Evolution from a genetic perspective

One strong position that evolutionists hold is that genetically other organisms are very similar to humans. How do we respond to such a claim?

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Good question @sammath - you may be encouraged to know that this is just as strong a position for the Creationist. There is just as much reason to believe that similar DNA implies a common Creator as there is to believe that it implies a common ancestor.

In fact, since we all live on the same world, and we all have very similar needs, it would make sense that the DNA which produces, say, four limbs or two eyes or one head for us, would also (with appropriate modifications) produce similar features on a wide range of other land creatures.

You might also be encouraged to know that there are now many Creationist websites online that explain things like this and so much more. To find them, you can just search the phrase, “Creationist websites”!

I hope this helps!

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@jlyons Thank you for the links. Your answer in itself describes the crux of the matter. I have done as you suggested and have seen some good websites. Thank you once again.

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There is a book, More than a Monkey, that deals specifically with the issue you raised. The author points out, among other things, that when some NEW feature is seen in an organism, when compared to its supposed evolutionary ancestors, the genes that code for the new feature or features are often “orphan genes.”

In other words, the new feature is coded for by new (orphan = no obvious “parent”) genes. That makes perfect sense for creationists. That makes NO sense for evolutionists, who see everything as slowly and step by step appearing, rather than there being jumps “out of nowhere.”

Anyway, just thought I’d mention that.

God bless!

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@kenyamel @jlyons I understand the concept of orphan genes that they are predominantly unique to a species. The fact that the addition of a new gene, even modification in the DNA sequence of same gene, could bring about vast phenotypical additions/subtractions in the organism. While that being said, the new era of CRISPR/Cas systems shows that viral genome (short sequences) are cut and added to the bacterial genome which then becomes a part of the bacterial immunity. This shows addition of genetic material which is useful to the organism. This could be used as an example for natural selection (as bacteria with immunity will survive and the others won’t) and thereby support the macroevolution claim. How do we posit our arguments and in such a scenario?

When we look at bacterial resistance to a given antibiotic, that can be a single biochemical pathway alteration. Also, the short sequences exchanged between bacterial cells were not brand new genes. So the situation is not the same as seen with orphan genes.

Consider a person writing a new computer program. Any part of the new program that is similar to other programs the person has written are probably written using identical or at least similar code. But anything unique to the new program is written “from scratch.” That is the picture we have with so-called orphan genes.

Here is a little story for you from my days as a grad student in biology. Two profs, for fun, held an evening debate where one defended evolution and the other defended creation. They both were evolutionists but the arguments used by both were good ones. Afterwards, they threw it open for questions. One student asked about metamorphosis in moths and butterflies. He said imagine a caterpillar that develops the ability to form a cocoon (moth) or chrysalis (butterfly). But it does not have the ability to get out of it, so it dies. This holds true for the essential liquefying of its body parts and then the forming of a completely new set of body parts (simple mouth to proboscis, stubby legs to spindly legs, new things like wings and antennae, etc.). Nothing works until everything works.

Then the student asked how evolution explains all of this. The one prof immediately turned to the other and said, “You answer this one!” We all chuckled. The other prof gave the following response to how metamorphosis could have evolved. He said all the different genes necessary were evolving in the organism but were not being expressed. Then at some point they all turned on and successful metamorphosis took place.

To me, that is the heart of what is wrong with evolution. It tries to say that everything can happen in tiny little steps. When presented with something like metamorphosis that does not fit that scenario, it claims that things can happen step by step in the background and then all turn on. So much for natural selection being involved in the process.

I am sticking with the idea of a programmer (designer, creator) → God.

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this claim is a bit outdated. “Chimpanzees have 97% the DNA makeup of a human” ignored junk DNA because it was … junk. Later we have realized it’s not junk at all by highly functional and radically drops the above percentage. Further, if scientists had approached DNA from a theistic perspective initially, they would not have made the erroneous junk assumption and saved a decade.

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The more we learn, the more the computer science analogies fit!

Thanks a lot! :smiley:
God bless you!!

This is precisely the point raised by Michael Behe in his book “Darwin’s Black Box.” He uses the example of a mouse trap to show that some systems do not work unless you have all the parts in place. To say, as that professor did, that all the genes were developing in the background is problematic as that would mean that there was a lot of genetic dead weight which natural selection would most likely have selected against.

Regarding resistance to antibiotics, one good example is how malaria became resistant to chloroquine. It didn’t build some new defensive structure. Instead, it underwent 2 point mutations which, taken together, broke the entry mechanism required for chloroquine to enter the vacuole where it could do its job. Of course, that vacuole is needed for other functions, so that mutation would normally be a negative. It was only a positive feature while chloroquine was so ubiquitous. Once they stopped using chloroquine, that resistant strain disappeared as it was again at a disadvantage. For more info on that, you can look into another Behe book called “The Edge of Evolution.”

