Evolution of Organisms After Their Own Kind

Part of Mc Conkie's 4th objection is his rejection of the notion that one species could turn into another since living things were supposed to bring forth offspring after their own kind.

"After this temporal creation, this creation of all forms of life in a state of immortality, the Lord God issued the decree that all created life should remain in the sphere in which it was after it was created. Further, having in mind the coming fall and consequent entrance of death and mortality into the world, the Lord in that first primeval day commanded that all forms of life, after mortality entered the picture, should bring forth posterity, each after its own kind. These principles accord with the one announced by Paul that "All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds."

In other words, his objection again derives from a belief in essentialism. Men are men because they have man-ness about them. Fish have fish-ness and beasts, beast-ness. Species, according to this line of reasoning, is not merely a label that we somewhat arbitrarily place on organisms according to the differences we see in them. Instead, God creating separate species is in fact the law which causes the differences we see in them. This, however, is getting the cart before the horse.

First of all, we should note that the word kind, as used in Genesis as well as the famous passage by President Taylor, is not used in the same way as biologists in their "Kings Play Cards On Fat Green Stools" classification system. The text is merely stating the obvious fact that chicken do not give birth to turtles, nor monkeys to humans. The author is giving a reason for this otherwise, at the time, inexplicable tendency in nature. Evolutionists have never claimed that these things did happen.

As to Mc Conkie's use of Paul's statement, we have another case of getting the cart before the horse. Paul is using the differences we all observe in different organisms as an illustration of the differences between physical and spiritual beings. He is not saying that since there is a difference between physical and spiritual beings, there is necessarily a difference between assorted species. He didn't, after all, say there is a difference between the flesh of Gorillas and that of Chimpanzees, the flesh of piranas and that of gold fish. He is using broad groups (beasts and fish) which have obvious differences between the two so as to ensure that there will be no argument. He is not arguing anything at all about individual species, let alone that there are essential differences from species to species.

What we have here is a case which we warned about in the beginning. It is the same problem found in the books sold in Born-again Christian book stores which intend to show how physics proves that the Bible is true. They use vague proof-texts which mention the heavens expanding and say that these actually refer to the general relativity and the big bang. Mormons do the same thing with the Book of Abraham. And this is what happens when people accept their scriptures as being too perfect. The scriptures are not text books for science, neither advanced physics nor evolutionary biology.

I mentioned that evolutionists do not claim that monkey's give birth to humans. This statement should be unpacked a bit since creationists never tire of claiming the evolutionists do say this.

Speciation is a very noneventful occasion. There is simply no way to say when it is happening, only when it did happen in the past. It's like a person coming home to his wife and excitedly announcing "Guess what I did today! I helped give birth to Victor Hugo!" As Dennett asks, "What is wrong with this story?" It is completely anachronistic. At the time of Victor Hugo's birth there would have been no reason whatsoever to be excited about giving birth to him, for he had not yet made a name for himself. Victor Hugo's birth was no more significant than that of anybody else's and anything else's.

Speciation has no clear boundaries. It is never absolutely clear when, exactly, it happened. We can only say when it has happened. Thus, Mc Conkie objection does not hold water.

Summary: The Bible says that living things reproduce "after their own kind" but this does not pose a problem for our believing in both the Bible and evolution. Those who do see a problem do so because of their attributing too much information to various Biblical statements and a misunderstanding of speciation events.


I think that the "kinds" argument is one of the weakest. The statement in Genesis is a simple statement of observable, everyday fact. Nobody disputes it.

In order to use it as a weapon against evolution you have to attach a lot of meaning to it that is not derived from the text itself (like what exactly a "kind" is in the first place). This weapon is then used to beat what is usually a caricature of evolution.

3/31/2005 02:04:00 PM  

One way to try and make people feel better about this is to argue that the description applies only to the limited time scale of mortal lifetimes (or perhaps human civilization). Diversity was generated over much greater time scales, but by the time man is on the scene there are "kinds" and ecosystems sufficiently stable to support him.

3/31/2005 06:44:00 PM  

Speciation has no clear boundaries. It is never absolutely clear when, exactly, it happened. We can only say when it has happened. Thus, Mc Conkie objection does not hold water.

An entry to understanding the blurred nature of speciation is common experience with human fertility. We know that human fertility is not perfect. Similarly, as geographically isolated species diverge, the probability of viable offspring does not drop to zero in a single generation, but fades out over many generations.

(At least this is the reasonable story I tell myself.)

3/31/2005 06:48:00 PM  

My apologies for a threadjack, but something weird happened with the recent comment display in which it wouldn't show my response to Greg on another thread. here is a direct link to that orphaned comment.

4/01/2005 04:54:00 AM  

Damn, the direct link didn't work. I'm cursed or something. Greg, just go down to the very bottom of Jared's Adam and Eve thread.

