Mutations—A Basis for Evolution?
1, 2. What mechanism is said to be a basis for evolution?
THERE is another difficulty facing the theory of evolution. Just how is it supposed to have happened? What is a basic mechanism that is presumed to have enabled one type of living thing to evolve into another type? Evolutionists say that various changes inside the nucleus of the cell play their part. And foremost among these are the “accidental” changes known as mutations. It is believed that the particular parts involved in these mutational changes are the genes and chromosomes in sex cells, since mutations in them can be passed along to one’s descendants.
2 “Mutations . . . are the basis of evolution,” states The World Book Encyclopedia.1 Similarly, paleontologist Steven Stanley called mutations “the raw materials” for evolution.2 And geneticist Peo Koller declared that mutations “are necessary for evolutionary progress.”3
3. What type of mutations would be required for evolution?
3 However, it is not just any kind of mutation that evolution requires. Robert Jastrow pointed to the need for “a slow accumulation of favorable mutations.”4 And Carl Sagan added: “Mutations—sudden changes in heredity—breed true. They provide the raw material of evolution. The environment selects those few mutations that enhance survival, resulting in a series of slow transformations of one lifeform into another, the origin of new species.”5
4. What difficulty arises with the claim that mutations may be involved in rapid evolutionary changes?
4 It also has been said that mutations may be a key to the rapid change called for by the “punctuated equilibrium” theory. Writing in Science Digest, John Gliedman stated: “Evolutionary revisionists believe mutations in key regulatory genes may be just the genetic jackhammers their quantum-leap theory requires.” However, British zoologist Colin Patterson observed: “Speculation is free. We know nothing about these regulatory master genes.”6 But aside from such speculations, it is generally accepted that the mutations supposedly involved in evolution are small accidental changes that accumulate over a long period of time.
5. How do mutations originate?
5 How do mutations originate? It is thought that most of them occur in the normal process of cell reproduction. But experiments have shown that they also can be caused by external agents such as radiation and chemicals. And how often do they happen? The reproduction of genetic material in the cell is remarkably consistent. Relatively speaking, considering the number of cells that divide in a living thing, mutations do not occur very often. As the Encyclopedia Americana commented, the reproducing “of the DNA chains composing a gene is remarkably accurate. Misprints or miscopying are infrequent accidents.”7
Are They Helpful or Harmful?
6, 7. What proportion of mutations are harmful rather than beneficial?
6 If beneficial mutations are a basis of evolution, what proportion of them are beneficial? There is overwhelming agreement on this point among evolutionists. For example, Carl Sagan declares: “Most of them are harmful or lethal.”8 Peo Koller states: “The greatest proportion of mutations are deleterious to the individual who carries the mutated gene. It was found in experiments that, for every successful or useful mutation, there are many thousands which are harmful.”9
7 Excluding any “neutral” mutations, then, harmful ones outnumber those that are supposedly beneficial by thousands to one. “Such results are to be expected of accidental changes occurring in any complicated organization,” states the Encyclopædia Britannica.10 That is why mutations are said to be responsible for hundreds of diseases that are genetically determined.11
8. How do actual results verify an encyclopedia’s observation?
8 Because of the harmful nature of mutations, the Encyclopedia Americana acknowledged: “The fact that most mutations are damaging to the organism seems hard to reconcile with the view that mutation is the source of raw materials for evolution. Indeed, mutants illustrated in biology textbooks are a collection of freaks and monstrosities and mutation seems to be a destructive rather than a constructive process.”12 When mutated insects were placed in competition with normal ones, the result was always the same. As G. Ledyard Stebbins observed: “After a greater or lesser number of generations the mutants are eliminated.”13 They could not compete because they were not improved but were degenerate and at a disadvantage.
9, 10. Why is it an unwarranted assumption that mutations account for evolution?
9 In his book The Wellsprings of Life, science writer Isaac Asimov admitted: “Most mutations are for the worse.” However, he then asserted: “In the long run, to be sure, mutations make the course of evolution move onward and upward.”14 But do they? Would any process that resulted in harm more than 999 times out of 1,000 be considered beneficial? If you wanted a house built, would you hire a builder who, for every correct piece of work, turned out thousands that were defective? If a driver of an automobile made thousands of bad decisions for every good one when driving, would you want to ride with him? If a surgeon made thousands of wrong moves for every right one when operating, would you want him to operate on you?
10 Geneticist Dobzhansky once said: “An accident, a random change, in any delicate mechanism can hardly be expected to improve it. Poking a stick into the machinery of one’s watch or one’s radio set will seldom make it work better.”15 Thus, ask yourself: Does it seem reasonable that all the amazingly complex cells, organs, limbs and processes that exist in living things were built up by a procedure that tears down?
