Observations of ‘evolution’ point to an ingenious Designer
Published: 30 March 2007 (GMT+10)
One of the most confusing aspects of the creation/evolution debate is the fact that biologists have two different definitions for the word evolution. Evolution may refer to the change in the genetic makeup of a population over time or to the idea that all life arose by natural processes. These two definitions are blurred together so that examples of the former are used as evidence for the latter. This bait-and-switch method of pushing molecules-to-man evolution was pioneered generations ago1 and has been so effective that today many biologists are not fully aware that this is going on.
Examples of the first definition, genetic changes observed over time, are exciting for creationary scientists. A recent article in Nature Genetics examines a new method of DNA sequencing that ‘allows observation of bacterial evolution on a laboratory timescale’.2 The researchers started and ended with E. coli bacteria. Just as there are different breeds of dogs, there are different strains of bacteria. The strain of E. coli used was a laboratory strain that had been grown on rich medium for the last 80 years. Researchers had noted that when this strain was grown on minimal medium with glycerol as the carbon and energy source, they grew much slower at first than expected. The researchers maintained five populations of E. coli on glycerol minimal medium and examined them after 44 days to determine what genetic changes had taken place to enable them to grow better. They discovered that all five populations had fixed a different mutation in one gene (glpK). This gene codes for the protein glycerol kinase, which is the first enzyme used to break down glycerol so the bacteria can use it. In the original strain this protein is inhibited (adjusted so it works very slowly), but mutations in this gene increased its activity so the bacteria were able to grow more rapidly. There were mutations found in a second gene (RNA polymerase) in three of the populations that also adjusted things so the bacteria were able to grow significantly faster. The article discusses these and several other mutations observed that had smaller positive effects as well.
Evolution contradicts evolution
What the article did not discuss is how strongly these types of changes argue against ideas of molecules-to-man evolution. First, these changes are not random. Evolutionists have taught for decades that mutations are always random and life came about by chance events. However, the mutations in these bacteria showed up when and where they were needed.3 Second, the bacteria are adjusting to optimally live in their environment. In the original strain the pathway to break down glycerol was likely adjusted to work slowly because one of its metabolites (molecules it is broken down into) can be toxic if it reaches too high a concentration. The researchers also noted that some of the bacteria carrying these adaptive mutations grew poorly when placed back on rich medium.
What evolutionists fail to acknowledge is that genetic change over time does not support an evolutionary origin unless the pattern of change demonstrates the formation of new, complex biochemical pathways by chance events—such a pattern is conspicuously absent. Instead, these bacteria appear designed to be able to adapt.4 Not only are evolutionists without a scientifically plausible explanation for the formation of the glycerol pathway, but now they need to explain how the bacteria are able to adjust the pathway according to their needs. It sure appears that an ingenious Programmer designed the DNA. This is consistent with the Bible’s description of God, who is all-wise and cares for His Creation.
Creationary scientists look forward to more studies like this. It is always fascinating to see how things work; it gives us a renewed sense of awe for our Creator. Furthermore, as ironic as it may seem, observations of evolution (change over time) are powerful evidence against evolution (molecules-to-man).
- Bergman, J., Kinsey, Darwin and the sexual revolution, Journal of Creation 20(3):112–113, 2006. Return to text.
- Herring, C.D., et al., Comparative genome sequencing of Escherichia coli allows observation of bacterial evolution on a laboratory timescale, Nature Genetics 38(12)1406–1412, 2006. Return to text.
- Additionally, the researchers looked for hitchhiking mutations, mutations that become fixed because they occur close to a beneficial mutation. They failed to find any, which they attribute to low rates of spontaneous mutation. Although the genes they occur in are not random, the fact that the mutations are generally different may indicate that they are random ‘within a search space’, which is the type of thing you might expect if they are programmed responses to the new environment. Also, the researchers looked at mutations on day 15 and found four more mutations in glpK that did not become fixed. One of these was a mutation identical to one fixed in a different population, another was a mutation in a neighboring nucleotide which affected the same amino acid. They found another example in the scientific literature of a mutation affecting this amino acid as well. Return to text.
- For other examples see Special Tools of Life and The adaptation of bacteria to feeding on nylon waste. In the first example, the bacteria adapt by adjusting pathways they already have, but these types of changes cannot build biochemical pathways in the sense required by evolutionists. The second example shows a more innovative change which is confined to plasmids, but it is clearly not random. In both cases non-random mutations are enabling the bacteria to adapt to a new environment; they are not on their way to becoming a different organism. These mutations, which show up when and where they are needed, are evidence for design by a Creator who cares for His Creation.Return to text.