Glossary for terms used in Understanding Creation


Glossary for terms used in UNDERSTANDING CREATION presentation.

Antediluvian: Ante = before, diluvian = flood; Reference to peoples and things before Noah’s time.

Baramin: From Hebrew bara = created, min = kind; the original created populations of Genesis; what Noah had on the Ark. Non-interbreeding.

Cataclysm: From Greek kataklusmos, the biblical term for the event Noah survived. (The Hebrew term is mabbuwl.)

Catastrophism: Belief that geologic history is dominated by a catastrophe or catastrophes, such as the Cataclysm.

Creation: The belief that a transcendant deity created the universe, earth and life.

Creation Model: Model of natural history founded on a perspicuous (plain) interpretation of Genesis as historical, incorporating data from natural science within this foundational framework.

Darwinian Fundamentalism: Dogmatic belief that natural history is “proven” to have followed a certain path with these vital elements:

    1. There is no God, or he is scientifically irrelevant.
    2. Thus, life formed from non-life by natural processes.
    3. Life evolved from simple to complex by natural processes.
    4. All life is descended from a common ancestor (or a very small number of common ancestors).
    5. Morality and law are human inventions, not divine. They evolved because they somehow are helpful in producing more offspring.
    6. There is no purpose to the universe, nor in our own lives beyond our own selfish desires.

These are religious/ideologically driven claims, not empirical observations.

Entropy: The principle that all things tend to become more disordered and break down over time, unless certain conditions are met.

Evolution: Has a range of definitions, determined by the context. These definitions include:

    1. Slow change, as opposed to fast change (evolutionary change vs. revolutionary change).
    2. Any kind of change.
    3. Changes in genes in the biological world.
    4. Belief that all life comes from a common ancestor over hundreds of millions of years of change without intelligent design. (See Darwinian fundamentalism.)

#1 and #2 are uncontroversial. #3 is an observable fact of science. #4 is a belief foundational to many religions; it is not observable science.

Gene: The biological component found in every cell that contains the information necessary for life to persist. The “blueprints” for life.

History: The study of the past, either with the aid of historical eyewitness documentation (such as Genesis) or without. Historical hypotheses are designed to be consistent with the available evidence (documentation, natural science data, etc.) but there is no way to “prove” a particular historical theory correct without a time machine. All that can be said is that a hypothesis fits the data. (See overspecification error.)

Information Science: The study of the origin, nature, storage and transmission of information.

Intelligent Design: Belief that life is the product of an intelligent designer, not natural processes. ID proponents include but are not limited to believers in Genesis.

Mosaic: A creature or fossil that displays a mixture of characteristics usually associated with different life forms, but may not be chronologically intermediate between them. For example a platypus has a duck-like bill and lays eggs like a bird, and has fur like a mammal, but is a currently living creature and thus cannot be a mammal-to-bird (or bird-to-mammal!) transition. Likewise, Archaeopteryx has a mix of features like claws and teeth, and feathers, but appears well above other fully formed birds in the fossil record. Thus it is not a transition. Mosaics typically have a mix of features that are individually fully developed, not in a crude state (for example, primitive feathers).

Mutation: A random change (as distinct from designed-in variations, see pre-formism) in a gene caused during reproduction of the gene.

Neo-catastrophism: Belief that earth has suffered major geologic catastrophes in the past, but with great spans of time passing quietly in between them. Uniformitarianism is assumed as much as possible. The standard belief of most geologists today.

Overspecification Error: Claiming that because a fact is consistent with a hypothesis, therefore that hypothesis must be correct. Many other hypotheses may be consistent with the fact. Reading greater significance into something than the facts warrant, going beyond what they say.

Philosophy: Systems of thought and logic built on foundational premises (see religion).

Pre-formism: Hypothesis that life contains mechanisms that can recognize and adapt to changing environmental conditions by expressing pre-designed genetic information, or by altering genes according to pre-defined plans and patterns in a specified manner. Based on studies of rapid changes in populations that cannot be explained by random mutations.

Punctuated Equilibrium: Evolutionary model that proposes that life remains fairly static and unchanging for long periods of time, and then undergoes rapid, major change leading to new forms of life. Attempts to explain the lack of transition forms in the fossil record.

Religion: The foundational premises by which one understands and perceives the world around them. Provides foundational values and assumptions. (NOTE: Under this definition variants of atheism and agnosticism, such as Marxism and Secular Humanism, are religions. Every thinking person has a foundational religious worldview.)

Science: The study of current, observable phenomena and the establishment of predictive rules (laws) describing the operation of nature based on those observations, using the scientific method.

Speciation: Formation of new species from old ones, by any process (reproduction isolation; genetic impoverishment; pre-formist selection, etc.)

Species: A distinct population that tends, in nature, not to mix reproductively with other populations.

Transition Fossil: A fossil that is intermediate between earlier and later organisms both in time and morphologically. In other words, a fossil that has characteristics intermediate between other forms of life that appear earlier and later in natural history. An ideal transition form would exhibit crude, imperfect features in an early state of development that later become highly specialized (eyes, feathers, etc.)

Uniformitarianism: Doctrine that “the present is the key to the past” in geology. Formulated by Charles Lyell, Darwin’s mentor. Claims that no catastrophes have occurred in earth history, that rocks should be understood to form by slow and gradual processes that we see today. Classical uniformitarianism is pretty much dead now in favor of neo-catastrophism. (NOTE: A second definition of uniformitarianism refers to the idea that natural laws have always remained the same throughout the history of the universe. This assumption tends to be universally accepted but cannot be proven.)

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