To understand mutations you have to know
something about DNA. Some of the links below are helpful on the structure
and function of DNA (deoxyribose nucleic acid). The easiest way to
understand it is as information molecules, containing mases of
instructions in digital form on gigantic molecules stored curled up in
the nucleus of every cell (bacteria are different, the DNA is in loose
packets inside the cell). The digital information carried on DNA
molecules tells the machines inside living cells what to do, and
ultimately builds and maintains the whole organism. Its rather like
computer software in the way it carries digitally encoded information.
Creationists believe that God designed and made DNA, evolutionists
believe it came into being by accident. Your mission, should you choose
to accept it, is to examine the facts and decide which theory fits
best. DNA mutations which confer increased complexity are the only
possible theoretical mechanism for evolution. If this mechanism fails, Darwinian evolution falls.
why is mutation important?
what are mutations?
what are the usual results of mutation?
what about beneficial mutations?
what about antibiotic resistance?
DNA check and repair, protecting us from mutations and preventing evolution
evolution can be defined as
natural selection action on random mutations. No
evolutionists deny this, and given what we know about the cell and DNA,
there is no other possible mechanism.
Evolutionists tend however to be a bit shy about this, since the word 'mutation' rings alarm bells with people. There is a very good reason for this-mutations are unplanned alterations in DNA which cause some of the most horrible diseases on the planet. Putting genetic + disease into Google produced over 76 MILLION hits, try it. As you would expect from random jumbling of any message or precise instructions, the results of randomly re-arranging DNA are chaotic. Many mutations are small enough to make little or no noticeable difference, but 'serious' mutations, big enough to make the kind of changes we need to get from a reptile to a bird as evolution requires are almost always disastrous. This is not creationist propaganda but hard science. Read on, check everything carefully (your DNA check and repair mechanism does, or else you'd die).Typical examples of phenotypic mutations are, Down's syndrome, Huntingdon's disease, cystic fibrosis, and all known forms of cancer.
Mutations occur when
the DNA molecule which contains the
encoded information of life is changed in some way. This occurs due
to random jumbling up during the process of cell division or if the DNA
is damaged by some external insult such as radiation or poisons
damaging the DNA. Different kinds of mutation include duplication
( a piece of DNA is doubled, as in Down's syndrome), deletion
(the DNA section is destroyed or lost) substitution (2 pieces
of DNA exchange places) etc. This is by no means an exhaustive list. If
you want to go further into the biology of mutations, the
at al 'Darwin Day' site links to a very
good discussion of mutations here, which shows the nuts and bolts
of how things go wrong but
fails to demonstrate how beneficial mutations which add new information
arise. Please note, this site
on DNA and mutations was chosen by atheists who want to persuade
everyone that Darwinism is true. These people believe that all the
living things we see arose from 'The Common Ancestor' through
beneficial mutations which added information. There is nothing on the
site about how DNA mutations can do this. It is in their interest to
demonstrate evidence for beneficial mutations, but they can't.
Mutations are just like random errors in computer
software-they wreck things, not make them. Isn't this rather obvious?
Key point-evolution predicts and requires large numbers of mutations which add coherent genetic information that leads to new and better structures. Science observes the opposite.
This is necessarily a very short section. A small number of debatable changes have been seen in clones of bacteria, but pretty well nothing else. and an internet search on the word mutation will bring up vast numbers of diseases. However, as has been shown, since DNA is very well organised with all the appearance of deliberate and very skilful design when anything is changed randomly, you would predict that functionality would decrease. In fact, this is what we find when we try the experiment.
2 commonly cited examples of beneficial mutation will be dealt with (peppered moth is dealt with elsewhere since there is no genetic change, merely an adjustment in the population frequency of existing genes for colour variation, so it is not an example of mutation at all, although it is falsely claimed to be so on some evolutionist sites).
