The Genetic Apocalypse of the Human Race Made Simple

Poly-constrained message

Evolutionary theory holds that all of the diversity of life that we see – from dandelions to whales to hummingbirds to Vladimir Putin – all of this descended from a single ancestral genome. By accident. Somehow, life accidentally appeared from dead matter, and that first single-celled organism reproduced and, blindly and mindlessly, eventually led to increasingly “advanced,” “higher” life forms.

The biological process by which this all supposedly happened is this: random mutations plus natural selection. This is considered to be scientific fact in the sense that it is certain enough that it is no longer seriously questioned in secular academia. The assumption is that, over billions of years, the seemingly impossible has occurred innumerable times.

Materialist evolutionists claim that we know evolution is a fact because we can observe it occurring both in the laboratory and in the field. In saying this, they mean that we can observe mutations and natural selection giving rise to new species and newly adapted life forms.

Correcting a Common Misconception About Creationism
No one denies this. Natural selection and speciation are central to both creationist and evolutionist theory, but both worldviews disagree sharply on the role of natural selection and speciation. I would like to correct a common misunderstanding between the two worldviews. Here is where they disagree:

Creationists believe that mutations and/or natural selection can result in change and speciation within a given category of creature, but that there is a limit to what mutations and natural selection can accomplish. Dogs always produce dogs, and salmon always produce salmon. Mutations cannot create new genetic information of the type that is required to move an organism’s offspring in an “upwardly evolving” direction. For example, land bound reptiles could not have accidentally evolved into fully feathered, flying birds.

Evolutionists also believe that mutations and natural selection can result in change and speciation within a given category of creature, but they ascribe almost magical powers to the kind of change that mutations and natural selection can accomplish. Through gene duplication and other biological processes, they believe mutations can indeed add new genetic information of the type that would be necessary to move life from microbes to marimba players. For example, feathers accidentally evolved from scales via mutation, (or perhaps as some novel epidermal structure.)

100 years ago, microbes-to-mathematician evolution seemed like a viable possibility. Scientists had not yet discovered the astounding complexity of life at the cellular level, or seen the amazing complexity of the human genome. Within my lifetime we were told that humans and chimp DNA was about 99% similar. We were told that about 95% of our DNA served no function; that it was vestigial “junk DNA.” New research may be turning the tide of scientific opinion against these assertions.

In 2015, the director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, said in response to a question about junk DNA. “We don’t use that term anymore. It was pretty much a case of hubris to imagine that we could dispense with any part of the genome — as if we knew enough to say it wasn’t functional. Most of the DNA that scientists once thought was just taking up space in the genome turns out to be doing stuff.”

The Inevitability of Genetic Deterioration
I don’t really watch football. Instead, I’ve been a lifelong fan of following the creation/evolution “debate”. I’m no scientist, but I like to think I’m a (reasonably) intelligent designer. I’m willing to be convinced that all of life accidentally, mindlessly evolved from a single celled common ancestor, but I would have to at least be shown some natural process that could accomplish such a fantastical feat.

Probably the most important book I’ve read in the past year has been a book by Dr. John Sanford, entitled Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome. I highly recommend it to everyone, regardless of your worldview.

You can Google Dr. J C Sanford to learn his credentials. He was a materialist, evolutionary geneticist for most of his career. He holds over 30 patents, and has over 80 scientific publications. However, his research has led him to conclude that naturalistic evolution as currently taught is scientifically indefensible. His book, Genetic Entropy, claims to demonstrate that the human genome is unavoidably deteriorating, and thus cannot possibly be millions of years old.

Sanford refers to the idea that man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection as modern evolution’s “Primary Axiom.” The Primary Axiom is universally taught in academia and repeated in mainstream media.

Here is a brief excerpt from the prologue of Sanford’s book:

Late in my career, I did something that would seem unthinkable for a Cornell professor. I began to question the Primary Axiom…The Primary Axiom is actually an extremely vulnerable theory. In fact, it is essentially indefensible…To question the Primary Axiom required me to re-examine virtually everything I thought I knew about genetics. This was the most difficult intellectual endeavor of my life. Deeply entrenched thought patterns only change very slowly (and, I must add, painfully.) What I eventually experienced was a complete overthrow of my previous understanding.

