Richard Sternberg Evolutionary Biologist
Smithsonian Controversy

Letter from the Baraminology Study Group

Letter from the Baraminology Study Group

When the story about the Meyer paper broke web searchers noticed for the first time my three-year-old public association with the Baraminology Study Group. Knowing all too well the extraordinary antipathy shown by many scientists towards anything relating to “young earth creationism,” my primary contact Dr. Todd Wood immediately sent for my use the letter reproduced below. I am no longer associated with the Barminology Study Group.

August 26, 2004

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is Todd Charles Wood, and I am a founding member of the Baraminology Study Group (BSG) and chief organizer of its conferences. I am writing this letter to clarify both the nature of the BSG, and its relationship to Dr. Richard von Sternberg. The BSG was begun by a small group of graduate students and other interested parties who felt a need to “put up or shut up” when it comes to the so-called “created kinds.” Building on the initial ideas and work of Frank Lewis Marsh (who coined the term baramin), we have endeavored to develop new methods and theories regarding what we believe to be the way God created organisms. Although the initial BSG was composed entirely of young-earth creationists, we neither maintain any creed or statement of belief nor do we require such a position for participation in our conferences or publications.

In the fall of 2000, I read a book on structuralism, Following Form and Function by Stephen Asma, and I realized for the first time a number of intriguing relationships between baraminology and typology/structuralism. Since I had already interacted with Dr. Sternberg by email, I knew that he was a structuralist, and I invited him to present a history of structuralism at the 2001 BSG conference. Much to my surprise, he agreed to come, and I felt his talk was well-received by those in attendance. During the conference, Dr. Sternberg questioned my colleagues and I about the young-earth position, and he expressed a lot of skepticism about the idea. It was my impression at the time (and still is) that he does not accept the young earth position. I was very impressed though with his willingness to participate in our conference and critique our ideas (which criticism I found very valuable and helpful).

After the 2001 conference, the BSG decided that we wanted to have our own e-journal for technical publication. We found an editor of the journal, and we then felt that we needed an editorial board to act as a regular resource for peer review. Knowing that Dr. Sternberg was not a young-earth creationist, I nevertheless recommended that he be added to the editorial board. I found his insights at the 2001 conference useful, and I believed that it would be good to have a reviewer who did not share the mainstream BSG’s young-earth position. I was again amazed and delighted that he agreed to participate, in spite of his not accepting the young-earth position.

To conclude, I have always found refreshing and encouraging Dr. Sternberg’s willingness to critique the BSG and our ideas in a respectful and sincere manner. If more scientists behaved as he does, perhaps the rift between creationists and evolutionists could be mended. Unfortunately, because militants on both sides attract the most attention (merely by screaming the loudest), such reconciliation is probably a long way off.

Todd Charles Wood