EvoBio, ID, and OEC. Where to go from here?

Let’s also keep in mind that we do not have a clear definition of what we mean by “intelligence”. We might all be using the same word, but with different meanings.


To me, and I’ve only read a few papers, it seems most people agree that boundary is somewhere between family and order. I believe that’s what Wood said in that paper you linked to. Maybe I don’t think the effort is as hopeless as some of you think, but like I said I’ve just now begun looking into it and of course i think they are mistaken because I don’t think such discontinuities actually exist. But it’s interesting nonetheless and I’m enjoying read Todd’s work on it.


@T.j_Runyon “I would love for @AJRoberts to give her thoughts.” I like your post and the models and approach you’re pursuing toward research, but would like to clarify a couple of things from one progressive creationist’s perspective at RTB.

Out model is best captured in your (4.) BUT with two very important clarifications. One: the top “end” kinds may be broader than indicated… for instance “dogs” likely will be more like “canids” (and encompass dogs, wolves, coyotes, dholes, and possibly fox and jackals.) As you can see by my use of the word possibly, I am stating, in part, that we don’t know the proper demarcations and groupings yet. The Linnaeus system of classification is somewhat arbitrary, as it was not built on genomic/genetic analyses predating an understanding of the importance of this level of assessment in determining shared ancestry. So some (many) organisms will need reclassification. I think an area of research that would help shed light on true demarcations would be to attempt to reverse engineer ancestral kinds and see if diversified species have the same type of genomic/genetic plasticity that say differentiated cells have to be reprogrammed back into iPSC. They may. They may not if genetic information is lost in the processes of ongoing species diversification. Two: not all “originally created kinds” will fall at the same taxonomical level (again due to the arbitrary or phenotypic nature of those early classifications)… But I share your intuition that family is likely a good place to start for most; or perhaps higher, maybe order or class for some. BUT NOT for humans, in at least one of the current models at RTB that Joshua refers to as our “zoo”. We at RTB discuss and do not rule out some of the alternatives Joshua and others have presented like developing genealogical ancestors models (as opposed to our currently preferred genetic progenitors model). But our demarcation for humans is at the species (not family, not order) level. This contrasts to those positions encompassing those who believe Homo is the created kind. Homo may have some diversified species from a common ancestor and/or some independently created kinds in that classification. However, at RTB, Homo sapiens (modern humans) would be a special creation kind/category for us (excluding Neanderthals and Denosivans).

I (we) hold this model because 1) we think it is one that is supported by the scientific data (data freed of other philosophical commitments and restricted by those commitments to paradigmatic interpretations) and 2) because it integrates with the biblical texts… This is central to our position… 3) it maintains a sole-progenitor role for Adam and Eve for all humanity (although with at least some subsequent interbreeding of human descendants with Neanderthals and Denosivans as a possibility). God’s revelation in nature discovered through science and God’s revelation in Scripture - when both are rightly interpreted - will not contradict one another. Ours is meant to be both a scientifically faithful and biblically faithful position. (Others may disagree with our approach or our interpretations for sure, but I am articulating ours at RTB.)

We at RTB follow and will continue to follow the data to the best of our ability and understanding of it. This necessitates the freedom for model revision as is necessary in all scientific models. Our prevailing paradigm is the dual revelation paradigm briefly articulated above. We are confident that this position is deeply consistent with the character of God who reveals himself in creation, in Scripture and in Jesus Christ (God incarnate). We believe science is a good and trustworthy pursuit of knowledge. We believe the Scriptures are absolutely reliable and true and trustworthy. We believe God chooses (chose) to reveal himself this way because the whole purpose of all there is is to allow reconciliation and redemption of those made in God’s image with the Creator, and to restore right relationship between people where enmity often prevails and to restore a right relationship with creation (that we would be faithful stewards).

Sorry for bringing in so much theology, but it is central to our paradigm and worldview. So if you want to understand the RTB model (and its parameters), you need to understand the underlying theological aspects too.

