@Geanna Dane: So here are three basic approaches. Two populations …

Comment on Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism by Sean Pitman.

@Geanna Dane:

So here are three basic approaches. Two populations can be considered distinct species if:

(1) Each individual of an age or sex class of the two populations can be fully diagnosed from the other. That is, you could take any male, for example, obtain a measurement, and assign it with 100% certainty to the population it came from. Ideally the level of differentiation between allopatric species should be similar to that between closely-related sympatric species which we know with more certainty to be distinct.

It seems to me like various human ethnic groups satisfy this definition of “species” since individuals can be assigned very accurately to the correct ethnic group based on both phenotypic and phylogenetic features (with extreme accuracy using the latter).

(2) A gene tree based on DNA samples shows that the two populations form monophyletic groups, what we call independent “lineages”. That is, all individuals of a sampled population share a common ancestor to the exclusion of individuals of the other population.

This is also true of human ethnic groups which can trace their independent lineages back to a common ancestor to the exclusion of individuals from another ethnic group. This is in fact the basis of ethnic diversity – different distinct ancestries…

(3) The genetic distance (measured in DNA base pairs) is equivalent to or greater than that seen in other valid species, including sympatric species. For example, if the two frog populations showed 4% divergence, which is in the range of many closely related species pairs, then they would be regarded distinct species. If their divergence was much less, say 0.4%, this would be in the range of many closely related subspecies.

The degree of divergence depends upon the region of DNA chosen for phylogenetic evaluation – often regions thought to be functionally neutral. The cut-off point as to how many of these apparently neutral mutational differences qualify as a “new species” is also arbitrary or subjectively defined. Also, there is individual overlap between what has been defined as separate species groups. In other words, there are modern humans that would overlap with the Neandertal range of variation yet many have proposed that Neandertals be assigned to a different “species” group from humans. It seems to me though that Neandertals are very likely nothing more than an ethnic variation of humans no more removed than northern Europeans are from Aborigines – nothing more exotic.

Also, just half a century or so ago many scientists would have proposed cutoffs which would in fact have defined certain ethnic groups within different “species” groups even using this criteria of yours. Even Darwin thought of certain ethnic groups of humans as less evolutionarily advanced than his own ethnic group of humans – so much so as to be subhuman or at least a lower level species of human (notice the whole title of his book). It all depends upon what is or is not politically correct at the time.

Consider again that various distinct human ethnic groups have been maintained as distinct allopatric groups as well as sympatric groups over long periods of time. It only matters now what kinds of degree of non-phenotypic phylogenetic variation you are willing to subjectively define as a new “cryptic species” as far as I can tell…

For delineating cryptic species the latter two approaches are necessary. For the special case of humans they are simply not going to satisfy any of these criteria. I hope my explanation has helped you out.

I do not understand how you can make the statement that human ethnic groups do not satisfy any of your criteria. They sure seem to match all of these criteria to me. Obviously, I’m still confused on exactly how you can “objectively” exclude various human ethnic variations from the stated definitions of cryptic species in literature… cryptic species which have far less phenotypic variation in comparison to ethnic human variations…

And again, all of this is completely irrelevant to the disagreement between creationists and evolutionists – a disagreement over qualitative functional differences – not species definitions which are or at least can be based on functionally neutral differences.

Sean Pitman

Sean Pitman Also Commented

Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism
@Ron Nielsen:

Sean, it seems to me that if you admit ANY functional change in the DNA the creation/evolution debate is lost in favor of evolution. All the rest, however you define species is just a matter of time and quantity.

Hardly. The vast majority of functional mutations are detrimental – based on a loss of qualitatively unique pre-established functionality. Most of the rare mutations that are functionally beneficial do not produce something that is qualitatively new within the gene pool of options, but produce only an increase or decrease in activity of the same type of functionality that was already there to begin with. And, the very rare beneficial mutations that actually produce something qualitatively unique as well as functionally beneficial never produce anything that requires a minimum of more than 1000 specifically arranged amino acid residues to work – not even close.

