Why Todd Wood Matters

Wood was Wise’s protege and replacement at CORE at Bryan College, before CORE was defunded in 2012. I’ve worked and written with both Wood and Wise. Wood and I remain friends to this day despite our differences on creation (we even were fellow church members for 3 years). You won’t find a more intellectually honest YEC or decent human being.

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then you haven’t done the most basic Google research. Wood’s reasoning for YEC is on record.

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Todd Wood is the most intellectually honest of all the YECs, but I’m afraid he’s still doing only cargo cult science. His basic assumptions in doing “baraminology” are unexamined and have no philosophical basis, i.e. no reason to suppose that if “kinds” exist, his methods will be able to determine what taxa are or are not separate “kinds”. He also has a tendency to wearing blinkers: if a hypothesis fits some sort of data, he’s uninterested in questioning whether it fails to fit a different sort of data and therefore is not parsimonious.

I’ve had no direct conversations with him, though he did comment (in his blog) on a post I made at TSZ, and I’ve read a fair number of his publications.

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And we should respect this.

Cargo cult is a strong statement. He has not yet, as far as I know, put forward a baraminology model that has been validated by the evidence. This means he is being honest about the fact that he hasn’t been able to get his hypothesis to work with the data.

That is true. Still it is a hypothesis worth testing. It does not appear possible to identify from evidence where separations in kinds exist. In fact, it appears that humans are the same “kind” of apes, if “kinds” actually are a real concept.

This can be legitimate in the short term.

There is data that “falsifies” a lot of physics theories, but we do not give up on them, because they still have explanatory value if we restrict them to a particular domain. For this reason, we usually scope studies to try and build a model of a certain part of the data, and in the future try to extend these models to more data. As long as we are honest about where things stands in relation to other theories that can explain much more, this is not illegitimate.

Wood’s position is that evolution explains a lot more than any YEC model, but that is because YECs have not been building models and trying to pull it all together. He wants to do that work, give it a real try, and he knows he has to start small and expand from there.

Of course, I do not think this is going to ultimately explain anything remotely approaching what evolutionary theory has done. However, there is no harm in letting him try, and acknowledging when he solves small parts of problem, even if ultimately it is not possible to solve many things.

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If all YECs were like Woods and Wise, YEC would not nearly be the problem it currently is. Certainly, some people are going to leave YEC when they see the evidence for an old earth. Some will not. I’d rather give them a better option than AIG and Ken Ham. This is how Concordia wrote about it (@CPArand):

https://concordiatheology.org/2018/02/a-travel-guide-to-the-evangelical-creation-debates-what-is-young-earth-creationism/

Many of us in the Lutheran Church Missouri–Synod (LCMS) are likely to be more familiar with those who refer to themselves as Young Earth Creationists (YEC) than we are with Old Earth Creationists (OEC) or Evolutionary Creationists (EC). This may be due to the influence of the older Creation Research Society (in whose formation a number of LCMS scientists played a significant role) and the relatively recent but significant influence of Answers in Genesis . But beyond these well-known groups, there are some lesser known voices who need to be taken seriously as well, as their approaches may align better with Lutheran theology (e.g., Todd Woods below).

Then including him alongside AIG in a list of YEC organizations:

Having recently run across Woods’ work, I find his blogs to be very thoughtful (e.g., see his review of Is Genesis History? , a movie in which he speaks about false dichotomies. He also seems to caution against grounding faith in human reason and human answers. For example, he writes:

We need a renewed appreciation of faith in the face of uncertainty. Faith isn’t having all the answers . Faith is neither rational nor irrational. Faith is a certainty born of experience with the risen Lord Jesus. We don’t have to be afraid of not having answers. That pressure comes from the world and personal pride. Jesus isn’t impressed with our “answers” anyway. Jesus is looking for faith. Once that sinks in, once we really understand that, I think we can start to relax. And that’s when the fun begins. [Emphasis added]

He follows up with:

So, for me, that really sets Core Academy apart. Other organizations want you to buy into their answers so that you can have faith. We want to inspire faith so that you can relax and start looking for answers and maybe even discover some unknown wonder of God’s creation.

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I stand by my statements and reject your objections, but after stating my opinions I’m not sure I’m comfortable with an extended attack on a third, absent party. Perhaps reframed as a general discussion of whether baraminology is cargo cult science without special reference to one person? We could discuss the symptoms and I could present examples, if you would like. It happens that my distant exchange with Wood does present one of those symptoms. Others are in his baraminology textbook. Not many have such a paper/electron trail. But I have nothing against him personally.

