Mutation and Natural Selection
Darwin proposed that an organisms inheritable traits were "mutable." In other words, they could be changed, either for better or for worse, through a process at that time yet unknown. This mutability provided, according to Darwin, a rich pool of possible traits with which an animal might be born. According to Darwin, those organisms most fit for their environment are more likely to succeed in the competition for resources and therefore survive to the age of reproductive maturity. In turn, those traits will be preferentially passed to the next generation. The fittest organisms were, in effect, selected by nature (natural selection).
He believed that over time the mutability of an organisms traits, coupled with natural selection, produced entirely new species as well as the highly complex adaptations, i.e., hearts, brains, eyes, kidneys, etc. Darwin called this process descent with modification.
Secondly, experimental evidence to date indicates that the vast majority of mutations are either harmful, lethal or at best neutral to an existing code or program. It has been estimated that less than one in ten thousand mutations is beneficial to an organism. If this is true, it means that nine thousand, nine hundred, and ninety-nine mutations out of ten thousand are either harmful, lethal or neutral to the population of organisms in question. Therefore, truly advantageous mutations are extremely rare.
Most lethal mutations will not be passed to the next generation because the organisms that possess them rarely survive to reproductive maturity. However, harmful mutations, which gradually cause the extinction of a species, are passed to the next generation. Consequently, it is much more likely that a population will become extinct before it is improved by random mutations!
Problem of Intermediate Forms
For example, if reptiles evolved into birds then there are a number of new adaptations that had to evolve from previously existing reptile structures. Lightweight bones adapted for flight had to evolve from heavier reptile bones. Wings had to evolve from the forelimbs of a reptile and feathers had to evolve from scales or some other structure in the reptiles skin. If reptiles also evolved into mammals then this means that egg laying was replaced by inter-uterine pregnancy in mammals. Scales had to be replaced by hair. Finally, mammary glands, for the production of milk, had to evolve from an unknown structure, presumably in the skin.
Such changes are not trivial. They involve major changes in the structure and function of previously existing systems. For this to occur there must be the addition of millions of bits of new information to the genetic code of the ancestral organism. Darwin knew that if his scenario for evolution was true then there would have been millions of transitional organisms. That is, organisms that were, for example, between a reptile and a bird.
Genetically, such organisms would not be considered reptiles anymore. However, they would not be fully bird-like either. Darwin recognized that if such intermediates ever existed then the record of their existence would be preserved in the fossil record. During Darwins time, however, there were no fossils that were recognized as truly transitional. Darwin admitted this deficiency and said that if his theory was true then the transitional forms would eventually be found. However, to this day, not a single truly transitional form has ever been discovered in the fossil record.
Origin of Complex Systems
Within the structure of a complex machine like the space shuttle we see a variety of interdependent systems. There are the onboard computers for information storage and retrieval. There are systems for maintaining the proper environment inside the cabin. There are systems which function to generate and facilitate the use of energy. There are navigational systems, communication systems, and multiple systems involved in launching and landing the Space Shuttle.
When we examine living systems we find a number of striking parallels to complex machines. In mammals, for example, we find the visual system for processing light, an olfactory system which analyzes chemicals in the air to provide our sense of smell. We have an auditory system for hearing, a respiratory system for the maintenance of proper oxygen balance, a cardiovascular system which delivers oxygen to the entire body. We find waste removal systems such as the kidneys and the liver which cleanse and purify the blood stream. However, unlike any machine made by man, living systems are capable of self-reproduction. This capability requires a vast amount of additional information storage and complex machinery.
Every one of these systems is a highly complex, machine-like collection of molecular "hardware." In addition, every system in our bodies is composed of multiple subsystems or integrated parts, each of which is required for the system to function at all. If evolution is valid it must explain the origin of these systems without the introduction of intelligent guidance or expertise.
Eye: Darwins Nightmare
The visual system in human beings is an incredibly complex, integrated system which converts photons into meaningful information with incredible speed, unparalleled by modern video digitizing computers. The enormous complexity of vision was eloquently discussed by John Stevens, in Byte Magazine, in 1985: "While todays digital hardware is extremely impressive, it is clear that the human retinas real-time performance goes unchallenged. Actually, to simulate 10 milliseconds (ms) of the complete processing of even a single nerve cell from the retina would require the solution of about 500 simultaneous nonlinear differential equations 100 times and would take at least several minutes of processing time on a Cray super computer. Keeping in mind that there are 10 million or more such cells interacting with each other in complex ways, it would take a minimum of 100 years of Cray time to simulate what takes place in your eye many times every second."
In the eye, there is a lens which focuses images on the retina in the back of the eye. On the retina visual images are displayed up-side-down. Within the retina, there is a highly complex chemical system which converts the photons of light to electrons. These electrons then travel down a "wire," the optic nerve, to at least three different areas in the brain. The visual signal travels first to the geniculate body where the visual information is first organized. The visual signals are then sent to the occipital cortex where the visual information is displayed right-side-up, and finally to the frontal lobes of the brain where pattern recognition occurs.
Unless all of these subsystems are present and properly connected, the visual system does not function. A visual system composed of four-fifths of the necessary components does not give eighty percent vision. It provides no vision at all! Consequently, one of the most difficult problems for the evolutionary theory is to explain how highly complex systems, such as the visual system, which is composed of multiple indispensable subsystems, could have arisen over a long period of time when a partially evolved system is of no use to the organism.
