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Copyright 1995 by the CREATION RESEARCH SOCIETY (CRS), Inc.


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by Lane P. Lester, Ph.D.

Creation Research Society Quarterly 31(4)

Genetics and evolution have been enemies from the beginning of

those two concepts. Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, and

Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, were contemporaries. At

the same time that Darwin was claiming that creatures could change

into other creatures, Mendel was showing that even individual

characteristics remain constant. While Darwin's ideas were based on

erroneous and untested ideas about inheritance, Mendel's

conclusions were based on careful experimentation. Why then did

Mendel's work lie unappreciated for some 35 years? No one really

knows; therefore, anyone is free to speculate. My own speculation

is that Darwin's ideas were immediately adopted because they gave

fallen men a justification for ignoring their Creator, even for

denying His existence. But by the end of the 19th century, other

research had so clearly confirmed the principles discovered by

Mendel that evolutionists had to incorporate these principles into

their theories. They did so, and have continued to do so, on a very

selective basis. Only by ignoring the total implications of modern

genetics has it been possible to maintain the fiction of evolution.

Having said the above, I do not plan to say much more about

evolution. I would prefer to talk about creation and the testimony

of genetics to the power and glory of the Creator. Too long have

creationists concentrated on pointing out the fallacies of

evolution, and spent too little time demonstrating the truth of

creation. Indeed with some justification, the evangelists of

evolution prefer to call us anti-evolutionists rather than

creationists. Dr. William Mayer claims repeatedly that there is no

creation model and that anti-evolutionists merely call attention to

weaknesses in the evolution model. Of course, if there are only two

competing concepts, destroying one is almost as conclusive as

proving the other. But it is probably true that creation will never

receive anything like its proper acceptance until it is fully

developed as a foundation for modern science. Tom Bethell, writing

on economics in "National Review" said, "The discrediting of a

theory, whether in science or economics, must necessarily await the

arrival of an alternative hypothesis. Darwin's theory of natural

selection, for example, exposed in recent years as devoid of

meaning because of its circular nature, survives in practice for

lack of a rival" (Bethell, 1980, p. 1562). I believe that the lack

of a creation-based science has helped evolution maintain its total

ascendancy, even among those who would be philosophically inclined

to reject it.

Fortunately, the wind is shifting. More and more creationist

scientists are concentrating on building the creation model rather

than just tearing down the evolution model. Research is being done

at both secular and Christian colleges and universities that seeks

to rebuild science on a foundation of creation. I say "rebuild"

because modern science was developed primarily by creationists who

knew that a rational God had created a rational universe, and that

rational man could, through observation, experimentation, and

reason, learn much about the creation.

Now let us sample some of the evidence from genetics as it helps us

develop a new biology based on creation rather than evolution. It

may be helpful to arrange this evidence under the four sources of

variation: environment, recombination, mutation, and creation. A

combination of these four sources can explain any and all

differences between any one creature and another.


By environment I mean all of the external factors which influence a

creature during its lifetime. For example, one may have darker skin

than another simply because he is exposed to more sunshine. Or one

may have larger muscles because he exercises more. Or one may have

a greater resistance to disease because he eats right. Now these

environmentally-caused variations may have great importance for the

individuals who possess them. But they have no importance to the

history of life, because these variations die with their owners;

they are not inherited. In the middle 1800's some of the scientists

who had rejected the Creator believed that variations caused by the

environment could be inherited. Charles Darwin accepted this

fallacy, and it no doubt made it easier for him to believe that one

creature could change into another. He thus explained the origin of

the giraffe's long neck through "the inherited effects of the

increased use of parts" (Darwin, 1958, p. 202). In seasons of

limited food supply, giraffes would stretch their necks for the

high leaves and these longer necks would be passed along to the

offspring. One who is studying the living world on the basis of

creation is not tempted to fall into this fallacy because a perfect

creation would already contain perfect variations without the

necessity for new ones.


