For I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts can be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived.
-- Charles Darwin, Introduction to Origin of Species
An open letter to my Darwinist friends:
Good news, Darwinists. The data speaks for itself, and evolution is true. We are all evolving, slowly changing over time, with each generation exhibiting new levels of genetic diversity. And your ruthless (if not sacred) killing machine of natural selection fed by unstoppable random mutations remains intact for the most part. Yes, thanks to your unflagging zeal and devotion we now enjoy an ocean of facts and figures showing the power of unguided, random mutations and their short- and long-term effects on the living genome. Dutifully and invisibly replicating voluminous information day after day in complex cellular machinery designed, oops--that looks designed--to do just that, life does the best it can in its silently tedious task of begetting itself. You free-thinking skeptics of all but Darwin can rejoice with the rest us; we are indeed lucky to be alive.
But listen carefully, my friends. Your evolution lobby's biggest problem, and the reason why few but the most heavily invested truly believe, is that at a gut level, that instinctive impression of what makes sense that we all bear deep within us, your evolution story fails to convince. Yes, we are told about the magic wand of natural selection, and we all nod with a look that says, OK, if you say so. But how, we all privately ponder, can random mistakes in the finely tuned genetic code once, much less time after time, provide any beneficially new assembly instruction for unintelligent (that's what "natural" means) preservation from death (that's what "selection" means)? Pardon the rest of us, but this simply doesn't make sense.
Surely even the most surly of you hardened materialists putting full faith in eternal matter must marvel at the marvelously intricate cellular machinery operating like a bustling factory town in high season. And only minds indurate beyond hope can't but harbor a deep, secret wonder at how such deep, secret wonder could really just happen mindlessly. How did the cell's layers upon layers of complex coded instructions for multiple independent yet synergistically cooperating mechanisms come piece by piece from random and unplanned mistakes in a simpler code, with successive minor changes spanning millions of years? By way of crude and insufficient comparison, could the complex instructions of every component and every system of the space shuttle really come from unguided, purposeless mistakes in copying a set of instructions for, say, a little red wagon? Really? Even if we assume a true intelligent selector in place, really? (And, by the way, you've never told us where the instructions for that little red wagon come from.)
What the rest of us will never learn from you Darwinists because it's an inference derived from actual data is that our gut level sense about evolution is absolutely correct. Yes, the data supports Darwinism as far as it goes. Genetic changes, including mutations, appear to be frequent, chance, random events. But the data also confirms that, like everything else in nature, the undirected, randomly changing genome is not exempt from the laws of nature that demand that in the absence of intelligent intervention all natural processes of spontaneous change must tend to degradation and disorder. In nature, it is literally the law: the Second Law of Thermodynamics. And "natural selection," whatever its merits, unless it be super-natural can no more transcend natural law to intelligently code the genome than a river can transcend the law of gravity to flow uphill. In nature, no "theory of upness" can override the law of gravity; everything that goes up (or is up) must (and will) come down. It may fly, float, or get snagged on something for a moment, but it will come down. The same principle applies universally: time is not on the side of "upness" anywhere in nature.
So it's like a fresh breeze in a stuffy room when one happens upon the work of Dr. John C. Sanford, an experienced geneticist with impeccable credentials from Cornell University, who delights the reasonable scientific mind with one of those finally-someone-is-confirming-what-I-always-suspected-must-be-true moments. In his book, Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome, Dr. Sanford reveals the peer-reviewed studies from experts that show we were right to suspect the mysterious, law-defying "upness" of Darwinian theory all along. Importantly, Dr. Sanford explains the implications of what many Darwinists know but won't tell: the data shows virtually all genetic mutations, the only mechanism you Darwinists have to produce the raw material for new species, are either near neutral or deleterious, and natural selection is incapable of keeping up with all the negative changes. Using the language of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Dr. Sanford explains the data showing that not only do mutations fail to provide the raw material for novel phenotypic (i.e., bodily) features, but also that genetic entropy (i.e., disorder and information loss) is steadily increasing because natural selection simply cannot stave off the inexorable loss of information in the genetic code caused by mutations. In his words, the "Primary Axiom" of modern biology, i.e., that man is the product of random mutations and natural selection, not only is false, it can be shown false.
