[NOTE: I am currently revising and expanding my work on Homo naledi, which is why I haven’t posted much recently. This is the introduction which is explaining why the creationists have debated over how to classify this discovery. I was planning to post my assessment of the creationists debate but when I finished it ended up being 58 pages carrying through to August 2017. Obviously that is too large for a simple article.]

 

The fascinating find of Homo naledi has sparked an intriguing debate amongst creationists. As with the evolutionists, the creationists seek to label every new find. Though the evolutionists simply perceive a long line of transitioning between ape-like creatures (Australopithecus) that gradually form into mankind (Homo); the creationists find no validity in transitional forms. To the general public, creationism seems to present a simple black and white, ape or human position. In reality, this cannot be further from the truth (though creationists themselves attempting to simplify their position often present that as their own position).
The technicalities of creation science (that are too often ignored) is that, though there are fixed “created kinds,” these created kinds have genetic capabilities to produce large varieties within each created kind. The classic examples of variation within a created kind used by creationists are dogs. For example:

Rather than all creatures descending from the same original organism—a “tree” model of life—all creatures descend from the progenitors of their kind—an “orchard” model. Thus, the whole range of canids, from domesticated dogs to wolves to jackals and beyond, constitutes the diversified members of the original “dog” kind.1) “There all the same to us,” Feb. 5, 2011; https://answersingenesis.org/creation-science/baraminology/all-the-same-to-us/

Thus, a Great Dane could appear to have more in common with a small horse while a Chihuahua may appear to have more in common with a large rat of some sort. As one could imagine, observing the distinctions of the morphologies of these different dogs, there is room for debate. Of course, creationists are not debating Great Danes, Chihuahuas, horses or rats. This humorous example is provided to express that when the creature in question is extinct, the morphologies indicated by the bones are not as easy to understand the relation to the original created kind. Due to the recognition of how wide the variations can be within a created kind, as the dogs examples depicts, fragmentary finds of fossils often do not give enough clues to establish beyond reasonable doubt.
The desire to understand the extent of variation within a created kind has led way to the research called “baraminology.” Baramin comes from compounding two Hebrew words bara meaning “to create ”2)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p. 135 and min meaning “kind.”3)Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, C.A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, (Claredon Press: Oxford, 1980, p. 568; though they include the erroneous definition of “species” Jonathan Sarfati defined baraminology as “the study of the boundaries of the created kind.”4)Jonathan Sarfati, The Genesis Account: a Theological, Historical, and scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11, Creation Books Publishers (powder Springs, Georgia: 2015), p. 180 Todd Wood, who has brought much to the debate about Homo naledi discussed baraminology in an excellent article “A Baraminology tutorial with examples from the grasses (Poaceae),” in which he explained: “Baraminology seeks not the species but the baramins, God’s ‘created kind’. In the broadest sense, baraminology has its roots in the writings of Frank Marsh. In 1941, Marsh coined the term baramin.”5)Todd C. Wood, “A Baraminology tutorial with examples from the grasses (Poaceae),” Journal of Creation, April 2002, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 15 As separate species can be expressed as zebras and donkeys, these would not be considered separated from the original baramin as they could be bred together to produce a hybrid called a zonkey. Todd Wood states, “but even the hybridization criterion has serious limitations (e.g. it is inapplicable to asexual or fossil organisms).”6)Todd C. Wood, “A Baraminology tutorial with examples from the grasses (Poaceae),” Journal of Creation, April 2002, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 15 That is, with extinct creatures, we cannot perform breading experiments to determine if two species are part of the same baramin.
Further weighing in on technicalities, Wood explains:

1. The monobaramin is a group of organisms that share continuity, either genetic or phonetic.
2. The apobaramin is a group of organisms that is discontinuous with everything else. Creationists have long used bats as an example of animals that are unrelated to any other mammals. Since we don’t know how many kinds (baramins) of bats God created, baraminologist refer to the bats as an apobaramin.
3. The holobaramin is roughly what we call the ‘Genesis Kind’. Technically, it simply combines the definition of monbaramin and apobaramin. A holobaramin contains a complete set of organisms that share continuity among themselves but are discontinuous with all other organisms.7)Todd C. Wood, “A Baraminology tutorial with examples from the grasses (Poaceae),” Journal of Creation, April 2002, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 15

