email - February 2008

We Often Agree

Creation/evolution discussions are primarily about differences. Occasionally, we should examine those things upon which we agree.

Sometimes we aren’t really sure what the writer wants to know. Consider Paul’s email, for example.

From: Paul
Date: 1/30/2008 10:18 PM
Subject: I am teaching a class

in Feb based on Behe's book EDGE OF EVOLUTION. It breaks Darwinism down into 3 sub theories, all of which must be true for Darwinism to be true. Behe states common decent is surely true because of common errors found in different branches of the tree. This seems like a good argument. Is Behe missing something? (I know about junk DNA) Behe does not believe random mutations have much creative power. Therefore mutations (changes) at the genetic level are non random. I plan to assert that creation at the base pair level is every bit as "special" as creating whole species.  Therefore the theist should target randomness as the problem, not common ancestry.

Please comment.

Paul

It seems to us that Paul’s fundamental problem is that he doesn’t know what creationists and evolutionist agree upon. We don’t reject EVERYTHING evolutionists say.

Evolutionists, Biblical creationists, and Intelligent Design advocates all agree that all breeds of dogs descended from a common ancestor that lived several thousand years ago. The only disagreements are the number of thousand years ago, and whether or not the ancestral pair was on Noah’s ark. Variation in a kind is real phenomenon acknowledged by all.

There are some differences of opinion about specific cases. For example, Clydesdales, mustangs, quarter horses, and Kentucky thoroughbreds certainly are all breeds of horses; but what about zebras and donkeys? Are horses, zebras, and donkeys three distinct kinds of animals that look very similar but don’t share a common ancestor? Or are zebras and donkeys simply horses that have varied so much from the ancestral form that we incorrectly consider them to be different species? Opinions differ.

Biblical creationists are especially interested in determining just what the “created kinds” are. If they can show that horses, zebras, and donkeys are all the same kind, then there only needs to be one pair of animals on the ark instead of three. The fewer the number of basic kinds, the fewer the number of animals on the ark, and the more plausible the flood story is. Therefore, Biblical creationists are just as interested in showing descent from a common ancestor as evolutionists are. Intelligent Design advocates have less of an axe to grind in this area.

Junk DNA

Modern DNA analysis might be helpful in determining common ancestry, but probably not. There are too many questionable assumptions one has to make about the origin of DNA differences, especially in junk DNA.

When scientists first started decoding DNA, they discovered some parts of the DNA molecule contain the code for producing specific proteins. Most of the DNA molecule, however, seemed to have no purpose. Therefore it was called “junk.” In recent years scientists have discovered that a lot of that junk DNA really does have a purpose. Some of it apparently regulates gene expression. Some of it seems to contain redundant information that makes the DNA molecule more robust. As our ignorance about the function of the DNA molecule decreases, the percentage of the DNA molecule that we think is junk decreases.

The traditional view is that there are large sections of the DNA molecule that is junk that does not affect the development of the organism. Therefore, natural selection will not eliminate copying errors in the junk portion of the DNA molecule. So, if you see the same “errors” in the junk DNA of two different species, then they both must have inherited those errors from a common ancestor. The fallacy of this logic is that the “errors” may not be errors at all. They might be sequences that have an undiscovered purpose that were intentionally inserted by an intelligent designer.

So, the bottom line is that one can compare the DNA from different species and find similarities and differences, but those similarities and differences can’t positively be ascribed either to common ancestry or common design.

Chance

Now let’s get back to the similarities and differences in the beliefs of creationists and evolutionists. As we said before, everyone agrees that all breeds of dogs have a common ancestor. All breeds of horses have a common ancestor. All varieties of roses, and varieties of corn, came from an original stock. That’s the similarity.

The difference is that evolutionists believe that random changes to the DNA of an egg-laying, cold-blooded reptile can turn it into a live-bearing, warm-blooded, mammal with sweat glands and mammary glands. Somehow random changes to reptile DNA made those sweat glands respond to temperature, producing sweat to cool the body when it gets too hot. And random DNA changes made hormones that cause the mammary glands to produce milk only at the conclusion of a pregnancy.

So Paul is correct when he realizes that randomness is the real issue, not common ancestry. Creationists believe there were many ancestral kinds which have experienced limited variation. Evolutionists believe there was a single ancestral kind which has experienced virtually unlimited variation due to random changes. The difference in opinion has to due with amounts.

Creationists and evolutionists agree that random changes to the DNA molecule could cause a change in eye color. The disagreement is whether or not random changes to a DNA molecule could produce a vision system consisting of an iris, lens, photosensitive cells, optic nerve, and 3-D image processing algorithms in the brain.

Evolutionists correctly state that small changes in all kinds of plants and animals have been observed. Then they make the incorrect inference that given enough time, small changes will accumulate without limit into large changes. Certainly small changes in size might accumulate over several generations and become a large change in size, but that isn’t the issue. Small changes in size won’t accumulate over several generations to become a functioning vision system.

Larger size, or smaller size, might provide a survival advantage in some environments. A mutation might cause larger size, or smaller size, and therefore be beneficial. Beneficial mutations are possible. The issue isn’t beneficial mutations. The issue is CREATIVE mutations. Can a mutation, or series of mutations, produce an eye in an animal that has never had eyes before? That’s where the disagreement lies.

Evolutionists can tell all the fanciful stories they want about imaginary light-sensitive spots that luckily formed behind transparent cells that just happened to act like a lens, and muscles that just happened to aim and focus the lens, but that isn’t science. They are just blowing smoke, trying to justify an irrational belief.

So, Paul is correct. The discussion should not be about common ancestry. The discussion should center upon the feasibility of random changes producing functional systems and structures.

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