EVOLUTION OR DEVOLUTION?
Featured in The First Couple: Adam and Eve - Independent Origins “Refuting the Critics of Biblical Creation”
The Biblical model of origins has opposite predictions compared to the popular view of universal common ancestry. The popular view, which is taught in schools, purports that all of life shares relationships through common descent. This includes banana plants, humans, monkeys, and dogs. They say everything on earth is shared through interconnectedness. The model of separate ancestry would imply there exists a boundary when it comes to ancestry. God created groupings of creatures. This would be the idea of kinds. I give what I believe is the best definition of kinds on page 103 of my book “Universal or Separate Ancestry? The Biblical Model of Origins Made Easy”:
“Biblical creationists do not believe in species fixity. Species are not static, and neither are their genomes. Species can change and adapt, and they can do this through various mechanisms. Scripture tells us that God creates kinds. How do we define kinds? I highly encouraged creationists to define kinds in terms of gene pools. Since genetics is the only direct way to determine what is related and what is not related, the original genomes of the biblical kinds are what should be in focus. This means that groups of organisms belong to the same kind if they descend from an original gene pool. As a result, to determine the kind boundaries we would need to determine which organisms can be grouped into separate original gene pools. We can also make good inference as to what is related and what may not be related by simply standing back and looking at the organism. For example, we can infer with pretty good certainty that dogs, wolves, coyotes and foxes all go back to an original ancestral gene pool, but we cannot scientifically infer that dogs, wolves and pine trees go back to an original ancestral gene pool. Ultimately, the answers are going to come from genetics though.
The Bible is clear that God did not create one universal common ancestor that evolved into all the lifeforms that have ever existed on this planet. This would indicate that there are independent ancestries. We can already demonstrate that not all life is related, and that life arose recently by the secularist’s own literature. This is because their own research has demonstrated that 90% of all life has the same level of genetic diversity. This means that almost all life on earth is the same age. This is exactly what would be expected given the separate ancestry model.”
This simply means that there is no universal common descent. Therefore, both models have very distinct and unique predictions. What are the types of genetic requirements that would take a single-celled ancestor billions of years ago into all the lifeforms we see today? The types of changes and requirements for large-scale evolution are opposite of the types of changes necessary for biblical creation. Ancestry is fundamentally a genetics question. Darwin knew nothing about genetics. This was not his fault since genetics was not a field back in his day. Darwin proposed evolution without knowing anything about genetics. There was no genetics to hold him back from suggesting that banana plants and birds are related through common ancestry. Darwin was just a product of the knowledge of his day. Today, there is no excuse.
Does the theory of evolution have real empirical scientific evidence backing it up? In my books, I have examined all the various lines of evidence for evolution and have demonstrated how to sufficiently refute them. My goal is not to just refute evolution and universal common descent; but to also reveal why the biblical model of ancestry and origins is the far better explanation! Modern scientific data confirms biblical creation! It confirms a literal Adam and Eve. If you have read my previous books, and if you have made it this far into the book, you have seen much of this evidence presented already. For those who are new to creation and evolution, you will find this evidence fascinating. Some may find it overwhelming and others may wonder why they have never heard of all this evidence before.
Evolutionists will say mutations are the driving mechanism behind evolutionary change. These genetic mistakes took a simple organism into a complex organism. Any change to the nucleotide sequences is the common definition for mutation. A mutation will change the sequence of DNA. This is much like changing a letter on the page of a book. Changing the informational content may lead to a change in the story. And so, an evolutionist will suggest that mutations can lead to some type of increase in complexity. The mutation may have a detectable effect that will make an organism bigger, better, and stronger. To change from a fish to some type of amphibian and an amphibian to a reptile, and eventually into a mammal and a human, would require mutations that are beneficial to the point where there is added novel and meaningful information to the genome. These changes would need to have a positive effect on the organism. The accumulation of these beneficial mutations would have to drive the changes necessary to take a fish to a fisherman.
