I am often asked or I often hear the question, what about evolution does the Bible agree with, or does it agree with it at all? I have asked that question myself, actually.
First, we have to look at what the Theory of Evolution claims. The basic definition of evolution, according to dictionary.com, is a “
Modern science and academia has a knack for slapping the label “fact” on the most accepted idea, thought process, paradigm, or axiom of the time. This sometimes goes blatantly against the actual data and observations we have seen. The trend is that the accepted idea is eventually discarded. This is normal, to a point. However, this “fact” of evolution from particles to people goes greatly against what we observe and is not being discarded or even adapted much. (I don’t think that something should be discarded quickly as new data can be discovered, but the evidence against this seem substantial.)
This is due to scientists beginning with assumptions. If you already believe something is true, you will interpret data and observations according your starting assumptions. I believe this can be true for everyone, regardless of belief, however, the claim society gives to those of faith (Christians especially), “You must have an open mind and look past your beliefs,” is, excuse me, bogus. They must do the same. As I will explain, modern science claims that the general theory of evolution and chemical evolution is fact due to starting assumptions and the necessity for data to fit their assumptions regardless of what is actually observed. Otherwise, they must admit they are wrong, and must accept another view-point.
So, to determine what is actually “fact” and not an assumption with the label of “fact,” we must look at the observations made and experiments which have already been conducted.
(Alright, I am going to “nerd-out” here soon. What I mean, is that I am going to be talking about a lot of genetics and “science-y” stuff. So, I will do my best to explain in layman’s terms and simplify. Hang in there with me.)
As I stated before, the formation of new species from an already pre-existing species has been seen and observed. This process is called speciation.
Inside our cells, we have Chromosomes which are folded bundles of our DNA, holding all of the genetic information our body needs. It is here where variation results in new species forming. There are a few mechanisms which allow this variation. One is called cross-overs. As gametes (The sexual reproductive cells) are forming, cross-overs within chromosomes occurs. Strands of DNA are split and then re-“glued” to another strand. This is a new combination of genes and genetic information which gives genetic variation. Another mechanism is random assortment of genes. As the cell splits into gametes, it does not get the full amount of genetic information as the original cell. It only gets half. The other half comes from the gamete from another organism. This is also a “random assortment” further adding to genetic variation. Mutations may also cause variation.
Now, natural selection can begin to act upon a group of organisms. Let’s look at a familiar example; Darwin’s Galapagos finches. There are thirteen different species of finches on these islands. Darwin observed that the different species had many different characteristics including beak shape and size of the bird and each bird had different food choices, etc. From the original finch which found itself on the Galapagos islands branched these other species.
Dr. Carl Wieland M.B., M.S., founding editor of Creation Magazine, describes this process:
“Say some finches ended up on islands in which there was a shortage of seeds, but many grubs were living under tree bark. In a population with much variation, some will have longer, some shorter, beaks than average. Those birds carrying more of the ‘long-beak’ information could survive on those grubs, and thus would be more likely to pass the information on to their descendants, while the others would die out. In this way, with selection acting on other characters as well, a ‘woodpecker finch’ could arise.”
Dr. Wieland goes on in his article, Darwin’s Finches, to discuss an experiment showing that this process of selection happens quite readily; only a couple hundred to about a thousand years to form the species of finches we see today. A number far below the expected rate of evolutionists.
(Basically, some birds have a characteristic, like long beaks in the above example, that help them more than other birds. Therefore, the characteristic, and the genetic information that codes for it, will be passed on more often than the other birds. This results in a split and the start of the formation of a new species.)
So, yes, new species do arise and quite quickly it may seem, however, no organisms outside of a finch have been produced. Size, color, food source, beak shape and size, etc. may have changed, yet regardless of how big or small or what the bird eats, each of the thirteen species are still finches. This process did not produce anything new. This process merely acted upon genetic information and genetic potential within the original finches which branched into different species.
Geneticists and evolutionists know that natural selection alone cannot produce new genetic information. They attempt to use the occurrence of mutations within DNA as their life boat. Mutations are changes or alterations in the DNA sequence of nucleotide base pairs (There are four bases and the letters that represent them are A,T,G,C. The combination of these bases makes up the code of our DNA). An example that is often cited as “evolution in action” is antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is often observed that a specific antibiotic normally used to combat pathogens begins to lose effect. This is due to mutations within the bacteria’s DNA. Evolutionists claim that this is the formation of “new” information they have desperately been searching for. This is far from the formation of new information. An antibiotic works by attacking a specific protein or structure in the bacteria.
