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Copyright 1995 by the CREATION RESEARCH SOCIETY (CRS), Inc.
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GENETICS: ENEMY OF EVOLUTION
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
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.
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