The second source of variation is recombination. This involves

shuffling the genes and is the reason that children resemble very

closely their parents but are not exactly like either one. The

discovery of the principles of recombination was Gregor Mendel's

great contribution to the science of genetics. Mendel studied seven

pairs of traits in the garden pea. In each of these he showed that

while traits might be hidden for a generation they were never lost,

and when new traits appeared it was because their genetic factors

had been there all along. Recombination makes it possible for there

to be limited variation within the created kinds. But it is limited

because virtually all of the variations are produced by a

reshuffling of the genes that are already there. A few examples

might help us appreciate the limited nature of variation through


Many varieties of chickens have been produced from the wild jungle

fowl, a lot of variation. But no new varieties are being produced,

because all of the genes in the wild jungle fowl have been sorted

out into the existing varieties, limited variation. From the

science of plant breeding we have the example of the sugar beet.

Beginning in 1800, plant breeders sought to increase the sugar

content of the sugar beet. And they were very successful. Over some

75 years of selective breeding it was possible to increase the

sugar content from 6% to 17%. But there the improvement stopped,

and further selection did not increase the sugar content. Why is

that? Simply because all of the genes for sugar production had been

gathered into a single variety and no further increase was


Finally, let us consider an example of recombination provided for

us by Charles Darwin. During his voyage around the world which

began in 1831, Darwin observed many fascinating plants and animals.

But none were more fascinating that those he saw on the Galapagos

Islands. Among these were a group of land birds, the finches. In

this single group we can see wide variation in appearance and in

life-style. Darwin provided what I believe to be an essentially

correct interpretation of how the finches came to be the way they

are. A few individuals were probably blown to the islands from the

South American mainland, and today's finches are descendants of

those pioneers. However, while Darwin saw the finches as an example

of evolution, we can now recognize them merely as the result of

recombination within a single created kind. The pioneer finches

brought with them enough genetic variability to be sorted out into

the varieties we see today.


Now to consider the third source of variation, mutation. Mutations

are mistakes in the genetic copying process. Each living cell has

an intricate molecular machinery designed for the copying of DNA,

the genetic molecule. But as in other copying processes mistakes do

occur, although not very often. Once in every 10,000-100,000 copies

a gene will contain a mistake. The cell also has machinery for

correcting these mistakes, but some mutations still slip through.

What kinds of changes are produced by mutations? Some have no

effect at all. The genetic code has a certain amount of redundancy,

so that some slight changes in the DNA produce no change in the end

result. Other mutations produce so small a change in the end result

that they have no appreciable effect on the creature. But many

mutations have a significant effect on their owners. Based on the

creation model, what kind of effect would we expect from random

mutations, from genetic mistakes? We would expect virtually all of

them to be harmful, to make the creatures that possess them less

successful than before. And this prediction is borne out most

convincingly. Some examples help to illustrate this.

A rather interesting mutation is albinism, found in many plants and

animals. This particular genetic mistake prevents the production of

color. Various harmful side effects are seen in albino animals,

such as impaired eyesight. But in plants albinism is lethal.

Without chlorophyll photosynthesis is impossible, and as soon as

the food from the seed is gone, the seedling dies. For a thorough

study of the effects of mutations "Drosophila melanogaster", the

common fruit fly, is unsurpassed as a source of information.

Geneticists began breeding the fruit fly soon after the turn of the

century, and since 1910 when the first mutation was reported, some

3000 mutations have been identified (Lindsley and Grell, 1967). All

of the mutations are harmful or harmless; none of them produce a

more successful fruit fly--exactly as predicted by the creation


It seems appropriate at this point to take a side trip and consider

the control of mutations. Certainly if mutations were free to

spread through populations of organisms, life would soon disappear.

It is one of the roles of natural selection to prevent the spread

of mutations. We must not allow the fact that circular reasoning is

present in discussions of natural selection to cause us to deny

that it is a real and an important factor in the history of life.