BTW, I’ve also made a proposal elsewhere at peaceful science that once we gain computational capacity and have full (and I mean actually complete) genomes and can do multiple full genome comparisons at once the created “kinds” ought to become evident, as will any shared archetypes that cross created kind boundaries but are indicative of a common biological endeavor for our discovery and benevolent “exploitation” in learning how to steward creation better.

I think we (you can) always study other kinds in order to learn more about (creation and) human physiology and potential applications… not because we share common ancestry but because we share common elements of biochemistry, physiology, cell biology, molecular biology, etc. This is a model of common design within the progressive creationist model of origins. In our model emphases on shared biological and genetic elements are significant BUT so is an emphasis on the differences. I think these distinctions are often glossed over in common descent interpretations.


Yep. I would agree we do not have the capacity to generate the resolution yet (assuming it exists).

Not the way many approach it, but in some genetic analyses across many different kinds these boundaries materialize.

Thanks for the kind words about my post and for the time you spent writing yours. It was very insightful and answered many questions I had.

Since, I’m an anthropologist my interest is in humans of course. Though most of my focus is on after our origin (things like human adaptability. Which would seem to fall into the human kind as defined by RTB) and not necessarily our evolution and origin as a species. But i do have a passing interest in that aspect as well. So far in my studies I’ve seen the human kind defined at superfamily, family, subfamily, tribe, genus and now species with you. So it’s kind of all over the map. How would RTB adapt if say the data established the human kind at Hominini?

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I think this may run into problems once you start comparing genomes. For example, the genetic distance between chimps and humans is surely smaller than many species you would consider to be in the same kind. For example, if you lump foxes and wolves into a kind I would strongly suspect that there genomes are less similar than human and chimp genomes. On top of that, chimps share more DNA with humans than they do with gorillas and orangutans.

I can’t see how you get around the same arbitrariness with your model that is seen with the Linnaean system. Such is the problem of using paraphyletic groups instead of monophyletic groups.


I share that concern as well. I came across a site that stated Mammalia likely evolved from a preexisting class but there were kinds within mammalia. So mammalia could arise from another group but certain groups within it couldnt arise without separate creation events. I was confused. Just seemed incoherent. Maybe I just wasn’t dealing with the top brass on that site

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Well, the easy answer… is that not all kinds need to demonstrate the same range of or capacity for biodiversification. These ranges must be experimentally verified or identified. There is no reason (or basis) to think that the range for canids must match the range for Homo sapiens or that either of these should match, say, the range of finches or horses.

On another note, the genomic comparison is probably only a beginning place once we have the capacity for full genome comparisons (as per my description of those). I actually think the data on similarities (human - chimp) are inflated and that this inflation deters close scrutiny of real molecular differences. DNA is not the whole story by far! We must understand eventually the roles that ncRNAs, and many, many other epigenetic factors play in demarcating kinds or indicating uniquenesses that are not accounted for in a common descent scenario.

I actually think on the basis of the kinds of comparisons and estimations of similarity that we offer today, that we will eventually realize we were drastically oversimplifying the problem and drastically overestimating our understanding of contributing factors. The human chimp genome comparisons are roughly euchromatic comparisons of 3B bases. This is problematic because we toss out CNV, highly repetitive sequences, and heterochromatic sequences. It’s naive to think these are irrelevant to the comparisons of these drastically different organisms.

The human genome is only part of the story… and it is 12.8B nucleotides (diploid, double stranded). Our chromosomes are dynamic, their modeling is dynamic, their modifications are dynamic. We look at adult snapshots (genetically speaking) not at developmentally dynamic or environmentally responsive dynamics. We neglect complex epigenetics and dozens of different kinds of RNAs in our comparisons, because we lack both the sophistication and knowledge as to how to approach these questions. We are in infancy in our understanding of these things. Our hubris claims we’re in a post-genomic era.

We must admit we are only beginning to learn to ask the right questions and we must to a certain degree wait for technology to catch up to the questions we are asking. In the meantime we need to be careful not to be overly confident in our conclusions and interpretations of partial data.