As to the substance of the book, below is a sampling of one of several arguments against the Primary Axiom. As you read this, bear in mind that a mutation can be simply understood as a misspelling or copying error in the genome:

  1. Poly-constrained DNA
    Most DNA sequences are
    poly-functional and so must also be poly-constrained. This means that DNA sequences have meaning on several different levels (poly-functional) and each level of meaning limits possible future change (poly-constrained). For example, imagine a sentence which has a very specific message in its normal form but with an equally coherent message when read backwards. Now let’s suppose that it also has a third message when reading every other letter, and a fourth message when a simple encryption program is used to translate it. Such a message would be poly-functional and poly-constrained. We know that misspellings in a normal sentence will not normally improve the message, but at least this would be possible. However, a poly-constrained message is fascinating, in that it cannot be improved. It can only degenerate (see illustration above). Any misspellings which might possibly improve the normal sentence form will be disruptive to the other levels of information. Any change at all will diminish total information with absolute certainty…” (p 131.)

I would add a reminder that mutations are passed down to an organism’s offspring, accumulating with each generation. Sanford claims that all “higher genomes” are deteriorating, including ours. Mutations must ultimately move “higher” organisms in the wrong direction, “downward,” rather than in the direction needed for microbes-to-man evolution to occur. Far from solving the issue, deep time simply spells extinction.

Genetic entropy, if true, is not happy news for anyone, regardless of one’s worldview. If Sanford’s description of the world is correct, even a non-scientist can see important implications. From a theological perspective, I find it worth pausing to consider how pervasive are the effects of the fall of creation. Conversely, for those of us who hope in a Savior, it is worth considering how pervasive are the effects of the salvation that He has promised.
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A Tale of Two Neighbors. (And Many Dandelions.)

garden gnome-scott freemanThis morning as I was out digging dandelions in the sun, I noticed myself unconsciously making choices. It set me to thinking about human action and freedom.

I’m quite fond of the quirky little piece of downtown property where my wife and I live and raised our family. I love my wife’s garden. I love our art studio. I like our fruit trees. I like that our yard is not fenced in. And I really like that there is no Homeowners Association (HOA.) This allows me to do things like dig a pit and cook a turkey in the ground at Thanksgiving. Or to add outdoor art to my property. Our “inner city” neighborhood has a lot of cool, creatively embellished properties, and a lot of urban farming going on. Several neighbors keep chickens and bees in their backyards. These are usually among the best kept properties. I love this.

Of course there is the occasional trashy property as well, and the occasional display of poor taste. This is part of the cost of freedom. I think it is a small price to pay.

This post is a brief tale of two neighbors. It’s a story about the dynamics of living in community. (I’m pretty sure neither of my neighbors reads my blog.)

I will call my neighbor on one side, Harvey. Harvey is a middle-aged, single guy. We’re buds. We’ve talked a lot about life, God, politics, and stuff, in a dude sort of way. I like a lot of Harvey’s views, though he can be a little pugnacious. But underneath his crusty, cigar-smoking exterior, as human beings go, he’s a good man. He volunteers his time and resources to help under-privileged kids. For years he has worked with the deaf community in one capacity or another. He has purchased my art and books on several occasions. He has given us pecans from his farm in another state. I like Harvey.

A few years ago, Harvey adopted an enormous dog. A black lab, or something. I’ll call him Dogzilla. Dogzilla is clueless and friendly. I’d say he’s a little too friendly. He often escapes his pen and comes immediately into our yard, snuffling around and peeing in our garden, where we grow food that we intend to eat. Dogzilla produces enormous poop that doesn’t decompose because Harvey feeds him cheap dog food. Sometimes at night, I’ve noticed Harvey letting Dogzilla out for a potty break, while he enjoys a cigar in our shared alley. Recently, I shoveled all of Dogzilla’s petrified poop back into Harvey’s yard. I haven’t told Harvey about this yet, but if he doesn’t like it, I’m looking forward to the conversation where he explains why he has a problem with me putting his dog’s poop back into his yard.

