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Creation 34(2):38–39, April 2012

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Natural selection ≠ evolution



This is an important ‘equation’1 that all people should be aware of, namely ‘Natural Selection does not equal () Evolution’.2 Christians should know it so they do not get conned, and evolutionists should know it as a reminder that they still have lots of work to do to be able to claim that they have a mechanism for evolution.

How often we hear an example of natural selection being used as proof of evolution. Changing sizes, colours, skin patterns and shapes are often paraded as evolution’s honour roll. This bait-and-switch tactic has been so often exposed for what it is, it’s a wonder that it is still used, or that people are still taken in by it.

The very term should put people on their guard that something is missing. If we think of the word ‘selection’, in our common, daily experience, we select from something pre-existing. Think of being asked to select cards from a pack. You could select cards from a pack every second for the rest of your life and all you would only ever produce is different groups of the same cards. You would not have created anything new—only re-arranged cards, or removed cards or added cards from another pack.

If an illusionist asks you to select a card from a pack, and surprises you with something new, you know it is an illusion, a sleight of hand. We need to learn to see the evolutionists’ sleight of hand when they claim to have pulled something ‘new’ out of the pack. Selection is always from a pre-existing series or range; it creates nothing new.

This illustration applies equally to ‘selection’ in the biological context. The all-wise Creator knew the different environments that His creatures would have to adapt to after the Fall and Curse, and particularly after the Flood of Noah, in order to survive. He included in the genetic information of each ‘kind’ of creature He created, a smorgasbord of variety in their makeup. This includes those features that would interact with the environment: the overall size of a plant, animal or person; the size of individual organs or limbs such as beaks and noses, leaf sizes, skin colours, hair and feather lengths, textures and colours. All of these and many more variations were programmed into the DNA of His creatures in order that as populations of the various kinds moved into new environments, expression of those variations enabled individuals to survive those environments. Individuals with those variations then passed them on to their young. When these variations and the habitat of the population expressing that variation are distinct enough, we might distinguish different ‘species’. In all of this selection process, new information is never added. It can be conserved or lost, but never gained.


The creationist chemist/zoologist Edward Blyth (1810–1873) wrote about natural selection about 25 years before Darwin misappropriated it to support his theory of evolution. Blyth clearly saw this remarkable phenomenon as arising from the providence of the all-wise, all-knowing, ingenious Creator God.

Knowing God’s love for beauty (reflected in men and women who are made in His image), God probably also had in mind the spectacular array of birds, fish, dogs and cats that we have varied by ‘artificial selection’ purely for the sake of ‘beauty’ rather than survival.3

But whether variation is selected naturally by the environment, or artificially by breeders for a particular trait, it remains just that, ‘selection’ from existing genetic information. Nothing new is created.

Patent law calls for a product to have an ‘inventive step’ in order for it to be patented. Mere changes in design of an existing product cannot be patented. Many legal battles over patent rights have been waged over this point. Evolution requires the same thing—an ‘inventive step’, a novel organ or body part, facilitated by new information in the DNA that wasn’t there before. Despite the huge resources thrown at evolution in universities and research institutions, natural selection has never been shown to bring about this type of ‘inventive step’.

Today’s Darwinists point to mutations as the mechanism which provides this novelty from which ‘Natural Selection’ selects. Evolutionists should then focus on mutations to defend their theory, instead of ‘Natural Selection’. When pressed for examples of novel genetic information or body organs created by mutation, they typically point to instances such as wingless beetles4 on islands, or the flightless cormorant on the Galapagos islands.5 The problem with these examples is obvious. While they may confer a benefit to the creatures in a specific, very unusual environment, nothing ‘new’ is added to the DNA or creatures’ body parts. They actually involve a loss or corruption of existing genetic information.6

Evolution desperately needs ‘Natural Invention’, ‘Natural Novelty’ and ‘Natural Creation’. ‘Natural Selection’ just does not pass muster as exhibit A for evolution. Rather, it is a wonderful tribute to God’s design, and His providence for a fallen world. Natural Selection ≠ Evolution.

