[Adam Cuerden] Baraminology, Part I: Defining Terms, For Fun and Profit

Among the many criticisms in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was that ID was not science, that it offers no testable hypotheses, and is not subject to change as new evidence comes to light. Indeed, during the trial clear evidence of this was shown:

Although in Darwin’s Black Box, Professor Behe wrote that not only were there no natural explanations or the immune system at the time, but that natural explanations were impossible regarding its origin. (P-647 at 139; 2:26-27 (Miller)). However, Dr. Miller presented peer-reviewed studies refuting Professor Behe’s claim that the immune system was irreducibly complex. Between 1996 and 2002, various studies confirmed each element of the evolutionary hypothesis explaining the origin of the immune system. (2:31 (Miller)). In fact, on cross-examination, Professor Behe was questioned concerning his 1996 claim that science would never find an evolutionary explanation for the immune system. He was presented with fifty-eight peer-reviewed publications, nine books, and several immunology textbook chapters about the evolution of the immune system; however, he simply insisted that this was still not sufficient evidence of evolution, and that it was not “good enough.” (23:19 (Behe)).

Clearly, the problem is that they don’t sound sciency enough! What can a noble, upstanding group of liars do to try and retrieve their shattered reputation?

Why, what they always do: Make stuff up. Come with me, then, into the wilds of Baraminology, where the elephant in the corner must never, ever be spoken of.

So, what is Baraminology? Why the study of baramins, of course! After all, it sounds unsciency to keep referring to the “kinds” of animals that god created, and which could only diverge a bit, but never, ever, lose their basic shape. So you just make up a word using Hebrew roots, and hope not to be questioned about it too much.

…However, one term isn’t sufficiently sciency, so four variations on the term are provided, all of which… well… An author should say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it; use the right word, not its second cousin; eschew surplusage; avoid slovenliness of form; and employ a simple and straightforward style. These four terms take these simple rules of writing… and murder them.

To whit, we have “holobaramin” – which means exactly the same thing as baramin. “Monobaramin”: any group of creatures within a supposed baramin. And I do mean any. According to this article, anything from a few randomly-selected individual organisms from anywhere in the grouping to the entire “holobaramin” can count, so long as none of the individuals are in groupings that violate scripture, like being from both men and monkeys. (Query: Why monobaramin? Mono- means “one” or “related to one”. However, they actually mean “part of”, so surely something like “subbaramin”, “semibaramin”, or the like would make more sense? Mind you, bara-min (“create” and “kind”) evidently makes no sense in Hebrew, so it’s not like they aren’t abusing language already.)

Then they get particularly stupid with the next two, “polybaramin” and “apobaramin”. Their whole philosophy is built around the thought that there’s no meaning to any grouping higher than “baramin” (or “holobaramin”, if you rather (I don’t)). So why on earth do they make up terms for “any group of animals from seperate baramin” (polybaramin) and “any group of one or more holobaramin” (apobaramin)? Ah, because it makes their papers much harder to read, and thus harder to debunk!

As this series continues, we will look into some of these papers. They’re… actually pretty depressing, in the sheer amount of carefully-polished crap they put into each one. And every single one makes up some new terms, as well. But that, thankfully, is for another day.

Let’s instead look at some of the statements of Wayne Friar, writer of a review article on baraminology (Baraminology—Classification of Created Organisms, Creation Research Society Quarterly Vol 37 No 2 pp82-91 September 2000) that is pretty obviously the source for all the other pages of definitions of baramin (including that damn parody site that matched everything else I was looking at so well that I poked fun of a few quotes from it, then had to rewrite this article after having it pointed out to me that other articles proved it was a parody. At least I wasn’t the only one: I found it because creationists were linking it as a good guide to Baraminology.)

Friar suggests a way to try and find a true holobaramin that would have benefited strongly by improved definition of terms. Basically, you start with a monobaramin, containing less than the full holobaramin, and an apobaramin, containing more than the holobaramin. You then add species to the monobaramin and remove them from the apobaramin, until they match. Only problem is that Friar specifically defines apobaramin so that it can only contain entire holobaramins, so the moment you start removing species from it, it’s no longer a apobaramin, But he didn’t require polybaramin to contain a full holobaramin, so, despite all that defining of terms, the idiot forgot to define one that would actually be relevant to his method of narrowing in on the holobaramin. Idiot!