The reason for this is that evolution beyond this very low level of functional complexity would require trillions upon trillions of years to achieve – – on average.

This is why the constant demonstration of low-level examples of “evolution in action” do not remotely explain how higher levels of evolution are therefore reasonable – even given a few billion years. The extrapolation is not at all reasonable because of the exponential decline in evolutionary potential with each step up the ladder of functional complexity.

You say, “it’s just a matter of time and quantity”. What you don’t understanding is that the time required is simply not reasonable. The time required to get beyond even the 1000aa level is in the multiple trillions of years. Do you not see that as a problem?

That is why I think it is so dangerous to state that evolution is incompatible with belief in God and creation, because no one, not even you are willing to deny that that the mechanisms for evolution are in place.

The mechanism for evolution is not “in place” beyond extremely low levels of functional complexity. That’s the problem.

It’s similar to saying that because natural processes are known which can produce roughly cube shape granite blocks that obviously such mindless natural mechanisms could explain a highly symmetrical polished granite cube measuring exactly one meter on each side. Such a conclusion does not rationally follow since the higher level illustration requires exponentially more time for the natural mechanism to achieve relative to the lower level demonstration that does not require the same level of constraints…

Except out of wanton ignorance, it is not possible to deny evolution in this day of DNA mapping. If you insist on making evolution and belief in God mutually exclusive you will have to declare every single educated person in the church to be athiests and drive them out of the church. Your stance just isn’t reasonable.

Anyone who wishes to worship in our Church is welcome – even if he/she is an “atheists”. I would not drive anyone who wants to come out of our Church. However, this does not mean that such a one should ever expect to get a paycheck from the SDA Church for promoting his/her atheistic ideas from pulpit or classroom.

You see, attendance is not the same thing as paid representation. A paid representative must be held to a higher standard in any organization.

Sean Pitman

Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism
@Michael Prewitt:

I agree with this general line of reasoning…

Sean Pitman

Dr. Geraty clarifies his “Challenge” to literal 6-day creationism
@Geanna Dane:

In other words, you’d believe in the existence and love of God despite all physical evidence to the contrary? That is very similar to the faith of some LDS friends of mine. I suppose it works for some people, but my own relationship with God is based on the evidence that I think He has given me of His own existence and the reliability of his Word combined with personal experiences with answers to prayer, etc.

Now, I agree with you that theistic evolutionists can be saved even if they got the whole origins thing all wrong. God loves everyone and will save all who earnestly seek after Him and love Him in the person of “the least of these…” Salvation itself is not based on correct doctrinal knowledge, but on living according to the Royal Law of Love. However, correct doctrinal knowledge is not therefore worthless. It is very valuable in that it has the power to give us a clearer picture of God here and now and to provide a solid basis of hope here in now in the reality of God and of a bright and glorious future.

I’m sorry, but without correct doctrinal knowledge, without the Bible, you may have some sort of vague idea of God’s existence and maybe even His love for you through the features of nature, but you would have very little else upon which to base a solid hope in such notions. It is the evidence that the Bible is reliable in those things which can be tested and evaluated that gives solid confidence in those metaphysical statements that cannot be directed evaluated – at least for me.

This is why when you argue so strongly for the idea that science works against SDA doctrinal positions and offer nothing up but blind faith that the Bible is true that you undermine the basis of many people’s hope in the reality of the Good News. Your seeming suggestion is that science is quite clearly contrary to some very plain biblical statements and that the only way to overcome such evidence is through blind faith. That simply doesn’t do it for many many people. It certainly doesn’t do it for me.

I hope this helps you to at least understand why your ideas and comments are so strongly opposed by those who actually consider it important that the Bible be consistent with the physical evidence in order for its metaphysical statements to be considered trustworthy…

Sean Pitman

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