Paul Garner is a researcher and lecturer with Biblical Creation Ministries and the author of The New Creationism (Evangelical Press, 2009). He has a degree in Environmental Sciences (Geology/Biology) and is a Fellow of the Geological Society. He is married with two children and resides in Cambridgeshire, England.
As you might imagine, the blog takes a rather geological view of creation. Biblical Creation Ministries are a charitable trust that supports two speakers, one of whom is Paul Garner, and it appears to be an offshoot of The Biblical Creation Society (though financially independent). I was intrigued to see a link to BCM’s research. Here we find the statement:
One of our longer-term goals is to raise the level of scholarship in origins studies by developing an active research agenda in addition to the speaking ministry. Our aim is to honour the Creator and serve the wider Christian community by undertaking high-quality, cutting-edge research.
That seems to be a little contradictory to me, but hey what do I know, I’m merely a research scientist and academic! In fact BCM’s research interests seem to be those of Garner, and these are a little off the wall from a science perspective, featuring collaborations with a number of creationist organisations. I have to credit The New Creationist with alerting me to a new word: baraminology. Paul Garner seems very keen on it – I’d never head of it, but a quick Google search revealed a Wikipedia page, which includes this:
Baraminology is a creationist system for classifying life into groups having no common descent, called “baramins”. Its methodology is based on a literal creationist interpretation of “kinds” in Genesis, especially a distinction between humans and other animals. Other criteria include the ability of animals to interbreed and the similarity of their observable traits. Baraminology developed as a subfield of creation science in the 1990s among a group of creationists that included Walter ReMine and Kurt Wise. Like all of creation science, baraminology is pseudoscience and is not related to science, and biological facts show that all life has common ancestry. The taxonomic system widely applied in biology is cladistics, which classifies species based on evolutionary history and emphasizes objective, quantitative analysis.
From the BCM’s web page, it’s a quick hop to the Creation Biology Study Group, which seems to spend a lot of time considering baraminology (or as we might call it, “biblical kinds”). The CBSG tries hard to come across as all “sciencey” – with references to publications, to conferences etc. Back to The New Creationist, a recent blog article featured a discussion of a recently discovered transitional fossil in the pinniped (seal) lineage, Puijila darwini (A Walking Pinniped).
If I’m honest, I’m struggling to accept the radical idea that the whole of the Caniformia might constitute a single ark kind (c.f. Wise 2009 pp. 141, 153). But then I look at Puijila darwini and I wonder whether the pinnipeds really were descended from a more terrestrial ancestor, perhaps one that was on board the ark.
(The Wise reference is provided) Interestingly, Garner doesn’t seem to take issue with Puijilla as an intermediary form, but seems to want to shoehorn it into a biblical flood mythology (he also introduces the term “sub-baraminic”, with which I’m even less familiar with than “baraminic”!). This is in my view a fatal flaw – if one genuinely wishes to understand the world and how it came to be, one should be looking at evidence, and that evidence (as I’ve said before in this blog) doesn’t include a dusty old tome written by some wandering bronze-age middle-eastern tribes and a group of first millennium spin-doctors.
I feel a bit like Jeffrey in Blue Velvet, being drawn into a bizarre netherworld – not in this case of depravity, but one of deluded belief systems masquerading as scientific enquiry.