Evolutionists often look at the phenotype and proclaim what is occurring at the phenotypic level (the physical features) is evidence for evolution, when in fact, the real evidence is what happens on the genotype level. Let us explore a few examples when it comes to looking to the genotype as compared to looking to the phenotype. We need to look under the hood to see what is really going on. Malaria resistance in humans is often pointed to as evidence of a truly beneficial mutation. The disease sickle cell anemia results in an immunity to Malaria. Is this the type of change necessary for large-scale evolution? This benefit is due to a broken cell and a loss of information. This is not beneficial because this change was at the expense of a pre-existing protein! To be more specific, people who have this damaging mutation that causes sickle cell anemia have a broken gene. This broken gene makes a broken protein. This broken hemoglobin protein then causes deformed red blood cells and these deformed red blood cells will clot. This would lead to inadequate oxygen supply and as a result, causes anemia. It turns out that two doses of this gene will cause one to die prematurely. This is deleterious and destructive and clearly not an improvement. Why would anybody say this is beneficial? For people who have this broken gene and broken protein, the red blood cells are defective to the point where malaria cannot thrive in the person with this condition. Therefore, they are more resistant to malaria. The sickness associated with the disease results in a resistance to the malaria parasite. This is reductive and a clear loss of net information. All examples of so-called beneficial mutations have been shown to either be a loss of information (degradative), or general organismal adaptation (epigenetic). Oftentimes a mutation will inactivate a pre-existing regulatory system! This is not taking things forward. What about antibiotic resistance? We have heard the example of a “beneficial” mutation repeatedly. We have a population of bacteria and in the presence of an antibiotic, there may be a small portion of that population that is resistant. This can be due to the moving of genes around (horizontal gene transfer) or the result of mutations that cause loss of enzyme activity, and a loss of regulatory proteins. As you should be able to see by now, there is a trend. We should be seeing that these changes are all the result of reduction! There is no real significant benefit to be had. Adaptation yes. Forward evolution no! Breaking down pre-existing systems for adaptive purposes is not going to take a single-celled ancestor into a whale over billions of years.
Proponents of evolution often ask what are the limits exactly? I think it should be obvious by now that the limit has to do with the type of change observed. How can anybody expect any type of real evolutionary advancement when nearly all changes observed are reductive and involve the breaking down of pre-existing functional systems? Is there any real question as to whether this is all sustainable? Where did all this pre-existing information and these pre-existing systems come from for them to be broken down in the first place? Organisms will lose information and break pre-existing systems for adaptive purposes. I have demonstrated this repeatedly. It is uncontested. This is all simply short-term adaptation, and oftentimes long-term degeneration. Even the famous Lenski experiment (a long-term experiment on bacteria) has demonstrated nothing more than reductive evolution. We touched on this in the introduction chapter. Lenski attempted to identify mechanisms in the genome that could provide evidence for large-scale evolution. Numerous proponents of evolution have jumped all over the famous Lenski experiment to show biblical creationists why we are all wrong about universal common ancestry. Richard Dawkins is one of these proponents. But what is really going on in the famous Lenski experiment? Is this truly evidence for evolution that cannot be denied? What they are finding is that most of the time the bacteria are knocking out pre-existing genes and pre-existing functional systems for the purposes of short-term adaptation. Remember the trend? This is all genetic degeneration. Nothing new has been observed to be added to the genome that could ever possibly lead to a novel phenotype. Where did these genes come from? Evolutionists constantly offer these types of examples in a desperate attempt to demonstrate evolutionary philosophy. Let us pretend we wanted to make the dining room in our homes larger and we decided to do this by knocking out the interior wall. Would we then say that we built the house by knocking down walls? No of course not! According to the common examples of beneficial mutations that evolutionists provide, it appears that this is exactly how an evolutionist would say the house itself was built! Evolutionists are looking at the phenotype when they need to look at the genotype! We gained a bigger room by knocking out a pre-existing wall. But this is not how we built the wall and the house! We can get some genuinely nice changes by knocking out genes and functional systems, but this is all a downhill process. The biblical creation model suggests that we started at the top and we have been going down ever since. This is all we have ever observed. Dr. Robert Carter goes over a few of these examples of degradation that proponents of evolution claim are the types of changes necessary for large-scale evolution:
“There are abundant examples in the evolutionary literature where genetic degradation has been used in an attempt to show an increase in information over time. Examples include sickle cell anemia (which confers a resistance to the malaria parasite by producing deformed hemoglobin molecules),40 aerobic citrate digestion by bacteria (which involves the loss of control of the normal anaerobic citrate digestion),41 and nylon digestion by bacteria (which involves a loss of substrate specificity in one enzyme contained on an extra-chromosomal plasmid).42 Since they all involve decay of prior information, none of these examples are satisfactory evidence for an increase in biological complexity over time.” Please see: Carter, R., Can mutations create new information? J. of Creation 25(2):92–98, August 2011.
