Of Generations & Genes

Proponents of the evolution theory assert that both macroevolution and adaptation are in fact two faces of the same coin, with adaptive changes over time accumulating until macroevolution has been accomplished, altering one form of organism into a tangibly different one. Indeed, the mechanism that drives the process at each stage is the same, a buildup of genetic mutations and other factors that cumulatively alter the physiology of an organism. The critical element between the two processes is time. Time and the generational progression of a species. Though adaptive shifts can occur in only a few generations, macroevolution requires hundreds or thousands of generations.

While generational observation may be limited from our perspective, there are two sources we can investigate that may shed some light on the matter.

The first comes in the form of the fossil record, particularly in regard to so-called transitional species, the forms that undeniably indicate a shift from one kind of life to another. Is there truly undeniable evidence of the shift from fish-to-amphibian, reptile-to-mammal, or ape-to-man, among many others? That issue deserves serious examination.

Mainstream authorities are quick to demonstrate the veracity of evolution on the basis of these transitional fossils, claiming that the incremental changes displayed between various specimens provides an unmistakable chain of progress from the primitive to the more advanced. In reality, the majority of fossils tend to be fragmentary and quite open to interpretation, leading zealous researchers to misconstrue what may have been a physical adaptation of an extinct form as evidence of a transition. Furthermore, some so-called transitional species may in fact be representatives of completely unrelated forms of life that – due to our modern lack of experience concerning them – are misunderstood as bridges between primitive and contemporary forms of life. Even amongst modern life, erroneous conclusions could be, indeed have been, drawn demonstrating allegiance between groups based on simple misunderstandings of form and function. How much easier it is to ascribe relationships amongst groups that cannot be observed?

What’s more is that the quantity of transitional fossils is far lacking. Even evolutionist’s are forced to agree that such fossils are exceedingly rare, explaining the matter away by invoking the complexity of the fossilization process. Some have attempted to dismiss their absence by claiming that evolution occurs so rapidly that there was no opportunity for fossilization to preserve the event. Still, considering the hundreds of millions of forms of life alive today and the countless millions that existed across the years – especially if one subscribes to the secular notion of deep-time – then it seems obvious that ample fossil evidence should exist by sheer merit of volume if nothing else. That said, why do we find so few “transitional” fossils?

Some secular researchers have attempted to dismiss the conundrum with seemingly viable explanations instead of simply ignoring it. Among them was Stephen Jay Gould who proposed what he called punctuated equilibrium. According to his theory, organisms tend to stay situated within specific morphological brackets exhibiting little evolutionary change, with rapid and dramatic evolutionary shifts occurring occasionally in response to any number of variables, stimulating sharp divergences amongst forms quickly in a process he referred to as cladogenesis.

Does Gould’s theory have merit? Could it sufficiently explain the conspicuous lack of transitional fossils? For some, it provides a glorious counterargument against the obvious. Still others however – even amongst the mainstream – are critical of Gould’s proposal. My opinion of the matter, for those that care to know, is that just because an explanation can be put forth does not mean that it, in actuality, is the truth of the matter. This line of thought can be happily applied to many such considerations, and I shall be the first to admit that many individuals may suggest the same about subjects covered in this very work. Even so, ultimately all that we have are rare and fragmentary remains capable of being interpreted in a variety of ways, influenced by a range of worldviews and preexisting beliefs. We are left with no true, indisputable and undeniable transitional forms from the fossil record. Interestingly, Dr. Colin Patterson, former Senior Paleontologist at the British Museum of Natural History, in regard to transitional species once said, “I will lay it on the line – there is not one such fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.”(1) 

Such a condition was discussed by Darwin himself nonetheless, who wrote, “Why, if species have descended from other species by fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms?”(2) 

A fine and pertinent question from the father of evolution himself. He further went on to state, with the same degree of acute elegance, that “If numerous species, belonging to the same genera or families, have really started into life all at once, the fact would be fatal to the theory of descent with slow modification through natural selection.”(3) 

One of the most amazing examples of missing transitional fossils comes from a particular event known as the “Cambrian explosion,” in which, seemingly overnight, life blossomed from cellular forms into a vast radiation of diversity with no apparent transition to be found. This event has been so confounding to the mainstream that even Darwin himself acknowledged he had no explanation, saying in On the Origin of Species:

“…I concluded that this great group had been suddenly developed at the commencement of the tertiary series. This was a sore trouble to me, adding as I thought one more instance of the abrupt appearance of a great group of species.”

We come back now to our observations of evolution. Beyond the insights provided by the fossil record, the second critical source of information pertaining to generational progression comes in the form of organisms that, due to their rapid propagation, provide a sample of long-term, generational speciation. Examples in this instance are bacteria (of many forms) and fruit flies (Drosophila). Each of these have been studied for years, which in turn is representative of many hundreds, or even thousands, of generations of reproduction in both groups.

