DRAFT. © 2007-2018, Glen J. Kuban
Last revised: 6 Jan. 2018
Part of Kuban's Paluxy website
Based on a literal reading of Genesis, most "young-Earth" creationists (YECs), believe that a violent global flood occurred only a few thousand years ago, and destroyed all land life on earth except the pairs of animals and eight humans aboard Noah's Ark. However, this position contradicts extensive scientific evidence, and many Biblical scholars interpret the Flood as a regional rather than global event (Morton, 1997), or regard it as an allegorical account.
Besides extensive geologic and paleontologic evidence against a young Earth and recent global flood, YECs have a serious problem explaining the vast range of modern genetic diversity for both humans and other land animals, if as they maintain, each Genesis "kind" was reduced to a pair of individuals (or at most seven individuals) that left the Ark only a few thousand years ago. More specifically, they need to account for the many alleles (different states of a gene) found in modern populations today, if they did not come about through evolution. For example, a gene locus in the human leukocyte antigen complex has 59 different alleles (Ayala et al, 1993). However, each individual person normally has only two alleles for a given gene locus (one allele from each parent).
According to Genesis 7:7, the eight humans on the Ark consisted of Noah and his wife, their three sons, and their sons' wives. This means that that the Ark family had among them at most ten different alleles for each gene locus (3 x 2 = 6 for the wives, plus 2 each for Noah and his wife--their sons would have received all their alleles from their parents). Even if we allow the remote possibility that all three of Noah's sons were adopted, and thus that all eight people on the ark were unrelated, each could have carried only 2 different alleles for each gene locus, and the entire ark family would have 2 x 8 = 16 alleles for each gene locus. So where did all the additional alleles in the modern population come from? In mainstream science, such alleles are largely the result of natural selection acting on mutations (sometimes involving duplicate genes as well as point mutations and "crossing-over"), acting over of millions of years. Strict creationists must account for them in only a few thousand years.
The problem becomes even worse when animal life is considered. According to Genesis 7: 2-3 Noah was commanded by God to take on the Ark seven of each kind of clean land animal and bird, and two of every unclean animal. Although this appears to contradict Genesis 7:8 which indicates that "pairs" of each clean and unclean animals entered the Ark, in order to be generous and allow the most alleles, let's assume the first version is correct. This means that for clean animals, at most fourteen alleles are represented, and for unclean animals, four alleles. Since each species has tens of thousands of genes, and since many genes involve many alleles (sometimes dozens), the question must be asked again: where did all the alleles come from?
Increasingly creationists try to explain how the millions of species of land creatures fit aboard the Ark by proposing that the Genesis "kinds" were broader than species, perhaps more-or-less equivalent to genera or even families. However, this would only exacerbate the problem, as it would require even more alleles be generated (that is, evolve) after the Flood. Indeed, some genera consist of dozens or even hundreds of modern species, with scores of alleles for gene loci they shared in common. In other words, if a pair of animals representing a genus were taken on the ark, YECs would need to account for vast numbers of new alleles within many new species within a few thousand years.
The problem of genetic diversity in a YEC framework becomes even more severe when one considers that only about a thousand years before the Flood (as most YECs interpret Genesis), the entire human genome resided in two individuals: Adam and Eve. Each of them could have had at most 2 alleles per gene, or 4 alleles per gene between them. This would also be the case if each "kind" of land animal was created as a single pair. Although the Bible does not clarify this, YECs insist that only two original humans were created.
Creationists often claim that evolution cannot produce any new genetic information, but in view of the above considerations, many thousands of new alleles must have arisen by mutation and natural selection, which constitutes "new information" and "evolution" by any reasonable definitions. In fact, to account for the large numbers of alleles seen in current populations from the very limited ones at the presumed time of the Creation or Flood, would require more dramatic and rapid evolution than even "evolutionists" allow.
