Thursday, July 20, 2006
What is Baraminology?
In my mind, there's two meanings to baraminology -- the strict, technical definition, and then the worldview it entails.
The strict definition of baraminology is that it is a method of taxonomy based on Biblical ideas. "baramin" comes from the Hebrew words "bara" and "min" which are the words used for creating after their kind in Genesis. Baraminology reclassifies the world into baramins -- originally created kinds. Note that a baramin is not the equivalent with a species. A good first approximation of a baramin is often the "family" level of standard taxonomy. For example, the entire "cat" family (felidae) is considered a baramin. Lions, tigers, and the house cat are thought to be all of the same created kind. Dogs, wolves, and coyotes are all thought to be of another created kind. However, because standard taxonomy neither cares about nor believes in "created kinds", this approximation is not always reliable. For example, recently chimps and other non-human primates have been moved into family hominidae in the standard taxonomy, but chimps and humans are not from the same created kind.
Baraminology is a holistic view of taxonomy. Because baraminologists believe that baramins were created holistically, it is thought that this is the best way to classify it as well. It is usually based on morphology and ecology as opposed to molecular (gene sequence) evidence.
Baraminology as a classification system recognizes both continuities and discontinuities as real. Traditional taxonomy considers only continuities as real, and considers discontinuities as being simply the result of incomplete information. While certainly incomplete information may create the appearance of discontinuity when it is only an illusion, baraminologists believe that in general the observed continuity and discontinuity are both real.
The Baraminology Philosophy
In relation to the larger Creation/Evolution divide, baraminologists are almost exclusively Young-Earth or Young Age Creationists. However, while traditionally Creationists have focused on proving the Bible true or beating the evolutionists, Baraminology takes a different approach. The goal of Baraminology is to develop a Creationist model of biology, based on the Bible and Biblical principles. Note that this means, since baraminologists are using the Bible as a starting assumption, baraminology cannot, even in principle, be used to argue for Creationism. This is not the intention. The intention is to simply perform research within the context of Christianity. This does not mean that baraminologists do not engage in such debates -- many do (including me). However, this is separate from the practice of baraminology itself, because, as mentioned above, baraminology itself does not lend itself to such arguments since it assumes the Bible as a starting point.
If you want to do biology research from a Christian perspective, baraminology is for you.
For more information, you can go to the Creation Biology Study Group website, read Todd Wood's book, Understanding the Pattern of Life, which explains the basics and research methodology of baraminology, or also, stay tuned to this blog.
This blog tries to maintain the spirit of baraminology, by viewing research done by both Creationists and non-Creationists within the light of a Christian worldview, to see what we can learn about God's world through study. I try to avoid denigrating other positions and focus on constructive research and ideas. I certainly value very highly the work done by non-Creationists in biology (including many aspects of evolutionary biology), and I try to incorporate as much as possible in my thinking. But ultimately, scripture is authoritive in the matters of beginnings, and I trust what it says (my question -- why would someone trust the Bible as a source of salvation and not trust it regarding the question of origins?) An excellent essay on this is contained in the "Introduction" section (page 3) of last years BSG Conference Proceedings by Todd Wood (don't worry, it's not technical at all).
Is it possible to do science like this? Honestly, I don't really care. If you don't want to call it science -- don't. Names are meaningless. The question is, what is the truth about life? This is what I'm interested in. Personally, I think that this is compatible with science, and if you're interested I explain why I think so here. But if you don't disagree, I won't complain much. (However, just be aware that by most demarcation arguments, you have to either exclude both Creationism and Evolution or include both Creationism and evolution -- for a short essay see here).
Anyway, if you have questions, please post them below! Also, if I get too technical in my posts, please feel free to ask questions. I really have no idea who my readership is, so if you need me to re-explain something from the ground up, I'd certainly be glad to!
Some of the more interesting posts on this blog have been:
- The influence of ecology on development
- Gene mutation is a directed, regulated process
- The role of chance happenings in genetic mutation
- The meaning of Behe's "Irreducible Complexity"
- The relationship between Creationism and Intelligent Design
- Stasis and change within baramins, according to purpose
- Genome Reconfiguration
- The role of symbionts in ecology and creating new species
- Discussing biological similarity from a Creation perspective
Thank you. I appreciate this approach. Here's why.
I've been reading along with ID for quite a while now, believing what they're doing is good and often engaging in the forums. But (we?) IDers have to spend a lot of time justifying and enduring a lot of chaff about why ID is / is not "science"... and what is a legitimate definition of science and what's at stake, namely, public authority and permission to be taught in educational institutions, etc. This puts a lot of pressure on IDers to avoid bringing God into the picture, lest we be labeled unscientific (even though we know such a judgment is unfair).
By shrugging off the "is it science" question, you free yourself to do some wonderful research without the above shackles. I am very interested to read more, on your blog and in the articles you have linked to. After all, what we're really after is the truth, not the approval of the establishment.
I'm with you 100%. I agree that ID in its general form is compatible with other notions other than "God" for being the intelligent designer. However, I think that the intelligent designer is God and I'm not going to shirk away from saying so just because it might cause someone to say "you're being unscientific".