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Is ‘devolution’ offensive to God?

Photo: wikipedia.org by Haplochromis Astyanax mexicanus, normal Form and blind Cave-Form
Astyanax mexicanus, normal form and blind cave-form.
Published: 31 May 2014 (GMT+10)

Bob H wrote us to say:

I read your article about the lungless frog. The author claims this is an example of “devolution”….where the lungless frog descended from a frog with lungs. What a slap in the face of God! Can you not believe that God could have created a frog without lungs? How can you believe that God would allow one of his creatures to lose a body part that He himself created? You people are going to hell!

Dr Carl Wieland replied:

Dear Mr H—/ Dear Bob

Thank you for your email.

I had to rub my eyes to be sure that it was intended seriously or not, and to be honest, I am still not totally sure.

I would not have thought that any Christian reading Genesis about the Fall and the Curse on creation, and looking around at this bleeding, dying, degenerating world (see Romans 8:22 and surrounding verses, also) would think it was somehow unbiblical to conclude that this degeneration has at times extended to the loss of structures or functions.

Especially when, in this fallen world, mutations can be observed causing not just loss of genes, and inherited diseases, but actual inheritable loss of the ability to produce certain structures, exactly the point at issue (for instance, the TNR mutation, in which chickens have lost the capacity to produce feathers).

Beetles living on small windy islands have most often clearly lost their wings in a similar way, as one can see scars where their wings used to be–see creation.com/beetle.

Similarly, many eyeless fish in caves have clearly descended from ancestors that had them. Should anyone retort ‘How do you know?’ the evidence is much greater than the fact that they still have the scars where their eyes used to be. When one crosses different strains of such eyeless fish, eyes can be made to reappear, indicating that the information for eyes is still present, but was suppressed, i.e. they were not created as eyeless. Read Let the blind see … Breeding blind fish with blind fish restores sight.

It is our repeated experience that the fact that the changes in living things are going in the wrong direction for evolution—not evolving upwards to greater functionality and complexity, but degenerating from an original high state of complexity and functionality—is very important in battling against this evolutionary belief system, which is such a huge barrier to the Gospel. See creation.com/train.

But speaking of the way our articles try to overcome barriers to belief in Christ, what was particularly stunning about your email was something else. Let’s say for the sake of discussion that we were wrong on this point. Let’s say that our understanding here of the biology was actually mistaken. And let’s assume that we had misunderstood or misapplied the biblical teaching of the Fall in our efforts to understand the truths of Genesis history, in order to defend the faith in this area.

The fact that you would consign us to hell for this (or assume that God would, regardless of His marvellous saving grace that led to our faith in Christ, which motivates all we do) is both astonishing and puzzling.

Frankly, I can’t even begin to see that the notion that a line of frogs has through mutational degeneration lost the capacity to generate lungs is a ‘slap in the face of God’ any more than the idea that God would allow one of His creatures to lose the ability to produce wings or feathers, which is not just an idea, it has clearly happened as per the factual examples above. Or that He would allow a thalidomide victim to be born having lost the capacity to produce limbs—which I’m sure you know has also happened, tragically.

But—I’m sort of still hoping that you will tell me that it was all just an attempt at tongue-in-cheek humour or some such, and that you really do understand why it is important to take a stand against evolution that is based on actual Genesis history, of which the Fall/Curse is a crucial component…

