Have you ever seen a picture of a snake with two heads, or a cat with four ears, or a calf with five legs? What would you think if you did see any of these things? A bit freaky? Possibly. Rare and unusual? Definitely!
In the last article we looked at natural selection, at how the environment can influence the genetic information passed on to the next generation. Evolutionists see this process of natural selection as one of the main ways by which evolution acts. However, if a simple organism is to evolve into one which is more complex, then new genetic information is necessary. This is where evolutionists bring mutations into the discussion (mutations are the changes in the genes which, they claim, would introduce this new information). The evolutionists argue that simple organisms develop and become more complex by a combination of natural selection and mutations. They try to explain how mutations bring about the new features of the more complex organism. The unusual animal specimens mentioned at the start of this article are all examples of mutations.
So, for instance, someone who believes in evolution might try to explain how wings came to exist. Imagine a tree dwelling animal with four limbs, he might say, which jumps from branch to branch. These animals breed and produce offspring, but one of their offspring has a random mutation causing webbing between the “fingers” of its upper limbs. Natural selection favours this mutation because the webbing gives the animal the advantage of increased air resistance when jumping from tree to tree. As a result the animal catches more food and is therefore stronger and fitter, breeds more and produces more offspring, which also have webbed forelimbs. Then another “random” mutation occurs which gives one of these “webbed” creatures the additional feature of longer forelimbs. Natural selection favours this new feature because the longer, webbed forelimbs enable the creature to reach further, providing more air resistance to reduce fatal falls and “so on by insensibly graded steps until, hundreds of generations later, we arrive at full wings”.
The quote is from Richard Dawkins, a Professor at Oxford University who aggressively promotes evolution at every opportunity. There is no scientific evidence for these “insensibly graded steps”; so this explanation of how wings were formed would have to be accepted on the basis of faith.
Mutations result in a loss or downgrade of genetic information. The effects produced by mutations can be negative, neutral or positive, depending on the circumstances. Most mutations have a negative outcome, as in albinism, sickle-cell anaemia, cystic fibrosis, and many other medical conditions.
An example of a neutral mutation – a mutation which is neither an advantage or a disadvantage for the organism, might be the calf’s fifth leg. It is no way an advantage to the calf – it is a useless extra limb. Does it involve new genetic information? No, it involves only an extra copy of information which was already there.
The case of the wingless beetle on windy islands is an example which evolutionists often give of a positive mutation when they try to show that mutations result in evolution. The beetles cannot fly and therefore are not swept out to sea by the wind. This is an advantage to the beetle on the windy island, so the wingless beetle thrives there. However, the wingless beetle would not necessarily have an advantage over its winged counterparts somewhere else, if the beetle had to fly to escape from its enemies or to find other food sources. Is there new genetic information? No, the beetle no longer has the genetic information to form wings, so there is actually a loss of information. This is certainly not a step forward in what is seen as the evolutionary ladder. The fact that occasionally there is some positive benefit from a mutation does not mean that there is new genetic information.
Evolutionists believe that, occasionally, a “good” mutation will occur, adding new genetic information to the organism with the mutation, and that natural selection will ensure this “new genetic information” passes on to the next generation. This creature’s offspring will also have the mutation and will progress along the evolutionary pathway with further random mutations until a new species is eventually formed with new and more complex genetic information. Evolutionists cannot provide any evidence that small random mutations gradually build on each other to form new complex organs. There is plenty of speculation about it but, as we know, speculation is not scientific evidence. After producing several well-written pages of theories about mutations, Richard Dawkins wrote, “This is the kind of speculation in which we should indulge only as a last resort”. But it is their only resort!
Mutations change genetic information by deleting or corrupting it. They do not add new genetic information. Dr Carl Wieland, a writer for the Answers in Genesis organisation, has written many books and articles about creation; he states, “Particles-to-people evolution requires so many informationincreasing mutations, that it should be easy to find such mutations happening today, and we have yet to observe even one”.
Sin entered God’s perfect creation through Adam and we see and feel the consequences of it every day. Mutations are one of these consequences. We cannot rid ourselves of the effects of sin in the world around us, but there is a remedy for us as individuals. We should pray along with David: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
S M Campbell
[This is the fifth in the series entitled “How Did It All Begin?”, and was first published in The Young People’s Magazine in March 2006. The previous article in the series, “The Peppered Moth and Natural Selection”, can be found here.]