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Creation 35(2):47–49, April 2013

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The 3 Rs of Evolution: Rearrange, Remove, Ruin—in other words, no evolution!

The genetic changes observed in living things today could not have turned bacteria into basset hounds—ever

Hounds
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/fotojagodka|©iStockphoto.com/GlobalP

by 

Evolution textbooks cite variation as being something upon which ‘evolution depends’.1 However, when one examines closely the claimed ‘demonstrable examples’ of ‘evolution’, they actually fall into three categories, which we can label here as the ‘3 Rs’.

Let’s look at each of these in turn.

‘R’#1: Rearrange existing genes

Careful examination of many purported instances of ‘evolution in action’ shows that such ‘variation’ actually already exists, conferred by genes that already exist.

Here’s a simplified example that shows this, and also how such genetic variety might be misconstrued as ‘evidence of evolution’. The two dogs in the top row of Figure 1 are a male and a female. They each have a gene that codes for short hair (inherited from its mother or father) and a gene that codes for long hair (inherited from the other parent). In combination, this gene pair for fur length results in medium length hair.2

Figure1. The red bars represent the genes for hair length (short and long hair). One of each gives medium length hair. By re-arranging (recombining) the parents’ genes (top) in reproduction, variety is generated in the appearance of the offspring, but no new genes are involved.

Now when these two dogs are crossed, what new combinations of the genes are possible in the resulting offspring? The second row of Figure 1 shows this:

The dog at the far left has inherited its father’s short-hair gene and its mother’s short-hair gene. Result: short hair.

The two dogs in the middle have each inherited a long-hair gene from one parent and a short-hair gene from the other parent. Result: medium-length hair (just like the mother and father).

The dog at the far right has inherited its mother’s long-hair gene and its father’s long-hair gene. Result: long hair.

A casual observer, looking only at the outward appearance, i.e. unaware of what is happening at the genetic level, might think: “There were no long-hair dogs in the parents’ generation. This long hair is a new characteristic—evolution is true!”

But such a view is incorrect. The only thing this ‘evolution’ has done is to rearrange existing genes. There’s simply been a sorting out of pre-existing genetic information. There’s no new information here of the kind needed to have turned pond scum into poodles, Pekingese, pointers and papillons.

‘R’#2: Remove genetic information

What about natural selection, adaptation and speciation?

None of these represent the generation of any new microbes-to-mastiff genetic information either. In our ‘hairy dog’ example, if we were to send our new population of dogs, some with short hair, others with medium or long hair, to an icy, very cold location, we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see natural selection at work, killing off any dog that didn’t have long hair (Figure 2, Line 1). When the survivors reproduce, the only fur-length genes passed on to the offspring are those that code for long hair (Figure 2, Line 2).

die in snowy

Thus we now have a population of dogs beautifully adapted to its environment. Biologists encountering our ice-bound population of dogs, observing them to be isolated3 from other populations of dogs, could argue that they be given a new species name.

So here we see natural selection, adaptation, and possibly even speciation—but no new genes have been added. In fact, there’s been a loss of genes (the genetic information for short-and medium-length hair has been removed from the population).

Note that such examples of natural selection, adaptation and speciation are often portrayed as evidence for evolution, but the only thing this ‘evolution’ has done is to remove existing genes. If this population of exclusively long-hair dogs were now forcibly relocated to a steamy tropical island, the population could not ‘adapt’ to the hot climate unless someone re-introduced the short-hair gene to the population again, by ‘back-crossing’ a short-or medium-length hair dog from elsewhere. This is exactly the sort of thing that our crop and livestock breeders are doing. They are scouring the world for the original genes created during Creation Week4 but which have subsequently been ‘bred out’ (lost) from our domestic varieties/breeds of plants and animals because of breeders artificially selecting certain characteristics, which means other features are de-selected (lost).

‘R’#3: Ruin genetic information

In the above examples, we see that natural selection, adaptation and speciation are real and observable. And that these simply demonstrate the rearranging and/or removing of dog genes that were originally present at Creation. (I.e. by the end of Day 6, when God completed Creation, declaring it ‘very good’—Genesis 1:31.)

©iStockphoto.com/HumoniaFloppy ear
Figure 3: Dogs with the floppy ear mutation, such as bassets, are much more prone to ear infections (e.g. from food scraps) than dogs with erect ears (they clearly can’t hear as well either!)