Sincerely yours,

Carl W.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

Joseph C.
Have faith in God! Your work to support the Biblical claims for creation are awesome. Your ministry has given Christians much ammunition in the fight for truth. Keep up the great work!
Colin N.
Wouldn't the fact that they can survive and live without lungs indicate that they were actually designed that way and would that not be more glory to God because of His incredible diversity?
Carl Wieland
While that is always possible in principle for any organism with seemingly 'missing parts', it is not necessarily so, and often there are reasons why it definitely was not so. For example, certain beetles without wings on windy islands, or blind eyeless fish in caves, may have been created that way. However, there are a number of clues why those latter two, for example, were not. There are 'scars' where their wings and eyes respectively used to be in their ancestors, for one thing. See the articles on these creatures linked to in the article herewith, which include the information that cross breeding between two different types of blind fish can restore eyes. Also, while not a 'killer point', it also avoids unnecessary multiplication of hypotheses regarding the diversification of frogs into a very large number of species if it is rather postulated that there was only a limited number of original 'frog-toad' kinds that each diversified into multiple species within that kind, with gene pools narrowing in the process (and sometimes actual loss/damage). However, one would need much more information on this particular frog to be able to make a reasoned conjecture as to what the situation was with it. If you read our original very brief layman's magazine article about this particular frog, (sorry we did not link to it in the article you commented on here) you will see I painted what I called a "very likely scenario", rather than a dogmatic assertion. So you could even be right, and knowing more about this particular frog species would help assign a more definite 'balance of probabilities' to the question.
Russ H.
It looks to me as if the note from "Bob H." was sent tongue-in-cheek by an evolutionist. He appears to be to believe that creationists should be embarrassed by deleterious mutations. He doesn't realize that he's the one who should be embarrassed. The joke's on him!
john P.
Having read Bob's email and the responses I wonder how well does he know his Bible? Or understand the results of the Fall? Or if he has read the verse which tells us not to judge and we won't be? Dr Carl's loving and gracious reply was a great witness to this person. I would suggest Bob study his bible more, say all of Genesis to begin with, especially the first ten chapters, and read Dr John Sanford's book which give a good introduction to genetics at the same time showing the folly of evolution. There is devolution, it conforms to the Curse and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This will come to a halt during the coming Millenium and forever when new heaven and new earth come about and we live forever with the Lord
Renate T.
Re Jeannie D.: Yes, that was one of my first thoughts as well...

But still, I'm glad this was published. Even if the original letter was a farce, Dr. Wieland's reply was very useful.
Jeannie D.
Somehow, I have the feeling that Bob H. is not a Christian -- not because of what he said, but that he may have been trying to poke fun at people who are Creationists. I might be wrong, but I just wonder...
Timothy C.
Somebody clearly didn't read their Bible. There are only three things that result in one going to Hell. (1) Sinning in the first place (for which the Blood of the Messiah, through Faith in the Messiah, will wash away easily [Romans 3:21-26]), (2) falling away from the faith (which is a recurring theme of warning from the Corinthians on-wards) and (3) continually sinning ON PURPOSE, AFTER you've put your faith in the Messiah [Hebrews 10:26].
Josh S.
And by their fruits you shall know them.
I dont intend to pass judgement but to make an observation, this is a man we need to pray for, I believe a person that is saved and made into a new man being indwelt by the holy spirit will naturally have an attitude change. If he is truly saved then I suggest that like I have done in the past he may be backsliding and all the pain and turmoil inside leading to such an outburst is a direct result of focusing on the arm of flesh instead of trusting in God. Either way whatever the case may be, this man needs the body of Christ to be praying for him. I know I will be.
Phil M.
Every night on the news I hear about some mutation which renders some new born child without the ability to do this or that.. A severe disadvantage to them.
Still waiting to hear about the mutation which confers immunity to skin cancer or similar. No doubt evolutionists are waiting too. It's all part of their faith position.
Jeff C.
Evidence from Observation confirms it. I wonder what would be said about the reference in Genesis to the Woman giving birth in Pain, which was not the case before, or Thorns (which are only Leaves Modified) and Thistles being produced. Those were the first examples of it recorded, with no Inference that those are the only examples, only just the Beginning of it. Blythian Selection does not lead to Darwinian Selection at least not based on Evidence from the real world.
Joe F.
Bob H. got one point right, though he misunderstood what it was. There was a slap in the face delivered to God, but it wasn't in a CMI article. It occurred In the garden, when Adam chose to willfully disobey God, rebel, and go his own way. As a result of that, and the ensuing curse, the degenerative mutations that led to such an outcome as a lungless frog occurred. CMI merely reported it. And as for our eternal destiny, that was determined by Jesus on the cross. Nobody following Him in faith is going to hell. That is a promise by our God, who does not ever break a promise.
Ioannes Georgius L.
Not linking, but search: Creation vs. Evolution Number of Alleles Question (on Junior High Genetics Level)
What I wrote: In cancer victims we are dealing with 100 mutations per locus within the scope of one person. In the cells affected. With deleterious ones remaining until the victim of the cancer dies of these mutations.

In the human population we are dealing with a far less drastic mutation rate, since it is the mutation rate within humanity as a whole. We are also dealing with the fact that most mutations are either tolerable or weeded out, naturally. Without any human acts of eugenicism, thank you! Either by early death or by non-mating and non-reproduction.


I find it pretty faulty of the Creationist Geneticist to have said that genetics are dooming us. No, since most mutations are neutral and since those who aren't but are fatal are very easily weeded out by their own fatality. What he is indirectly doing is encouraging a kind of eugenic hysteria. Sorry, but that is about the upshot.