Sickle cell disease
Otherwise known as sickle cell anaemia, this is a genetic condition prevalent in Africa in which due to a random DNA mutation changes the molecular structure of haemoglobin (Hb) the complex protein which carries dissolved oxygen in red cells through the bloodstream. Just one amino acid molecule out of 240 is wrong on the Hb, as a result of which it does not fold properly. The mutation is not so bad it causes death, but the red cells carrying the deformed Hb have a reduced life span and tend to clump up in the small blood vessels, causing thrombosis. Sickle cell disease occurs in partial (inherited from one parent) or full blown (inherited from both parents) forms, the full blown form is usually fatal at a young age, the less severe form tends to shorten life expectancy but not so severely that the person cannot get on with life and have children, or the mutation would have been selected out millennia ago.
The interesting thing about sickle cell disease from
an evolutionary point of view is that it's diseased cells are less
likely to be taken over by the Malaria parasite, because of their
deformity. Malaria is a disease common in parts of Africa which can kill
within days, although recovery is common especially where medicine is
available. Sickle cell disease therefore gives some benefit where
malaria is prevalent. This is commonly cited as an example of a
beneficial mutation. However, if we look at the plain facts, here we
have a mutation which amounts to a loss of information leading to a
demonstrably less functional molecule which produces a disease state
which can cause pain, disability and death. The fact that it gives some
protection against an even worse disease is comparable to the idea that
broken arm or deafness in a man of military age might lead to him avoiding being called up to fight in a war. If not for the war, he would be much better off without the disability. To call this mutation beneficial and an example of 'onwards and upwards' evolution is special pleading of the highest order, if not frankly insane.
Key point-sickle cell disease is an
example of a mutation leading to a damaged protein causing disease and
death. This is taught in schools and claimed to be an example of a
beneficial mutation. In fact, it is a rather nasty disease caused by
just one wrong sequence in the molecule, which reduces it's
functionality. If evolutionists had any better examples,
would they use one as bad as this? As Professor Michael Behe wrote in his book 'The Edge of Evolution' this is an example of a 'broken of blunted gene' conferring limited situational benefit. This is the most that evolution can do.
Antibiotic resistant bacteria
Even the most convinced evolutionists know that sickle cell anaemia is a rotten example of so called beneficial mutations. Although it is still widely quoted, they search hard for better examples, currently the one used most often is that of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Most people are aware of Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is an example of a disease causing bacterium which used to be killed by antibiotics but now cannot be. This is a major public health problem with which the NHS is struggling. There we are, they will say, bacteria have evolved resistance to antibiotics, so that proves evolution. Well as it happens it does not. In order to explain why it is necessary to quote a fair amount of biology which might be difficult for some readers.
In order to consider antibiotic resistance it is
first necessary to ask how antibiotics can kill bacteria at all. Antibiotics by the way are anturally ocuring chemicals produced by soil organisms, they ahve alwys been around and presumably have a 'balance of nature' role in the microbial environment. It
must also be remembered that some bacteria have always been resistant
to antibiotics, they have been found in the frozen guts of men who died and were buried in permafrost in the 'pre-antibiotic era'. There never was an antibiotic which could kill all
Bacteria have no nucleus and so their DNA floats free in the cell in packets of information called plasmids. They can exchange plasmid DNA with other bacteria by a process called conjugation, and combined with their extremely raid rate of multiplication, many variations can occur. This is described as evolution, but the end result is always bacteria of the same species, even if there are some small changes which can be accounted for by DNA exchange and natural selection.
An internet search will find a very few examples of
supposed beneficial mutations, practically all in cultured bacteria. Not very impressive. Against this must be set the VAST number of diseases caused by
DNA check and repair
Since the process of DNA replication normally runs
very well, mutations are relatively uncommon compared to the millions
of times DNA is replicated in the life of an individual plant, animal
or human. However, even when mutations do occur, every living plant,
animal and human cell has DNA check and repair
mechanisms which study the DNA during replication and fix any misplaced
base pair sequences. In the case of a very badly damaged section of
DNA, something rather wonderful called DNA excision repair takes
The damaged section of DNA, having been identified, is snipped out with
special enzymes, disposed of, and a new correct section of DNA is
synthesised and stitched back on so that the information encoded in the
DNA is as good as new.