However, there are forms of dog genes today which were not present at Creation but have arisen since. But those have not arisen by any creative process, but by mutations, which are copying mistakes (typos, we might say) as genes are passed from parents to offspring. You would expect such accidental changes to wreck the existing genes, and that’s what happens. For example, the dog pictured in Figure 3 has just such a mutated gene, resulting in ‘floppy ear syndrome’.5

Dogs with this genetic mutation have weaker cartilage and cannot lift up their ears. So they just hang, floppy before dinner, and sloppy after it—unless their owners are diligent in cleaning them. Such regular attention to ear hygiene is necessary, as dogs with floppy ears are prone to serious ear infections, which can even lead to hearing loss.6 Not that their hearing was especially good anyway. As you might expect, dogs with erect ears are far superior to floppy-eared dogs at detecting prey by sound.7

I can remember reflecting on this when I was an atheist/evolutionist, and wondering how such floppy-eared dogs could have ever evolved and survived in the wild. I now know that they didn’t. Instead this mutation in the genes has arisen since the original “very good” world (Genesis 1:31) was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17–19). The floppy-eared mutation in dogs is but one example of how a post-Fall world is very much “in bondage to decay” (Romans 8:19–22). So common is this mutational defect in modern domestic dogs that many people have naïvely come to think of floppy-eared dogs as ‘normal’. But Adam and Eve, if they were alive today, would no doubt be shocked to see such deformity. The original dogs, probably something like today’s gray wolves, would have had erect, superbly functional, ears.

Why is this so important to consider, in the context of evolutionary claims that no Creator was necessary?

Evolutionary biologists, when pressed with the facts about natural selection, will concede that natural selection by itself can only remove existing genetic information. However, they argue that in tandem with mutations, natural selection would be a creative process.

But the floppy-ear mutation, for one, is a classic example of the widespread degradation of the genome—a downhill process. For microbes-to-man evolution to be true, evolutionists should be able to point to thousands of examples of information-gaining mutations, an uphill process, but they can’t.8 Mutations overwhelmingly ruin genetic information. Therefore evolutionists looking to mutations as being evolution’s ‘engine’ do so in vain.9 Thus they are left with no known mechanism capable of ever turning microbes into mutts—i.e. no way of ‘climbing’ up the supposed evolutionary ‘tree’.

Note that while mutations degrade genetic information, sometimes an advantage arising from such degradation can outweigh the disadvantage vis-à-vis survival. While a floppy-eared mutant mutt might not last long in the wild, under human care—i.e. with regular ear cleaning—the equation changes. And what about the key moment when a buyer is looking for the ‘cutest’, friendliest pup in the pet shop window? Indeed, there is increasing evidence that the floppy-eared characteristic is strongly associated with tameness.10,11 Little wonder then, that floppy-eared dogs are so common today.12

Conclusion: 3 Rs = no new information = no evolution

The above examples of changes in fur length and ear structure of dogs are not evolutionary changes, though they are often claimed as such. Rearranging genes, Removing genes, and Ruining genes are not the sort of genetic changes that could have turned bacteria into basset hounds—ever. These ‘3 Rs’ are repeatedly cited as evolution in a host of other settings, too, e.g. in antibiotic and pesticide resistance, and in sticklebacks, beetles, mosquitoes, worms, sheep, and codfish.13 But none of these are evidence of evolution. The ‘3 Rs’ could never add up to mosquitoes, mesquite, mutts and man from microbes (let alone from molecules!).

The evidence instead fits with the biblical account of God having created a multiplicity of ‘kinds’, each programmed to reproduce according to its kind. Geneticists recognize that the diversity of dog breeds we have today could have arisen quickly, in recent history.14 As we’ve seen in our fur length example, long hair and short hair can appear in just one generation, arising from the in-built canine genetic variation—variation that was built-in to dogs at Creation. So Noah didn’t need to take on board the Ark multiple pairs of dingoes, Dalmatians, and dachshunds; or coyotes, corgis, and cocker spaniels; or jackals, jack russells, and jackadoodles. He only needed two dogs—just as the Bible suggests (Genesis 6:19–20).