I loved reading Darwin’s Black Box. I just put his The Edge of Evolution into my Amazon shopping cart. Thanks for the heads up. Also, I used to take chloroquine back in the '80s against malaria and switched to something else later but didn’t know about the malarial resistance to it and how it happened. Interesting.

Once you finish that one, he has a new book out called “Darwin Devolves” that follows up on the information there. His books go from “you can’t build some things”, to “there seems to be a line it cannot cross”, to “it actually breaks things rather than building them.”

Also, regarding chloroquine, they now tend to use it in a 3-drug cocktail to ensure that the resistance doesn’t recur. If you get a strain that’s resistant to 1 of the drugs, the other 2 kill it.

@kenyamel and @petros555
Just to be clear: Michael Behe, while a proponent of Intelligent Design, does hold to the idea of Common Descent. I have heard him interviewed about his book, Darwin Devolves, giving a great example of the mechanism of mutation and natural selection resulting in the evolution of a new species: the Polar Bear from the Brown Bear. Thus, I myself find it rather confusing as to what point Behe is trying to make and why I, as a Christian, should distrust evolutionary science. I think that we can trust both science and the Bible.

I found this short book review helpful, in showing the limitations of Behe’s arguments:


note that @swamidass, one of the authors of that book review, is also a believing Christian. I’m sure he would be willing to answer questions you might have.

Dr. Peterson had a good point about this. Even if you believe in evolution, it would seem that humanity is still being guided by some outside force to take such a specific form. Even if you postulate that we’ve been evolving for millions of years for us to still take such a form is still a miracle.

@MichelleO

As I mentioned in another thread, that book review has a number of claims that simply are not true. Many of those claims were made about Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution as well. They simply recycle the same errors time after time. Check that other thread for an excellent list of responses to the criticisms.

As I understand his argument, Behe does indeed hold that evolution can cause speciation as well as genus-level divergence. In this latest book he argues from several examples that the natural processes have not produced any further divergence (no new families on up). Thus, anything higher would seem to need an explanation beyond the mechanisms so far advanced. I don’t know if he holds out hope for a better natural mechanism to be forthcoming or not. Given that he is a proponent of ID, I would guess he does not. Not sure, though.

So many good responses here! A few other ideas to ponder:
We know that genes get turned on and off by external stimuli. An evolutionist would assert that this happens because the organism is being shaped by its environment. But the environment does not think and cannot plan. Human designers of machines (such as a Mars rover) make predictions about various scenarios that the device may encounter. The thing to keep in mind here is that the device is equipped with sensors and is preprogrammed to respond in specific ways to whatever info those sensors pick up from the environment. Based on human engineering principles, it would be advantageous to think of all organisms in the same way as also having been preprogrammed for anticipated if-then situations.

Another thought I offer is that of symbiotic mutualisms. Such mutualisms, be they obligate or facultative abound in nature, such as when microbes confer some advantage to their hosts (e.g. gut microbes). The insertion of viral genomes into bacterial genomes can be thought of in this way. If engineering principles are applied here, we might ask if the bacterial genome was actually engineered to potentially accommodate the viral genome to its advantage.

I enjoyed thinking about all this and hope it helps!

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Here is the post from that other thread with the link to the responses to the critics.

Responses to Criticism of Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves

With the release of Michael Behe’s Darwin Devolves, the scientific dialogue between its detractors and defenders continues. Here we collect some of the most noteworthy criticisms and responses by Michael Behe and others. Find the most comprehensive…

@kenyamel Check out “Punctuated Equalibrium” on Google. It was a thought from a while back that suggested that evolution allowed for occasional bursts of change followed by long periods of no change. These are thought to be where the big changes occurred, such as creating a new branch on the tree of life evolutionarily speaking.

@GreenChristian Something to put into your box of things symbiotic is the mitochondria found in eukaryotic cells. It’s thought to be the result, somewhere along the branch leading to eukaryotes, of a bacterium hitching a ride in the cell in question. Normally the bacterium would have been destroyed by the cell but the cell learned to value and use the energy molecules that the bacterium made and excreted because the host cell was providing what the bacterium use to have to make for itself. A win-win scenario evolutionarily speaking.

John, punctuated equilibrium was proposed by folks who found too little evidence for gradualism in the fossil record. The major drawback is that it compresses drastically the time available for biological change to occur since it purports rapid change and then long periods of stasis.

So the fossil record may support it but logic does not (assuming no “designer” input).

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