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
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 recombination.
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 possible.
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
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 model.
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
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
Lindsley, Dan L., and E.
H. Grell. 1967. _Genetic Variations of Drosophila Melanogaster_, Carnegie
Institution of Washington Pub. No. 627.