References and notes

  1. E.g. page 32 of Pringle, L., Billions of years, amazing changes: The story of evolution, Boyds Mills Press, Inc., Pennsylvania, USA, 2011. For a comprehensive page-by-page rebuttal of the claims in that book see creation.com/pringle-review. Return to text.
  2. ‘Co-dominant genes’ would behave in this manner. The exact genetic basis of hair length is not known yet, but it is something like this, although there could be more than one pair of genes involved. Return to text.
  3. Geographic isolation is often used as a basis for a new species to be named. This is consistent with the somewhat arbitrary nature of species names, cf. the biblical ‘kind’. Return to text.
  4. See Batten, D., What! … no potatoes? Creation 21(1):12–14, 1998; creation.com/potatoes. Not all breeders would realize that this is in fact what they are doing. Sadly, they would pay homage to evolution rather than God. Return to text.
  5. Geneticists have now tracked the difference between floppy and erect ears to a single gene region in canine chromosome 10 (CFA 10). Boyko, A., Quignon, P., Li, L., Schoenebeck, J., Degenhardt, J., and 19 others, A Simple Genetic Architecture Underlies Morphological Variation in Dogs, PLoS Biology 8(8):e1000451, 2010. Return to text.
  6. Sandilands, T., How to clean a dog’s floppy and smelly ears—Dogs with floppy ears suffer from odor and ear infections easily, ehow.com/how_8761420_clean-dogs-floppy-smelly-ears.html, acc. 22 November 2012. Return to text.
  7. The selecting of hounds with floppy ears is understandable considering they have to rely more on smell and thus this sense is heightened; hence they tend to be good sniffer dogs (bloodhounds, etc.). Return to text.
  8. As information is foundationally an argument from probability, we might expect a few cases of trivial information increase (see our new DVD Understanding the Law of Decay, and creation.com/edge-evolution). But evolution requires encyclopedic amounts of new information. And a lead candidate, nylon-eating bacteria, turns out not to be new information. Rather, the new ‘ability’ comes from two ‘typos’ in an existing enzyme finely-tuned to break bonds in certain chemicals. The mutated enzyme is less tuned for its current task, but can digest other chemicals, including nylon, with the same bond (creation.com/evoquest#nylonase, creation.com/infoloss). See also Carter, R., Can mutations create new information? J. Creation 25(2):92–98, 2011, creation.com/new-info. Return to text.
  9. Williams, A., Evolution’s engine becomes evolution’s end!, Journal of Creation 22(2):60–66, 2008; creation.com/mutations-are-evolutions-end. Return to text.
  10. Adams, J., Genetics of dog breeding, Nature Education 1(1), 2008, nature.com/scitable/topicpage/genetics-of-dog-breeding-434. Return to text.
  11. Trut, L., Early canid domestication: the farm-fox experiment, American Scientist 87:160–169, 1999. Return to text.
  12. For more see Cosner, L., ‘Parade of mutants’—pedigree dogs and artificial selection, Creation 32(3):28–32, 2010; creation.com/pedigree. Return to text.
  13. See creation.com/superbugs, creation.com/pesticide, creation.com/stickleback, creation.com/beetle, creation.com/brisk, creation.com/cadmium-worms, creation.com/bighorn, creation.com/tomcod, creation.com/smaller-fish. Return to text.
  14. Ratliff, E., How to build a dog—Scientists have found the secret recipe behind the spectacular variety of dog shapes and sizes, and it could help unravel the complexity of human genetic disease, ngm.nationalgeographic.com, February 2012. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Xavier D.
In reply to Bruno M

The ultimate proof of God's existence is the Presuppositional Argument. Can you explain what the Ultimate Standard for Truth is? Who ultimately decides the difference between truth and fiction? Atheistic religions are incapable of rationally answering these questions because their doctrines states that everything in the universe is nothing more than the result of a long sequence of chemicals randomly and accidentally reacting with each other. Thus, all thought is likewise nothing more than more examples of these blind, random and accidental chemical reactions happening in our head. On what basis are the blind, random and accidental chemical reactions that someone calls "Truth" "better" than the equally blind, random and accidental chemical reactions that they call "Fiction"? Or any more "meaningful" or "special" than the equally blind, random and accidental chemical reactions that cause iron to rust?

For Christianity, Truth and Fiction are defined by mankind's omniscient God and his word (the Bible) communicates this standard to us. To summarise, the ultimate proof of God and the Bible is that Truth and Fiction can be defined in the first place. Conversely, a secularist has to borrow the concept of Truth from a Christian worldview to even talk or think about their beliefs.

