speedy species surprise
The rapid appearance today, of new varieties of fish, lizards, and more defies evolutionary expectations … but fits perfectly with the Bible.

@aarceng Of course. I was only pointing out that your use of the rate of change for human directed breeding doesn’t apply.

I love the quote mining the YEC folks do. In the article that you linked the first paper they referenced includes this in the conclusion.

Doesn’t exactly sound like work that “defies evolutionary expectations”. But then you have probably never bothered to actually read the papers that are referenced.

And behold, the actual fastest speciation of marine life as of a few years ago (3,000 generations and thousands of years):

This is a great example of doublespeak:

  • evolution can’t produce enough change to make something a different ‘kind’ (which nobody can actually define) which were created 6 kya
  • scientists see species changing in real time
  • hah! Hyper evolution actually fits the YEC model better

Your whole explanation conveniently leaves out the reason that members of distinct species do not typically interbreed with members of other species, and that is the geographical or ecological niche isolation that drives the adaptation that leads to speciation in the first place. In nature, it is only very rarely (coy-wolves for example) that species are “freely interbreeding” with other species, because usually those other species are not conveniently around for mating. If they were, speciation would not have happened.

Domestic breeding does not produce new species. Speciation occurs in sizeable populations and is driven by environmental pressures and almost always involves a segment of the population being isolated from the rest of the population for long periods of time. I don’t remember all the details, but in the book Darwin’s Finches it describes the work of two biologists observing a relatively small population of finches on an island of the Galapagos for 40 years. In that time they saw different features in the finch population become more prevalent and more rare in response to drought or storms or fluctuations in the food supply, But no new species arose because of these rapid adaptations. The next season, a new combination of environmental factors would put selective pressure on the population in a new way, so even fairly dramatic seasonal changes in prevalence or rarity of certain features in the newly hatched finches or in the ones who made it to adulthood to reproduce did not seem to have much of an effect on the genetic composition of the population as a whole over time. All that to say, I don’t think what you are describing actually happens with any frequency in nature, so an explanation that would require new species emerging in non-isolated populations over and over again, seems like the typical creationist rhetoric of “if I can imagine it, it could happen” instead of a scientific model based on how observed nature actually works.


@Christy, what I find most interesting in your response is that you totally ignored my demolition of Joel Duff’s calculations; as did @Bill_II and @pevaquark.

I take it then that no one is defending what was the main point of the original post.

@Joel_Duff Dr Duff, would you like to comment? Thank you.

Joel has written extensively about the problems with hyper-speciation and it will take more than your original question to prove him wrong. Take a look here

1 Like

Et tu, @Randy

1 Like

You might want to refer to a large body of evidence which supposedly supports one side of the argument, but let’s deal with the specific article @Christy referenced in the first post. viz. “Invoking Super-Speed Evolution: The YEC Post-Flood Big Bang of Bird Speciation”.

What is your argument exactly? Are you saying that because species change over time at the observed rates in real time evolution experiments plus six thousand years = producing all of the variants in the fossil record and on earth today from just a few (thousand?) kinds (whatever those are nobody knows)?

Does it concern you that the CMI article just quotemines the authors of certain papers and ignores other papers? Does it concern you that I’ve presented evidence otherwise about an actual fastest speciation event taking thousands of generations? It seems as if the definition of species needs to be very carefully defined – as CMI seems to make it extremely narrow and in an ironic twist - that would actually make many branches of Homo sapiens different species. Or if not Homo sapiens, then all others of the homo genus were definitely other species. BUT, also according to CMI, all of the homo genus have to be descended from Adam and Eve just 6 kya- so in this case the definition of a species is much wider and speciation didn’t occur in the lineages leading to us.

@aarceng @Randy @pevaquark @Christy
I tend to believe its good to take a sabbath rest from these discussions thus my lack of response.
Chris makes a valid point about rates of speciation. My average assume constant rates of speciation over time while he is pointing out that if each species gives rise to additional species that speciation could produce a very bush-like phylogeny after which presumably the rate of speciation has decelerated exponentially over time do genetic entropy?? It sounds nice as a model but where is the evidence of this happening? Also, I should point out that I am mostly providing a critique of Nathaniel Jeanson model in which he argues that speciation has been occurring at the same rates over time and continues at the same rate today. See his article here for examples:

The point is, whatever the rates of speciation are over time, 1500 species or more have to have evolved from a pair of animals and that is a lot of speciation being proposed without a tested mechanism or any eye-witness observations. You can quibble about species definitions but the total genetic diversity among all these species (or subspecies if you wish) is enormous and that variation is not going to be contained within an original pair, hence there has to be new genetic variation along the way.

1 Like

One problem with some of the population and speciation calculations is that they assume 100% survival and flourishing of all offspring.
In reality, one study I googled on sparrows had a nesting success rate of 26%, that is, only 26% of nests actually produced at least one offspring. Another had an annual mortality rate of about 50% for adult birds.
Therefore, populations do not rise exponentially in most cases. While a population in a flood ravaged world might have few predators, they would also have limited food and shelter.

“Et tu, Randy”…

@aarceng, you are just way above me in math–seriously. I wanted to defer to @Joel_Duff as I thought that would help you with your question. Good to hash this out, and maybe when I have a tutor (like you), I can learn the calculations better. Thanks.

Thanks, @Joel_Duff. A balanced comment I think in that you addressed both strengths and weaknesses in my position. I don’t think I have read any of Jeanson’s articles so I will follow your link to see what he said. (p.s. I see it’s quite a long article. It might take a while to get through it all.)


This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

This is a place for gracious dialogue about science and faith. Please read our FAQ/Guidelines before posting.