Harvey pieced together a make-shift pen for Dogzilla. The makeshift pen is quite large and consists of five-foot sections of chain-link fencing, held up with bungee cords and stacks of cinder blocks, with a tarp thrown over part of the fence for shade. With dandelions and goat heads growing all around. It looks like crap. It’s very reminiscent of a third world slum, or a refugee camp. Of course, I have nothing against third world slum dwellers or refugees, but I don’t believe that Harvey and Dogzilla are in a crisis situation. Unless you count the dandelion crisis. But even so, that’s really a first world problem.

So that’s on one side of my house.

Then there is my neighbor on the other side. I’ll call her Betsy. She is an interior designer. Her house and yard look like a greeting card scene. She’s like Martha Stewart without the prison record. Her property has been on the annual Loveland Garden Tour. It’s like a Disney movie over there, with rabbits and birds and butterflies hopping and flitting about. When I step out of my house to go to work in my studio, if I happen to glance over to the right at Betsy’s property, I often break into song.

Betsy is also a great neighbor and a giving person. She is from an old Loveland family, and it’s fun to talk local history with her. My wife and Betsy exchange gardening plants. I have painted several paintings in her sanctuary-like backyard during plein air art competitions. (I have never asked Harvey’s permission to paint in his “yard.”) During winter, she always has her snow removal guys do part of my sidewalk. At Christmastime we exchange Christmas cookies, and hers are amazing, and ridiculously Martha Stewart-like. (Harvey does not give us cookies, but that is probably a good thing.)

That’s the other side of my house.

So, when I went out for my first springtime dandelion digging, guess where I started digging first? I headed directly to Betsy’s side of my yard. I wanted to be sure she didn’t have to wonder if I was going to get rid of the dandelions next to her property. (Her yard is dandelions-free.) She has never complained to me about my sometimes lax grounds keeping. She doesn’t have to. Because she treats her property with care, it makes me want to do the same. Not out of guilt, or shame, or keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, but out of respect and appreciation for the effort and creative care she puts in. I’ve noticed that she likes to entertain guests in her garden, and I would like to not be the jerk who ruins the sanctuary vibe that that she has going on over there. All of this is unspoken. I could completely neglect my property, and the world would keep turning, but the fact that she cares helps me to care.

Isn’t so much of life like this?

All of us struggle every day against entropy and degeneration, in every aspect of life. The physical universe is winding down. Left to itself, our environment gravitates toward disorder and decay. Civil society naturally tends toward confusion and degeneration. Even the genes in our cells are continually mutating, causing our bodies to degenerate and eventually lose function. But we fight against this. By intelligence, creativity, and work, we rebuild, restore, support, and hope. Ultimately, our only hope for salvation is an intelligent, loving, regenerative Life-Source existing outside of creation, commonly referred to as “God.” But whether or not we believe in such a God, most of us still hold onto hope. I find this bittersweet.

For me, every creative act is worth something. While even our hoping and dreaming is imperfect, every hope and dream in the face of futility testifies that we were created for life, love, and goodness. Creative acts affirm life. Caring acts make the universe make sense to our neighbor. Loving acts transcend the futility of our hopeless trajectory, in some small way. To me these things signal that there is something better to come.

I’ll close with some gardening tips from the apostle Paul:
“…whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:7-10.)

dandelion

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On Making Biblical Faith Seem Stupid – part 3 of 3

Image

After the smoke has cleared, does the creation/evolution debate actually impact our day-to-day living and working and loving? Perhaps creationists and atheists should simply be happy in their belief and unbelief? Wouldn’t it be best if every person simply believed in whatever works for them, and left everyone else alone? Generally speaking I think so, if the question is how to cook one’s eggs, or whether to wear boxers or briefs. However, the origins question defines what a human being is. When the questions impact the way we treat each other, then it’s time for some honest and respectful dialogue. Furthermore, with the origins issue we have the persistent question of what should be taught to our children.

According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 46% of Americans believe the creationist view of human origins. 32% believe in both God and evolution. A remaining 15% believe in evolution with no help from a God.

