Synapomorphy or Sinapomorphy?

May 7

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

(Romans 5:12) KJV

We’re working towards the classification of Dragons. This means that we have to understand what classification systems are and how they are derived.

However, sometimes apologetics feels like digging a trench and a lot of work goes into establishing the context and defining the terms that are necessary. We’ve already deduced that Dragons belong with the Reptiles because specimens of extinct animals that we refer to as Dinosaurs have reptilian characteristics. We also classify Dragons within Reptiles because they’re referred to as serpents, which are Reptiles.

This is compatible with scientific classification systems which are based on the idea that life evolved from a common ancestor, but it presents an issue. The popular science (SciPop) narrative is that there was a population of organisms (a taxa) in which a beneficial trait evolved so that the offspring were more successful. These offspring had their own offspring with the same trait and these continued to be successful. The population eventually emerged, through cumulative small changes, as a new species (a new taxa).

The concept at the heart of modern classification systems is the synapomorphy, or shared derived characteristic. All of the organisms which possess a synapomorphy are in a clade. Another way to think of a synapomorphy is as the advanced or derived character state, as opposed primitive or ancestral character state. We’ll take the Dinosaurs as an example of how this applies.

Dinosaur classification began in 1842 when Sir Richard Owen placed Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosaurus in “a distinct tribe or suborder of Saurian Reptiles, for which I would propose the name of Dinosauria.” In 1887 and 1888 Harry Seeley divided dinosaurs into the two orders Saurischia and Ornithischia, based on their hip structure. These divisions have proved remarkably enduring, even through several seismic changes in the taxonomy of dinosaurs.


The hip structure is the supposed synapomorphy which has been used to define the clades Saurischia and Ornithischia. One clade has the primitive character state, the other clade has the advanced character state, or synapomorphy. The conundrum here is how do scientists decide what’s primitive or advanced? It’s dependent on what you already believe about the origin of species. This means that it’s an example of circular reasoning. The evolutionary relationships can be determined using synapomorphies because we choose to believe that the taxa evolved and that they have synapomorphies. When you subscribe to the evolution narrative you’ll assign character states as either primitive or advanced in a way that fits the narrative.

Classification systems change over time, usually in sync with each generation of new scientists as they jockey to establish their names in the field. This is one reason why SciPop and truth are incompatible: because truth is absolute and unchanging while SciPop is infinitely malleable and in constant flux. Dinosaurs are such a popular field of study that the attempt to achieve fame through their classification drove the development of modern systematic taxonomy:

The largest change was prompted by entomologist Willi Hennig’s work in the 1950s, which evolved into modern cladistics. For specimens known only from fossils, the rigorous analysis of characters to determine evolutionary relationships between different groups of animals (clades) proved incredibly useful. When computer-based analysis using cladistics came into its own in the 1990s, paleontologists became among the first zoologists to almost wholeheartedly adopt the system. Progressive scrutiny and work upon dinosaurian interrelationships, with the aid of new discoveries that have shed light on previously uncertain relationships between taxa, have begun to yield a stabilizing classification since the mid-2000s. While cladistics is the predominant classificatory system among paleontology professionals, the Linnean system is still in use, especially in works intended for popular distribution.

– Cladistics, definition Wikipedia

Cladistics, the grouping of taxa into clades based on synapomorphies is also called phylogenetic analysis. The idea that species originated through the process of evolution is inherent. It’s tied to the idea that physical traits are inherited. However, we’re discussing creation, or abiogenesis, when God created in a systematic manner of increasing developmental complexity, but which is not based on the passage of traits from one generation to another. The creative process isn’t phylogenetic. Creation is spherogenetic, based on the spheres of the earth: hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere.

We have added another sphere: the firmasphere. Satan is referred to as the dragon, the great dragon, that old serpent and the Devil, yet he was created in heaven. He led a rebellion in heaven for which he was cast out to the earth:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

(Revelation 12:7-9) KJV

Given that Leviathan is referred to as a dragon and was created in the hydrosphere, and Satan the dragon was created in the firmasphere, then the group Dragons is not based on synapomorphies. The group is not the product of reproduction and the passage of traits from generation to generation.

A clade that is based on a synapomorphy is called monophyletic, having one origin or common ancestor. If we have dragons in the firmasphere and hydrosphere which are not connected through reproduction and heritable traits, then the group isn’t monophyletic, it’s polyphyletic.

During the process of creation there was no death. Death is the punishment for sin, the reason why we need a savior. Since death had to enter the world in order for there to be a need to reproduce and have offspring, the grouping of organisms into clades based on synapomorphies isn’t natural, as SciPop claims, it’s artificial. We’re going to have to eliminate the concept of evolution from the development of our classification, since evolution isn’t going start until after the fall of man in Genesis 3. A natural, Biblical, classification system can’t be based on the concept of evolution.

Given that synapomorphies only occur after the process of evolution has started, and evolution is a consequence of sin, it’s appropriate to change the spelling of synapomorphy to sinapomorphy.

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