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Yet another old-earther accuses a creationist of believing in evolution

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Published: 12 April 2016 (GMT+10)
Kenneth-Keathley
Kenneth Keathley

On a 28 March 2016 blog post,1 Professor Ken Keathley2 made the allegation that Ken Ham now embraces evolution. He bases this unfounded assertion on a recent article where Ham discusses how the diversity of species present today can be traced back to their respective “kinds” represented on the Ark. For Keathley, it is “big news” that a prominent creationist “has embraced macro-evolution.” However, as will be seen, creationists in general embraced speciation for decades; it is not just a property of evolutionists.

First, the article in question has done no such thing,3 and secondly, variation within a kind is not “big news”, nor is it “macro-evolution”.

The same day that this fallacious post appeared, CMI’s Calvin Smith (and others) rebutted Keathley’s assertions in the comments section and pointed out his equivocation of speciation and evolution. And they further pointed out that his ‘micro-macro’ distinction is an example of ‘Arguments we think creationists should not use’, because the issue is not size of change but direction (informationally uphill or downhill).

This should have prompted Keathley to remove his post. Instead, he responded to one of the commenters with statements like the following: “Remember the title to Darwin’s book: ‘Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’. Speciation is evolution. That’s what it meant when Darwin used the term, and it’s what biologists mean when they use the term. It’s what it means when Ham uses the term.” On 30 March, he followed up with another post, perpetuating again the same relentless errors.4

Since Darwin did not even use the word “evolution” in the title of his book, why bother to mention it? This does not help in any way to define the terms at hand. In any event, speciation via natural selection is not evolution. What Darwin actually did was fail to explain the origin of species (or origin of genus, family, or kind, for that matter), and take the previously known conservative concept of what would be termed ‘natural selection’ and apply it to evolution, thus turning natural selection into a creative force.5,6

creationist-orchard
The creationist ‘orchard’ in which diversity has occurred over time within the original Genesis ‘kinds’.

Keathley’s erroneous statements, “Speciation is evolution”, and “that’s what it means when Ham uses the term”, are absurd. He would be wise to review the hundreds of pages of creationist literature where speciation is shown to be precisely the opposite of evolution (there is no upward, increasing genetic information with corresponding increased phylogenic complexity). As Don Batten has said, “speciation entails the rearrangement and/or loss of existing genetic information from populations. Speciation gives no support to the GTE [general theory of evolution].”7

evolution-happening-in-my-lab

May I say kindly, that having lectured, published and blogged quite a bit on the subject of creation and evolution, it is far too late in the game for Keathley to claim ignorance of these important distinctions. Since CMI and other ministries have proven themselves more than capable of enlightening the average nonprofessional to the fundamental flaw in conflating speciation and evolution, one has to wonder if it is deliberate deception on Keathley’s part to perpetuate such nonsense. As I stated previously,

‘Keathley charges YECs with promoting post-flood “accelerated evolution” to account for the number of species on earth today. He says that “[Hugh] Ross considers it ironic that, in their attempt to rescue the global flood model, YEC adherents are embracing a version of ‘ultra-efficient biological evolution’” (p. 11). But Ross’s nonsense about YECs holding to “ultra-efficient biological evolution” was dealt a mortal blow by Sarfati a decade ago in Refuting Compromise. Keathley seems to be ignorant of this as well, even though he references Sarfati’s book later in his paper. Sarfati shows that Ross’s allegations about ultra-rapid evolution are based on his refusal to acknowledge any speciation occurring today. But rapid speciation has nothing at all to do with evolution and has long been a component of Flood models. Evolution, by definition, is uphill, necessarily requiring an increase in genetic information. Speciation has to do with variation within the biblical ‘kind’8, or, ‘baramin’9, and offers no support for microbe-to-man evolution. Speciation, therefore, is not “ultra-efficient biological evolution” at all, and modern examples of rapid speciation are acknowledged by both creationists and evolutionists.10
Informed creationists do not confuse (or conflate) uphill evolution with post-flood rapid speciation.’11
A depiction of Noah's Ark
Scale image of the ark, shown next to a large truck, and people (bottom right corner)

Anyone familiar with even popular level creationist literature should be aware that biblical creationists do not believe in evolution, despite the many examples of variation within the biblical “kind”. As Jonathan Sarfati pointed out, “ … Even early creationist scientists deduced from the Flood/Ark account in the Bible that species could change, i.e. fixity of species was false. Furthermore, that the species on the Ark had the potential to give rise to many varieties among their descendants.”12 Creationists believe in fixity of kinds (or baramin), a clear biblical teaching.13 This concept is found even in the 1961 Whitcomb and Morris classic, The Genesis Flood,14 despite Keathley’s insistence that “[creationists] have shifted significantly from the positions argued by early young-earth creationists such as Henry Morris and Duane Gish”.