Do Mutations Produce Anything New?
11-13. Do mutations ever produce anything new?
11 Even if all mutations were beneficial, could they produce anything new? No, they could not. A mutation could only result in a variation of a trait that is already there. It provides variety, but never anything new.
12 The World Book Encyclopedia gives an example of what might happen with a beneficial mutation: “A plant in a dry area might have a mutant gene that causes it to grow larger and stronger roots. The plant would have a better chance of survival than others of its species because its roots could absorb more water.”16 But has anything new appeared? No, it is still the same plant. It is not evolving into something else.
13 Mutations may change the color or texture of a person’s hair. But the hair will always be hair. It will never turn into feathers. A person’s hand may be changed by mutations. It may have fingers that are abnormal. At times there may even be a hand with six fingers or with some other malformation. But it is always a hand. It never changes into something else. Nothing new is coming into existence, nor can it ever.
The Fruit Fly Experiments
14, 15. What have decades of experiments on fruit flies revealed?
14 Few mutation experiments can equal the extensive ones conducted on the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Since the early 1900’s, scientists have exposed millions of these flies to X rays. This increased the frequency of mutations to more than a hundred times what was normal.
15 After all those decades, what did the experiments show? Dobzhansky revealed one result: “The clear-cut mutants of Drosophila, with which so much of the classical research in genetics was done, are almost without exception inferior to wild-type flies in viability, fertility, longevity.”17 Another result was that the mutations never produced anything new. The fruit flies had malformed wings, legs and bodies, and other distortions, but they always remained fruit flies. And when mutated flies were mated with each other, it was found that after a number of generations, some normal fruit flies began to hatch. If left in their natural state, these normal flies would eventually have been the survivors over the weaker mutants, preserving the fruit fly in the form in which it had originally existed.
16. How does the hereditary code help to preserve organisms?
16 The hereditary code, the DNA, has a remarkable ability to repair genetic damage to itself. This helps to preserve the kind of organism it is coded for. Scientific American relates how “the life of every organism and its continuity from generation to generation” are preserved “by enzymes that continually repair” genetic damage. The journal states: “In particular, significant damage to DNA molecules can induce an emergency response in which increased quantities of the repair enzymes are synthesized.”18
17. Why was Goldschmidt disappointed in mutation experiments?
17 Thus, in the book Darwin Retried the author relates the following about the respected geneticist, the late Richard Goldschmidt: “After observing mutations in fruit flies for many years, Goldschmidt fell into despair. The changes, he lamented, were so hopelessly micro [small] that if a thousand mutations were combined in one specimen, there would still be no new species.”19
The Peppered Moth
18, 19. What claim is made for the peppered moth, and why?
18 Often in evolutionary literature England’s peppered moth is referred to as a modern example of evolution in progress. The International Wildlife Encyclopedia stated: “This is the most striking evolutionary change ever to have been witnessed by man.”20 After observing that Darwin was plagued by his inability to demonstrate the evolution of even one species, Jastrow, in his book Red Giants and White Dwarfs, added: “Had he known it, an example was at hand which would have provided him with the proof he needed. The case was an exceedingly rare one.”21 The case was, of course, the peppered moth.
19 Just what happened to the peppered moth? At first, the lighter form of this moth was more common than the darker form. This lighter type blended well into the lighter-colored trunks of trees and so was more protected from birds. But then, because of years of pollution from industrial areas, tree trunks became darkened. Now the moths’ lighter color worked against them, as birds could pick them out faster and eat them. Consequently the darker variety of peppered moth, which is said to be a mutant, survived better because it was difficult for birds to see them against the soot-darkened trees. The darker variety rapidly became the dominant type.
20. How did an English medical journal explain that the peppered moth was not evolving?
20 But was the peppered moth evolving into some other type of insect? No, it was still exactly the same peppered moth, merely having a different coloration. Hence, the English medical journal On Call referred to using this example to try to prove evolution as “notorious.” It declared: “This is an excellent demonstration of the function of camouflage, but, since it begins and ends with moths and no new species is formed, it is quite irrelevant as evidence for evolution.”22
21. What can be said about the claimed ability of germs to grow resistant to antibiotics?
21 The inaccurate claim that the peppered moth is evolving is similar to several other examples. For instance, since some germs have proved resistant to antibiotics, it is claimed that evolution is taking place. But the hardier germs are still the same type, not evolving into anything else. And it is even acknowledged that the change may have been due, not to mutations, but to the fact that some germs were immune to begin with. When the others were killed off by drugs, the immune ones multiplied and became dominant. As Evolution From Space says: “We doubt, however, that anything more is involved in these cases than the selection of already existing genes.”23
22. Does the fact that some insects prove immune to poisons mean that they are evolving?
22 The same process may also have been the case with some insects being immune to poisons used against them. Either the poisons killed those insects on which they were used, or they were ineffective. Those killed could not develop a resistance, since they were dead. The survival of others could mean that they had been immune at the start. Such immunity is a genetic factor that appears in some insects but not in others. In any event, the insects remained of the same kind. They were not evolving into something else.