Mutations, often deleterious, alter the genetic code by changing a base letter or deleting a base pair. This causes the specific structure the antibiotic is targeting to alter in shape. The antibiotic can no longer bind or attack the protein or structure. This may be “beneficial” and allow the bacteria to survive, however the protein which has been altered has lost part of its function. A protein’s function highly relies on its shape and if that shape is altered, it loses its ability to efficiently function. So the over all net change in genetic information is negative. The mutation has allowed the bacteria to survive, but information for the correct shape of protein has been lost and, compared to other bacteria, the mutated one is less fit against them.
[Keep in mind, just because something is “beneficial” doesn’t mean that it adds new information. It merely means that it helps the organism survive and reproduce more often than others. The “beneficial” mutation is still a loss of information. Also, what I mean by “new genetic information” is not just additional nucleotide bases, I mean that the specific sequence and folding of the nucleotide chain codes for a specific protein(s) with a specific function(s)].
Dr. J.C. Sanford, Plant Geneticist, co-creator of the Gene-gun (Used widely in genetics) and many other impactful genetic discoveries, discusses in his book, Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, the rate at which mutations occur in our genome,
“One of the most astounding recent findings in the world of genetics is that the human mutation rate (just within our reproductive cells) is at least 100 nucleotide substitutions (misspellings) per person per generation.”
He goes on to say that it is further estimated to be as much as 200-600 of these mutations per person per generation. There are also mutations called “macro-mutations” which change or delete larger sections of DNA. The 200-600 rate also doesn’t include “insertions/deletions affecting larger regions of DNA.” These macro-mutations can even affect sequences of DNA up to one million nucleotide base pairs. These are much less common, but can cause a lot of damage. Geneticists have said in the past that if the mutation rate in humans were to eventually reach “0.5 per person or higher would doom mankind to rapid genetic degeneration.” Obviously the large number of mutations observed is greatly above 0.5.
However, when we look at our genome as a whole, a single base pair change does not always cause a lot of trouble. Within each of our cells we have billions of base pairs. So are these changes neutral? The answer is no. Geneticists and evolutionists used to claim that only a small fraction (only a few %) of our DNA was actually used. So, almost all of these mutations supposedly did not cause any problems. However, we are now discovering that 30% and even upwards of 50% of our DNA is transcribed (We are discovering that more and more of our DNA has functions every day. Most likely 100% has a function) and has a direct function, if not more than one function. So, when a our DNA specifically codes for a protein, and that specific code is altered, function can easily be lost.
And even if a mutation were to be considered completely neutral, Sanford writes,
“A nucleotide position takes up space, affects the spacing between other sites, and affects such things as regional nucleotide composition, DNA folding, and nucleosome binding. If a nucleotide carries absolutely no information, it is, by definition, slightly deleterious, as it slows cell replication and wastes energy.”
It sounds like the mutation life-boat is starting to sink.
(Hang in there guys. This might be a lot of information, but this stuff is really cool. So, basically, our DNA is a long chain of letters that code for specific proteins. If that code changes, it’s hard for our cells to read the instructions and form the right protein. It normally doesn’t work as well. No matter how “neutral” a change is considered, the change always has some negative effect on the genome.)
But wait! Some mutations are beneficial! (Again, the mutation is still deleterious and, as we have seen, causes a loss in information). It is true, some mutations are deemed “beneficial.”
Sanford shows this curve plotting the position of mutations. The left side shows the distribution of deleterious and harmful mutations from fatal to those which are thought to remain from being selected by natural selection and therefore considered to be neutral (Not completely though). The right side of the graph represents the distribution of “beneficial” mutations from the neutral zone to a positive effect. Note that no beneficial mutations are recorded here.
This is because that when geneticists form these graphs, “beneficial” mutations are so rare, they are not included. Sanford then forms his own curve similar to the one above. He attempts to record and plot where the mutations deemed “beneficial” would fall on the right side of the graph. However, he says he cannot make the curve representing benefical mutations small enough and still be visible at this scale. (Rare is an understatement) He says,
“What is most interesting about this figure (and it came as a shock to me) is the realization that essentially the entire range of all hypothetical beneficial mutations falls within Kimura’s ‘effectively neutral’ zone. That means that essentially all beneficial mutations (to the extent they actually happen), must be ‘unselectable.’ So selection could never favor any such beneficial mutations, and the would essentially all drift out of the population.”