As you can see, there is a trend that cannot be emphasized enough. When evolutionists propose beneficial mutations to change a single celled organism to a whale over billions of years of incremental changes, they are more than likely citing examples of degradation and loss of information or loss of function.
Natural selection is a fine-tuning mechanism that keeps biological organisms as resilient as they can be. Sadly, for champions of evolution, natural selection is utterly useless when it comes to effectively neutral (nearly neutral) mutations. These are the types of mutations natural selection cannot see. The types of mutations have only very subtle impacts on the genotypes of living organisms. Proponents of evolution struggle to explain the distinction between neutral (mutations that have zero effect on genotype and phenotype) mutations and effectively neutral mutations. They mistakenly think that most mutations have absolutely no effect on genotype. Now it is true that many mutations may be neutral to the perspective of the organism’s phenotype, but nearly all mutations must have some effect on the organism’s genotype. These nearly neutral mutations are what gradually degrade the information systems of living organisms. Since they are invisible to selection, they build up over time with only marginally deleterious effects. The fact that most mutations are damaging means that the claimed operating force of evolution (evolutionists claim that mutations are the definitive source for all genetic variation) cannot build genomes. Genetic mistakes cannot take a single-celled like ancestor into a whale over billions of years. Not only are the majority of mutations deleterious and harmful to living systems, the so-called best examples of beneficial mutations are reductive. This means that not even beneficial mutations can rescue evolution from the continuous deterioration of genetic information by low-impact and slightly deleterious mutations. Even the evolutionist would be forced to admit that there is a better chance of a mutation doing something harmful than something constructive. It is much easier to break a system than to make one better. Mutations are essentially alterations to functional systems. Mutations are akin to typographical errors in a text. Spelling mistakes are far more likely to ruin the message rather than improving the message.
Critics of biblical creation and genetic entropy have attempted several rescue devices. They have proposed that rare beneficial mutations can counterbalance the damage. Of course, this damage is due to the continuous accumulation of deleterious mutations over time. As we know, the best beneficial mutations are reductive and are not taking things forward. We went over this earlier in some detail. We also know that beneficial mutations are roughly one in a million. We have learned this from the Lenski experiment. Therefore, the rare beneficial mutation, even if hugely beneficial, cannot counterbalance the accumulating genetic load. Even if there is a beneficial mutation that increases fitness, it would only be increasing fitness in a very narrow sense. Since the best definition of fitness is total functionality, most beneficial mutations cannot resolve the issue of net gain versus net loss. This means that although there may be adaptive gains, the gain is severely outweighed by all the incredible loss. For example, Lenski’s bacterial populations have been observed to adapt to their environment. There have been some genuinely interesting adaptations observed. But overall, the bacterial populations have shrunk in functional genome size. They have adapted in a narrow sense, but they are losing genes short term for adaptive purposes. This is all long-term degeneration. Bacteria are known to lose genes for short term adaptation. Breaking down a functional system can oftentimes be beneficial, but this in no way is going to take a fish-to-fisherman. On page 22 of “Universal or Common Ancestry? The Biblical Model of Origins Made Easy”, I point out the importance of natural selection in removing deleterious mutations if living organisms have any chance at countering genome-wide degradation:
“Genesis is backed up by science. The question the opponents of creation must ask themselves is: what type of selection could eradicate so many mutations that are entering into the human population? Selection ought to somehow thwart the accumulation of huge numbers of minor mutations. If there is no type of selection that can remove so many deleterious mutations entering the human population and the populations of all living organisms, the species will rapidly decline. Higher genomes will eventually degenerate to the point of extinction.”
