Why Whales are not understood by Creationists (Testable)

Whales are a tremendous pool of evidence for Evolutionary theory …

"The smoking gun for tooth loss in Mysticetes turned out to be exactly what was predicted: a fourth gene, necessary for enamel production, and mutated with the same inactivating mutation in all modern toothless whales. The gene in question, named enamelysin, was destroyed when a mobile genetic element called a SINE transposon inserted into it, breaking it into two halves and removing its function: . . .

[image here]

“The fact that the same SINE insertion mutation at an identical location is found in all modern Mysticete species indicates that this mutation happened once in a common ancestor and then was inherited by the entire group. Since this must have occurred early in the evolution of toothless whales in order to happen in the common ancestor of the entire group, the picture from the genetics and the fossil record match.”

" Once again, findings in one discipline (in this case, paleontology) can be used to make very detailed predictions about what another, unrelated discipline (comparative genomics) should reveal. These results are also entirely consistent with the observation, made in the 1920s, that toothless whales form tooth buds during embryogenesis that are later reabsorbed prior to the point when the deposition of enamel would begin. As with the hind limb story in whale evolution, lines of evidence from genetics, paleontology and embryology converge to support the hypothesis that modern toothless whales descend, through modification, from toothed ancestors."



I have collected a good collection of Whale Evolution imagery…

And a followup …


Some images to fire up inspiration …

I think we just found Eden … and why nobody has been able to find it for 3000+ years !

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Many animals have become secondarily aquatic, e.g. marine reptiles. I don’t understand why creationists focus on whales. I suppose it’s because they have such limited knowledge.

I’m just as likely to focus on whales as well…

I think they make a great case study!

They are very charismatic…

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Yes! Like Beagles !!!

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People loves whales and so YECs can expect questions about them just as they expect to be asked about dinosaurs. But most of their whale talk solely on using explaining how they survived the Flood and how they can’t be descendants of land mammals and thus are an example of a created kind.

I’ve suggested for a while now that the new emphasis of YECs on radical post-flood speciation could erode their argument that whales were never land animals. I found my first confirmation of that when I was reading an issue of Issues in Creation, a YEC journal on barminology and came across this fascinating article by Kurt Wise (recently featured in the film Is Genesis History) in which he outlines the origin of all the mammal “kinds.” Kurt Wise recognizes a big problem for YECs that I have been harping on for a while: based on where he believes the Flood/post-flood geological boundary is there are NO whale fossils in Flood sediments. All evidence of the existence of whales dates to after the Flood. Wise recognizes this and he even recognizes that the first whale fossils had legs. This leads him to the following speculation:
“…some of the animals which are aquatic or marine today may not have been aquatic at the time of the Flood. The marine and sea otters, for example, are members of the mustelid (weasel) family and their aquatic character is likely to have been revealed after the Flood. The whales might turn out to be another example… Vestigial legs and hips in modern whales confirm legged ancestors of the whales existed only a short time ago. It is possible that the purely marine cetaceans of the present were derived from semi-aquatic or even terrestrial ancestors on the ark.”

Wise is only following the evidence here and when he combines that with the requirement that the Earth is young he is forced to conclude that it is possible Noah had two whales on board the Ark. Now, AiG believes Pakicetus was unique “kind” and was on the Ark but then it went extinct after the Flood. But given their belief that speciation results in the loss of “information” I don’t know why they don’t just say that a walking whale was on the ark and then it lost information and devolved into a sea-living creature. That makes no sense to me but I could see them making that argument.


I have a question for George. How would he answer Dr. Richard Sternberg’s argument that the timespan for whale evolution is too short, and that most of the anatomical changes that took place occurred relatively suddenly, with the appearance of the Basilosaurids? See here:




Thank you for the links! I’ll be most interested in reading how someone can determine whether 20 million years or 30 million years would be required for dramatic changes in phenotype.


Reminds me of how Meyer argues in Darwin’s Doubt that there’s not enough time for the Cambrian Explosion. I’m not sure but he seems to be arguing that 50 million years is not enough time. A nice summary can be found here:

And then just recently we have this nice paper on the rise of alage some 650 million years ago where the abstract reads, perhaps extending this transition of the Cambrian back even further (would 100 million years be enough time for evolution to do its thing?):

The ‘Rise of Algae’ created food webs with more efficient nutrient and energy transfers, driving ecosystems towards larger and increasingly complex organisms.

Hello Vincent,

A great pleasure to “see” you here, thanks for popping in! I don’t currently have the time to listen to both episodes, but plan to check those out soon. I’m curious though, do you consider the Intelligent Design model at odds with the Evolutionary Creation model regarding whale evolution? Proponents of both positions would almost invariably agree that there is an Intelligent Designer that could have done anything He wanted to do. Dr. Sternberg’s argument could be made against the position of an atheistic evolution model, but I’m not certain it is a viable argument against an evolutionary creation model.


I had a very pleasant time listening to Dr. Richard Sternberg on the topic of “Whale Evolution and Living Waters”. In fact, it was so pleasant, I have to ask you straight out if you accept what Dr. Sternberg presented (in 2015) as fact ?

