Mutation – it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. Mutation is a critical ingredient in the recipe for evolution. Mutation generates variation, differences between individuals. Are mutations really the key to our evolution? Think about it. In real life, genetic mutations don’t create super powers, they create super challenges. Sometimes those mutations are even life-threatening. That’s the reality. Yet we’re told that random mutations with guidance from natural selection invented and genetically engineered every feature of every living organism changes.
Evolutionary biologists claim that random mutations accumulating overtime ultimately produced life’s features. If this is the case, zillions of chance mutations over the history of life led to the invention of flight and sight, immune systems and reproductive systems, even conscious beings with the capacity to love, reason, create art and distinguish right from wrong. However, now we no longer have to rely on speculative claims. Through experiments we can actually observe mutations and see what they’re doing to guide evolution.
Biochemist Michael Behe has spent much of his life researching and studying mutations. In the past fifty years or so, methods have been developed to track mutations, changes in DNA at the very molecular level. Now we can watch evolution in real time. Since 1988 biologist Richard Lenski has been conducting one of the greatest evolutionary experiments ever done. He started a culture of bacteria called E-coli growing in his lab and since they reproduce so quickly, now they’re up past sixty thousand generations. That’s like a million and a half years of human lifetimes. So we are talking about numbers that are big enough to see some serious changes, if serious changes could come about. In his work he’s seen a lot of beneficial mutations come along but turns out that the great majority of the mutations were in pre-existing genes and they either broke or degraded the genes. So the bacteria were evolving, improving more by devolution than by evolution. It’s difficult to understand how breaking a gene can be beneficial or helpful.
Think of it this way. Suppose you have a car and the most important thing to your survival right now is the gas mileage. What could you do to improve the gas mileage of your car quickly? One thing you could do is rip out the back seat and throw it away. Back seats are helpful but if your life depended on you getting better gas mileage right now, that would be a beneficial improvement. The problem with that for Darwin’s theory is that ripping the back seat out of a car doesn’t tell you how you make a back seat. Darwin’s theory needs to show that organisms can improve by building decks and that’s what has been missing in this terrific experiment. This famous E-coli experiment shows the trillions of random mutations are not capable of building anything new.
By the numbers, this E-coli experiment is giant but it’s dwarfed by the size of a natural experiment involving humans infected with Malaria. Every year, about a billion or so people contract Malaria, so that’s a billion times a trillion cells that are made each year on the planet. In recent decades, scientists have exhaustively studied Malaria. They have seen how it evolved resistance to several of the drugs used to treat it. But what is more interesting is what scientists haven’t seen. There were no new molecular machines, no new genes and yet it had so many chances. Evolutionary theory would have predicted that you’d get something really pretty impressive out of that but it wasn’t seen.
And it’s not just Malaria, it’s not just e-coli, the pattern is widespread. For Behe, this raises a serious red flag for evolutionary theory. The discovery that many beneficial mutations are actually destructive or degradatory mutations puts a huge monkey wrench into Darwinian theory. Not only can’t Darwin’s mechanism of random mutation and natural selection build complex systems, it has a strong tendency to degrade them. This means beneficial mutations – what we have been taught are the building blocks of evolution – show no observable capacity to build or invent. We see that overwhelmingly, the good mutations come about by breaking old genes so you’re not making something new, you were throwing out something you already had. We see it in bacteria, we see it in mammals, we see it and birds, we see it everywhere, everywhere that’s been looked at so far. This scientific evidence completely conflicts with evolutionary theory and that is why the public never hears about it. Only a few brave scientists have been willing to speak out, like Lynn Margulis. “I was taught over and over that the accumulation of random mutations led to evolutionary change, led to new species. I believed it until I looked for evidence.” Mutations are the building blocks of evolution. What can explain the invention of new things like the cell or the eye or flight? In birds, we find all kinds of amazing interdependent features that appear orchestrated for flight. We know from experience how difficult it is to get a flying machine and what it takes to build one. We observe things like purpose and function coming from intelligence sources, not from blind material processes. So when we see design, engineering and artistry throughout nature, shouldn’t we be looking for a designer, an engineer, an artist capable of fashioning what we see? We are not materialists, we see the human soul, we experience love, we live with purpose, we fight for justice.