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Linnaeus was a creationist (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Linnaeus was a creationist (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.


Claim CA114.2:

Linnaeus was a creationist.

Source: Morris, Henry M. 1982. Bible-believing scientists of the past. ICR Impact #103


Creationist response:

Please note throughout this Talk Origins "rebuttal", they don't really disagree with the notion that Carolus Linnaeus was a creationist.

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)


Linnaeus predated the theory of evolution by about a century. His work showing a hierarchical arrangement of plant and animal traits is one of the major pieces of evidence for evolution.

Let's get things into perspective. This point is about Linnaeus and his work. What Linneas did was to arrange different organisms (animals and plants) into two different groups or kingdoms on the basis of general similarities; he then attempted to refine those similarities further to get smaller and smaller groups within the greater group. He helped define genera and species. That's a summary of what he did.

Now evolutionists may try to make his work say something more than what he actually did, but they derive that from their own religious worldview, not Linnaeus'.

Linnaeus' observational work helped us to classify animal and plant groups, but that is neither proof nor evidence for evolution as opposed to creation. Creationists would say that his system of classification is evidence that there were created kinds made with general similarities that diversified. In fact, when comparing Linnaeus' classifications above the family or genera level with the observed variations within these groups of animals, a contradiction between the observed processes and the unobservable beliefs and tenents of the theory of biological evolution can be observed. The theory of common descent says that animals and organisms in the (unobservable) distant past must have been able to breed and change across these major classification groups through a process which produces novel genetic information in order for bacteria to become plants and animals. But this has never been observed. So Linnaeus' system, coupled with observation of biological life, may not only be a witness against the theory of evolution, but also puts in question the scientific nature of the theory, which relies so much on what nobody has ever seen.

But caution is advised on such a conclusion since "[t]hese groupings have been revised since Linnaeus to improve consistency with the Darwinian principle of common descent" Scientific classification. In other words, what was observed in the past has been brought into conformity (made to agree with) the ruling, naturalistic, post-Darwinian philosophy. But even then, I believe a case can still be made.


Linnaeus did believe in evolution within genera: "It is impossible to doubt that there are new species produced by hybrid generation" (Linne 1760).

All Linnaeus was saying is that speciation can occur. This is not "evolution" per se. Talk Origins uses the ambiguity of the word to attempt to say that Linnaeus was somehow linked to their theory of evolution but this is not the case. This phrase from Linnaeus simply points to observable variation, or speciation, which does not directly or logically lead to Darwin's theory of evolution. Here is an example to show the difference between what Linnaeus said and what Darwin said.

Linnaeus: A group of dogs can produce a new species of dog. Plants can produce new species of plants.

Darwin: Single celled organisms, or some form of simple living creature can produce, over long periods of time, fish. Fish can change into amphibians. Reptiles can change into birds or mammals. (This is truly the theory of evolution, or biological evolution).

So no, Linnaeus didn't believe in "evolution", just variation within major groups, something which creationists accept.


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