Remarkably, such "hyper-speciation" or "hyper-evolution", is what some YECs (especially Ken Ham and others at AIG) are now arguing for, sometimes using the euphemistic term "Rapid post Flood diversification." In contrast to previous YECs such who interpreted a Genesis "kind" to be similar to a species (Whitcomb and Morris, 1961) or genus (Woodmorappe, 1996), the AIG authors are now suggesting that a "kind" or "baramin" is roughly equivalent to a taxonomic "family," or in some cases, even an order. Thus they argue that the tens of thousands of modern land animals all originated from only about 1400 "kinds" that debarked from the Ark about 4,000 years ago. Remarkably, the "possible mechanisms" they cite for this include mutations, natural selection, and genetic drift (Jeanson, 2016) --the very mechanisms that mainstream scientists have long cited as major factors in evolution. Indeed, despite decades of largely denying or minimizing the roles of mutations and natural selection in speciation, a growing number of YECs are now implicitly accepting that they are major elements of the process, and that it occured at beakneck speeds after the Flood, but with the following caveats: 1. Humans are excempt from the process and have no ancestral connection with other primates (despite extensive genetic and fossil evidence to the contrary), and 2. Species will not diversify beyond the limits of Genesis "kinds."
Thus, they try to maintain a distinction between "micro-evolution" (which they define as variation within "kinds") and "macro-evolution" or change beyond kinds, which they claim is impossible. However, YECs have not been able to identify any viable mechanism for limiting the boundaries of speciation, and thus, for preventing further evolutionary change. Indeed, in a recent AIG article on genetic diversity (Jeanson and Lisle, 2016), the only rationale offered for such limits was their literalistic of Genesis that supposedly requires them. Of course, this approach will hardly suffice for most scientists, even theistic ones. Indeed, many of the latter accept evolution (including macro-evolution and human evolution), as a method God used to create.
Hyper-speciation claims also find no support in the fossil record. Fossils evidence from Tertiary deposits indicates that many animal groups diversified extensively after the K-T extinction; however, in mainstream geology this occurred over millions of years. In contrast, many YECs believe these strata were deposited soon after the Flood, restricting the time frame for "hyper-speciation" even further--to perhaps only hundreds of years or less. Some YECs have acknowledged this, even though it would require rates of evolution orders of magnitude faster than even most evolutionists would entertain.
The common YEC belief in a single "ice age" exacerbates these chronological difficulties. As David MacMillian (2015) notes: "... they are running out of time. Creationists believe in an Ice Age which ended about 700 years after the global flood, at which point most modern species most modern species would have had to already emerge. They must already propose an [exponentially rapid burst of evolutionary speciation evolution following Noah's flood; there is no way they can fit a full 40 million years of adaptation and speciation into the 200-odd generations that would have spanned this period."
MacMillian (2015) also notes that AIG's "Ark Encounter" museum displays entail a number of serious inconsistencies and paradoxes, and that if the implications of their charts and diagrams are taken to their logical extensions, they would need to accept evolution beyond the family level, but apparently their commitment to YECism and Biblical literalism prevents them from doing so.
Moreover, empirical evidence from population biology cuts directly against YEC hyper-speciation claims. Animal populations that were reduced in historic times to even hundreds of individuals (as happened with cheetahs and American bison, as two examples) did not experience rapid diversification, but the opposite (O'Brien, 1985). The "genetic bottle-necks" resulted in greatly reduced diversity for many generations (in the case of cheetahs, hundreds of generations). These problems would be all the more severe for the mere pairs of animals debarking the Ark. YEC proposals that environmental pressures after the Flood might have fostered rapid diversification are problematic, since 1. Populations need sufficient numbers and time in order for sufficient numbers of adaptive genetic variations and mutations to be acted upon by natural selection, and 2. Environments found immediately after the Flood (assuming for the sake of argument that it occurred), would be so hostile and foreign to what many species were used to that the result for many would be rapid extinction, or at best greatly reduced reproduction and diversity for many generations.