An item here in Science Daily discusses the role of DNA check and repair partial failure in Huntingdon's disease, a horrible degenerative condition caused by a mutation. As this brief extract shows, 'oxidative lesions' occur when oxygen damages DNA. These lesions are fixed by normally working repair mechanisms, but in Huntingdon's disease, the gradual failure of one part of the DNA check and repair leads to progressive neurological failure due to corrupted DNA.
>>>>>>>>."McMurray's study shows that
the inserted segment grows when cells try to remove oxidative lesions,
which are caused by byproducts of the oxygen we breathe. DNA repair
enzymes initially keep oxidative lesions in check, but over time,
increasing numbers of lesions overwhelm the repair systems. Oxidative
lesions also accumulate in people who do not have Huntington's disease,
but because their huntingtin gene lacks the extra segment it is not
prone to expansion."<<<<<<
Note that a relatively small failure in one gene coding for one protein (among thousands), caused by a
mutation, causes disease and death in this case because everyday damage
to DNA could not be repaired by the mechanism which usually does. This
example came up in a Google search on DNA check repair-there are many
more, go take a look. Contrast the vast amount of disabling
and fatal diseases caused by DNA mutations with tiny number
of not particularly good examples of arguably beneficial mutations like
sickle cell disease and antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Mutations and predictions
It is clear that mutations are generally harmful This is
what the intelligent design hypothesis predicts, but it is a catastrophic problem for
evolutionism. Remember, Charles Darwin admitted his complete
ignorance of how features were transmitted from one generation to the
next (fair enough, nobody knew back then).
One of the features of a successful scientific hypothesis is that you can make predictions with it which can be confirmed. Evolution predicts that a significant proportion of mutations will be beneficial, and that by adding mutation to mutation to mutation to mutation over thousands of generations, new features and new sorts of plant and animal will arise. ID (intelligent design) predicts that mutations where they occur will tend to disrupt a well ordered and designed system and mess it up, just as you see then an ignorant person tinkers with a machine or other designed contraption, or random copying errors occur in computer software. Improvements to human systems come through careful thought and planning followed by trial and error. An unbiased observer would have to conclude that the better than the molecules to man by random changes and natural selection model. So if the ID model makes better predictions about mutations, the central engine of evolution, why do scientists persist in dismissing ID? Several possibilities exist.
1) despite the evidence that phenotypic mutations do
not lead to improvements, quite the reverse, the other evidence for
evolution is so overwhelming that this evidence can be discounted (in the
same way that overwhelming circumstantial evidence against a murderer
is discounted if he has a good alibi, or a skilful and eloquent liar
2) the evidence against ID is so overwhelming it can be discounted
3) mutations in the distant past were more conducive to evolution than those we see today
4) scientists have decided to stick with the ATUBA (atoms to us by accident) paradigm no matter what because of a priori reasoning.
CONCLUSION if atoms to
us evolution by unguided random natural processes occurred, it can only
have done so (setting aside the problem of the original origin of life
from non-life) by natural selection
acting on mutations. It follows that
ENOUGH of these mutations must have conferred benefit for progress from
simple to complex to have occurred, leading to all the wonderful forms
of life we see today arising by a series of unguided accidents from an
original single celled common ancestor. This has not been observed nor
does it make sense.
Mutations have been studied in
nature and in the laboratory (e.g. fruit flies) for 100 years;
vast sums of money
have been spent employing researchers to try to find proof of evolution
and confound to 'prove' evolution and silence the creationists. Our
knowledge of the humane DNA genome has increased vastly in recent
times, and every new discovery adds layers of complexity. The main
outcome of genetic research has been to reveal the extent to which
human diseases are caused by bits of DNA being corrupted by mutations
so they stop working.
Only a tiny number of arguable beneficial biochemical mutations have been observed, almost all in bacteria which have different kinds of cell to other organisms (they have no nucleus). Most of these involve loss of information or duplication of existing information, which is clearly not a mechanism which can cause forward progress.
Mutations cannot explain the development of new features or creatures. There is no
other potential mechanism to explain new features. It therefore follows
that the overwhelmingly deleterious nature of mutations and their
failure to produce increased information leading to new and/or better
structures falsifies unguided molecules to man
return to main menu