Broadly speaking, we have examined bacteria in one form or another for at least a century and a half, and as bacteria may reproduce as often as once every thirty minutes or so, this equates to millions of generations over the years. What have we seen with these observations? Astoundingly, we have seen bacteria give rise to vast populations of more bacteria. Should we be surprised? The changes that have been observed are typically degenerative, whereby successive generations have incorporated ever greater accumulations of harmful mutations within their genes. Such was seen even in Lenski’s E. coli,(4) with many of these mutations detrimentally hindering the strains. Despite being subjected to a great number of mutagens and other catalysts for evolution, what we see repeatedly is that bacteria are still, after 150 years of observation, producing more of the same kind of bacteria. Who could have expected that? Not the naturalist, of course, but the creationist.

We see similar results in Drosophila populations reared in laboratories. Drosophila are a critical tool in biological research, particularly in regard to genetics and the heritability of traits. In 2010, an article pertaining to a longitudinal study of heredity in Drosophila, focusing on more than 600 generations, was published by Nature,(5) with the results concluding that, despite the anticipated results, little difference was noted between the original population and their descendants. Six-hundred generations with no change! To put that in perspective, relative to human generations, this study would be equivalent to observing human heredity over a period of 12,000 years! Still, no sufficient change was observed, even when allowed the critical variable of time.

Given these two examples, whereby rapid propagation has bypassed the need for great spans of time, we see unequivocally that the descendants are, in fact, essentially identical to their ancestors. How do mainstream supporters counter such data? They in turn have suggested that evolution may work in patterns that we simply cannot understand, or that new traits simply have not had time – generationally speaking – to be fully assimilated into a routine morphology. Is there perhaps an easier, more acceptable answer?

Could it instead be that there are intrinsic genetic safeguards against evolutionary shifts that are deemed by nature or God as too drastic? Could there be inherent limitations to just how much a form can be altered before it reaches a final morphology? The mainstream consensus insists that no such limitations exist, and that such notions would be a disastrous failure to move beyond Leclerc’s “internal moulds.” Evolution, they insist, has no bounds, should nature deem further change necessary.

Ultimately, what could account for the apparent lack of macroevolution? Where is this process that is so critical to the evolution theory? Whether examining finches or flowers, bacteria or flies, the end result in each case is, at best, a variation of a theme, with the final product clearly remaining true to its inherent form.

Another consideration that must be raised here is the subject of genetic similarity amongst life forms. You see, within essentially all forms of life can be found a material that directs all aspects of their makeup. To put it another way, cells almost always contain highly detailed instructions (the genome) on how to function and reproduce, and ultimately, how to direct a single fertilized egg at conception into a viable being composed of a seemingly endless variety of other cells, tissues, organs, and systems. The instructions housed within the genome (the genes) that directed your growth and development are in turn passed to your children. The whole system, not limited to just man but found across nature in every life form, is an amazingly wonderful miracle that should boggle the mind of any who can comprehend both the sheer complexity of the process and its absolute necessity.

In recent years it has become reasonable to compare the genetic structure of life in many forms, analyzing the results to note differences in structure and size, and based on the results, adding a new factor of categorization to traditional taxonomy and cladistics: phylogenetics. Phylogeny – the science of phylogenetics – asserts that closely related forms, due to their shared evolutionary paths, will possess a highly similar genetic makeup.

What are we to make of the apparent interrelatedness of forms, whereby the mainstream’s findings seem to confirm a shared evolutionary origin? I believe the answer is quite simple and provocatively obvious. Shared genetic features could just as easily point to a shared Creator as they could common descent. After all, if genes are instructions for how life is to grow and breed and adapt, then would it not be similar amongst life forms that share similar morphologies and lifestyles? Though the mainstream would use phylogenetic commonalities to confirm macroevolution, and thereby the evolutionary paradigm as a whole, in truth the matter could simply be that these life forms all arose because of the efforts of a shared Creator. Interestingly, the genetic evidence seems counterintuitive in many cases, whereby seemingly unrelated forms are found to possess apparent phylogenetic relationships. In spite of the obvious, genetic evidence has led some researchers to, among others, consign a shrew-like insectivore among the elephant linage, and to assert that cows are closer related to pelagic dolphins than their barnyard counterparts, horses.(6) 

It is worth mentioning that there is, in fact, a branch of science that stands in stark opposition to mainstream taxonomy and cladistics, accepting that life is inherently limited in its morphological adaptiveness, and that common structural and genetic features tell of a common Creator as opposed to common descent: Baraminology (from the Hebrew words Bara [Created] and Min [Kind]). This field declares that life is now, and has been from the very beginning, inherently dividend by reproductive compatibility, archetype, or morphology, and that life originated, not from a single ancestral form, but rather a number of archetypical forms, each experiencing an adaptive radiation which has produced the variety we see. Whereas the mainstream describes the “tree of life,” baraminology instead presents an “orchard of life,” a field of families, all originating at one event, and subsequently branching out into related variations through adaptation and mutation. Thus, unlike mainstream classification systems which rely on macroevolutionary connections to frame life, baraminology instead trusts the repeatedly confirmed process of adaptation as an explanation to the diversity witness across biology in its extinct and extant forms.