Jeanson and Lisle (2016) present many large charts and graphs showing mutation rates in various taxa, implying that they support their hyper-speciation claims. However, such data seems largely moot unless they can show what percentage of the mutations are selected and inherited, and they need an extremely high percentage to produce hyper-evolution. They have not done this, nor explained such a high level of selected mutations would be achieved. Moreover, appealing to mutations and natural selection to support hyper-speciation notions appears to starkly contradict the frequent YEC claim that mutations are almost always harmful, and that natural selection is largely limited to eliminating negative traits rather than producing new and useful ones.
In summary, YECs have several major problems accounting for the vast genetic diversity seen in today's animal and human populations, besides all the additional diversity evidenced in the fossil record. YECs have not demonstrated that speciation can occur at rates anywhere close to that required in a post-Flood/YEC timeframe. They cannot identify any plausible mechanism to limit speciation, and thus cannot explain why "micro-evolutionary" changes would not accumulate into macro-evolutionary changes. Indeed, their hyper-speciation claims conflict with multiple aspects of the fossil record, which show significant evolutionary change, but over long periods of time. Their claims also conflict with evidence from population biology and genetics, and their own past assertions about the roles of mutations and natural selection in speciation. Ironically, an AIG website article by John Sanford (2014a) praises his own book Genetic Entropy as "tremendous" (Sanford, 2014b), even though it and argues that natural selection does not improve species fitness, that genomes are continually deteriorating, and that new genetic information is never created --exactly the opposite of what YECs need to support their hyper-speciation claims. Many other problems in YEC claims about hyper-speciation and the origin of animal diversity are provided in a series of articles by Joel Duff (2017b).
Ayala, F.J. et al. 1993. MHC polymorphism and human origins. Scientific American 269(6):78-83.
Duff, Joel, 2017a. Walking Whales On Board Noah’s Ark: The Inevitable End-point of Creationists’ Post-Flood Hyper-Speciation Belief? Web article at: https://thenaturalhistorian.com/category/blog/
Duff, Joel, 2017b. YEC Hyper-speciation Arcive. "Natural Historian" website menu at: https://thenaturalhistorian.com/yec-hyper-evolution-archive/
Jeanson, Nathaniel T., and Lisle, Jason, 2016. On the Origin of Eukaryotic Species’ Genotypic and Phenotypic Diversity. Answers in Genesis web article at: https://answersingenesis.org/natural-selection/speciation/on-the-origin-of-eukaryotic-species-genotypic-and-phenotypic-diversity/
MacMillan, David S, 2015. Dodging Darwin: How Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter is Slowly Embracing Evolution December 30, 2015. Web article at: https://thenaturalhistorian.com/2015/12/30/dodging-darwin-how-ken-hams-ark-encounter-is-slowly-embracing-evolution/
Morton, Glenn. 1997. Why the Flood is Not Global. Web article at: http://home.entouch.net/dmd/gflood.htm
O'Brien, S. J., 1985 (Mar 22). Genetic basis for species vulnerability in the cheetah. Science. Vol. 227, Issue 4693, pp. 1428-1434. Web version at: https://msu.edu/course/zol/445/OBrien%20cheetah%20Science%201985.pdf
Sanford, John C., 2014a. Genetic Entropy. AIG website article at: https://answersingenesis.org/store/product/genetic-entropy-mystery-genome/?sku=10-3-114
Sanford, John C., 2014b. Genetic Entropy. FMS Publications. 270 pages. ISBN: 9780981631608. Reviewed by AIG at: https://answersingenesis.org/store/product/genetic-entropy-mystery-genome/?sku=10-3-114
Vuletic, Mark I., 2007, From "Defenders Guide to Science and Creationism" website at: http://www.vuletic.com/hume/cefec/4- 7.html
Whitcomb, John C, and Morris, Henry M. 1961. The Genesis Flood. John C. Whitcomb and Henry M. Morris. Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing.
Woodmorappe, John, 1996. Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study. El Cajon: Institute for Creation Research.
------------ For more information on the inheritance of human eye colors, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_color
Genesis 7 (NIV):
1 The LORD then said to Noah, "Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven [a] of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made." 5 And Noah did all that the LORD commanded him. 6 Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. 7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. 8 Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, 9 male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. -------