The Theory of Evolution

did-we-evolve-from-apes

Did we evolve from apes?

The theory of evolution is defined as the theory that all life is descended from a common ancestor by mutation and natural selection. This is sometimes called microbes-to-man evolution because it says that man (and all other life forms) originally came from microbes. The theory of evolution is not something we can observe right now; it is a theory about what happened in the past. This is why many creationists say it is not true science.

‘Evolutionary change’ is another relevant term and is defined as any change which might cause the theory of evolution to take place when extrapolated. This means that a mutation is ‘evolutionary change’ if millions of them can make microbes evolve into man. As already explained in a previous article, the theory of evolution can only happen if there is net gain of new genetic information. Thus, for something to be an evolutionary change, it must increase genetic information – not lose it.

So any change observed today which does not result in a net gain of new information cannot be regarded as evolutionary change. Indeed, there is not a single example of new information arising, let alone a net gain of it (this includes the oft-presented nylonase).

Different Definitions

Many different definitions of ‘evolution’ exist which include ‘change over time’ and ‘a change in the frequency of alleles in a population’. But these definitions are somewhat ambiguous in the creation/evolution debate. They could include harmful change, beneficial change, or even change caused by an intelligent designer. These definitions certainly do not explain how all life might have descended from microbes. And of course, creationists have absolutely no conflict with ‘change over time’ or ‘change in allele frequencies’!

Charles Darwin originally used his theory to describe the diversification of all life from a common ancestor, so on this website, evolution is defined as stated at the beginning of this article.

The Mechanism for Evolution

Evolutionary change is thought to occur through two primary variation-inducing processes: duplication and recombination.

Duplication

A copying of genetic information or genes is called duplication. Duplication in itself does not add new information because it simply copies previously existing information. However, evolutionary theorists tell us that the 2nd copy could change over time by mutation, eventually changing meaning. The original information is still there plus there is new information in the changed duplication.

This can be considered a net gain in genetic information if all the dimensions of information are changed to something new. However, there are grave problems with the idea.

A duplicated gene is almost invariably harmful to an organism because it causes cancer and other diseases.[1] This means the carrying organism won’t survive very long and definitely won’t evolve! Darwinists counter that the duplication could be turned off so that the cell no longer ‘obeys’ what the gene says. The duplication would therefore be meaningless and would not cause diseases. But another problem exists. Since the duplication is turned off, there is nothing to fix it into the population. In other words, a turned off duplication is not beneficial to the organism so it will probably be lost.

Another evidence against the idea that evolution has occurred largely by duplication is the numbers of genes. The more complex the organism, the more duplications have occurred. Since duplications add DNA (though rarely new information), the genome of these organisms should be larger. This is not the case! Bacteria can carry up to 25 times more DNA than humans (as in Epulopiscium fishelsoni) and rice has twice our amount of genes.

Now evolutionists might say that many genomes show evidence of mass duplication, so ‘evolution must have found a way’ despite the difficulties to the idea. But duplications are inferred from similarities in genes and it cannot be empirically shown that they were a product of duplication.[2]

Recombination

Recombination of information does not result in a net gain of information. Just like a switching of the letters in a small book will not result in the British Library, a switching of genetic information will not result the evolution of man from microbes. Recombination can therefore be discarded as a possible mechanism for evolutionary change.

Evidence for Evolution

In spite of the fact that evolution is without a plausible mechanism, there are several lines of evidence thought to prove evolution beyond reasonable doubt.

Fossils

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Fossil trilobites

The argument from fossils is one of the most popular among the layman today. But no matter how many ape-men and transitional fossils evolutionists may find, fossils can never be evidence for evolution. They can merely be consistent with evolution. This is because there is no possible way to know if any fossil in a sequence is related! (And similarities do not provide this evidence as shown here.)

Even if we grant that fossil relationships can be known, evolutionists do not have a very convincing argument. All they have is a handful of disputable examples like Archaeopteryx — not the thousands upon thousands we should expect if evolution has happened for millions of years.

Similarities and Homology

Darwinists say that the similar structures in many different organisms (such as the essentially universal genetic code) show that we all share common ancestors — and ultimately, one common ancestor of all life. But evolutionists then turn around and say that very similar animals (such as marsupials and placental mammals) are distantly related. They can’t have it both ways!

In fact, the similarity argument is fallacious (it commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent). These similarities being caused by a common designer is at least equally as good as the common ancestor explanation. Common designers often produce similar products, life being no exception.

Embryology

It was once thought that the embryos of many different animals are strikingly similar. However, this was a piece of evidence made up by a late 1800s professor, Ernst Haeckel. He constructed large drawings offaked embryos to convince people that they all share a common ancestor. We now know that the embryos look nothing like this. However, protagonists of the evolutionary dogma continue to tell us that embryos look similar and therefore, they provide evidence of common ancestry. Even if we grant this, similarities in embryos can also be evidence for common design.

Vestigial Structures and Genes

Vestigial structures/genes are supposed to be useless vestiges left over from our evolutionary past. For example, the human ‘tailbone’ shows we evolved from animals with tails. But this is an argument from ignorance. Just because someone doesn’t know the function of something, that does not mean there isnone! Indeed, a list of over 180 vestigial structures has been reduced to essentially zero. And just because a structure may be similar to something our supposed ancestor had, that doesn’t mean we evolved from it.

Examples of Observed Change

the-theory-of-evolution-bacteria-evolving-resistance-to-antibiotics

Have we observed bacteria to evolve?
Image from Wikimedia Commons and is in Public Domain

It is a proven fact that animals change. For example, changes in bacteria include resistance to antibioticsand the ability to digest nylon. Darwinists present such examples as if they ‘prove evolution’. This couldn’t be further from the truth. All known changes have occurred through a loss or recombination of genetic information, yet, evolution needs new information. So these changes are in the wrong direction!