Ultimately, when we consider the evidence, what are we left with? The evolutionary paradigm is based on the accumulated alterations of genes through microevolution, precipitating generationally into macroevolutionary leaps, shifting one form into another. In reality, what we see is that adaptation – undeniable in its ability to allow life across the globe to acclimate to changing conditions – is true, yet the anticipated accumulation of these changes, macroevolution, appears to be categorically absent from examination, even when vast generations are observed. That, and the ability to provide an alternative explanation for common genetic features and classification, could lead one to some intriguing conclusions.

If the veracity of a science is contingent upon its ability to be adequately tested, analyzed, and replicated, where then does that leave us in regard to evolution?

When we evaluate the situation in light of reality, what we find is that the mainstream image of evolution is just as riddled with unfounded belief as most religions are. According to one commentator, a religion can be defined as “an attempt to represent and order beliefs, feelings, imaginings and actions that arise in response to direct experience of the sacred and the spiritual. As this attempt expands in its formulation and elaboration, it becomes a process that creates meaning for itself on a sustaining basis, in terms of both its originating experiences and its own continuing responses.“(7) Remove the reference to “the sacred and the spiritual” and one could easily apply this definition to the mainstream evolutionary model. After all, it is an attempt to represent the expectations of naturalism, based primarily on anticipated truths rather than observable and repeatable data, and as the model grew in complexity and devotees, it became evermore self-sustaining, evermore focused on its own superiority, evermore critical of all other views.

I, for one, am convinced that the mainstream model is, in fact, more religion than science. While there are some truths within the model that have been borne out through observation and analysis, a great abundance of misrepresentation is deeply entrenched within the paradigm as a whole, requiring its adherents to accept it on the basis of faith in the secular, faith in man’s knowledge, faith in naturalism.

Critics of those who question evolution quickly suggest that such observers are ignorant of the facts, that they simply do not, cannot, or will not understand what is at stake. They say that we simply refuse to accept the plain evidence at hand, no matter how much data they present us with, and that we are blinded by our faith in the supernatural. Could we not say the same of those who accept the model outright, who, by reason of their unyielding faith in naturalism, ignore the glaring absence of the macroevolutionary shifts that are so integral to the model as a whole, condemning any other view as false and ignorant?

After having waded into the evolution paradigm’s origins and its most common misconceptions, what is a Christian believer to do? Is it prudent to accept evolution as a fact of nature, directed by the will and authority of God, in spite of the apparent absence of evidence to support the very existence of the process? Is it worthwhile to abandon the veracity of Scripture, of the Genesis Account, in favor of a paradigm that ultimately appears to be more of a concept than an authentic process? I am utterly convinced that there is no reason to accept the secular paradigm, at least not so far as to trust in common descent or macroevolutionary shifts.

Believers must make their choice; there can be no authentic intermediate path, no ground for happy compromise between the secular and the devout. Faith in one view ultimately limits faith in its counterpart. Believers beware: the secular is never satisfied with partial allegiance, and theistic evolution is as frowned upon as strict creationism.

The secularists desire nothing less than pure naturalism, demanding that the notions of the supernatural be stricken from reality. Ultimately however this leads to even more trouble for their model…

Notes & References

  1. Personal letter (April 10th, 1979) written to Luther Sunderland, cited in Luther Sunderland, “Darwin’s Enigma”,(Green Forest, AR: Masterbooks, 1984), pg 89
  2. Darwin, Charles, “On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, 6th Edition,” P. F. Collier & Son, New York, 1902, pg 233
  3. Darwin, Charles, “The Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life,” A Facsimile of the First Edition, Harvard University Press 1964, p. 302
  4. Lenski, Richard E., “Phenotypic and Genomic Evolution during a 20,000-Generation Experiment with the Bacterium Escherichia coli,” 2003 Janick, Jules, ed., Plant Breeding Reviews, New York, Wiley, 24 (2):, pp 225–65
  5. Burke, M. K. et al., “Genome-wide analysis of a long-term evolution experiment with Drosophila,” 2010, Nature, 467 (7315): 587-590
  6. Roger Lewin, “Family Feud,” New Scientist (vol. 157, January 24, 1998), pg. 36
  7. Paul Donnelly, “Definition of Religion and Related Terms,” 1996, http://www.darc.org/connelly/religion1.html, retrieved on May 6th, 2015

– This was an excerpt fromRemnants of Eden: Evolution, Deep-Time, & the Antediluvian World.” Get your copy here today. God bless! –

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