Furthermore, you appeal to "logic" and "reason" but everything I wrote above about Truth applies to Logic as well. Atheism can't rationally account for logic or reason either. On top of that, you appeal to logic then riddle your commentary with illogical fallacies. For example, the Straw Man and Double Standard Don called you out on. As well as an Ipse Dixit by failing to explain why exactly God has to be bound by the laws of nature that he created.
Bruno M.
This article resumes to "Evolution cant explain this therefore god exists" sorry but arguments based on incomplete knowledge and god of the gaps arguments wont convince me or anyone else. Scientists still dont know everything about the universe, human brain, genetic code, dna etc so you have to consider that in the future they will find the answers to our questions about our origins and that evolution is true.
Of course god cant exist he is a paradox his existence contradicts every law of nature and laws of logic that it is irrational for someone to consider even his existence.
In the meantime, I will be an atheist so if you have evidence that god is needed for life to start and that special creation is true I am all ears but we know there is no such evidence
Don Batten
Wow, there are a heap of wild and erroneous assertions here!
Ours in not a 'God of the gaps' argument, but an argument from knowledge. As knowledge progresses, the argument for an intelligent creator becomes stronger, not weaker. I recommend: God of the gaps charge.
You have a fallacious 'science of the gaps' view, but as science progresses, the likelihood of filling the gaps decreases. It is going in the wrong direction for your 'faith'. Science of the gaps.
Also, I challenge you to read, Five atheist miracles (or atheists believe in magic). Hint: there are more than five miracles that atheists believe. Frankly, I don't have enough 'faith' to be an atheist!
Steve B.
Great article, evolutionist need to take off the blinders and accept the science. One thing about flop eared dogs, man has used this mutation to an advantage in some hounds. The hounds with the longest ears use them to help gather scent when tracking an animal or person, so it's not completely about cuteness, man has used this mutation to improve the dogs ability to scent.
Don Batten
I've often wondered if the floppy ears of hounds, because of the decrease in hearing acuity, forces the dog to rely more on scent. Think of people who are blind; their other senses are heightened to some extent.
Richard L.
Great summation. I find a discussion-helpful situation generated by utilizing the analogy of reproductively isolated lifeform-theme islands. Some islands are big, allowing for much internal variaton. Some configurations of existing lifeform 'theme' information are not yet explored by us, allowing for yet-unseen variant manifestations... within existing info. But the key question is, "Do the various referenced change factors get the lifeform to actually move off the island... needed for evolution?" None does. Mendelian genetic-inheritance laws insist on the island boundary... no offshore causeway or land-bridge. Random mutation mangles on-island info (info that stays on-island); it doesn't generate the needed land-bridge. If we allow the island a vertical dimension, to represent fitness, a vast central mesa then exists, but with increasingly steep downslope, as the lifeform moves away from that mesa and towards the island boundary. This loss of fitness and natural-selection-generated increased risk of extinction should discourage too much movement away from the plateau, making natural selection a conservative dynamic. No getting off the lifeform-theme / biblical-kind island. Not from existing emperical data.
Malcolm F.
All well and good describing the the three Rs of evolution, but their is always a counter argument. (See link: [link deleted per feedback rules]) So, in the end, do you believe the Word of God or scientists, or in your words, let His word interpret science and not the other way round. Thank you for all the articles. They are very helpful.
Thanks, Malcolm
Don Batten
It's not so much the Bible against scientists but the science of Bible-believing scientists versus that of scientists who do not believe the Bible is the Word of God. In other words, Christians should favour the advice of scientists who believe the Word of God (such as Dr Catchpoole!).
Stephen N.
Thank you for reprinting this helpful article. This is especially valuable for those of us who have very little scientific knowledge. Rearranging, removing and ruining genetic information does not prove molecules to mankind evolution. It shows the very opposite- that a special creation was necessary, consistent with Biblical history.
David G.
Nice little mnemonic! Thanks.
Grahame G.
More evidence that Darwinian Evolution is a demonic delusion. Anyone who thinks scientifically and knows the facts can see that there is NO evidence that supports evolution better.

It is so obvious that Biblical Creation is the best explanation.

But it's not surprise. People believe evolution because they love sin.

John 3:19  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  20  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  21  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

So they suppress the truth.
Romans 1:18  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 
19  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 
20  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 
21  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 

So the Devil has them blinded.
2 Corinthians 4:3  And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  4  In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

But the Holy Spirit is greater. That's why preaching the gospel is so important.

Thanks CMI.
Lassi P.
I happen to have some experience of floppy-eared rabbits. They indeed do not hear that well. And they are (unlike their relatives with erect ears) totally oblivious to the direction of the sound! It always makes me feel pity. But some think floppy eared ones are sooo cute, and I guess their success is also partly due to the fact that most rabbit species with the flops are quite sizable - hence more meat to those who raise them for food.

Nice little article presenting some very basic concepts (that many evolutionists fail to grasp due to not really wanting to) using a memorable framework.
Bruce B.
What a delightfully straight-forward article! I have a question concerning the loss of genes. Is there ever a case for specific genes "resting" for a generation or more and being reactivated when a suitable breeding pair comes together?
Don Batten
Of course there are recessive genes that only manifest when paired (in the presence of the dominant allele, they are not expressed). Darwin thought that the appearance of such traits in breeding of animals or plants was evidence of new traits appearing by chance. However, Gregor Mendel showed that the allele was recessive and only revealed itself when paired with one the same. For example, two brown-eyed parents can produce a child with blue eyes when both parents carry the recessive blue-eye allele (on average, 1 in 4 of their children will be blue-eyed).
Joseph Allen K.
Excellent article and charts. Thanks for your very professional work involving genetics. God bless your work.
Hans G.
And with Noah there were only 6 'gene pools' for all of today's races and human variety.
Dan K.
Its amazing how the evolutionary community has blissfully overlooked this, again and again!
Jack C.
Beautiful article! A poster version should be made and placed on the notice boards of every school, business and government office.

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