So hybridization is “monobaramin,” an “additive” method; “it can enable us to add to the list of members of a particular monobaramin”8)Jonathan Sarfati, The Genesis Account: a Theological, Historical, and scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11, Creation Books Publishers (powder Springs, Georgia: 2015), p. 180 by breading experiments to see how many species are related to each other. By adding two species that can successfully mate and produce offspring identifies they are of the same baramin. The “apobaramin” is a subtractive method “removing creatures from consideration as members of a kind.”9)Jonathan Sarfati, The Genesis Account: a Theological, Historical, and scientific Commentary on Genesis 1-11, Creation Books Publishers (powder Springs, Georgia: 2015), p. 180-181 Since dealing with extinct creatures cannot allow hybridization, apobaramin is used by identifying that two creatures are separated from each other by indicating the different characteristics outweigh the similarities. Hence, Homo naldei comes under scrutiny of morphological similarities or differences it shares with Australopithecus or Homo in order to classify it as one or the other.
Todd Wood further elaborates on the topic of determine the apobaramin: “The baraminic distance between two species is the percentage of characters in which the two species differ in their character states. The simplicity of this metric is very important, because most evolutionary phylogentic methods make assumptions of common ancestry to calculate similarities and distances…. With a percentage, no prior assumptions are made, so identifying both significant similarities between species (implying baraminic relationships) and significant differences between other species (implying discontinuity) should be straightforward.”10)Todd C. Wood, “A Baraminology tutorial with examples from the grasses (Poaceae),” Journal of Creation, April 2002, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 20 Attempting to accomplish the study of baraminology in an unbiased fashion through the apobaramin method, Todd Wood as well as other baraminologists, utilizes a computer program that charts the characteristic morphological features of any given creature to determine whether there is enough similarity or are the morphologies distanced beyond allowing the creatures to be established within the holobaramin together. “BDIST [this computer program] first sorts the characters and calculates character relevance. Relevance is the percentage of taxa for which a character state is known, and BDIST includes relevance figures for each character in its output file…. After calculating relevance for every character, BDIST eliminates characters that have less than 95% relevance.”11)Todd C. Wood, “A Baraminology tutorial with examples from the grasses (Poaceae),” Journal of Creation, April 2002, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 20 Wood emphasizes that this only identifies with morphologies, not DNA. “Systematic data derived from DNA sequence comparisons may not be very useful for baraminology because so many DNA/DNA comparisons are done on genes that are very similar between many species. Consequently, species appear much more similar than they would if you examined their morphology, thus the use of DNA sequence information biases the systematic results towards similarity that is purely genetic.” 12)Todd C. Wood, “A Baraminology tutorial with examples from the grasses (Poaceae),” Journal of Creation, April 2002, Vol. 16, No. 1, p. 21
In the end, both creationists and evolutionists have the same three options for labeling new discoveries.

1. The new discovery could be classified as Homo which creationists would indicate are descendants from Adam and Eve but allow variation. Evolutionists would believe they have evolved enough morphological traits to be closer to human than ape-like, though they are all related through a common ancestor.
2. The new discovery could be classified Australopithecus, meaning that it is an extinct type of ape-like creature. To evolutionists, that could be either a transitional form between apes and humans or an ancient creature that branched off towards ape one way and humans on the other branch. It could also be interpreted as a devolved form—one that began the incline toward Homo but then stopped and regressed in its evolution. Creationists simply confirm Australopithecus were ape-like creatures that existed with variations and have since gone extinct.
3. The new discovery could also be a hoax, a fraud, invented by the evolutionists who seek gain in their career, or have themselves been duped by someone else seeking to get gain through such a con-artist deception. Evolutionists hate to recognize this as a possible option while creationists love to point out the long list of historical facts that this has been and currently remains quite common.13)See. Jerry Bergman, “Why the epidemic of fraud exists in science today,” http://creation.com/science-fraud-epidemic

Examples of such deliberate frauds include Ernst Haeckel’s (1834–1919) embryo illustrations,14)See. E. van Niekerk, “Countering revisionism—part 1: Ernst Haeckel, fraud is proven,” http://creation.com/haeckel-fraud-proven and E. van Niekerk, “Countering revisionism—part 2: Ernst Haeckel and his triple-woodcut print,” http://creation.com/haeckel-fraud-proven-part-2,15) See. Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, “Recapitulation Repackaged and Re-Applied,” July 31, 2013; https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/piltdown-man/recapitulation-repackaged-and-re-applied/ Piltdown man,16)See. A.J. Monty White, “The Piltdown Man Fraud,” Feb. 6, 2006; http://creation.com/the-piltdown-man-fraud,17)See. Ken Ham, “The Mystery of “Britain’s Greatest Hoax” Solved?,” August 27, 2016; https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/ken-ham/2016/08/27/mystery-britains-greatest-hoax-solved/,18)See. Randy J. Guliuzza, “Major Evolutionary Blunders: The Imaginary Piltdown Man,” Acts & Facts. 44 (12); http://www.icr.org/article/imaginary-piltdown-man Nebraska man,19)See. Ian T. Taylor, “‘Nebraska Man’ Revisited,” September 1, 1991; https://answersingenesis.org/human-evolution/piltdown-man/nebraska-man-revisited/,20)See. Andrew Sibley, “A fresh look at Nebraska man,” http://creation.com/fresh-look-at-nebraska-man Archaeoraptor,21)See. Jonathan Sarfati, “Archaeoraptor—Phony ‘feathered’ fossil,” Feb. 3, 2000; http://creation.com/archaeoraptor-phony-feathered-fossil,22)See. “Archaeoraptor Hoax Update—National Geographic Recants!,” March 2, 2000; https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/feathers/archaeoraptor-hoax-update-national-geographic-recants/,23) See. Randy J. Guliuzza, “Major Evolutionary Blunders: The Imaginary Archaeoraptor,” 2016. Acts & Facts. 45 (9); http://www.icr.org/article/major-evolutionary-blunders-imaginary and Ida,24) See. Don Batten, “Darwin fossil hyper-hype,” 23 May 2009; http://creation.com/darwin-fossil-ida-hype,25) See. Brian Thomas, and Frank Sherwin, “Ida: Separating the Science from the Media Campaign,” http://www.icr.org/article/ida-separating-science-from-media-campaign to name just a few. However, before creationists are willing to jump the gun and call fraud, they only need be reminded of the embarrassment of such claims about Archaeopteryx that had to be backtracked.26)See. Jonathan Sarfati, “Archaeopteryx (unlike Archaeoraptor) is NOT a hoax—it is a true bird, not a “missing link,” 24 March 2000; http://creation.com/archaeopteryx-unlike-archaeoraptor-is-not-a-hoax-it-is-a-true-bird-not-a-missing-link This third option is the least desirable conclusion for both sides, but needs to remain an option.

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