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“Well, the easy answer… is that not all kinds need to demonstrate the same range of or capacity for biodiversification. These ranges must be experimentally verified or identified. There is no reason (or basis) to think that the range for canids must match the range for Homo sapiens or that either of these should match, say, the range of finches or horses.”

But doesn’t that get back to the arbitrariness objection? Why are some groups more evolvable than others? Why do some created kinds contain families and why do some only contain species? Just seems really random and i don’t even see how these questions could begin to be answered @AJRoberts

Non-coding RNA’s are transcribed from the DNA genome, so I’m not sure where you are going with that one. There is very slim, if any, evidence for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance in primates so I think you have a very steep uphill path if you are pursuing epigenetic markers as a way of defining kinds. It would appear that most, if not all, epigenetic effects in mammals arise during embryonic development and do so based on DNA sequence. I am aware of a few epigenetic traits that are inherited in plants, but I have yet to see much evidence for epigenetic inheritance in animals.

The methods used to compare the chimp and human genomes are the same as those used to compare other species. Using the same methods the chimp and gorilla genomes are less similar than the chimp and human genomes. They are the same methods that would be used to compare wolf and fox DNA. If microevolution can produce the differences between the fox and wolf genomes then it is quite obvious that the same process is capable of producing the fewer differences between the chimp and human genomes.

I’m thinking about T_aquaticus’ comment. And I think I can clarify a few more things but it will take time to articulate it in a way others will be able to track with me. I’m pretty tied up today but want you to know, I want to keep this thread and conversation going. I actually think it will be very helpful.

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@AJRoberts can you please clarify this apparent contradiction in your response. Do you think there are discernable boundaries between kinds or not?

What genetic analysis shows these boundaries materlizing? I have yet to see such a study. Can you please elucidate this for us?

I think you need a new category @T.j_Runyon, urgently.

If you can’t detect it then how is it any different from (1)? Whether God guided a mutation or not would look the exact same to us. What you are proposing is how I define EC - the position that God created through evolutionary processes in a way that is consistent with the laws of nature. God may have guided certain events but to science it looks the same as if he didn’t


And that’s why I have trouble seeing the difference between @swamidass’ “Peaceful Science” and EC/TE . They are indistinguishable, as far as I can tell, regarding science and so close regarding theology that I’d say Genealogical Adam/Peaceful Science is a subset of the larger EC/TE tent. It seems more like a corrective or shift in emphasis than a whole new “species” of thought.

Look at how you define it, alongside #2.

It really looks like you are setting up 1 and 2 as mutually exclusive distinct options. This is a false dichotomy, even though it is very reflective of the current lines. I would put it like this:

  1. The standard evolutionary model. Modern evolutionary theory can more or less explain the biodiversity we see today, so we do not think God was directly intervening in evolution, or we risk making him out to be a deceptive God. (see Denis L., Jim Stump, and others)

  2. The standard evolutionary model, but claiming that God’s intelligence intervention would be undetectable intelligence. So maybe He did intervene did, and this does not make him deceptive (see Swamidass)

  3. Standard evolution model with detectable intelligence as an additional mechanism. I picture this is something like Behe holds to, and many ID advocates

This more accurately delineates where the current conflicts and confusions are in the debate. It also clearly answers:

I do not think we should expect God’s action is detectable. This appears to be the BioLogs-ID position, and I think it is woefully misguided about how biology works and the evidence we see.

I don’t see all of BioLogos, let alone all of EC/TE folks saying 1 over against 2 . That’s why I see 2 as just a broader version of 1, both of which have historically been call Theistic Evolution. As far as I can tell Theistic Evolution/Evolutionary Creation = God created life on earth via the standard evolutionary model. That’s it. It is hardly surprising that there is variance regarding exactly how God did it and, in my opinion, not enough of a distinction to make it more than an “internal debate” .

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How long has Homo Sapiens been around? And where did they originate?