Whales Aren’t Mammals

This article is a modified version of “Why Birds Are Not Dinosaurs (And Why It Matters)”, an article by Answers in Genesis. This post is solely for the purpose of parody.

One of the primary points of contention between us and young-earth “evolution” (YEE) is the question of whether whales are mammals. Many within what we call the YEE subcommunity of the young-earth creationist camp have made the claim that modern whales are mammals in some sense. But is this claim valid? We submit that mammals and whales represent distinct groups that do not and cannot overlap.

Among those prominently saying that, in some sense, whales are mammals is Answers in Genesis. They have gone so far as to say that: “Whales, however, are mammals…” While they are careful to say that they do not mean whales evolved from mammals, there are huge problems with this statement. The most obvious one is from Scripture itself.


We argue that Answers in Genesis’ approach relies on evolutionary ideas and not on the careful analysis of the evidence or Scripture. YEE’s have borrowed the definitions of mammal and whale from an evolutionary perspective. Consequently, we have determined that they have interpreted the evidence of the so-called mammalian whales through an evolutionary perspective.

Mammals are land-dwelling animals. That means they were made on day six of creation (Genesis 1:24–25). Whales are swimming creatures, and they all have flippers. Therefore, they most likely were all made on day five (Genesis 1:20–22). By saying or agreeing with the evolutionary claim that whales are mammals or are most similar to mammals, AiG is mixing groups made on different days of creation. Further, they are lumping groups that Adam would have been able to distinguish. Remember in Genesis 2 that God brought the animals to Adam to name. This implies that Adam was capable of both naming them and distinguishing between them by sight. There is no reason why mammals and whales should be considered similar unless it is presumed a priori that some mammals had flippers.

Another significant problem with arguing that whales are mammals is the cultural context of the claim. While AiG may think that making the above statement does not imply evolution, the public is inundated daily with evolutionists making the exact same claim. The public knows what an evolutionist means when they claim whales are mammals: that whales evolved from mammals. When they hear AiG say it, most will still understand it this way as if they are making the same claim, although it is more palatable to Christians since it is coming from a young-earth Christian.

Further, AiG’s statement represents a rhetorical device known as motte and bailey. The motte is the more defensible position, the one harder to criticize, and the one rhetorically retreated to when pressure comes. The bailey is the fertile ground around the motte: a place where ideas can be easily planted. As an example of how this works, social justice activists push critical race theory (CRT) into the public schools—the bailey. Then, when parents object, the activists retreat to the motte and claim to only be teaching about racism, which no one should have a problem with. AiG is doing something similar here. “whales are mammals” is the bailey; “whales are more similar to mammals than anything else” is the motte. Unlike the social justice example, AiG is likely not doing this deliberately or maliciously, but it is the rhetorical device in play nonetheless.

Structural Problems

Using the evolutionary mammalian classification, which includes whales, is very problematic and represents an unnecessary ceding of ground to the evolutionary narrative as well as a confusing narrative for the churchgoer. When even members of the evolutionary community question the idea that mammals have flippers with sound, peer-reviewed papers, it begs the question of why some in the creationist community would accept it. The only reason to do so is if some of the same assumptions that drive the evolutionary model are smuggled into the creation model—namely that some mammals have flippers. And for what purpose? If the assumption that some mammals have flippers is removed, the entire evolutionary argument falls away, as does the “young-earth evolution” argument dependent on it.

No mammals have flippers, and claiming they did actually requires reliance on evolutionary interpretations that should not be accepted by creationists.




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