According to evolution theory, this occurred by the piecemeal accumulation of mutations necessary to code for each of the sub-components. These sub-components were then integrated and connected, ultimately resulting in a functional visual system.
The Fatal Flaw
According to evolutionary theory, mutations are preferentially selected, concentrated and distributed throughout a population when they are beneficial; that is, when they increase the "fitness" of an organism and its offspring. Consequently, complex systems, such as the visual system, would have arisen very gradually over millions of years through the step by step accumulation of mutations necessary to produce the separate parts.
However, this mechanism has an insurmountable difficulty which has not been adequately addressed by evolutionists. According to evolutionary thinking, approximately 800 million years ago a blind primitive creature had a number of mutations which gave rise to a pigmented spot on the surface of its skin. This pigmented spot was the beginning of an early retina. Gradually, the pigmented cells became connected to a nerve which in turn became connected to the organisms brain. Over many millions of years all the various parts of this primitive visual system became connected and the organism could sense light.
Evolutionists admit that such early visual systems could only distinguish between light and dark. However, this newly developed ability gave the organism a competitive advantage over its neighbors and, therefore, it was more successful in competing for resources. The problem with this theory is that the mutations that gave rise to the early eye will provide no increased functional capacity to the organism. This is because a partially evolved visual system does not provide a little bit of vision, it provides no vision at all! Consequently, the mutations that produced the primitive eye (the pigmented spot) will not be beneficial and will not be concentrated in the population. They will be lost and the genetic experiment to create vision will be a bust.
The fundamental failure of mutation and natural selection is that there is no known mechanism which will allow the mutations that produce one of the subsystems in the visual system to wait around for millions of years while the other subsystems are being produced in a similar piece-meal random fashion. Arthur Koestler comments on the implausibility of this scenario: "Each mutation occurring alone would be wiped out before it could be combined with the others. They are all interdependent. The doctrine that their coming together was due to a series of blind coincidences is an affront not only to common sense but to the basic principles of scientific explanation."
Charles Darwin himself even admitted that his theory was insufficient to explain the origin of complex systems such as the visual system: "To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree."
The point is that a transitional visual system, i.e., one which is on the way to being produced, is impossible to visualize from a Darwinian point of view. This dilemma has also been recognized by a number of scientists in recent decades: "The eye, as one of the most complex organs, has been the symbol and archetype of his [Darwins] dilemma. Since the eye is obviously of no use at all except in its final, complete form, how could natural selection have functioned in those initial stages of its evolution when the variations had no possible survival value? No single variation, indeed no single part, being of any use without every other, and natural selection presuming no knowledge of the ultimate end or purpose of the organ, the criterion of utility, or survival, would seem to be irrelevant. And there are other equally provoking examples of organs and processes which seem to defy natural selection.
Biochemistry provides the case of chemical synthesis built up in several stages, of which the intermediate substance formed at any one stage is of no value at all, and only the end product, the final elaborate and delicate machinery, is usefuland not only useful but vital to life. How can selection, knowing nothing of the end or final purpose of this process, function when the only test is precisely that end or final purpose?"
If we assume that life is the product of intelligent design we can see that the designer need only place all of the sub-components together in the organism simultaneously and they would be fully functional. On this point, evolution fails entirely to explain the origin of complex systems. If this were not enough we now know that the complex systems in organisms such as human beings are also integrated. For example, the visual system is connected to the digestive system. When we see a photograph of a food we like, we begin to salivate. The respiratory and the cardiovascular system are connected to the visual system, endocrine system, to the reproductive system and on and on.
Each of the systems affects the other systems in ways that insure the survival and preservation of the species. It staggers the mind to imagine how such complex systems could be built in a piecemeal fashion over millions of years by the evolutionary process. Robert Jastrow echoed this sentiment when he stated: "It is hard to accept the evolution of the human eye as a product of chance; it is even harder to accept the evolution of human intelligence as the product of random disruptions in the brain cells of our ancestors."
The Fossil Record
We are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasnt changed. World authorities still agree that the fossil record does not support the gradual evolution of life on earth.
Finally, in the late 1970s, Stephen Jay Gould confirmed the fact that the fossil record does not confirm the process of evolution: "The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference. However reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. We fancy ourselves as the only true students of lifes history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study." In other words, the evolutionary trees "that adorn our textbooks" are based on conjecture and guess work based on philosophy, not science.
It is clear that the fundamental error of evolution is the non-viability of transitional systems. Unless the sub-components of complex systems arise simultaneously they will not function. As a result, the mutations that gave rise to the primitive sub-components will be lost and will not be preserved and concentrated in the population. However, the only other option to the chance origin of complex systems is that their sub-components were intentionally designed and brought together as an act of purposeful creation. There is no third option.
Since the laws of chemistry and physics in our universe are incapable of explaining the chance origin and evolution of life then the source must be an extra dimensional one. That is, a creative source that exists outside time and space.
For thousands of years the Bible has taught that God is a transcendent Being who existed before time and space and spoke the universe and its life forms into existence. The Bible also teaches that time, space and matter had a beginning in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Remarkably, in the twentieth century astronomers have arrived at the same conclusion: time, space and matter had a beginning.
It is indeed ironic that twenty first century scientific inquiry now demands a Creator that exists outside the space-time domain; One that "inhabits eternity." The Creator revealed in the Bible is not only outside time and space, He also applied biochemical know-how onto matter and designed and created man from "the dust of the earth." The Bible also teaches that that the existence of God is confirmed in the things that are made.
The bottom line? Science clearly refutes evolution and confirms the Biblical account of creation.