Evolution: Random?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, July 1, 2021 2 comments

by Steve Risner

The last three posts I’ve written focused on what an unbeliever claimed were strawman arguments that creationists use. We covered the “It’s only a theory” argument and 2 posts on the “Species don’t turn into other species” argument. I pray you found them useful. This week we continue our exploration of these strawman arguments presented by this person. It’s another fun one. He says:

ORGANISMS CANNOT BE CREATED BY CHANCE. True, but evolution by natural selection doesn’t say it works by chance, it is just the opposite of chance, that is why the word ‘selection’ is there!

This is the wonderful thing about evolution. It accommodates so much and is so slimy with its usage of words that it can slip through any obstacle. This evolutionist apparently wants me to believe that their claim is that universal common descent is powered by natural selection. Either he has no idea what he’s talking about, or he’s just misrepresenting the truth. Mutations are allegedly the primary mechanism by which the acquisition of new information that can code for new anatomy and physiology is made. Mutations are completely random. In fact, if we look at a few citations we’ll see even evolutionists believe the process starts with completely random event or set of events:

  • According to Nature: mutations occur randomly with respect to whether their effects are useful.
  • According to Berkeley: mutations are random — whether a particular mutation happens or not is unrelated to how useful that mutation would be.
  • Experiments have made it clear that many mutations are in fact random and did not occur because the organism was placed in a situation where the mutation would be useful.
  • In 1952, Esther and Joshua Lederberg performed an experiment that helped show that many mutations are random, not directed.
  • According to Scientific American: there appears to have been much randomness in the process that determined which of many possible mutations would be the one that ended up answering the call at a given time and place.
  • According to Dr. Whitacre (teaches biology in Idaho): mutation is simply an accident during the process of DNA (gene) duplication.
  • Mutation, since it is simply a random error in copying the DNA, is the random part of evolution.
  • According to a paper published in Molecular Biology and Evolution on August 2, 2016: the notion that mutation is random with respect to fitness has been foundational to modern biology.
  • According to Biology 2e (an online biology textbook): The diversity of life on Earth is a result of mutations, or random changes in hereditary material over time.

The first thing they’ll mention here is natural selection. Natural selection simply means that organisms that are more fit for survival will survive. It doesn’t actually actively do anything. It’s nothing more than a result, and it’s not entirely true. It’s circular and doesn’t always work all the time. An organism that survives is not always the most fit. An organism that is the most fit will not always survive. But I guess we can allow for trends or general rules here. But the great thing is it cannot ever under any circumstances create a change in a population of organisms. It’s impossible. As I said, it’s not active, it’s passive. It demonstrates the change over a period of time but nothing more. It actually will result in the reduction of available traits to pass on. We went over that a little in the last two posts about species turning into other species. I used the example of white and brown bears: if a population of bears is brown and white and some sort of stressor causes a survival advantage for white bears over brown bears, over time we will no longer have brown bears. There once was the possibility of 2 different fur coat colors. Now there is only one—that is less variety and a downward change. It’s not evolution (meaning universal common descent).

Is that random? The consensus is no, it’s not random. But is that true? I suppose in a sense it’s correct. But it’s misleading. Dr. Eyre-Walker authored a paper where he stated, “Particularly for multicellular organisms … most mutations, even if they are deleterious, have such small effects that one cannot measure their fitness consequences.” In other words, most mutations have no survival advantage at all because they create changes that are so small that they are undetectable. And if a new anatomical structure or physiological pathway requires multiple mutations (most would likely require millions of them), unless they all miraculously occurred simultaneously (which is literally impossible), there is no way for natural selection to keep what would then be a meaningless mutation while it waited for the next and the next until there was an accumulation of mutations that could create a new anatomical structure or physiological pathway. It’s naïve to consider such things are possible in nature.

So, the “selection” part of evolution (which is a real thing that we can actually see happen) isn’t quite as random, but it only acts on something that is purely random. In fact, as stated above by an evolutionist who teaches this to students in Idaho, it’s an accident. It’s amazing that people can think all of biology—the complexity found in genetics and the specialization we find in nature—has come about by lucky little mistakes that accumulate into such extreme specified complex structures and pathways. In talking with G. Charles Jackson (known lovingly as Dr. Jay), he said this to me:

Don't forget the raw material that is offered up to selection is created by a random chance process which is not capable of providing any more sophisticated information than it was given in the first place so selection may not be random, but the material it gets to work with by selecting upon is generated by a random and entropic process! So taken altogether ... mutation and selection are a chance team of tandem events.

That sums it up fairly well, I think. Look up Dr. Jay. He’s got his hands in a lot of things dealing with the Bible and creation.

Darwin is given credit for describing natural selection. I did a search online and he clearly is the one who is cited as originating the idea. What’s funny is 3 other scientists prior to Darwin described it as well. James Hutton described it first (50 years earlier) and was very outspoken. He wrote on it and spoke on it in the same town that the other two were educated later on, and eventually Darwin himself learned there also. Wells, Matthew, and Darwin all described the idea after Hutton, but Darwin gets credit while being the last of the four. What’s more interesting to me is that the first three believed that natural selection worked on the species level—creating variety or increasing the survival potential of a population. Darwin was the only one of the four to believe it worked far beyond the species level—universal common descent.

So, we see that the first three who described this idea stuck to observable scientific facts while Darwin extrapolated wildly beyond the realms of possibility. The original three had ideas that easily work within the creationist worldview. They have been forgotten although one of them was clearly the originator of the idea. The last made a huge leap and, silly as it was, is now considered the thinker behind this description of how nature seems to work.

The bottom line with this person’s claim that evolution (again, meaning universal common descent) isn’t random is simply not true. It’s a way for him to feel better about it or to tell creationists they’re wrong. But in reality, we’re looking at a process that’s primary mechanism for creating new information that codes for new anatomy or physiology is completely random. Scientific American says it. Berkeley says it. The science journal Nature says it. Others have said it. Experimentation confirms it.

This is another example of a claimed strawman that isn’t a strawman at all. It’s exactly right, and evolutionists likely know it but don’t like it. That’s why they try to play word games or bait and switch so they don’t have to acknowledge that no such random process like copy errors of DNA can turn slime into human beings given any amount of time. This evolutionist who claimed this is a strawman even agrees with us creationists that this process cannot generate lifeforms. He tries to shrug it off by forgetting that random mutation is the primary source for change. He wants natural selection to be the change generator but it’s only the change demonstrator. It reduces variety rather than increasing it.

Thank you for exploring this idea with me, faithful reader. Next time we’ll expose another alleged strawman this unbeliever claims creationists shouldn’t use. It’s another good one.

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Unknown said...

Great article. Strawmen is typical of evolutionists. I recently had an evolutionist tell me repeatedly that duplicate information is NEW information. I responded that it is similar to handing in a paper with one full page duplicated, and he maintained that that certainly was new information. I told him that if he turned in a paper with several pages of duplicated pages, that that would testify that he did not bother to proof-read his paper, and rather than be given a better grade for so many duplicated pages, he would be marked down. However, he continued to maintain that duplicated information was new information. Incredible.

Stephen Meiner said...

I always look forward to your blogs ...where I can read them without immediately having to see all the contrary comments (as in Creationist group).

Thanks again, Steve.