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Very good idea, though let’s back off the term “cargo cult” which is unnecessarily inflammatory whether or not its true. I will start a thread on whether bariminology is “valid.”

I respect this.

The term “cargo cult” may be inflammatory, but it’s an exact analogy to a particular sort of professed science, not limited to creationism. It means aping the surface trappings of science without doing the actual process, and probably for the purpose of gaining prestige and authority. People in white lab coats and probably wearing glasses mixing pouring colored liquids from beakers into test tubes, while Jacob’s ladders zap in the background. I’ve never seen a baraminologist do that, quite, but the analogy is apt. Whether baraminology is valid is another question; cargo cult science isn’t valid, but the universe of invalid science is much larger.

I know exactly what you mean, but this is not intrinsic to a bariminology hypothesis. It is possible one could scientifically test this hypothesis and (likely) falsify it. The fact that many who have discussed bariminology have not done so does not make the hypothesis itself intrinsically cargo cult.

To Woods credit, the paper I’ve read on this from him seems to admit falsifying barminology. He comes out stating up front that humans and chimpanzees looks they are the same kind if you look at their DNA. He admits he doesn’t have a way around it but hopes to find one.

That is not what a cargo culter would do, right?

Of course one might, as one of the surface features of science is the idea that it should be falsifiable. One needs to go beyond the declaration into actual testing. When you look, there is no real justification given for ignoring the DNA results, and the morphological results (which place some hominids in the “ape” kind and others in the “human” kind) are based on a method with no published attempt at justification. That is, no argument is given for why any particular result would be expected if there were different kinds but not if there were a single kind. To my knowledge, there has been no attempted justification for any baraminological method.

One minor point interests me: the baraminological clustering method “ANOPA” (once again, a method with no attempted justification) seems a conscious attempt to imitate the features of an ordination method (e.g. principal components analysis) and the name of a statistical method (ANOVA). That’s a fine equivalent of the white coat and glasses, to my mind.

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What the heck is ANOPA? I have not heard of that one before, and I like to know the mathematics behind these dialogues. There is usually interesting things. Perhaps math serves a rhetorical purpose, and most people do not engage with the details, so its a great place for inconsistencies to be hidden.

For both myself and @vjtorley taking a mathematical view of evolution is what brought us to understand its strength: The Mathematical View of Origins.

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Robert Byers’ Goals Here

Why?

Pseudo science is a more accurate term for it.

Why is it worth testing?

It is a waste of time and effort by real practicing scientists to even look at this dribble.

Have you ever read Wood’s book Understanding the Pattern of Life? If you haven’t, I suggest you look. It’s intended as a baraminology textbook. Anyway, ANOPA (which stands for Analysis of Patterns) is explained in it.

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Getting away from Todd Wood, here is another example of cargo cult science, from TSZ: Baraminology of the Flood. Though Wood did make a reply to it on his blog, and perhaps I can find that.

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Read the quote again and see if you can still take that meaning away from it (my emphasis):

Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.
I say these things not because I’m crazy or because I’ve “converted” to evolution. I say these things because they are true. I’m motivated this morning by reading yet another clueless, well-meaning person pompously declaring that evolution is a failure. People who say that are either unacquainted with the inner workings of science or unacquainted with the evidence for evolution. (Technically, they could also be deluded or lying, but that seems rather uncharitable to say. Oops.)
Creationist students, listen to me very carefully: There is evidence for evolution, and evolution is an extremely successful scientific theory. That doesn’t make it ultimately true, and it doesn’t mean that there could not possibly be viable alternatives. It is my own faith choice to reject evolution, because I believe the Bible reveals true information about the history of the earth that is fundamentally incompatible with evolution. I am motivated to understand God’s creation from what I believe to be a biblical, creationist perspective. Evolution itself is not flawed or without evidence. Please don’t be duped into thinking that somehow evolution itself is a failure. Please don’t idolize your own ability to reason. Faith is enough. If God said it, that should settle it. Maybe that’s not enough for your scoffing professor or your non-Christian friends, but it should be enough for you.

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@John_Harshman,

Baraminology should be a brief book.

Genesis 1:24-25 wraps it up perfectly!

There are multiple multiple kinds…and kinds are defined by reproductive success.

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From what little I have read of Wise’s work that is the impression I got as well, and it is good to hear someone confirm those impressions.

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A post was split to a new topic: What the Heck is ANOPA?