In this lesson we will look at Genetics and DNA and how they present the greatest challenge to evolution. In the end, I am convinced that it will be the field of genetics that finally causes society to rethink evolution – and accept that it is just not realistic model of reality. The difficulty with this, of course, is that it is a complex area that most people will not delve into. This means that there are few mainstream challenges to evolution based upon findings in genetics.
This lesson is not a Bible Study, as such, but a look at the serious limitations of the General Theory of Evolution, providing Christians with further confidence in Creation as presented in the book of Genesis. Whilst faith is asked of us, and is necessary, it need not be a blind faith – there is very good evidence to support the Bible and Biblical Creation model.
The DNA Conundrum
DNA is Complex and Fragile
All life depends on information – an instruction set – to survive and reproduce. The DNA molecule is unsurpassed as an information storage medium.
The human genome is so large that the string of letters approaches 3 billion letters in length – all packed into a nucleus that is 6-10 millions of a metre (~ 5.5 – 9 millionths of a yard).
These strands are not very stable – single strand DNA is liable to break. The two separate strands are glued together by electrostatic interaction, and the 3 billion letters are found in 23 separate chromosomes, ranging from 50 million to 250 million letters in each.
It is estimated that there are up to one million DNA ‘lesions’ (breaks in the string, radiation damage, etc etc) in a normal cell every day (for each of ~ 100 trillion cells in your body).
So, the effort our body goes through each day to maintain its complement of DNA is 1,000,000 x 100,000,000,000,000 repairs!!
DNA Repairs Require Repair Enzymes
DNA must sustain a huge complement of repair enzymes to maintain itself. There are many different ways that DNA can be damaged, and there are specific repair enzyme complexes that deal with each type of damage.
Those repair enzymes are coded into the DNA itself. However, DNA cannot be repaired in the cell without them.
This is the ultimate chicken-and-egg problem!
Mutations in the DNA repair and copying enzymes are often catastrophic.
How, then did these originate through the process of mutation and natural selection over time?
Without these enzymes life cannot exist, yet life had to originate without them and to start using DNA to store them before the “DNA toolkit “ evolved.
What is means is that for this incredibly complex instruction set, across the 10 million trillion daily repairs in our body, both the DNA to make the repair enzymes and the specific need for those repair enzymes must have been accidentally mutated into existence at the same time. This is the case for each and every repair enzyme that is needed to repair each of the 1 million repairs per cell each day.
Given the numbers, the chances of this happening are inconceivable.
Our Genetic Code is degrading, not ‘evolving’
J.B.S. Haldane, an evolutionist, determined in the 1950s that traits need to produce 10% more surviving offspring than without, for them to be retained in the population. For an evolutionary mutation to remain and become the ‘norm’ it must generate 10% more surviving offspring – otherwise it will be ‘bred out’ of the population.
Most mutations are harmful. As part of the evolutionary mode, it was assumed that there are not many mutations, or natural selection could not eliminate the harmful mutations (i.e. causing ‘mutation meltdown’ especially over millions of years).
The mutation rate has recently been measured, and it is 50 times the value assumed by evolutionary ideology.
Dr John Sanford, retired Cornell University geneticist, has shown that this high rate of mutation, combined with most mutations being slightly deleterious, is slowly destroying us, not creating us. We are headed for extinction.
Dr Sanford asks:
If most ‘DNA letters’ individually make an infinitesimally small contribution to the genome, how did they get there, and how do they stay there through ‘deep time’? Natural selection cannot see them individually – it can only ‘see’ overall fitness, so the contribution of one nucleotide is generally so small as to be invisible. Dr Sanford summarises this as:
- Mutations arise faster than selection can eliminate them;
- Mutations are overwhelmingly too subtle to be ‘selectable’;
- Biological noise and ‘survival of the luckiest’ overwhelm selection;
- Bad mutations are often linked to good mutations, so that they cannot be separated in inheritance (get rid of the bad and keep the good).
The result is that all higher genomes (including that of humans) must degenerate.
