Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thoughts on Evolution Part 3: Natural Selection

Having examined the literalness of the creation account and the age of the earth, let us now turn to the issue of the evolution of life via natural selection. Keep in mind, that due to how we should regard the creation account and the age of the earth, there is no way a Bible believing Christian should regard this as remotely possible. However, because our secular culture and many Christians take the creation of life by evolution and natural selection as a given, we will examine some of the problems with the theory here.

First, let us define two terms, natural selection and evolution. Natural selection can be described as
A process in nature in which organisms possessing certain genotypic characteristics that make them better adjusted to an environment tend to survive, reproduce, increase in number or frequency, and therefore, are able to transmit and perpetuate their essential genotypic qualities to succeeding generations
( Evolution is a little trickier, because there are actually two definitions that are used, and although they imply two completely different things, many will use them interchangeably. The first is the scientific literature definition: 
any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next
 The second is the one generally held by the general public:
The process by which the present diversity of plant and animal life arose from the earliest and most primitive organisms, which is believed to have been continuing for the past 3000 million years.
 The first is frequently observed occurring in natural and laboratory settings via natural selection or another method. The second has yet to be observed.

Many people, Richard Dawkins included, want to believe that the same natural selection that results in antibiotic resistant bacteria, has also allowed very similar creatures to those bacteria to accumulate enough information to eventually become creatures like you and me, otherwise known as "goo to you" evolution. 

What are the problems with this view? The first and foremost is that natural selection works at the level of information. The DNA sequence in every cell is not just a random sequence, but rather a highly specific set of instructions on how to make everything a cell needs to live, including more copies of itself. When a bacteria becomes resistant to an antibiotic, it does so either through mutation of the target, or by acquiring a beneficial protein from another type of bacterium. As a mutation almost always results in a loss of function, it will only remain if the selective pressure of the antibiotic continues to be applied. This is also true of any acquired protein as well, as these are often encoded in packets of DNA that are not integrated into the bacterial genome (or original set of instructions), but are only kept and transmitted to progeny as long as the selective pressure is applied.

In addition, as far as I am aware, no one has answered the problem of increasing information required for evolution. In fact, most known mechanisms of evolution actually decrease the information content in the genome. Imagine a book, wherein letters, words or entire paragraphs may be deleted, copied, or transposed. Now, is there more or less information in the book before or after the modifications? Now imagine that this book contains the instructions for building an extremely complex machine, in which every piece has to be built with painstaking attention to detail. 

The true complexity involved is even greater, in that the book; our genome, contains the instructions for building a new printing press, and the energy generator to build and run the printing press, and even make the paper and ink that will be used in printing a new copy of the original book. The DNA in our cells is even more complex than this, and it turns out that additional information is encoded at levels above the DNA sequence in chemical modifications on some DNA pieces, and the packing of the DNA. This is much like the way language works, in that information is encoded at multiple levels, namely letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs. Doesn't all of this sound like an extremely well designed language?

All of this ignores the obvious problem of getting the first bit of DNA and a cell that could replicate the DNA together in a way that they can actually do what our cells currently do. These, and many other reasons are why I do not accept the current scientific consensus that life arose through naturalistic processes and became more complex via evolution. I believe that 6000 years ago, God created the universe, the earth, and all life on it in a single act of creation over 6 literal days. Man sinned and rejected God's rule, and God then sent His son Jesus Christ to be a propitiation for sin. Those who accept Jesus as their Lord and savior will live for eternity in Heaven, and those who do not will suffer for eternity in Hell. This is the message given to us by God himself in the Bible.

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