Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Homo sediba?

You know, I don't mean to be controversial. I sometimes find myself taking unpopular positions in creationism, but it's not because I like it. I would love to just sit back and not rock the boat. That would be nice. Wouldn't it be fun if my baraminological analysis of the horses confirmed what many creationists want to believe: that the horse series is made up of different baramins? Creationists would love that. I might even enjoy some measure of popularity or accolades.

But that's not the way it happened. Granted, my study of the horses is by no means definitive, but I didn't find any evidence that the horse family should be separated into different baramins. What can I do, though? Manipulate the data until it tells me what I want to hear? That's not right. So I put all the fossil horses in a single created kind. As a result, I seem to have put some people's noses out of joint.

With my latest paper, their heads will probably explode.

As I noted previously, several creationists have already pronounced Australopithecus sediba "not human." I think that may have been a hasty judgment. As I explain in the latest paper from Answers Research Journal, I think the evidence pretty strongly indicates that "Australopithecus" sediba is human.

Let me put this in perspective. My results definitely support the separation of humans and apes. I found very little evidence that would support the clustering of humans and apes in the same group. I was indeed surprised by "Australopithecus" sediba, but that analysis also showed a separation between humans and apes. In reality, then, I think this study is better than the horses. In the case of the horses, we couldn't say anything about the origin of the horses. We could only say that the horse species that we looked at were members of a single baramin. In this case, I think I can say something more significant about humans: There is a discontinuity between humans and (most) australopiths, and that discontinuity is consistent with a separate creation.

So I'm not really saying anything radically unorthodox as far as creationism goes. I'm still endorsing the special creation of humans in God's image. The results of my baraminological analysis support this. This baraminological analysis was conducted technically just like any other analysis, but this time I looked at multiple datasets covering roughly the same species. With each different list of characteristics and species, I found roughly the same answer: Human is human and ape is ape.

The only mildly shocking thing is that "Australopithecus" sediba is actually human ("Homo" sediba?), and if you think about it, is that really so shocking? When we look at the cats or the dogs, for example, we find lots of variations within the baramin. So why is it that with humans we are so hesitant to recognize variants like sediba as members of the same baramin? I think perhaps it's psychological. Theologically, there's not much at stake with cats or dogs, but we get awfully protective of the image of God. We let Neanderthals and H. erectus into the human family and that's it. From the neck down, they look like Homo sapiens anyway, so that's fine. But those things with the long arms and short legs, they can't be human. Or so we think, but maybe we should look at these species more carefully. Because when you think about it another way, I'd hate to deny someone's basic humanity because their arms were too long. That doesn't sound very good, does it?

But if I'm wrong about sediba, I'm wrong. Won't be the first time... and it won't be the last.

Read all about it here:

Wood. 2010. Baraminological analysis places Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, and Australopithecus sediba in the human holobaramin. Answers Research Journal 3:71-90.