Are mutations the cause of evolution?

Isn’t it reasonable to believe that, given enough time, mutations can cause evolution?

Mutations are actually an enemy of evolution.  Let me explain.

Charles Darwin explained the evolution model of origin  by the mechanism of natural selection over long periods of time.  He also believed that certain acquired characteristics could be passed along to the next generation.  For example, a giraffe evolved its long neck because it kept stretching its neck to reach food high up in trees.  The information for a long neck was passed along to the offspring through “pangenes”.  In the early 1900s, scientists began to understand the work on genetics of Gregor Mendel and realized that pangenesis was impossible.  They proposed the explanation that random errors in DNA replication called mutations caused beneficial changes.  This became known as neo-Darwinism; something new (neo) had been added to the Darwinian concepts.   

Problems with mutations contributing to evolution are numerous, extensive and very well documented.

Evolution requires a net increase in the quantity and quality of genetic information.  For an organism to evolve to another organism new genetic information must be added.  That is, the reason man is different than an eggplant is because man has genetic coding for things an eggplant doesn’t have.  Therefore, evolution relies on mutations causing an increase in genetic data.  In order for a mutation to play a role in evolution a great many of them would need to occur. The problem is that mutations ordinarily cause a loss of information, sometimes a transfer of information, but never an increase of information.  Thus, mutations go the wrong way, because evolution requires limitless genetic expansion.  Instead of an explanation for origin of life, mutations are actually an explanation of the origin of death and disease.

Blind chance alone cannot produce highly complex, ordered information
Chance mutations cannot produce complex, meaningful, and highly organized information.

Another problem is mathematical; mutations are very rare.  They occur only once in every ten million replications.  The chance of two related mutations occurring is one in 100 trillion; given the abundance of genes in living organisms, however, mutations can and do occur.  Even so, most mutations are harmful, leading to death of the organism before birth or a loss of a specific function.  Only one in 1000 are not harmful and most of those are neutral, having no effect on the organism.  Certainly this is why mutations are to be avoided.  Mutagenic radiation and chemicals are avoided, not embraced. 

Yet, another problem for mutations is that much of what is called mutation is actually genetic variance.  It was once believed that flies resistant to DDT were mutants.  Considering the impossibility of mutations mathematically, they looked for another explanation.  It was found that a certain population had the genetic material to make them resistant to DDT all along.

This great variety in kind is exactly what we would expect from the creation model.  The phrase, “after his (or their) kind”, is repeated ten times in Genesis, chapter one.  Plants and animals were set up by God to only reproduce within their species.  The mutations that we see are what we would expect from the corruption caused by the fall (Romans 8:19-22).

One final problem I will mention is that mutations are never seen to produce a new species in the laboratory.  This is especially significant when we consider the fruit fly, since biology classrooms for years and years have mutated fruit flies to produce all kinds of changes in them.  The result has been fruit flies with no wings, curly wings, long wings, etc.; but they are still fruit flies, never a bird, a house fly or anything else.

Very rarely a mutation might benefit the organism.  Some bacteria can lose information for a controlling gene and become resistant to certain antibiotics.  People who have sickle-cell anemia are not as susceptible to malaria.  In all cases, however, mutations could never cause evolution because information has been destroyed, not created.

Mutations do not create, they corrupt and most of the time lead to death rather than life.  Hence, over longer periods of time, more harmful mutations would occur, and the less likely evolution could explain origin. 

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©Tom Carpenter
Originally published in the Rockdale/Newton Citizen