References and notes

  1. This is not really an equation; the precise mathematical term is an inequality. Return to text.
  2. The mathematical symbol ≠ means ‘is not equal to’. Return to text.
  3. In the hands of sinful, fallible humans subject to vanity, etc. the world of show-breeding has taken things to extremes beyond anything that can be justified (or even classed) as aesthetic. This is especially so when it involves defects and deformities that cause serious health problems to the dogs themselves. See Cosner, L, ‘Parade of mutants’, creation.com/pedigree, Creation 32(2) 28–32, 2010. Return to text.
  4. See creation.com/beetle-bloopers. Return to text.
  5. See creation.com/galapagos-birds. Return to text.
  6. The Frog to a Prince DVD available from CMI shows well-known evolutionist Richard Dawkins stumped by a request to provide examples of addition of genetic information from mutations. creation.com/Dawkins-stumped. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments

Jacob L.
Great article about natural selection but I heard some protein experiment by skolnick and gao showed natural selection helped protein evolution!
Marc Ambler
Their work has been disputed by both evolutionists and ID scientists, partly on the basis that the model is mainly 'theoretical and computational'. It is one thing to develop a computer model of proteins based on all sorts of assumptions, and reach a conclusion; entirely another to back that up with experimental observations and data done in a lab.
michael S.
Patent law calling for an inventive step is the analogy that impresses me. Because that is a brilliant little example, especially if it can be shown that legally, the patents are not allowed. If an analogy could be drawn, and an article made showing the comparison between such a case of law and say, changes in a Bacteria Flagellum, it would make a powerful correlation, IMHO. Because logically that's an absolute gold nugget, I've never seen that analogy before, it really does almost FORCE the issue into a tangibly logical context.

I think of examples of organisms that have lost their eyes while living in the dark. Yes, a beneficial mutation, but a negative loss. The semantics played by the evo's seem to be designed to hide or ignore the true problem - that the rotary motor in a Flagellum did not invent itself as a design because it adapted to survive.
Paul O.
You're right, natural selection does not ‘equal’ evolution. Natural selection is one of the mechanisms of evolution. Just like your engine doesn't equal your car, but it is part of it.
Jonathan Sarfati
Natural selection is one of the mechanisms of the biblical Creation/Fall/Flood/Dispersion model too, as we have long taught (e.g. Variation and natural selection versus evolution up to this article). In fact, Stephen Jay Gould pointed out, “Natural selection ranked as a standard item in biological discourse” among the pre-Darwinian creationists [The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, pp. 137–141, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2002.] Reproduction is an important part of evolutionary theory too—indeed, natural selection is often defined as ‘differential reproduction’, but it’s also clearly a part of the biblical creationist model too, right from Genesis 1. Simple logic would dictate that if something that is a part of both rival models, then it can’t be used as evidence in favour of one and against the other.

Actually, this is one of the problems I have with a small minority of creationists (not in CMI) that object to natural selection. They inadvertently send the message that this real process of differential reproduction is something owned and explainable exclusively by evolutionists, and this is just not so!
Richard D.
Do evolutionists really typically point to wingless beetles? Why not nylonase? Or any of the other hundreds of example of new features? Let me help you get started. [Link removed as per feedback rules.]
Jonathan Sarfati
Yes they do typically point to wingless beetles. And the late atheist Christopher Hitchens made a huge deal about blind creatures in caves, and was commended by Richard Dawkins himself.

About nylonase, let me get you started on our old response to this claim: The adaptation of bacteria to feeding on nylon waste.
Mark G.
Evolution is a magician that is all hat and no rabbit!
George M.
Thank you for the simple but brilliant illustration of the cards . Its makes easy to explain and defend the fact there is no evolution happening.
Cowboy Bob S.
Evolutionists have been bringing up the "natural selection is evolution" canard lately, and I was surprised because I thought it had been abandoned in favor of mutations and so forth.