The fact that it was Charles Darwin who called our attention to

natural selection is more a comment on the sorry state of creation

science in the mid-1800's than it is a comment on the validity of

the concept.

Natural selection is no more or less than the label we give to what

now seems to be the obvious fact that some varieties of creatures

are going to be more successful than others, and that they will

contribute more offspring to future generations. Everybody's

favorite example of natural selection is the peppered moth of

England, "Biston betularia". As far as anyone knows, this moth has

always existed in two varieties, speckled and solid black. In

pre-industrial England, many of the tree trunks were light in color

because of the color of the bark or of lichens growing on the bark.

This provided a camouflage for the speckled variety, and the birds

tended to prey more heavily on the black variety. Moth collections

showed a vast preponderance of speckled over black. When the

Industrial Age came to England, coal was one of the primary sources

of energy. Since there was then no Environmental Protection Agency,

the burning of coal put a layer of soot on everything, including

the tree trunks. The trunks were blackened, and the camouflage of

the peppered moth was reversed. Then the black variety was hidden,

and the speckled variety was conspicuous. Soon there were many more

black moths than speckled. This might be considered as the positive

role of natural selection. As populations encounter changing

environments, such as that described above or as the result of

migration into a new area, natural selection increases the

combinations of traits which will make the creature most successful

in its new environment. The negative role of natural selection is

seen in the elimination or minimization of harmful mutations when

they occur. The disadvantage of the mutation prevents its spread

through the population.

Is there no such thing as a beneficial mutation? I'm afraid that I

have to depart from my creationist colleagues that maintain the

impossibility of such an occurrence. A beneficial mutation is

simply one that makes it possible for its possessors to contribute

more offspring to future generations than do those creatures that

lack the mutation. For example, there occurred in Florida in 1914 a

mutation in the tomato which caused a change in its growth pattern,

making the tomatoes much easier to harvest. Because of human

selection for this mutation, it has been spread throughout the

cultivated tomato. The mutation for antibiotic resistance in

bacteria is certainly beneficial for those bacteria whose

environment is swamped with antibiotic. Of course, none of these

types of mutations are relevant to any ideas about one kind of

creature changing into another.

A type of change of a rather more significant nature involves the

decrease or loss of some structure or function. Darwin called

attention to wingless beetles on the island of Madeira. For a

beetle living on a windy island, wings can be a definite

disadvantage. Mutations producing the loss of flight could be

helpful. Similar would be the case of sightless cave fish. Eyes are

quite vulnerable to injury, and a creature that lives in pitch dark

would benefit from mutations that would reduce that vulnerability.

While these mutations produce a drastic and beneficial change, it

is important to notice that they always involve loss and never

gain. One never observes wings or eyes being produced on creatures

on which they have never existed.


And now the fourth and final source of variation: creation. Why is

it a necessary part of the history of life? Simply because the

first three sources of variation are woefully inadequate to account

for the diversity of life we see on earth today. An essential

feature of the creation model is the placement of considerable

genetic variety in each created kind. Only thus can we explain the

possible origin of horses, donkeys, and zebras from the same kind;

of lions, tigers, and leopards from the same kind; of some 118

varieties of the domestic dog, as well as jackals, wolves, and

foxes from the same kind. As each kind obeyed the Creator's command

to be fruitful and multiply, the chance processes of recombination

and the more purposeful process of natural selection caused each

kind to subdivide into the vast array we now see.


Bethell, Tom. 1980. "The Death of Keynes: Supply-side Economics,"

"National Review", December 31, 1980, p. 1562.

Darwin, Charles. 1958. "On the Origin of Species By Means of

Natural Selection", The New American Library.

Lindsley, Dan L., and E. H. Grell. 1967. "Genetic Variations of

Drosophila Melanogaster", Carnegie Institution of Washington Pub.

No. 627.

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Copyright 1995 by the CREATION RESEARCH SOCIETY (CRS), Inc.



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