“According to Their Kinds”
23. What Genesis standard has been confirmed also by mutations?
23 The message once again confirmed by mutations is the formula of Genesis chapter 1: Living things reproduce only “according to their kinds.” The reason is that the genetic code stops a plant or an animal from moving too far from the average. There can be great variety (as can be seen, for example, among humans, cats or dogs) but not so much that one living thing could change into another. Every experiment ever conducted with mutations proves this. Also proved is the law of biogenesis, that life comes only from preexisting life, and that the parent organism and its offspring are of the same “kind.”
24. How have breeding experiments shown that living things reproduce only “according to their kinds”?
24 Breeding experiments also confirm this. Scientists have tried to keep changing various animals and plants indefinitely by crossbreeding. They wanted to see if, in time, they could develop new forms of life. With what result? On Call reports: “Breeders usually find that after a few generations, an optimum is reached beyond which further improvement is impossible, and there has been no new species formed . . . Breeding procedures, therefore, would seem to refute, rather than support evolution.”24
25, 26. What do scientific publications say about the limits of reproduction in living things?
25 Much the same observation is made in Science magazine: “Species do indeed have a capacity to undergo minor modifications in their physical and other characteristics, but this is limited and with a longer perspective it is reflected in an oscillation about a mean [average].”25 So, then, what is inherited by living things is not the possibility of continued change but instead (1) stability and (2) limited ranges of variation.
26 Thus, the book Molecules to Living Cells states: “The cells from a carrot or from the liver of a mouse consistently retain their respective tissue and organism identities after countless cycles of reproduction.”26 And Symbiosis in Cell Evolution says: “All life . . . reproduces with incredible fidelity.”27 Scientific American also observes: “Living things are enormously diverse in form, but form is remarkably constant within any given line of descent: pigs remain pigs and oak trees remain oak trees generation after generation.”28 And a science writer commented: “Rose bushes always blossom into roses, never into camellias. And goats give birth to kids, never to lambs.” He concluded that mutations “cannot account for overall evolution—why there are fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals.”29
27. What did Darwin misinterpret about finches in the Galápagos Islands?
27 The matter of variation within a kind explains something that influenced Darwin’s original thinking about evolution. When he was on the Galápagos Islands he observed a type of bird called a finch. These birds were the same type as their parent kind on the South American continent, from where they apparently had migrated. But there were curious differences, such as in the shape of their beaks. Darwin interpreted this as evolution in progress. But actually it was nothing more than another example of variety within a kind, allowed for by a creature’s genetic makeup. The finches were still finches. They were not turning into something else, and they never would.
28. How can it be said, then, that scientific fact is in full harmony with the Genesis rule, “according to their kinds”?
28 Thus, what Genesis says is in full harmony with scientific fact. When you plant seeds, they produce only “according to their kinds,” so you can plant a garden with confidence in the dependability of that law. When cats give birth, their offspring are always cats. When humans become parents, their children are always humans. There is variation in color, size and shape, but always within the limits of the kind. Have you ever personally seen a case that was otherwise? Neither has anyone else.
Not a Basis for Evolution
29. What did a French biologist say about mutations?
29 The conclusion is clear. No amount of accidental genetic change can cause one kind of life to turn into another kind. As French biologist Jean Rostand once said: “No, decidedly, I cannot make myself think that these ‘slips’ of heredity have been able, even with the cooperation of natural selection, even with the advantage of the immense periods of time in which evolution works on life, to build the entire world, with its structural prodigality and refinements, its astounding ‘adaptations.’”30
30. What comment did a geneticist make about mutations?
30 Similarly, geneticist C. H. Waddington stated regarding the belief in mutations: “This is really the theory that if you start with any fourteen lines of coherent English and change it one letter at a time, keeping only those things that still make sense, you will eventually finish up with one of the sonnets of Shakespeare. . . . it strikes me as a lunatic sort of logic, and I think we should be able to do better.”31