Using analogies, including the "red-wagon-to-space-shuttle" example, Dr. Sanford sets out in readable fashion the entropic case against natural selection as a mechanism of beneficial change in the information content of the genome. Consider one problem with natural selection: natural selection acts only at the phenotypic level (on the level of the whole organism) and not at the genotypic level (the molecular level of mutating nucleotides). That is, natural selection can only preserve or kill whole organisms, and cannot detect, much less choose the occassional "good" mutation. Of course this is true, and of course this renders natural selection nothing more than survival of the luckiest, without the necessary sensitivity to truly select for any given nucleotide sequence at the genetic level. Natural selection simply cannot "see" all the near-neutral and slight negative mutations (or even any positive mutations, which have rarely, if ever, been observed). What this means is that not only is natural selection incapable of "selecting" for "good" mutations, it cannot hope to keep up with the continuous torrent of negative mutations sufficiently to stop genetic entropy. According to Sanford, "Unless selection can somehow stop the erosion of information in the human genome, mutations will not only lead to our death, they will lead to the death of our species."
You see, we are all mutants with many thousands of information-degrading mutations already lodged in our genetic code. And the long-term prognosis is not positive; in short, our species, like all living organisms, continues to accumulate genetic information loss, such that we are evolving downward, not upward. Population geneticists have known this since at least 1957, and yet you Pollyanna's of popular Darwinism, who because you are sold-out Darwinists first and skeptical scientists second, ignore the evidence and believe a lie. Yes, let's speak plainly; it is a lie that natural selection can perform super-naturally simply because, by gosh, supernatural power must be assumed to explain your law-defying, bottom-up design--oops, again, occurrence--of information-rich coded machines. It is a fiction, a modern somehow-it-must-work, gosh-of-the-gaps, push-water-up-hill fantasy, this natural selection of yours.
We have four words for you, Darwinists: show us the data. Show us the data to support your theory that natural selection can prevent extinction, much less make any headway to new phenotypic novelty (much less new species). Then we might be interested in your scientific opinions. But until then, the data presents a more interesting scientific question: just where did our devolving genetic code come from in the first place? What gave us the low entropy of our original "upness"? What theory, perfectly consistent with the data, would support the idea that we (and all living organisms) are not evolving to a higher state, but slowly devolving from some higher state, perhaps a state of perfect genomic information content? Such a fascinating scientific question obviously leads to even more fascinating scientific questions about original creation. But how could any true scientist resist the thrill of such truth discovery?
In any event, in light of the data showing that with each mutation our genome experiences loss of information, we are not only lucky to be alive; we are lucky we are not extinct. It appears that the eventual and inevitable catastrophic "mutational meltdown" predicted by the data is many generations off. In the meantime, can we not use our scientific reasoning to consider the truth of our existence? What, if anything, would the idea of a truly supernaturally created genome that is now slowly degenerating over time imply about our history, our purpose and our existence?
Sadly, most of you Darwinists will react defensively to "facts ... adduced ... apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which [Darwin] arrived." That's understandable because even though many such facts plainly exist, in all your education you were never exposed to any scientific counter to the lie of natural selection as a positive change agent. And most people cannot admit to contrary facts when in an advanced stage of belief. But for any of you Darwinists who see the writing on the genetic wall and are willing to think outside your imposed consensus box, welcome.
Yes, evolution is the truth; it's just not the whole truth or nothing but the truth. So, (please) help us God.
Roddy Bullock is a freelance writer and the Executive Director of the Intelligent Design Network of Ohio and is the author of The Cave Painting: A Parable of Science, published by and available from Access Research Network.
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Copyright (c) 2008 Roddy M. Bullock, all rights reserved. Quotes and links permitted with attribution.
Publisher and agent inquiries welcome.
John C. Sanford, PhD, Genetic Entropy & the Mystery of the Genome (Waterloo, NY, 2008). ISBN 978-0-9816316-0-8. Available from Amazon.
Bergman J. (2004). Research on the deterioration of the genome an Darwinism: why mutations result in degeneration of the genome. Intelligent design Conference, Biola University, April 22-23. As stated by Sanford, "Bergman (2004) reviewed the topic of beneficial mutations. Among other things, he did a simple literature search via biological Abstracts and Medline. He found 453,732 "mutation" hits, but among these only 186 mentioned the word "beneficial" (about 4 in 10,000). When those 186 references were reviewed, the presumed beneficial mutations were only beneficial in a very narrow sense and consistently involved loss-of-function (loss of information) changes. He was unable to find a single example of a mutation that unambiguously created new information.
"Mutational meltdown" occurs as a population's fitness continually declines and the fertility eventually begins to decline. It is the final phase of "error catastrophe", which is the biological situation where deleterious mutations are accumulating faster than selection can remove them. Unless reversed, error catastrophe leads to the extinction of a population.
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