Having coauthored a 400-page book on creation and evolution,15 Keathley should have much more than a cursory acquaintance with the ‘young-earth’ (biblical) creationist literature pertaining to speciation. In that book he references a number of reputable creationists, which is why Keathley is without excuse for his confusion, equivocation, and false assertions.16 Yet in these recent posts he repeats many of the same errors he has been making since his lecture on the subject in 2013.17

Keathley writes, for example, that “Andrew Snelling … argued in his book, Earth’s Catastrophic Past, that only about a thousand species were on the ark (p. 136). These 1,000 species then evolved rapidly into the millions of species we see on the earth today.” No, the only ‘evolution’ taking place here is Keathley’s mutation and artificial selection of Snelling’s proposition. The fact that all of the land vertebrates alive today are derived from the inhabitants on the Ark is perfectly biblical, consistent with diversity within immutable boundaries of the created kinds, and lends itself to no evolutionary process whatsoever. For Keathley not to understand this means he has only done a very cursory reading of the creationist literature he uses as references, or he is engaging in deception in order to further his middle ground madness.18

Professor Keathley seems to be under the false impression that creationists have historically embraced ‘fixity of species’, when in fact it is the broader ‘kind’ (baramin) which is fixed. The created kinds had great built-in potential for diversity, but this has nothing to do with evolution.

It is my opinion that Professor Keathley has more of an affinity for “common ground” than he does for clarity and doctrinal orthodoxy. His advocating of a “mediating position” in his book on creation culminated not in biblical and logical consistency but in confusion and contradiction.19 While he has defended biblical authority on more than one occasion, he will not consistently maintain it to the exclusion of his deep time beliefs about the Genesis record. Keathley is again determined to reconcile the irreconcilable.

Perhaps Keathley’s motivation for his recent blog posts was to bring ‘old-earth’ and ‘young-earth’ creationists together in an attempt to reconcile their differences. But while true Christians are ultimately united in Jesus Christ, Keathley’s recent posts alleging that a prominent creationist has embraced evolution are not only confused, but appear to be deceptive and dishonest.

References and notes

  1. Keathley, K.D., Ken Ham Embraces Evolution, theologyforthechurch.com, 28 March 2016. Return to text.
  2. Keathley is a professor of theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Return to text.
  3. Jeanson, N.T., Does Ken Ham Embrace Evolution? Responding to Professor Keathley’s Erroneous Claims, answersingenesis.org, 30 March 2016. Return to text.
  4. Keathley, K.D., But Tim [Challies], You’re Describing Evolution, theologyforthechurch.com, 30 March 2016. Return to text.
  5. Batten, D., in: Carter, R., ed., Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels, pp. 212–24, CBP, Powder Springs, GA, 2014. Return to text.
  6. Sarfati, J., Refuting Compromise (updated and expanded), pp. 224–225, CBP, Powder Springs, GA, 2011. Return to text.
  7. Batten, ref. 5, p. pp. 212–24. Return to text.
  8. Lightner, J.K., What are species? Creation Matters 14(6):6–7, 2009. Return to text.
  9. Frair, W., Baraminology—Classification of Created Organisms, Creation Research Society Quarterly 37(2):82–91, 2000. Return to text.
  10. See Woodmorappe, J., pp. 180–183, Noah’s Ark: A Feasibility Study, Institute for Creation Research, Dallas, TX, 1996. Return to text.
  11. Sabato, N., A theologian’s disappointing departure from biblical creation, J. Creation 28(3):120–127, 2014. Return to text.
  12. Sarfati, J., The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution, p. 32, CBP, Atlanta, GA, 2010. Return to text.
  13. Nine times we are told in Genesis chapter one that God’s creatures reproduce “according to their kind”. Return to text.
  14. Whitcomb, J.C., and Morris, H.M., The Genesis Flood, pp. 66–69, Presbyterian and Reformed, Phillipsburg, NJ, 1961. Return to text.
  15. Keathley, K.D., and Rooker, M.F., 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 2014. Return to text.
  16. His book exhibits the same misunderstanding of micro versus macro evolution, and at certain points seems to favor theistic evolution. See Sabato, N., Irreconcilable records of history and muddled methodology (Review of Keathley and Rooker, Ref. 15), Journal of Creation 30(1):19–24, 2016. Return to text.
  17. Keathley, K., The confessions of a disappointed young-earther, theologyforthechurch.com, 2013; accessed 14 May 2014. Return to text.
  18. Keathley and Rooker, ref. 15, p. 164. Return to text.
  19. Sabato, ref. 16, p. 23. Return to text.