In any case, it all sounds very well, and might actually work, except that he can’t provide any objective criteria for deciding what to add to the monobaramin or subtract from the… thing he failed to define a term for, the moron, so this whole venture is pointless. Not one paper I can find in the Creation Research Society Quarterly or Baraminology Study Group actually attempts to use this method, preferring much less rigourous ones.

As Friar says, “In other words the scientist is iterating tentative taxonomies by increasing or decreasing sizes of the branches to arrive at the best approximation of reality. This systematic procedure is driven by observed facts rather than some presupposed framework.” Sadly, he then goes on to mention the presupposed framework: “Scripture claims (used in baraminology but not in discontinuity systematics). This has priority over all other considerations.”

Scripture claims may not be used in “discontinuity schematics”, but an exhaustive google search – looking at all 150 or so pages before google says that all remaining pages are very similar to the ones I already looked at gives a few pages talking about a book by Walter ReMine called discontinuity schematics… rather more saying the term is identical to baraminology, and no evidence that a single person besides Walter ReMine is trying to work with discontinuity schematics as defined by Friar. In short, ignore that parenthetical phrase: it’s just scripture says so. And not a single person will mention this, like the proverbial elephant in the room.

In Part II, we will see how they avoid claiming scripture says that humans and apes were seperate by finding – on the admitted third try – a set of criteria that keeps them seperate.

But, back to Friar:

An important example of a holobaramin would be humans, Homo sapiens. At the tips of the holobaraminic branches are the various races (Caucasians, Ethiopians, Mongolians, Amerindians [Amerinds or Native Americans], etc.). See Figure 3. A member of any of these races potentially would be inter-fertile with a spouse of the opposite sex from any other race.

POTENTIALLY be inter-fertile?! What sort of racist claptrap is this? Genetics has completely destroyed any reason for even believing races exist, showing there’s far more variation within a race than between them. The only thing that might stop interbreeding is that grand old Christian tradition of racism. (To quote the Wikipedia article on “miscegnation”, “In the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century, many American states passed anti-miscegenation laws, often based on controversial interpretations of the Bible, particularly the story of Phinehas….”)

Indeed, if we look at TalkOrigins: “When properly understood, evolution refutes racism. Before Darwin, people used typological thinking for living things, considering different plants and animals to be their distinct “kinds.” This gave rise to a misleading conception of human races, in which different races are thought of as separate and distinct. Darwinism helps eliminate typological thinking and with it the basis for racism.

…Friar’s constant harping on human races in his article, combined with that comment about “potentially inter-fertile” could be taken directly from that description, as proof of its correctness.

Let’s leave off with one final quote from Friar:

It is to be expected that when baraminology is accepted widely the science of taxonomy will be revolutionized. When systematists are dealing with a “forest” of trees rather than one large evolutionary tree it is possible that the categories of kingdom, phylum, division, class and even orders will be less useful in classification. However, among living things, groups of features within other groups of characteristics can be observed. These so called “nested patterns” (see ReMine, 1993; Wise, 1998) can extend beyond baraminic categories; so phenetic and cladistic methods may continue to be useful along with discontinuity systematics.

The entire point of baraminology is to deny similarity and other proofs of common descent that extends above the level of the “kind”. He earlier admitted (“those who employ baraminology… employ some phenetic methodology as one of their tools.”)

In other words, the evidence of cladistics is perfectly valid at pointing out relationships within these “baramin”. But above that level, though it still exists, it’s meaningless. I think that Friar admittng to the mental equivalent of sticking his fingers in his ears and chanting “La la la! Can’t hear you!” makes an excellent point to end this part of the report on.

For more information on nested hierarchies as a key prediction of evolution, see 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution on TalkOrigins.

4 replies on “[Adam Cuerden] Baraminology, Part I: Defining Terms, For Fun and Profit”

  1. Query: Why monobaramin? Mono- means “one” or “related to one”.
    However, they actually mean “part of”, so surely something like
    “subbaramin”, “semibaramin”, or the like would make more sense?

    Mono- and poly- are Greek suffixes, whereas sub- and semi- are Latin
    ones. Unfortunately I don’t know the Greek suffixes for “under” and
    “half”. However, there’s Google. Half in ancient Greek is hemi, as in
    hemisphere, and under is “hyp(o)” or “kata”, though I don’t see any
    of these used in modern English to describe a “part of”.

  2. Oh, thought I’d give ’em a little more time. I mean, they don’t seem to have realised about Horizontal Gene Transfer yet, so I want to wait until they realise that human DNA incorporates a couple viruses, meaning, by their rules, humans and those viruses are obviously related. *grin*.

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