In this article, we look at five examples which are given to support the Theory of Evolution. Mr. Peacock will present his evidence. Dr. Moran will critically examine these proofs (beliefs).
- The universal genetic code. All cells on Earth, from our white blood cells to simple bacteria, to cells in the leaves of trees, are capable of reading any piece of DNA from any life form on Earth. This is very strong evidence for a common ancestor from which all life descended. by Richard Peacock
Moran: The genetic code is the means by which a cell is able to build protein molecules from the molecular message of DNA. This is the concept of the gene. The chemical building blocks that make up the gene are known as nucleotides. Arranged by chemical bonds like beads on a string, the nucleotides create specified information through the alignment of their nucleic acids. There are 4 nucleic acids that are found in the 4 nucleotides that make up DNA.
The sequence of DNA that codes for a particular protein specifies which of 20 amino acids must be linked, also like beads on a string, to form the protein molecule. The particular linear arrangement of the amino acids is held together by chemical bonds. In the process of genetic expression the information in DNA will produce a protein with a specific function or functions that fit neatly into the biochemical reactions for which they were designed.
The genetic code uses a specific sequence of 3 nucleotides in a row for each amino acid. Since there are 4 possible nucleotides that are used to make the triplet code, a total of 64 combinations of 3 nucleotides are possible. With only 20 amino acids to account for, each amino acid may have more than one code specifying its use in building a protein. Only methionine and tryptophan are represented by a single codon (triplet of nucleotides). Two codons are used as ‘stop’ codons to signal that the translational process for making a protein is done.
For instance, a protein with the amino acid sequence of lysine-lysine-lysine could be coded for using any of these combinations of triple codes composed of the nucleotide sequence aaa or aag. The –a- stands for adenine and the –g- for guanine; both are nucleic acids. Lysine is coded for using one of two arrangements of these codes. So, three lysine molecules can be coded for by a number of arrangements of the two codes for that molecule:
When translated to protein the product will always be lysine-lysine-lysine.
So when it is said that the genetic code is universal it means that all living things use the same nucleic acid codes for the amino acids used to build proteins.
But is this true? Is the code universal for all living things? It turns out that, on last count, the above decoder table which assigns certain nucleic acid triplets (codons) in the DNA strand to particular amino acids is not at all universal. Up to 17 such tables must be created to cover the information coding for different life forms. Many of these 17 codes are found in bacteria, but both protozoa and multicellar organisms like ourselves have unique code use. And this is not the only difference in the genetic code among life forms.
Keep in mind, the genetic code does not just code for proteins. Many sequences are command sequences used to unravel the DNA molecule or to promote gene expression or increase gene expression or decrease gene expression; even stop and permanently hide genes from expression in specific cell types. These command sequences are not universal. Bacteria have their own “on and off” switches for gene expression and they do not work in mammalian cells. Mammalian cells have far greater complex commands and integrated programming using DNA sequences and different proteins to read those command sequences that other types of organisms like plants or bacteria cannot read. In this case, the DNA code is not at all universal but specific to the type organism or group of organisms.
One interpretation of this old idea of the universal genetic code is that all living organisms are somehow related. This is now known to be an antiquated comment. However, even assuming this to be a viable argument, evolution is not an intuitive conclusion. One must consider that even if the codes were universal for building proteins, the instructions for building an oak tree and a human being must be very different. Just as a particular computer language is used to create software programs as different as a word processor and an animated war game, so too the language of DNA is used to build things as different as an octopus and a T. rex. Even if the blueprints for building life used the same (or similar) coding, it depends on how those codes are assembled to direct the construction of proteins to build different life forms and to create the command language for that life form to develop and live.
Like a language, the instructions given during growth and development are different. Commands from the DNA to make certain proteins during development of the body form depend on the context in which the coded instructions are placed in the program. When that command is given, and where in the development of the body plan the command is given, and the amount of information (amount of protein) produced determines what is to be built. Organisms are much like computer programs in this way. The instructions are found in the genetic information of DNA and the DNA uses a common language or code to create instructions that are unique to each life form. As the program unfolds, organisms come into being; whether they form in the egg or in the womb.
After development, the program in organisms like oak trees and people continues to run in each cell of the body. Like the animation on a computer screen, organisms live according to their programming. How then is the use of a common code proof that all living things are related to some common ancestor? Indeed, the intuitive approach to this discovery is that the universal code is the language of a single programmer who created the code and then wrote the code to create the life forms for some 8 to 10 million living forms on this planet. It seems intuitive that the next question to ask is who, when and why did the programmer set life in motion. Only by first assuming that evolution is real would one overlook the obvious conclusion and substitute it for the idea that the genetic code is proof of common ancestry.