4/01/2005 05:03:00 AM  

As I read the command to 'reproduce after your own kind', I asked why would such a command be given? Darwin proposed that each species reproduce after their own kind, with only rare mutations that gradually made changes - hardly reproducing in any other way than after their own kind. The only answer I could come up with was that it must be possible for species to reproduce *not* after their own kind.

I just noticed in the recent National Geographic, the articles on the Flores, Indonesia recent find of the 3 foot tall hominims, and another recent find of hominims in Georgia, between the Black and the Caspian sea. The archeologists working there assumed that species do not change gradually, but that each species has identifying markers that allow it to be differentiated from all others. However it is explained, a species nearly always remains the same from the time it appears until it disappears.

When species reproduce *not* after their own kind, if we use the fossil record as a reference, it appears that the species would make a jump from one species to a following species. But if the biblical edict is in force now, we will not see that happen. Thus, evolution will have run it's course, except for the continual microevolution which does not result in speciation but variation within a species.

The comment, "Speciation has no clear boundaries. It is never absolutely clear when, exactly, it happened. We can only say when it has happened. Thus, Mc Conkie objection does not hold water.", IMO does not represent what is found in the fossil record. 50 years ago when I took biology, I had that impression, but recent careful examination of the fossil record has shown the stability of the species.


4/01/2005 08:20:00 PM  


You seem to be arguing for saltations as the mechanism of speciation and that no speciation is occuring now. Am I reading you correctly?

4/02/2005 10:11:00 AM  

Carl, I simply don't share your interpretation of speciation events. Even if punctuated equilibrium were true to the extent you claim, when would we say it occured?

1) Speciation occured at 3:43 p.m.
2) Speciation occured on Jan 13th
3) Speciation occured 24,357 B.C.
4) Speciation occured in between 24,000 and 25,000 B.C.

I think one would be hard pressed to find any evolutionists that would accept anything other than the fourth. Thus, speciation to any spectator simply doesn't happen because there are no spectators that live for the 1,000 year interval.

My argument was to show that "multiply after your kind" is not a commandment given by God, but is instead a description of the world we see around us. Contrary to what Mc Conkie's argument claims, evolutionists do not claim that any animal has mulitplied not "after its own kind." His argument is a straw-man and should not be taken seriously in my opinion.

4/03/2005 12:09:00 PM  

Carl said...

Jared commented on Saltation as being my proposal. Yes, that was proposed in
my long post dated Mar 20, and repeated here. Also that there would be no
speciation now. Microevolution occurs all the time, but IMO it almost never
leads to speciation.
(More below)

Jeffrey asked when speciation would occur in my proposal, and gave some
examples. He said that biologists would accept a 1000 year period for
speciation, but I challenge him to find any evidence anywhere that
speciation can occur in that time period. The proposed method of speciation
as referred to in my long post give no time period that I have been able to
find. Gould thought that, since man grows up for about 10% of his life,
that species might also take 10% of their lifetime to change, and he guessed
about 40,000 years. However, there is no evidence to support such
speculation. All the evidence I have seen supports a single event over the
entire species just as well as gradual change. The prediction of how genes
change in speciation was based on all the changes in DNA being made at one
time - the birth of the next species.

For purposes of clarity of ideas, I define microevolution as any mutation,
almost always single base at a time, that occurs in the DNA. Also in this
category are improper swapping of parts of chromosomes at cell division, or
parts of DNA introduced into another cell by some outside source, such as a
virus. Macroevolution is multiple changes to DNA within a single gene at a
rate that far exceeds the DNA clock, and is recognized as such by
biologists. This is the source of evolutionary novelties. Microevolution
occurs all the time, but macroevolution only occurs by command. My reading
of the scriptures puts the command to "multiply after your own kind"
as an
unambiguous statement from God.

As this is an LDS blog, I will present my proposal for the speciation
process. First, I see much evidence that matter has intelligence. I know of
several instances where tumors have been reduced instantly by PH blessings,
and similar 'miracles'. The only mechanism I can see that could accomplish
such a task is for intelligent matter to rearrange the tumor into healthy
tissue. The intelligent matter responds to commands of God. Currently,
biologists can do much changing to DNA, and I believe it will not be too
many years before the DNA code is decoded, at which point a lifeform could
be built from DNA. At that time, science would have the knowledge of which
DNA bases to change to produce a new species, and they may also have a
procedure for implementing such a change. If man can do such great things,
why could not God find a way to implement such a change species wide with
all the newborn members of that species?

I would accept Darwin's idea if I could see how it fit the evidence of the
fossil record, predicted the amount of difference in species, and predicted
the way DNA changes between species. I see only speculation, and far-out
arguments to try to fit Darwin to the fossil record. Punctuated Equilibrium
is an attempt to make the fossil record fit Darwin, but as no acceptable
mechanism has been found to make the fit complete PE relies on speculation
to make the fit.

4/04/2005 10:34:00 PM  



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