Mutations destroy features giving the organism beneficial side effect in some environments. For instance, in bacteria, a defect in a ‘machine’ called theribosome can stop antibiotics from latching on. Therefore, the bacterium is resistant to the fatal effects of antibiotics. However, this happened by a loss of information – the ribosome was compromised.

Even if there was a clear case of a net gain in new information coming about by naturalistic evolutionary processes, it would not prove evolution. It would only make evolution more plausible. Remember, evolution is the theory that all life has evolved from a common ancestor. No amount of changes today can prove something which happened in the unobservable past. To say these changes prove the theory of evolution is like saying the Iraq war proves the war of 1812 occurred.

Evidence against Evolution

Genetic Entropy

About 100 to 300 near-neutral mutations arise in every genome per generation.[3] So you will have 100-300 more near-neutral mutations than your parents will have. This is a massive amount! The problem is, essentially all of them are harmful to an organism – even if only minutely harmful (and there is no such thing as a truly neutral mutation to dim their effect).

Because all of these are near-neutral, they cannot effect the physical fitness of the animal (phenotype), and therefore, they cannot be ‘seen’ by natural selection. So, harmful near-neutral mutations will build up at an incredibly large rate in every person until the population becomes extinct. Natural selection does not even come into account. Just like many rust molecules – which harm the metal of a car – will accumulate to the point that the car is a wreck, near-neutral mutations will accumulate until extinction occurs. So human life, and indeed, mammalian life, cannot be older than thousands of years.[4]

Stasis in the Fossil Record

Stasis refers to the fact that animals in old geologic ‘ages’ look very similar to their modern day counterparts. These animals are called ‘living fossils’ and present a puzzle for evolutionists. There are hundreds of living fossils – many being documented in Carl Werner’s book Evolution: The Grand Experiment, Living Fossils – that look almost exactly the same as existing animals and plants. A dinosaur-age fish called the ‘coelacanth’ is just one example (more variation exists between dogs than the old and current coelacanths).

Evolution says that all life has evolved from a common ancestor, so why is the fossil record full of animals that have not changed? The most common evolutionary response is that ‘living fossils’ were so well adapted that they did not need to evolve. This is a ‘just-so’ story used to explain the problem away. The question remains: if all we see is stasis in the fossil record, why should we believe that all of life has evolved? The very core of evolutionary theory is undermined.

Is it Scientific?

There are two different types of science: empirical science and historical science. Empirical science deals with phenomena that we can directly observe, test, and repeat in the present (an example being observed changes in bacteria). Historical science deals with phenomena that occurred in the past and are not directly observable, testable, or repeatable in the present. Evolution therefore falls into the historical definition. We cannot observe that all life has evolved from a common ancestor, we cannot directly test if all life has evolved from a common ancestor, and we cannot repeat this event.

Evolution therefore must rely on inferences of the data available in the present. So evolution is not science in the strict sense and should not be taught as fact in school textbooks. After all, it is simply not possible to determine if evolution is factual because no-one has actually observed microbes give rise to man.

Unfortunately, many people are duped into thinking evolution is fact due to the bait-and-switch tactics used by evolutionists. Instances of empirical science (e.g. observed and repeatable changes in bacteria) are often used as proof for the theory that all life is descended from a common ancestor (historical science). This is fallacious to say the least.

Conclusion

Despite being unobserved and inconsistent with the hard facts, evolution still occupies a high place in the scientific world. It’s time the world realized what really lies broken inside the mildly-compelling story of evolution.

Possible Responses

“The article said that harmful near-neutral mutations cannot affect the physical fitness of an organism (phenotype). So how can they be harmful if they don’t have effect?”
This confuses the difference between the phenotype (physical fitness of a organism) and the genotype (the genetic content of an organism). By definition, all mutations must affect the genotype, meaning they are either beneficial or harmful. (There is no such thing as a truly neutral mutation.) Just like a rust molecule does not harm a car’s performance (‘phenotype’) but does affect the metal (‘genotype’), near-neutral mutations can be harmful to an organism.

References

  1. Eakin, G.S. and Behringer, R.R., Tetraploid development in the mouse, Developmental Dynamics 228:751–766, 2003. [Quote: ‘Spontaneous duplication of the mammalian genome occurs in approximately 1% of fertilizations. Although one or more whole genome duplications are believed to have influenced vertebrate evolution, polyploidy of contemporary mammals is generally incompatible with normal development and function of all but a few tissues. Most often, divergence of ploidy from the diploid (2n) norm results in a disease state.’]; Bergman, Jerry, Does gene duplication provide the engine for evolution? Journal of Creation, 20(1):99–104, April 2006. Back to text
  2. Hurles, M., Gene duplication: the genomic trade in spare parts, PloS Biology 2(7):900–904, 2004. Back to text
  3. Kondrashov, A.S., “Direct Estimate of Human Per Nucleotide Mutation Rates at 20 Loci Causing Mendelian Diseases,” Human Mutation 21:12-27, 2002; Nachman, M.W., Crowell, S.L., “Estimation of the Mutation Rate Per Nucleotide in Humans,” Genetics 156:297-304, 2000; Sanford, John C., Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome (New York: FMS Publications, 2005), third edition, p. 21. Back to text
  4. Williams, Alex, “Mutations: evolution’s engine becomes evolution’s end!” Journal of Creation 22(2):60–66, August 2008. Back to text
Bacterial Resistance: Evidence for Evolution?
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