Carl Wieland
Goodness me, this is embarrassing to see you try to take on Dr John Sanford, a pioneer of gene engineering (inventor of the gene gun process while a professor at Cornell). Have you actually read the articles on our site about him and his genetic entropy work (supported by some secular geneticists, albeit unwittingly/unwillingly), let alone his actual book? If so you might have realised your many blunders. So a mutation rate of some 60-300 new mutations in every newborn is 'not drastic'? And about selection 'weeding them out'; the whole problem is that these mutations are overwhelmingly near neutral so are transparent to selection (not neutral as you say). Let me use a simplistic analogy to try to make the problem clearer; it is like a rust spot on a car; not bad at all when it's just that tiny spot, but have lots of them accumulating and suddenly it's a big problem. Check out 'Mendel's accountant' through googling so you can actually do your own modelling and hopefully the penny will drop.
Noella K.
"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" Luke 6:45
Terry P.
Well, if the Son of God, the Word incarnate, created all living things, then it stands to reason that he must have created this frog without lungs, just as he created this man born blind…
        “AS HE WENT on his way Jesus saw a man blind from his birth. His disciples put the question, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents? Why was he born blind?’ ‘It is not that this man or his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered; ‘He was born blind so that God’s power might be displayed in curing him. While daylight lasts we must carry on the work of him who sent me; night comes, when no one can work. While I am in the world I am the light of the world.’– Jn§9:1-5”
        If, as those of the atheist faith believe, this frog without lungs was created by the mindless god of evolution/devolution, no reason for its creation is needed, just blind faith in the god of chance. You know: “Que Sera, Sera (whatever will be, will be)”. But Mr. Bob H. is ill-advised, if he is accusing God of not existing, and of acting without reason like the evolution god does…
        “Throughout all this Job did not sin; he did not charge God with unreason. …‘If we accept good from God, shall we not accept evil?’ Throughout all this, Job did not utter one sinful word.”
Brenden W.
This is a typical type of response I get as well when witnessing and using creation as an opening, I had to learn not to laugh so quickly at these type of responses, some people actually believe that type of stuff and are not joking.If Bob is a fellow believer and he was not joking, I recommend he spend a bit of time on your web site and he will come to see the humour in his response. Anyway you guys are doing a fantastic job. God Bless
You too Bob.
Chandrasekaran M.
Even if devolution did not exist, how then lungless frog and totally naked rooster come about? If Bob H was suggesting that loving God did these, the irony is that Bob H himself is slapping loving God just like the man who received only a talent in the Bible parable. But if Bob H was suggesting that evolution did these, then good on him for that is all the evolution is capable of using natural selections (gene information culling) and mutations (gene copy mistakes). That is to say that evolution which has no creative mind is capable of devolution only in spite of millions and billions of years.
R. R.
Well, that message was rather... amusing. ... I'm amazed [it] was deemed worthy of formal response on the front page.. :?
Carl Wieland
After I had responded, I admit I was not at all sure that it warranted publishing the exchange, but some colleagues who happened to see it felt that the answer might have some potential teaching value (what seems self-evident to oneself is often not so to others, so even the link between degeneration in nature and the Fall/Curse might avoid a person like this blaming any 'bad things' in their own or family member's biology on God--e.g. some inherited mutation. But hey, it probably doesn't hurt to let folk see a glimpse of the sorts of 'friendly fire' one sometimes gets in a ministry like this...
Lonnie H.
It is much easier to tear down and discourage than to buildup and encourage. Especially if someone becomes bitter and has been emotionally hurt by Christians and or intellectual people. The hurt could have actually been humiliating or just preceived as such. Either way lashing out with abrasive comments will not fix the problem; only accepting God's transforming power of love can. The same power makes us all a new creation in Jesus, spoke the world into existence in 6 days, raised Jesus from the dead and can take whatever is broken and build it back up for His glory!

L. H.
I am always uplifted when I read the gracious replies to less than friendly questions that come your way. Thank you for showing the love and mercy of God in all your dealings with His wayward children.
Steve G.
I find it scarcely believable that after all the effort you people go to in order to combat evolutionism and show the marvels of the glorious creation of our wonderful Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ someone would dare to say "you are going to hell.' I sure hope this persons attitude doesn't bring about the fate he desires for you.
Roger T.
And Jesus said, "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.
Somehow I think that Bob has missed the point!

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