And if an oak tree is related to humans, by what materialistic process did the two programs get scramble and now result in the creation of such superbly designed, well defined, discontinuous, but highly utilitarian beings of such different existence? And what is the evidence for that kind of evolution? Saying that these beings evolved does not answer the question; unless evolution is nothing more than a mystical force yet to be further defined by science. But science says evolution is not mystical but a natural phenomenon driven by chemistry, physics, and natural forces. I am not convinced.
A further problem arises when one discovers that the genetic code of different organisms using one of those 17 codes, does so by preferential use of the library of codes for different amino acids. That is, while there are 4 codes for the amino acid proline ; ccu, cca, ccg, ccc, different organism prefer the use of some of these triplets over others. This is called “codon usage.” For instance, the code ccu may be used 95% of the time in one species and only 2% of the time for another species. By sequencing genomes or even similar genes for the same proteins across different life forms, code usage can be shown to differ widely. In fact, to get genes from one organism to be decoded and translated by another organism, adjustments must be made in the gene sequence to optimize it for reading according to the host organism’s preferential use of codons. Otherwise, the protein will not be made or made at levels that are undetectable.
A number of theories have been postulated as to why different organisms use codons preferentially. For sure the use of some rare codons controls the rate of protein synthesis. This fact implies a higher level of control over protein synthesis and potentially indicates feedback loops that regulate protein production in real time. These facts have been known for decades and are so surprising that the statement, “All cells on Earth, from our white blood cells, to simple bacteria, to cells in the leaves of trees, are capable of reading any piece of DNA from any life form on Earth.”, is not true.
These facts compromise the evolutionary position.
The idea of a universal genetic code is not proof of evolution. If it were true, it would not be evidence that life evolved from a common ancestor. The genetic code is, in fact, not universal among organisms. And when more genetic information is taken into consideration it is evident that the blueprints for life represent specified information for each living being.
2. The fossil record. The fossil record shows that the simplest fossils will be found in the oldest rocks, and it can also show a smooth and gradual transition from one form of life to another.
Moran: This statement, meant to be proof that evolution is true, is a false statement in both assertions. First, the simplest fossils are not found in the oldest rocks because no life form is simple. And rocks made of sediment cannot be dated by any incontrovertible method. Second, there is not a single example of any smooth and gradual transition from one form of life to another. Let me explain.
By “simple fossil,” evolutionists mean those organisms that are not as complicated as human beings. Clams are simple in this respect but only in comparison to some other organisms. Clams are made with everything needed to be successful in feeding, reproducing and defending themselves. They are simple because they live in a habitat that provides shelter, food, and an existence that perfectly matches their design. These animals are filter feeders, living in cold waters and are stationary much of their life; having no need to migrate or to move to succeed in living. Yet their complexity is phenomenal when one examines their tissues, organ systems, behavior and successful existence. They eat and digest and evacuate waste. They form sperm and egg for sexual reproduction. They can hide in the sediment of lakes or beaches. They develop and grow and eventually die. Nothing about the biologist’s simple fossil is simple in this respect.
Even a single bacterial cell is complex beyond the human imagination or our ability to design such incredible things. In one cell is the ability to sense food, move towards light or heat or cold, store food, transfer DNA to another cell ( a form of nonsexual genetic exchange), grow and reproduce by duplicating the machinery of the cell to form two complete living cells.
Fossil clams have been found in every sedimentary rock layer. Mammals have not been found in every rock layer. The oldest rock layers are thought to be the oldest rock layers because they do not have mammals buried in them. But is this evidence that some clams evolved into humans and horses? How does the exclusion of some forms of life prove that other forms of life must have existed first and then given rise to more complex organisms? Because of the assumption that evolution is true, rock layers are recognized as old.
The age of a rock is not based upon their mineral composition or their radioactivity but whether or not they have clams or mammals buried in them. Cambrian rock is thought to be one of the oldest rock layers of sediments on earth. It is not because they are typically found below some other layer but because they possess fossil animals that have been categorized as “primitive” and they are lacking mammalian fossils.
It is true that by studying the layering of sedimentary rock around the world that many times Cambrian animals will be found under other sediments. Most often, Cambrian layers are found at the surface of the planet. But there are exceptions to these studies which should immediately void the idea that stratigraphic rock data reveals evolutionary activity. Furthermore, the Cambrian rock layers possess far more complexity of animal forms than any other rock layer. Today there are less Phyla of living animals that are found in those supposedly ancient rock layers. Evolution seems to have gone from complex to less complex in this regards. When a sedimentary rock is said to be dated using radioactivity, many assumptions go into such dating and ultimately it is the fossil assemblages found in those sediments that determines the age of the rock layer. The fact is that sediments form from fragments of other rock. No one can determine the absolute age of sedimentary rocks especially since they are not original rock.