Spontaneous random creation of life from inorganic molecules is statistically impossible
Evolution requires the creation of life to be a random event, but we will see that, even over very long timescales the numbers do not “add up”.
According to biological researchers the simplest hypothetical organism would need to contain at least 387 proteins (all pre-coded in DNA). Even this low number hugely generous to evolutionary theory.
If we follow this with generous to evolution assumptions
- Assuming only 10 amino acids are conserved per enzyme so the organism has 20 amino acids
- 387 proteins for the simplest life (as above)
This means that there is a 20^-3870 (= 10^-5035) chance of spontaneous creation. Which is 1 chance in one followed by over 5000 zeroes. (Even this scenario assumes that life is purely chemical…)
Is time really on the side of evolution?
- There are 10^80 atoms in the universe (10^80 is a 1 with 80 zeros after it)
- 10^12 atomic interactions per second
- 10^18 second since the big bang (according to evolution)
- Which means only 10^110 interactions could possibly have occurred so far
This is absurdly small compared to the 10^535 that are needed for the simplest life
The spontaneous creation through random events is a statistical impossibility – the complexity of the minimum genome size to sustain life would not occur by chance. The detailed argument can be read in the book Evolution’s Achilles Heels. This calculation was developed by a PhD in biology and shows the probability that the simplest form of life could spontaneously evolve from the chemical building blocks of DNA. This is what is needed for first life to evolve on earth from the primordial chemicals.
Genome complexity is too great for Evolution to work
This is a key reason why geneticists turn away from the General Theory of Evolution. The genome is a “hyper-complex” four dimensional system that could not withstand “random mutations” without causing harm to the body.
There are 4 Dimensions that are considered when mapping the genome and the interactions of the genes / letters:
- The first is the linear sequence of nucleotides described above (i.e. the 3 bn letter sequence).
- The second is the complex mix of proximity factors, enhancers, repressors, activators, transcription factors, histone acetisation signals, etc… which all interact with and influence the first dimension.
- The third dimension is the 3D structure. Genes are not randomly distributed – some genes that work together are not in sequence, but are in proximity in 3D space due to the folding of the chromosome. This means that the sequence alone is not sufficient to understand the behaviour.
- The fourth dimension involves changes over time to dimensions 1, 2 and 3. This means that the same gene can change, for example, during the development of the embryo – performing different functions through the development cycle.
The sheer complexity of this symphony of genomic co-ordination means that random mutations could impact on more than one trait, and affect unrelated traits. A “positive mutation” in one respect could be catastrophic in another. This is called pleitropy and is a serious impediment to evolutionary genetics.
Given the potential for harmful mutations, how could random “trial and error” produce positive evolution? This is especially the case given that there would need to be adequate numbers of the same mutations at the same time in different individuals, who also reproduce together, in order for the mutations to become “the norm” in the population (in addition to the “10% advantage”, with respect to offspring already described).
How could a simple process of trial and error, always seeking the simplest answer to an environmental problem create such an interleaved, multi-layered and complex system of regulation?
Again, further detailed information can be read in the book Evolution’s Achilles Heels.
Whilst only scratching the surface of a very complex topic, we have highlighted some key obstacles that the field of Genetics presents to the General Theory of Evolution.
The DNA Conundrum shows that the enzymes that are needed to maintain DNA must be encoded in the DNA itself – presenting a ‘chicken and egg conundrum’.
As described by eminent scientists from the field of Genetics, our Genetic Code is degrading, not ‘evolving’ – which is quite the opposite of evolution.
Looking at the origins of life, we can also see that spontaneous random creation of life from inorganic molecules is statistically impossible – which is an essential precursor to the General Theory of Evolution.
We have also looked at the sheer complexity of the Genome. This complexity is completely at odds with the need for simplicity that underpins evolution, and also scientific principles in general (as described in Occam’s Razor).
Given the challenges described here (without considering the other topics in this series) it is difficult to understand how we could have arrived at a position where we are perceived as ‘crazy’ or ‘stupid’, just for questioning the validity of the General Theory of Evolution. I hope that this helps you to remain firm in your faith and to present alternatives to evolution when challenged.