(Kimura is the scientist who developed the particular graph and curve)
So, even if beneficial mutations were to occur, they would not lead to the addition of genetic information (as they are still deleterious) let alone lead to evolution from particles to people.
Sanford even tells about the experiments that began once it was discovered that radiation affected DNA and caused mutations. He states that “millions and millions of plants” were experimented with and observed to discover and cause beneficial mutations. However, none of these plants (mutations which occurred numbered in the Billions) showed addition of information. These plants instead are described as “small, sterile, sick, deformed, aberrant.” That does not sound like the evolution we are told about. In fact, only one “beneficial” mutation was discovered. The mutation is helpful for certain animal feeds based on corn. However, the mutation causes the plant’s production of a certain acid to be damaged. This is a loss of information.
The life boat seems to be capsizing by now. Are there any life-vests? Evolutionists claim that natural selection is able to stop this down-spiral of genetic degeneration. The problem with this claim is that natural selection does not see individual nucleotide bases. It only sees the individual organism as a whole. So, all of these “near-neutral” yet deleterious mutations and alterations can build up. Going back to the curve, most mutations, deleterious and beneficial (if any occur), are deemed “un-selectable” to natural selection.
To wrap up all of Sanford’s points I have written about, I will include his example of what we observe in our genome. He uses the object of a biochemistry textbook to represent our genome:
“Let’s now begin introducing random misspellings, duplications, and deletions. Each student, across the whole country, will get a slightly different text-book, each containing its own set of random errors (approximately 100 new errors per text). At the end of the year, we will test all the students, and will only save the textbooks from the students with the best 100 scores. Those texts will be used for the next round of copying which will introduce new ‘errors’ etc. Can we expect to see a steady improvement of textbooks? Why not? Will we expect to see a steady improvement of average grades? Why not?
Most of us can see that in the above example, essentially none of the misspellings in the textbook will be beneficial.”
(Phew! If science and dense bio “stuff” isn’t your forte, you made it! Hopefully you got the gist of it. If not, comment or contact me with questions!)
So, what does the Bible say about this all, then? As I stated in the beginning, speciation has been observed and does occur. Designed mechanisms of variation result in the different specialized species (as well as mutations) we see today. The Bible does not claim that species have not changed in thousands of years. However, the Bible does not agree with abiogenesis in a primordial soup or particles to people evolution.
In Genesis, it says that God created each animal according to its “kind.” What is a “kind?” This sometimes is placed within the taxonomic hierarchy near the “genus” or “phyla.” A good definition of a kind is “body-plan.” So, going back to Darwin’s finches, regardless of their size, food source, beak length, etc., they were always a finch and therefore always a bird. They will never be anything but a finch. They will not change over time to become a dog or another body-plan. Different species will arise which are specialized by mutations and natural selection. No new Phyla or body-plans will be formed by evolution.
So, when God created in six days, he most likely created one or maybe two (Could be different) “cat kinds” which then underwent speciation to become house cats, lions, tigers, jaguars, cheetahs, etc. All of the possible combinations and genetic potential was originally created within the original kinds. There is even a study, Baraminology (Bara in Hebrew means “create” or “created” and Min means “kind,” which is dedicated to determining which animals are within the same “kind.” This is decided based on which animals can hybridize (That is, breed and reproduce fertile offspring). This occurs within many of the big-cats I listed earlier.
So, the Bible kind of (no pun intended) agrees with both micro-evolution and macro-evolution (to a point). It doesn’t agree with particles to people evolution (In which the first cell arose from chemicals and then evolved to us over billions of years). Actually, observed science and mutation rates also seem to not agree with particles to people evolution. This theory is not riding on science or observations, but rather faith.
(I highly suggest reading through Dr. Sanford’s book Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome. It has excellent points, data, and visuals to help explain this question of evolution.)
Abiogenesis: The origin of the first cell. This is theorized to have arisen from a primordial soup or pool of chemicals which, by chance, formed into the cell.
Speciation: The formation of different species.
Sanford, J. C., & Baumgardner, J. R. (2008). Genetic entropy & the mystery of the genome. Waterloo, NY: FMS Publications.
Dictionary.com – The world’s favorite online dictionary! (n.d.). Retrieved December 04, 2016, from http://www.dictionary.com/
Wieland, C. (n.d.). Darwin’s finches. Retrieved December 04, 2016, from http://creation.com/darwins-finches