The "bait and switch" trick is popular with evolutionists. Although I think that many know what they're doing, others do not realize that they're using logical fallacies. (After all, it appears that students are not being taught *how* to think, critically and examining the evidence, but *what* to think.) Some will equivocate on the word "evolution", which has several meanings. Worse, they will equivocate "evolution" with "science"; I was shown a quote where someone insisted, "Evolution IS science". Nope.

Thanks for this article. People need to be informed about such word manipulations and trickery.
Alex F.
Your article ‘makes the point’ that no new genetic material can be created—“Selection is always from a pre-existing series or range; it creates nothing new.” However, gene duplication demonstrates that there is a viable mechanism for the creation of new genetic material on which mutation and selection can then operate. To use your card analogy, it is as though new cards can be generated by copying and altering existing cards. The quote from Shaun's article is irrelevant; the point is that the mechanism for generating new genetic material does exist.
Jonathan Sarfati
Hilary J.
I love the example of the pack of cards. It is so easy to remember. I pray constantly for CMI who I feel are missionaries to first world countries. Perhaps the most affluent people on the planet have swallowed the biggest lie ever in the form of evolution.
Marc Ambler
Thanks Hilary. We also earnestly pray that our ministry will have an impact on developing countries as well. Many of the modern leaders, educated in secular humanist universities, have bought into the notion that we are evolved apes, traditionally with dark skinned races as transitional on the way to Darwin's so called 'civilised races'. While no longer explicitly taught, it is implicit in evolution. What a tragic irony that African leaders have bought into this 'neo-colonialism' of the mind. It was a view responsible for much evil in the 'new world'.
Alex F.
Hi Marc. You obviously didn't read Shaun's article! The point of gene duplication is that one copy retains its original function and one can be mutated to provide a novel function. In the case of the ice-fish a gene for a digestive enzyme was duplicated and the copy mutated to give a protein that protected against freezing. (I bet you don't publish this clarification!).
Marc Ambler
Hi Alex. My article makes the point that a corrupting of genetic information by mutation can confer a survival benefit to an organism. I quote from the Doyle article, 'Evolutionists have failed to grasp the evidential burden they have to actually substantiate their just-so stories on how high-information-content biological structures could form naturalistically. AFPs in general, and this example in particular, fail as evidence for molecules-to-man evolution.'
Alex F.
Hi Marc. You ought to have a word with your own CMI member Shaun Doyle, who admitted in a Creation article that gene-duplication (i.e. addition of ‘information’) was the most likely explanation for the anti-freeze protein in ice-fish!
Marc Ambler
Aaah! So you are saying that DUPLICATION=ADDITION? In that case if you were a teacher and gave your students an assignment; one student did the assignment and all the others made DUPLICATES of that assignment and handed them in, you would be quite happy to pass them. My argument stands.

Jonathan Sarfati adds: please also note what Mr Doyle actually documented: that these antifreeze proteins lack specified complexity: all that is being duplicated is the ability to impede the formation of ice crystals. His conclusion:

AFPs are demonstrably simplistic proteins in their function, more akin to beneficial debris than a new complex and specified protein. Creating an antifreeze protein naturalistically is qualitatively different from creating, for example, the blood-clotting cascade, cellular differentiation programs, the photosynthetic pathway, or a bacterial flagellum. The difference is between incidental (and accidental) function and essential biological structure.

Robert S.
"How often we hear an example of natural selection being used as proof of evolution. Changing sizes, colours, skin patterns and shapes are often paraded as evolution’s honour roll. This bait-and-switch tactic has been so often exposed for what it is, it’s a wonder that it is still used..."

It's the best lie/fable that they have, so until they can invent something better, they have no choice but to keep using it.
Jack C.
Well said. I like very much the inference that evolutionists are like magicians who trick people into believing something that's not true. It is so appropriate.

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