31. What did a scientist call the belief that mutations are the raw material for evolution?
31 The truth is as Professor John Moore declared: “Upon rigorous examination and analysis, any dogmatic assertion . . . that gene mutations are the raw material for any evolutionary process involving natural selection is an utterance of a myth.”32
[Blurb on page 99]
“Mutations . . . are the basis of evolution”
[Blurb on page 100]
Mutations are likened to “accidents” in the genetic machinery. But accidents cause harm, not good
[Blurb on page 101]
“Mutation seems to be a destructive rather than a constructive process”
[Blurb on page 105]
“If a thousand mutations were combined in one specimen, there would still be no new species”
[Blurb on page 107]
“It is quite irrelevant as evidence for evolution”
[Blurb on page 107]
The message confirmed by mutations is this: Living things reproduce only “according to their kinds”
[Blurb on page 108]
“Breeding procedures . . . would seem to refute, rather than support evolution”
[Blurb on page 109]
“Pigs remain pigs and oak trees remain oak trees generation after generation”
[Blurb on page 110]
Mutations “cannot account for overall evolution”
[Blurb on page 110]
“It strikes me as a lunatic sort of logic, and I think we should be able to do better”
[Box/Picture on page 112, 113]
Which Fits the Facts?
After reading the previous chapters, it is appropriate to ask: Which fits the facts, evolution or creation? The columns below show the evolution model, the creation model and the facts as found in the real world.
Predictions of Predictions of Facts as Found in
Evolution Model Creation Model the Real World
Life evolved from Life comes only (1) Life comes only
nonlife by chance from previous life; from previous life;
chemical evolution originally created (2) no way to form
(spontaneous by an intelligent complex genetic code
generation) Creator by chance
Fossils should show: Fossils should show: Fossils show:
(1) simple life (1) complex forms (1) sudden appearance
forms originating suddenly appearing of complex life in
gradually; in great variety; great variety;
(2) transitional (2) gaps separating (2) each new kind
forms linking major kinds; no separate from
previous ones linking forms previous kinds;
no linking forms
New kinds arising No new kinds No new kinds
gradually; gradually appearing; gradually appearing,
beginnings of no incomplete bones although many
incomplete bones or organs, but all varieties; no
and organs in parts completely incompletely formed
various transitional formed bones or organs
Mutations: net Mutations harmful to Small mutations
result beneficial; complex life; do harmful, large ones
generate new not result in lethal; never result
features anything new in anything new
Origin of Civilization Civilization
civilization contemporaneous with appears with man;
gradual, arising out man; complex to any cave dwellers
of crude, brutish begin with were contemporary
beginnings with civilization
Language evolved Language Language
from simple animal contemporaneous with contemporaneous with
sounds into complex man; ancient man; ancient ones
modern languages languages complex often more complex
and complete than modern
Appearance of man Appearance of man Oldest written
millions of years about 6,000 years records date back
ago ago only about 5,000
. . .The Logical Conclusion
When we compare what has been found in the real world to what evolution predicted, and to what creation predicted, is it not apparent which model fits the facts and which one conflicts with them? The evidence from the world of living things around us, and from the fossil record of things that lived long ago, testifies to the same conclusion: Life was created; it did not evolve.
No, life did not get its start in some unknown primeval “soup.” Humans did not get here by way of apelike ancestors. Instead, living things were created in abundance as distinct family types. Each could multiply in great variety within its own “kind,” but could not cross the boundary separating different kinds. That boundary, as can be clearly observed in living things, is enforced by sterility. And the distinction between kinds is protected by each one’s unique genetic machinery.
However, there is much more that testifies to a Creator than just the facts fitting the predictions of the creation model. Consider the amazing designs and complexities that are found on the earth, indeed, throughout the universe. These, too, testify to the existence of a Supreme Intelligence. Just a few of these marvels, from the awesome universe down to the intricate designs in the microscopic world, will now be the focus of our attention in the following several chapters.
[Pictures on page 102]
If a builder turned out thousands of bad pieces of work for every good one, would you hire him?
If a driver made thousands of bad decisions for every good one, would you ride with him?
If a surgeon made thousands of wrong moves for every right one, would you let him operate on you?
[Picture on page 103]
Dobzhansky: “Poking a stick into . . . one’s radio set will seldom make it work better”
[Pictures on page 104]
Experiments with fruit flies produced many malformed mutants, but they always remained fruit flies
Normal fruit fly
[Pictures on page 106]
Change in coloration of the peppered moth is not evolution but merely variety within a basic kind
[Pictures on page 108]
The dog family has many varieties, but dogs always remain dogs
[Pictures on page 109]
There is great variety in the human family, but humans reproduce only ‘after their kind’
[Pictures on page 111]
The finches Darwin observed in the Galápagos always remain finches; so what he observed was variety, not evolution