Advocates of evolution have resorted to arguing against a strawman. They have proposed that biblical creationists ignore the important role of natural selection. This reveals a strong misunderstanding and misrepresentation of what genetic entropy really means. Nobody argues against natural selection. And nobody argues against mutations and adaptation. These are all basics. We can only begin to address the real challenges of genetic degeneration once we acknowledge the roles that mutations, natural selection, and adaptation play in functional biological systems. Of course, natural selection occurs. I have said it numerous times that selection keeps species as strong as they can be. Natural selection comes down to reproduction. Who is reproducing more? And who is passing on their genes the most? A better term for natural selection would be differential reproduction. Natural selection can even amplify the best possible beneficial mutations. This can lead to adaptive episodes. These are much more rare than deleterious mutations. Natural selection can even remove the most damaging of mutations. This is because these types of detrimental mutations can be seen by selection. It is the effectively neutral mutations that are the biggest problem when it comes to the degeneration of biological systems. These are the types of mutations that have exceedingly small effects on fitness that they are invisible to selection. How can these types of mutations be stopped if selection cannot see them? Once again, we can see why the apologists of evolution have failed to address the key issue. This is all a lot like rust on a car. The rust builds up unnoticeably until it becomes too late. We can take our cars for regular servicing. We can change the brakes. We can change the oil. We can do everything in our power to ensure the longevity of our automobiles but eventually the car will rust out.
Another rescue device constantly repeated by the evolutionist is that there is a trade off. Beneficial mutations, as we know, are context dependent. A mutation that is beneficial may be positive in one environment and negative in another. The bigger question to ask is whether this trade off is sustainable? What we know about the rarity of beneficial mutations means that this trade off is not sustainable. While so many mutations are pouring into our genomes generation after generation, a single beneficial mutation may pop up that proves to be adaptive to its host, but it will not be great enough to stop that which has been accumulating relentlessly from one generation to the next. Although a few nucleotide sites may be improving, there are far too many sites being degraded. All this will do is result in a shrinking functional genome size. If I wanted to get better gas mileage in my car for only a short period of time, I could start tearing things off of the car. I could remove the doors. I could remove the seats. I could do everything in my power to remove as much weight from the car as possible. Yes, this will temporarily improve gas mileage, but it would be due to degradation and damage. Once again, it is clear, the trade off is not sustainable. Evolutionists need to stop using this rescue device as it is just as bad as the rest of them. Proponents of evolution would have us believe that you can throw out tons of information from a multitude of nucleotide sites while making up for all the loss by simply invoking one single beneficial point mutation. This is not reality. This is not science. All population geneticists would agree that man is presently degenerating. Is there anyone out there that would suggest man is getting better? Is man improving? Of course not!
More and more mutation related diseases enter the database every single year. Mutations are destroying us. Mutations are the destroyer and not the creator. Both evolutionists and biblical creationists would agree that natural selection happens. As I stated earlier, natural selection will only remove the worst deleterious and detrimental mutations. And it will only amplify the absolute best beneficial mutations. What do these facts indicate? The accumulating damage is largely invisible and undetectable. Not even the rare beneficial duplication can offset the accumulating damage!
I have debated Dr. Stefan Frello (Master of Science in Mathematics and Molecular Biology, and a PhD in Botany) on the popular debate channel Modern Day Debate. One of his main criticisms against the reality of genetic entropy was bacteria. Dr. Stefan Frello is not the only critic that attempts to use the existence of bacteria to refute genetic entropy. As we touched on earlier, even bacteria are subject to genetic degeneration. We have seen this in the Lenski experiment. But do we really expect bacteria to be the first organisms to go extinct due to genetic entropy? Dr. Robert Carter addresses this objection very thoroughly in his article “Genetic entropy and simple organisms: If genetic entropy is true, why do bacteria still exist?” He sums it up perfectly in the conclusion of this article. If genetic entropy is true, why do we still have bacteria?