Not only is the idea of “simple” life forms an oversimplification of biology but dating methods are extremely dependent on the assumption that evolution has occurred.
All this notwithstanding, if a smooth and gradual lineage of a single life form could be followed in the rock layers, maybe there would be a reason to research for some kind of evolutionary process working in the biology of the world. But such has not been the case. Clams, snails, and octopi have never been shown to incrementally change into something else let alone one another. No one knows what gave rise to the snail or what evolved into the octopus. The same can be said of jellyfish, starfish, worms, fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, birds, mammals, molds, ferns, gingko trees, gymnosperm and flowing plants. Everything living and everything fossilized represents a discontinuous form of easily identifiable being. What is found fossilized is identifiable as a fish, reptile or bird. The few mosaic creatures living today like the duck-billed platypus is a mammal because it is warm-blooded, has hair, and suckles its young. Yet it lays eggs like a reptile and possesses venomous spines like some fish. The platypus is not an intermediate creature. This creature lives today in Australia yet has been found fossilized in rock thought to be 100 million years old in South America. Where did it come from and why didn’t it evolve? There are no evolutionary answers to these kinds of questions.
Dinosaurs are a strange exception to the rule of fossilization. They came out of nowhere, no intermediates, and then suddenly died, never to be seen again. Although there are some interesting rumors that some dinosaurs might have continued to exist to the 14th century, nothing concrete has been found. In every case of fossilization, the beasts that are found died by catastrophe. Asteroids, comets, volcanism and even disease have been put forward as the killers of the great dinosaurs. But if this is true then who buried all their bones under oceanic sediments, sometimes thousands of feet below the earth’s present surface and on every continent around the world?
Fossils are not proof of evolution. They do not show a continuity of change and the rock layers cannot be independently dated without the assumption of evolution.
3. Genetic commonalities. Human beings have approximately 96% of genes in common with chimpanzees, about 90% of genes in common with cats (source), 80% with cows (source), 75% with mice (source), and so on. This does not prove that we evolved from chimpanzees or cats, though, only that we shared a common ancestor in the past. And the amount of difference between our genomes corresponds to how long ago our genetic lines diverged.
Moran: This is also a false statement. It is a complex subject and often neglected by the novice to molecular biology. If similarities in genetics were a proof that things evolved from other things then by this theory, mice must have given rise to cows that gave rise to cats, which gave rise to the chimpanzee, which gave rise to man. If not, why not? This is dismissed to substitute the mysterious common ancestor as the proof for the claim that evolution is true. If evolution has occurred surely this genetic commonality is proof positive that cows come from mice. Also, if the difference in genetic data is due to divergence of each life form from the common ancestor what portion of the DNA is responsible for the actual difference between life forms and what genetic data proves a common ancestry?
Most recently, studies of the chimpanzee and human DNA has shown at least a 30% difference between their instructions even though there may be only a few percent differences in the gene sequences for a particular protein. In fact, chimpanzees have 12% more DNA than human beings. This immediately invalidates the 4% difference asserted by the author.
As mentioned already, the common genetic code, just like a computer program, can be used to create the blueprints for the construction of a worm, a mouse, a fish or a person. Where they overlap between organisms like the chimp and man we find similar features and a fundamental design for a body plan having arms, legs and a head. The many instructions that differ between the two forms are so highly specific for the construction of the differences in body types that random changes in DNA sequences cannot be blamed.
Information in the DNA for every living thing is similar and at the same time different for reasons unrelated to evolution. It is the presumption of evolution that leads scientists to interpret the findings as proof of evolution. What we need, what is required from a scientific basis is evidence that unequivocally proves evolution. What we have is a belief in evolution and a commitment to interpret (misinterpret) any findings as proof of evolution.
Common genetic sequences are a poor evidence for evolution. The difference in genetic sequences between similar life forms continues to grow as more knowledge is gained. Common genetics is not proof of evolution.
4. Common traits in embryos. Humans, dogs, snakes, fish, monkeys, eels (and many more life forms) are all considered “chordates” because we belong to the phylum Chordata. One of the features of this phylum is that, as embryos, all these life forms have gill slits, tails, and specific anatomical structures involving the spine. For humans (and other non-fish) the gill slits reform into the bones of the ear and jaw at a later stage in development. But, initially, all chordate embryos strongly resemble each other. In fact, pig embryos are often dissected in biology classes because of how similar they look to human embryos. These common characteristics could only be possible if all members of the phylum Chordata descended from a common ancestor.
Moran: Once again this statement is not accurate. This idea was propagated by Ernst Haeckel, a 19th-century proponent of Darwin’s ideas, who developed an independent theory that human embryos develop through evolutionary stages. It has been called the recapitulation theory. A single fertilized egg cell represents cellular life. The divisions of the cell create primitive multicellular protozoan. Further development creates a worm-like creature followed by a fish and then a salamander and a pig-like formation to form a human being. The development of the embryo or “ontogeny” is supposed to repeat or recapitulate the evolutionary tree or “phylogeny.” Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.