It’s no secret that the 15% keeps going to the courts to have their view imposed onto our nation’s children, while demanding that the view of the 46% be excluded from the science classroom. As though the 15% holds the “unbiased scientific truth” (see part 2 of this series.) In fact, as we shall see, the 15% seems to think they have some claim to the nation’s children. Personally, as a father, I would like for the nation’s children, including my own, to grow up learning to think critically. Using the force of government to ensure that a single, biased perspective is taught as the only possible perspective may not be the best way to get our children there.

In 2012, one of the 15%’s better known figures put out a short video that went viral on Youtube. It’s Bill Nye “The Science Guy” delivering a spectacularly pompous message – a shining example of failure to acknowledge one’s own bias, and brimming with certainty that there is no other way to see the world. The video is only 2 and a half minutes long – I urge everyone to view it. It’s called “Bill Nye: Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children.” It includes the following statement:

“I say to the grown-ups, ‘If you wanna deny evolution and live in your, (pause for dramatic effect) your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it ‘cause we need them…’”

Gosh. Thanks for the suggestion, Bill. Now I have a suggestion for you: Make your own kids.

The bigger question behind the issue of what to teach our children is, what are the consequences of believing and teaching creationism vs evolution? Qualified scientists have already responded to the many false statements and logical fallacies in Nye’s video, so I will explore the question of what’s at stake in this debate. I’m an artist, not a science guy, so, just to fulfill expectations, I will respond with an inductive, touchy-feely argument. Here is one reason why I love, love, LOVE to defend a biblical worldview. ‘Love it!:

I can’t find any other rational basis to assign transcendent, intrinsic VALUE to all human beings. The Bible provides a basis for the innate worth of ALL people, regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, viability, economic status, or any other distinction that anyone can think of.

What is that basis? The Torah clearly states that YHWH created male and female in His image (Gen 1:26,27.) This single idea provides a transcendent basis for believing that all people have intrinsic worth. I love this. This idea is found nowhere else, as far as I know. It’s not in the Koran. It’s not in the Hindu scriptures. It certainly can’t be derived from evolutionary dogma. The implications of this idea cannot be overstated, nor can the consequences of removing this idea from our children’s minds and hearts.

In a nutshell, if the good, self-sustaining God of the Bible is the cause of everything else, then He must be the most valuable thing that exists. If he has made humans uniquely in His image, then this means we are also of great value. Our value must be an objective reality, true whether or not we believe it, because it is dependent upon an objective God, not upon our own subjective valuing. The New Atheists consider this kind of thinking to be egotistical. But is it really egotistical if it applies to everyone? Let’s look at their “humble” alternative.

Materialist evolution tells us that we are the result of mindless, blind, non-directed accidental processes. Only physical matter exists, so there can be no transcendent purpose to that existence. The late Harvard paleontologist, Stephen Jay Gould, pointed out that if the whole process were to start over, the results wouldn’t be the same. Humans are not inevitable, and we are not the pinnacle. We’re a “tiny accident” – one insignificant twig on an accidental growth. More recently, Anthony Cashmore colorfully asserted that we are nothing more than “bags of chemicals,” and that consciousness and free will are illusions: “The reality is, not only do we have no more free will than a fly or a bacterium, in actuality we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar.” He points out that this idea is as old as Darwin. Thomas Huxley, Francis Crick, evolutionary psychologist Susan Blackmore, and the late William Provine have all made similar statements. This is simply the inescapable nature of reality if evolutionary theory is true.

As for the question of worth, if physical matter is all there is, and it is here by accident, then it follows that you have no more worth than a whale, a mold spore, or the hairball hawked-up by your cat last week.

Of course, it’s true that we all value things regardless of which view is true. The point is that evolution gives us no transcendent basis for doing so, and the Bible does. Evolution allows that we may have our subjective, sentimental, hormonal, or exploitive “reasons” for valuing others. We may enjoy feeling the sensation of “love,” but this is also illusory. Love cannot truly exist where there is no free will. There can only be genetically predetermined responses reacting to environmental stimuli. According to the 15%, your mom is merely a bag of chemicals. Your children are worthless. My personal heroes, friends who have adopted several children with disabilities, did not choose to do so. Theirs is not loving, beautiful, or inspiring behavior. Nor is the behavior of people who traffic children for sex despicable. Coherent value judgments simply can’t be made.