“It is sufficient to say, however, that bacteria, of all the life forms on Earth, are the best candidates for surviving the effects of GE over the long term. Their simpler genomes, high population sizes, short generation times, and lower overall mutation rates combine to make them the most resistant to extinction.” See: Carter, R., Genetic entropy and simple organisms: If genetic entropy is true, why do bacteria still exist? 25 October 2012.
It should be obvious that bacteria would not be the first biological organism to go extinct due to genetic entropy. As you should be able to see, there are numerous reasons why bacteria and other simple organisms should be the most resistant to genome degradation and eventual extinction. Of course, as I iterated earlier, this does not mean bacteria are excluded from the negative effects of mutations and genetic entropy. Dr. John Sanford himself has a few things to say about the Lenski experiment in his article “Critic ignores reality of Genetic Entropy: The author of a landmark book on genomic decay responds to unsustainable criticisms.”
“Scott makes a big deal about Lenski’s long-term bacterial experiments, but these actually support my thesis. Although a very trivial adaptation happened (optimal growth on a given medium), his bacteria shrank in genome size (the functional genome decreased). Evidently the more rapid growth was largely accomplished through genetic degeneration. Many useful genes not essential in that artificial environment were apparently lost. When transferred to a natural environment, those highly degenerated bacteria would essentially be dead-on-arrival.” See: Sanford, J., Critic ignores reality of Genetic Entropy: The author of a landmark book on genomic decay responds to unsustainable criticisms. 7 March 2013.
There are two specific rescue mechanisms that have been invoked to halt genome degradation. Both mechanisms have been thoroughly falsified. The first mechanism is called synergistic epistasis. What is synergistic epistasis? Basically, as deleterious mutations accumulate, they will also amplify each other’s deleterious effects.
It is then claimed that the deleterious effects should become so intense and noticeable that selection is now able to see these effects. This means that the amplified effects of these deleterious mutations would result in improved selection. It turns out that by introducing synergistic epistasis you are only making the problem worse. The second mechanism invoked is called mutation count mechanism.
This artificially contrived mechanism would say that as mutations accumulate, mother nature is somehow capable of counting the number of mutations per person. Eventually, mother nature will select the higher number individuals. This is another way proponents of evolution have attempted to improve selection. Simulations have also disproven this. Dr. John Sanford has pointed out that the mutation count mechanism is not even biologically real since this model does not even remotely resemble reality. He has also demonstrated that even if all mutations are made equal in effect, this mechanism still fails whenever realistic probability selection is operational.
Extensive numerical simulations have falsified both these rescue mechanisms. As a matter of fact, even when the most generous of settings is employed, the mutation count mechanism fails to halt deleterious mutation accumulation. Please see: “Wesley H. Brewer, et al., “Using numerical simulation to test the ‘mutation-count’ hypothesis,” in Biological Information: New Perspectives, ed. Robert J. Marks III, et al. (Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific Publishing, 2013), 298-311.” Also see: “John Baumgardner, et al., “Can synergistic epistasis halt mutation accumulation? Results from numerical simulation,” in Biological Information: New Perspectives, ed. Robert J. Marks III, et al. (Hackensack, NJ: World Scientific Publishing, 2013), 312-337.”
On Page 23 of “Universal or Separate Ancestry? The Biblical Model of Origins Made Easy”, I make it evident that the more functional our genome is, the more of a problem genetic degeneration becomes:
“The problem is even worse for the evolutionist since we now know that there is strong evidence that the human genome is near-fully functional. This means the human species will degenerate even faster than ever expected. A near-fully functional genome is not only strong confirmation of the created genetic diversity hypothesis but also strong evidence for the rapid deterioration of living organisms as expected, given the fall in Genesis. The next time a critic complains about the functionality of our genome and wants to assert that the vast majority of our genome is junk (junk DNA has been proven wrong), tell them that even if the human genome were only 10% functional, that still means 10 new mutations per person per generation are accumulating that are deleterious and need to be removed by natural selection. Even a genome that is only 10% functional is fatal to evolutionary theory!”
It should be clear by now. Mutations are not going to build a genome. What we observe in mutations is exactly what a biblical creationist would expect. We live in a fallen world and mutations are an aspect of this fallen world. As Christians, we have a hope and that hope is in Christ.