The claim made above, that all vertebrate embryos show signs of gills, tails, and other “primitive features,” is not justified based on what we know today. The “tail” and “gills slits” of a human embryo have nothing to do with the actual gill slits or tails that develop into a fish in the fish egg. Gill slits, as they are often called, form parts of the inner head, ear, thymus gland and jaw of mammals and have nothing to do with exchanging oxygen like gills do in fish. These “gill slits” in the human embryo have a superficial anatomical similarity to what become gills in the fish. From a genetic approach, none of the instructions for forming human anatomy at this location are the same for forming gills in fish. This superficial resemblance is so poorly represented between different organisms that most evolutionist and all embryologists have ignored the textbook explanations that this is proof of evolution.
Much like little children seeing rabbits in the clouds, evolutionary scientists see proofs in transient embryo formations that have been shown to have nothing to do with evolution. Some have gone so far as to explain that humans form in an embryonic sack of fluids because our ancestor fish once lived in the oceans. This is storytelling on a grand scale; not science. Sadly, some evolutionists today are suggesting that humans are just modified fish. This assertion is nothing but fantasy. One must ask the question, why?
Embryology is not evidence of evolution. Recapitulation is mythological and not proof of evolution.
5. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Bacteria colonies can only build up a resistance to antibiotics through evolution. It is important to note that in every colony of bacteria, there are a tiny few individuals which are naturally resistant to certain antibiotics. This is because of the random nature of mutations. When an antibiotic is applied, the initial inoculation will kill most bacteria, leaving behind only those few cells which happen to have the mutations necessary to resist the antibiotics. In subsequent generations, the resistant bacteria reproduce, forming a new colony where every member is resistant to the antibiotic. This is natural selection in action. The antibiotic is “selecting” for organisms which are resistant, and killing any that are not.
Moran: It is true that this example is proof that resistant bacteria can be selected using antibiotics. Note that this selection occurs under unnatural conditions, i.e., humans taking highly concentrated antibacterial drugs to combat infection. This does not happen in the wild. The same can be said of breeding dogs, horses and corn. This is not natural selection. It is artificial selection. Darwin used his own experience with breeding pigeons to extrapolate the possibilities that all living things might have transmutated from a single or a few original kinds. He could never prove it and neither has anyone else since he first postulated this theory.
Furthermore, antibiotic resistance is not always caused by mutations. Sometimes bacteria harbor extra genetic elements. These minichromosomes have genes that code for proteins that neutralize antibiotics. The bacteria that survive the use of antibiotics remain resistant so long as they carry these pre-designed antibiotic resistant genes.
Other bacterial resistances that are due to mutations result in damage to the original function of the gene that has mutated. The target site for the antibiotic is altered in such a way that the antibiotic no longer binds to the site. The antibiotic is ineffective in stopping the function of a mutated protein. The mutants survive the antibiotics. They are artificially selected for survival. However, in these resistant bacteria, the antibiotic’s target site is changed so that the bug continues to live. But, so is the efficiency of the function of the mutated protein. The bug may not die from the mutation but it is so weakened by the mutation that unless the antibiotic kills normal cells, the resistant bugs would not successfully compete to survive. It would not be successful in repopulating the species in the presence of normal bugs.
It is as if a healthy herd of sheep (bacteria) lived where many lions hunted and killed them for food (antibiotic). Let’s suppose that some sheep were born with a mutation that made their wool coats out of calcified hair, hard as rock. Those mutated sheep would have trouble running, lying down, and crossing rivers. They would even have trouble reproducing so that the population of “rocky sheep” would be slow to replace the other normal sheep. But, no lion could sink their teeth into them. The lions become the selection factor; killing normal sheep and leaving abnormal sheep to survive. Soon, all the normal sheep would die, leaving only the stony sheep to roam. The sheep might reproduce but would be crippled; they will only produce other sheep at a tenth of the normal success rate of the normal sheep. Does this sound like the kind of evolution that makes things better, or more complex? Yet this is the same story told about antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
Antibiotic resistance in bacteria is a form of artificial selection. It is not proof of evolution.
These observations have been used as proofs for evolution for far too long. They have been countered innumerable times and have nothing to do with Darwin’s idea that molecules can become men; given enough time. They do add confusion to the issue, fooling some folks into believing evolution is true and therefore God is not a possible answer to the unanswerable question; where do we come from.
Real science invites critical thinking. Whether there is a better explanation than evolution is no reason to hold to a failed theory. It is time to let go and move on to research new ideas. If the research concedes that intelligence is required to explain existence, let it be so. This is the pursuit of truth.
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