The Polar Bear Diagnostic For Origins Views

Some of the readers here might find this interesting:


Thanks for sharing. I am interested in feedback especially about how I’ve characterized different positions. I have attempted to be as neutral as possible and provide the broadest understanding but knowing that there are many overlaps and even inconsistencies within groups. By choosing to focus on a single question, that of the origin of a single species, I hope to bring some clarity to some views of origins.


Joel, Focusing on a single species is the best way to approach such a complex subject. An an anthropologist, I would love to see this same approach taken with the question of human origins.


@Joel_Duff, I think this is really good. Thanks for writing it. I had planned on posting it here for a while, but I’m glad to see that @Alice_Linsley beat me to it.

I second this request. Would you be interested in doing something like this in collaboration with us at Peaceful Science?

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The Polar Bear Origins Identification Key

Instructions: Start by reading options 1A and 1B. Choose which statement best defines your opinion and then go the next set of options, as directed. At some point—possibly after only a few statements or many—you will reach a terminal point which will provide a name (or label) that characterizes your position. Scroll down to find the extended description for each origin position to learn more about what your position may be. If the description doesn’t adequately describe what you believe, then you may need to re-evaluate your item responses or reconsider whether thatstance is really the one you hold. (Please also see “assumptions and caveats” section

1A: The polar bear, pictured above, is nearly functionally and visually the same as its first ancestor. That first polar bear did not descend from a common ancestor with any other species. (Go to 2)

1B: The polar bear we observe today has changed (functionally and visually) significantly from its ancestors. Polar bears, may or may not share a common ancestor with other species of bears. (Go to 4)

2A. The first polar bear was created directly by God more than 10,000 years ago (Go to 3)

2B. The first polar bear was created directly by God less than 10,000 years ago. Polar bears were created nearly synchronously with other bear species or possibly a brown bear was created first and its “pattern” used as a template for supernatural modification to form a polar bear—or vice verse—on the 6th day of a 6-day 24-hour-day creation week. ( YEC-1a Classical Creationism and/or Appearance of Age )

3A. The first polar bear was created as a fully unique creation by God more than 10,000 years ago on the “6th day” of a 6-day creation week as outlined by the Day-Age theory of the origin of the Earth and life on Earth. God’s method of creation could have included modification of a brown bear-like genome (i.e. used a “bear” template as the starting material) though the first polar bear was not born of a brown bear parent. (Progressive Creationism-1)

3B. The first polar bear was created 100% new or possibly via miraculous modification of a brown bear-like genome though not born of a brown bear parent prior to the first day of creation (Gap-theory or Restoration theory)

4A. Polar bears share a common ancestor with other Ursid (bear) species (likely a brown bear). (Go to 5)

4B. The initial ancestors of today’s polar bears were specially created apart from all other bear species (although those ancestors looked and/or acted unlike polar bears today). (Go to 11)

5A. Polar bears as a species came into existence after the creation of the world in six 24-hour days less than 10,000 years ago. (Go to 6)

5B. The common ancestor of a polar bear and brown bear existed more than 10,000 years ago. (Go to 8)

6A. Polar bears emerged from a generic “bear-kind” initially created on the 6th 24-hour day of creation about 6000 to 10,000 years ago. This emergence of polar bears from the first generic bears happened after creation but before Noah’s flood. Noah then preserved a polar bear on the Ark which has not changed substantially through the present day. ( No organization or public figure supports this view)

6B. Polar bears emerged from a brown bear ancestor which itself was formed sometime after the ancestors of all bear species–the pair of “Ark” bears–departed from Noah’s Ark only a few thousand years ago. (Go to 7)

7A. Polar bear specific features evolved primary by de-evolution due to mutations-either by chance or God-directed–in the “ark” bear kind resulting in broken down versions of the original more perfect bear genes and sorting out to from many species of bears including the polar bears. (YEC-3 Hyper-Evolution Creationism)

7B. All genetic variation necessary to make the typical polar bear characteristics were pre-loaded (predestined?) into 6th-day creation bear “kind” and were then turned on and expressed in some descendants of the “ark” bear kind to form the polar bear species. (YEC-3 Hyper-Evolution Creationism)

8A. Polar bears originated from a common ancestor shared with brown bears via supernatural input (character trait changes) from God or an intelligent designer (Progressive Creation-1 or Intelligent Design)

8B. Polar bears evolved from a common ancestor shared with brown bears via processes attributable to natural mechanisms such as natural selection, mutations and genetic drift. (Go to 9)

9A. Polar bears evolved from a common ancestor shared with brown bears can be fully described by natural processes but common ancestry of these bears with other carnivores (canines, seals, felines, etc…) via the same mechanisms was not possible. (Progressive Creation-2 or Intelligent Design)

9B. Polar bears evolved from a common ancestor shared with brown bears via evolutionary mechanisms and those processes also describe the origins of that ancestors common ancestors including a shared ancestor with other carnivores. (Go to 10)

10A. The evolution of polar bear from brown bear ancestors was providentially guided/determined and/or for ordained/predestined by God (EC-Full Sovereignty)

10B. The evolution of the polar bear from brown bear ancestors was allowed via natural mechanism but the end products unknown (not predestined by only made possible given the laws by which God has ordained his creation to function) to God before hand. (EC-Open Theism)

11A. The ancestors of living polar bears were created less than 10,000 years ago on the 6th day of creation but those bears were quite different physically and behaviorally to living polar bears. (Go to 12)

11B. The ancestors of polar bears were created more than 10,000 years ago via supernatural means without common ancestry with any other bear but they looked very different from today’s polar bears. Over time they have changed (either via divine intervention/design or via solely natural process (providentially directed) to become the polar bears we recognized today. (Progressive Creationism or Intelligent Design)

12A. When Adam sinned, God supernaturally refashioned the ancestral polar bears with new characteristics that we associate with polar bears alive today. (YEC-1b Post-fall Miraculous Creationism)

12B. When Adam sinned genetic programs that has been pre-installed—due to foreknowledge and planning by God—in the ancestors were turned on or initiated (as a reaction to sin?) allowing all bears, including polar bears, to transform their physical and behavioral traits to become what we observe today. (YEC-2 Post-Lapsarian Epigenetics)

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@Joel_Duff have you ever thought of writing a book? Perhaps on YEC versions of evolution?

@swamidass Oh, many times. I have many abandoned outlines. In fact, this key was born partly out of need for one of my book outlines as a transition to talking about YEC views of speciation. Too many ideas and too little time. I do have a companion piece to the polar bear test that I’m hoping to submit to PSCF this fall that will explore YEC speciation models.

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@swamidass @Alice_Linsley I have certainly thought about what a human origin key would look like. With polar bears, I wanted to emphasize the divergent YEC views of speciation which human origins would not get at. Human origins is tough because there are so many views. Imagine if you framed the questions with Neanderthal in mind, the key would be be different than if you starting with modern humans in mind. The differences are instructive but its as if you need for our five keys side-by-side to see how different views diverge depending on which hominin one is asking about. That said, I think an origins key focused on views of Neanderthals could be quite instructive. I’m am very busy now but if I can take a crack at that in a week or two I could put a draft up and see if we can get feedback on this forum to make a useful key. BTW, after I get more feedback on the polar bear test there is a plan to make an infographic flowchart-type version.