Answering The Critics
Genetic Entropy Part 2: Natural Selection
By Steve Hudgik
This is part two of a series of articles responding to attempts by evolution proponents to discredit genetic entropy as a valid description of the effect of mutations on a genome. Generic entropy states that random mutations are damaging, even those that provide a benefit to the organism. This is devastating to the idea of evolution, and must be refuted. Otherwise, they must accept the fact that evolution is fairly tale created to eliminate God.
In the first article I demonstrated that the evolutionist's claim that there are many beneficial mutations negating the effect of degrading mutations is false. Here is why.
Genetic entropy states that random mutations are detrimental at the molecular level. Evolutionists counter by saying beneficial mutations are seen. However, they are referring to benefits seen at the phenotype level. "Phenotype" basically means observable characteristics – call it a macro level instead of the molecular level. This is true and is not disputed. However, the evolutionist's response does not address the issue of all random mutations being degenerative at the molecular level... and so it is not actually responding to the claims of genetic entropy. That was the first article.
The evolutionists' next line of defense is natural selection. They say that, even if molecular level mutations are degenerative, natural selection will eliminate them.
In this article we'll look at natural selection's ability to eliminate most damaging mutations. (It can't.)
Genetic entropy states that mutations at the molecular level are detrimental AND those mutations will accumulate. The proponents of evolution try to refute this by saying that natural selection will do what it does; select for beneficial mutations and eliminate deleterious mutations. As a result, mutations that damage the genome will not accumulate, and beneficial mutations will be preserved. Evolution is happening... all is well.
Do damaging mutations at the molecular level accumulate, or are they removed by natural selection?
If damaging mutations accumulate, that means we are degrading (de-evolving) and heading toward eventual extinction (not taking into consideration we are eternal beings and that Jesus will return before that happens). Evolution did not, and could not happen.
So what are the facts?
Natural selection needs something to select. It can only select for traits that have a "visible" impact on the organism. These are called phenotype changes. Do we see changes, that natural selection can select, resulting from random mutations? In most cases, no. The vast majority of random mutations have a very small impact on the organism. They are invisible to natural selection.
We saw in the first article was that all random mutations are deleterious on the molecular level. Although a few of them may result in a benefit, our genome has degraded. In a scientific paper Gibson, Baumgardner, Brewer and Sanford describe how natural selection deals with these deleterious mutations:
“Most deleterious mutations have very slight effects on total fitness, and it has become clear that below a certain fitness effect threshold, such low-impact mutations fail to respond to natural selection. The existence of such a selection threshold suggests that many low-impact deleterious mutations should accumulate continuously, resulting in relentless erosion of genetic information.”
What they are saying is that most mutations do not significantly effect an organism's characteristics, thus there is nothing to select. Nothing for natural selection work with. Here are the numbers from an article written by Russ White in which he is talking about the human genome:
“We also know from genome sequencing that single-nucleotide changes are the most common. The 1,000 Genomes Project... located 38 million single-nucleotide changes, 1.4 million indels (a difference of 1–50 nucleotides resulting from insertions and/or deletions), and 14,000 large deletions (>50 nucleotides).”
Notice, the number of small, single nucleotide mutations. They are, by far, the most common type of mutation.
Let's look at an analogy of a book. A 250 page book has roughly 500,000 characters and spaces. There are about 3 billion nucletides in the human genome. That is equivalent to a library of about 6,000 books. If one character in all of those books randomly changes to another character, are the books still readable? Yes. Of course. An error has been introduced, the quality of the books is very slightly degraded. But, the librarian is not going to even take that one book off the shelf.
38 millions “mutations” would result in about 25 “typos” per page in each book. Now the quality of the library has been noticeably degraded. But, the books are still readable. So the library is still functional and continues in existence.
But, wouldn't that library get a reputation as having poor quality books, and people would go to a different library? The library would close, eliminated by natural selection.
That's not a realistic analogy. Why? Because all libraries would experience similar mutations and degrade at the same rate. The other libraries may have different typos, but their quality (call it fitness for survival) is no better than the first library. The result? The mutations will degrade all libraries equally. None is any better or worse than the others. So they all continue to survive. However, eventually the books in all libraries become unreadable and the libraries close (library extinction).
In an article titled, “Genetic Entropy: The Silent Killer” Paul Price gives this example:
Racing Cars and Error Catastrophe
"Imagine a racing car in top condition. Now imagine someone strikes it with a small hammer, putting a modest dent in one of its panels—or a chip in its windshield. Will this single occurrence affect the car’s chances of winning the race? No, but it’s obvious that the hammer blow did some damage, albeit slight.
By analogy, the hammer blow is a nearly-neutral mutation; the dent is the mutation’s effect. The race is analogous to ‘natural selection’; the winner of the race is ‘fitter’ than the competition.
"Now imagine this gets repeated thousands or even hundreds of thousands of times, all over the car; eventually it will suffer significant damage. It will get less aerodynamic; it might become impossible to see out of the windshield; electrical connections inside the car might get jarred loose. Eventually, given enough of these slight impacts, the car will become totally unusable. But the process is happening to not only one car. Every car in the race is accumulating these little dings at roughly the same rate. At some point, so many cars will have become unusable that the whole race must be cancelled.
"Canceling the race is analogous to extinction. In genetic terms, this is called ‘error catastrophe’ or ‘mutational meltdown’."
The News Gets Worse
Not only does natural selection not prevent the accumulation of deleterious mutations, it accelerates the loss of beneficial information from the genome. Dr. Michael Behe (a biochemist) describes this in his book “Darwin Devolves" (HarperOne, 2019):
“As we'll see in this book, now several decades into the twenty-first century, ever more sophisticated studies demonstrate that, ironically, random mutation and natural selection are in fact fiercely devolutionary.” (Page 10)
“The studies indicate that not only is the Darwinism mechanism devolutionary; it is also self-limiting—that is, it actively prevents evolutionary changes at the biological classification level of family and above.” - Page 11
“With surprising irony it turns out that, as with the polar bear, Darwinian evolution proceeds mainly by damaging or breaking genes, which, counterintuitively, sometimes helps survival. In other words, the mechanism is powerfully devolutionary. It promotes the rapid loss of genetic information. (Page 37)
Let's use an example commonly cited by evolution proponents sickle-cell anemia., This is a mutation that provides immunity to malaria by damaging red blood cells. The damage is harmful to the fitness of people who have this mutation, but the benefit of immunity to malaria increases their likelihood for survival. So in malaria prone areas, the sickle-cell mutation is selected.
If the entire world was subject to malaria, natural selection would eliminate the normal, robust form of red blood cells, and the human race would become weaker. That is what natural selection does. It selects for the immediate benefit, not for overall improved fitness. Information, and thus design diversity is lost. Natural selection drives us downwards, constantly selecting short-term benefits that result from random mutations that damage the genome at a molecular level... that's de-evolution... not evolution.
Next: Genetic Entropy #3: What Do Geneticists Say?