Yet Nye’s video asserts:

“Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution…if you ignore that, your worldview just becomes crazy, just, untenable, it’s self inconsistent.”

I beg to differ. If human life is not objectively and intrinsically valuable, then those with power will subjectively decide who is valuable according to who is useful, or according to some other subjective measure. From an evolutionary standpoint it may make little sense to preserve and protect the weak, disabled, deformed, genetically diseased, non-productive, homosexual, elderly, and so on. We don’t have to wonder what this subjective valuing may look like. Communism is a materialist/atheist political system based on “scientific evolution.” Last century we saw millions slaughtered in China, the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and Cambodia, for “the good of the people.” Hitler’s regime also subjectively valued entire groups of civilians, (but then, what choice did he really have?) Even in our new, enlightened century, we still have China forcing abortions on unwilling women, and otherwise persecuting those who hinder the State’s goals. Who knows what’s going on in North Korea. America’s founding documents affirm that our Creator has endowed all humans with “inalienable rights.” But evolution can give us no compelling basis for “human rights.” In terms of human suffering, the consequences of belief in neo-Darwinian evolution are as horrible as belief in a god who rewards people for blowing themselves up on a crowded bus.

Why do we expend vast resources to rescue earthquake and flood victims? Why do we pour millions into feeding famine-ravaged countries? Why do we feed and shelter war refugees? Why do people pour out their lives to help countries afflicted with an AIDS epidemic? Maybe this is all nature’s weeding out process. Maybe, the unenlightened, “crazy” Bible people are wasting their time, or worse, thwarting the natural, evolutionary process by saving these people. It would be untrue to say that there are no atheist relief organizations. What’s true is that such organizations are “self-inconsistent”, to quote Nye.

I haven’t addressed the 32% – those who believe that God used evolution to create everything. That is a topic for another time. But in a nutshell, I think most of these folks believe in God because they want to, and believe in evolution because they think they have to. They think evolution has been proven to be a fact. If you are one of these people, are you open to the possibility that God has created both a written revelation and a universe that correspond with each other? I submit there is good reason to believe He has done so.

In closing, I fully admit that I want to live in a world where all human beings have worth. However, my wishes are irrelevant if observational science has irrefutably shown that the Judeo-Christian scriptures are unreliable. If, as Bill Nye says, a biblical worldview is “completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe”, then we are stuck with his dark and depressing reality. Many, like Nye, confidently assert that as science has advanced, belief in the Bible has been shown to be irrational. I get it. After all, what are the chances that a bunch of stories written thousands of years ago by a variety of mythical sand-strewn figures could turn out to be true? In reply to this I cite one last, startling example.

The human genome has now been mapped. The newest genetics research can conclusively answer certain questions about human history. The Bible makes the “mistake” of making truth claims that can now be tested using genetics research. Statements that couldn’t be tested before. Here is one such statement: “Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood” (Gen 7:7)…The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth…from these the whole earth was populated” (Gen 9:18,19.) So according the Torah, there would have been one Y chromosome on the ark, as Noah would’ve passed his on to his 3 sons. Also, there would’ve been 3 mitochondrial lineages on the ark, (from the 3 daughters in law.) Well…it turns out that (evolutionist) genetics researchers have found that Y chromosomes are similar all across the world. Also, it so happens that there are 3 main mitochondrial DNA lineages spread across the earth. What a coincidence.

There is much more. If this interests you, I highly recommend the following article by geneticist Rob Carter, which further explains how this and other testable “fairy tales” are consistent with the latest in genetics research: http://creation.com/noah-and-genetics.

Is it possible that the Torah recounts actual human history? Could it be true that we are more than bags of chemicals, and that there is a relational Creator who loves us? Did that Creator send a Messiah to make a way for us to re-connect with Him, to give us spiritual re-birth, and to free us from bondage to death and decay? If there is any chance that these things are true, then I will leap at the chance to embrace that truth. As it turns out, it’s not even a leap, and certainly not a blind one.