The reason I ask for this clarification is because this interview and presentation wasn’t like any “anti-Darwinian” presentation I’d ever heard before. Perhaps others have though.

I think it would be well worth @BradKramer’s time to listen to the audio as well. I think Dr. Sternberg has put together one of the most compelling presentations for God-assisted Evolution I have yet heard !!!

So, Vince, if you’ve accepted his presentation as - - shall we say? - - gospel, then by all means, I think it’s great to have you on board the BioLogos team!

But perhaps by now you are protesting: “Hey, wait wait … that’s not what that audio says … it says God helped speed up Whale evolution!” To which I would say, “Yes? But haven’t you read BioLogos literature where we say God was involved in human evolution and probably the evolution of all life on Earth?”

I will certainly agree that the interview was conceived as a tool for convincing Atheists that God was involved in Evolution. The problem, however, is Young Earth Creationists haven’t heard this tape in large numbers! They’d be storming the radio station if they did!

Why do I say this?

This scientist, Dr. Sternberg told the youthful interviewer that it took 10 million years for “walking whales” to become true whales. Do you understand that sentence? 10 million years … to get from “not a real whale” to “now it’s a real whale”! That means there was a time when there weren’t any whales at all ! And if we were to press the scientist giving the interview, and asked if he thought the “walking whales” were in the oceans at the same time as the giant marine reptiles, I am quite confident he would say: “of course not”!

@Marty, you should listen to this audio tape! It’s the first scientist who accepts the evolutionary history for what it is … but adds, it probably had God’s help! Now that is pretty good promotional material for BioLogos!

I can’t imagine why the YEC organizations are paying money for something like that. Because it is playing complete havoc with the usual position. Even the newly developing YEC position of hyper-speciation after the animals were let out of the Ark is nothing compared to this!

This scientist comes right out and basically says, the Earth has to be more than 10 million years old, that the whales came after the dinosaurs, and that God helped the whales Evolved.

Vince, I sure hope you agree with all that.

Now, can you find any YEC’s who’ve been converted to the BioLogos program because of this audio interview?!?!

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If God had to step in to make the Basilosaurids, why on earth did he leave the ridiculously tiny and useless hind legs on them? (Yes, I’ve seen the fossils.) Actually some modern whales still have vestigial hind limbs encased in their bodies.

My favorite essays on whale evolution were written by the late Stephen Jay Gould. They’re a bit out-of-date by now, but very well-written. The history of whale evolution and discovery of the fossil evidence is a perfect example of how historically the gaps have been closing.

Hooking Leviathan by Its Past

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While there is still plenty of ambiguity to wrestle with in the “God Guides Evolution” model … listening to the presenter of the whale evolution, one of the sound effects you can hear is the YEC model … crashing to the floor … agasinst windows… and right into the heads of people who are not ready to imagine taking 10 million years to create whales!

What was before the whales? Millions of years of mammalian development to the point where mammals are re-entering the oceans. And what happens before mammals emerging as the most novel life on Earth?: the smashing arrival of the Dinosaur Killing Asteroid !!!

If all I.D. proponents were this whale scientist, there would be no YECs left.

Hi George,

Thank you for your reply. I accept common descent, and I think many people in the ID movement also do.

I was under the impression that members of Biologos believe that God used natural means to bring species into being. Perhaps I’m mistaken. Dr. Sternberg seems to be implying that known natural processes would not be adequate to account for the relatively sudden appearance of the Basilosaurids. As the last stage in whale evolution, they presumably sprang on the scene in considerably less than 10 million years. Actually I think Dr. Sternberg is a Pythagorean, who believes that laws of form are built into the warp and woof of the cosmos. I was just wondering if you found his argument convincing.

Anyway, I’m glad you appreciated his talk, and I’m happy to say I generally endorse Biologos’ view of origins.

Best wishes,


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I am happy to let you know that you have been greatly misinformed.

If you look at the BioLogos mission statements… just search “What we believe…”

There are probably a number of supporters who prefer not to imagine God as “poofing” specific mutations into existence… but as far as I have seen, BioLogos has always held a healthy interest in the miraculous too.

I have heard one of Dr. Sternberg’s talks on whales. He claimed that mammals can only move their tails back and forth, and that whales had to develop the horizontal swimming motion from scratch. But the truth is, mammals generally can move their tails up and down. If you watch a dog running, you’ll see how the whole spine can flex, the same motion that whales use to swim. So I haven’t listened to his other talks.

Also, Eddie, (posting under a different name), used to preach the wonders of whales’ internal testicles to us day and night. But internal testicles are a common birth defect in mammals, including people. In the fetus they are internal and are supposed to descend after birth. In evolution they also start internally. So internal testicles are no biggie. Anyway, that was very tiring to read.

btw, I love whales and have seen real ones in Alaska. And I saw an AMAZING whale exhibition in NYC. It was a traveling exhibition from Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, which has a world-class collection of whales. There were many articulated skeletons and skulls, including those of archocetes. How cool is that?

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