Monday, December 31, 2018

Whither the carnivores? Or, "Give me that old-time hyper-evolution" (Remix)

In the Genesis Debate (David G. Hagopian, ed., Cruxpress, 2001), Hugh Ross and Gleason L. Archer make a point about how the young-earther’s paint themselves into a corner in which they must, in effect, be hyper-evolutionists. More precisely, they must assume that either God ended his rest and reinstituted special creation between the fall and the flood and then again after the flood (and explain why scripture is silent on the matter) or that evolution occurred at a much faster rate (by far) than even the most optimistic natural evolutionists dare to contemplate.

The first part of the argument, regarding the post-flood era, is just based on numbers. It goes something like this:
  • By most estimates, Noah’s ark could have carried at most 30,000 pairs of land animals.
  • At least 5 million species are alive today, and an additional 2 million existed after the flood, but have since become extinct. (The fossil record indicates a total of about 500 million species have existed throughout the history of the planet.)
  • Exacerbating the problem, we are told that shortly after/during the flood certain species that were on the ark became extinct, such as the dinosaurs.
  • Taken all together, we see that somewhere around ten thousand species that survived on Noah’s ark, and the extinction shortly thereafter, would have to evolve into millions of species in the span of a couple thousand years, a rate that makes the mind reel.
There is another solution for young earthers, namely that the flood was not over the entire world. (There is no geological or other scientific evidence for a global flood--and there should be. IMO insisting on a global flood impugns God's character by making him into a God of deception and confusion, a God who erases physical evidence.) But one can imagine that the flood was confined to Noah's "world" (the language absolutely supports such an interpretation) and that species were preserved in other, flood-free regions, uninhabited by humans. The animals on Noah's ark were to repopulate Noah's world with indigenous and regionally-unique species, not all species.  It solves the problem. However the set of young earthers willing to give up a global flood for the simple, elegant, and scripturally non-contradictory solution of a local, Mesopotamian flood (for which there is evidence) appears to me, anecdotally, to be the empty set.

Of course, God could have just created the new species, the millions of them that could not have fit on the ark, but there is no mention of that in the bible. As far as scripture reveals, all God’s creation of new kinds ended at the end of day 6, which obviously was well before the flood.

Another problem that Ross and Archer (and others) point out, related to the fall, not the flood, is that of carnivores. The usual argument is that there was no death of any kind, not even animal death, (Hey there Mr. Elephant, don’t step on that ant!) prior to the fall (which, again, means after God had rested from his acts of creation, inasmuch as they are revealed). No animal death means no carnivores. Carnivores are designed by God to hunt, kill, and eat. If God put polar pears on earth but had them eating plants before the fall, they would have to be very different from polar bears as we know them today—their metabolism and body type render them incapable of surviving by grazing. In effect, all the carnivores would have had to evolve rapidly (in the timescale of hundreds of years) after the fall.

So Ross makes, in my opinion, a good point. The young-earthers (among which I count almost all of my friends, except the other pointed-headed scientists like myself) need a more efficient evolutionary process than the naturalists would dare to hope for. Go figure.

UPDATE: This blog post by Martin LaBar makes similar points (but much better).


  1. Well said. There doesn't seem to be any good solution for Mr. Ham and his followers.

    See my "Young-Earth Creationism and the Kinds of Animals,", which is on the same subject.

  2. Thanks. My post isn't better than yours.