Do you remember the monk and his crinkly peas – Gregor Mendel? Why were his peas crinkly? Or would you say wrinkly? The wrinkly ones were the ones with recessive inheritance, the ones carrying two recessive genes. The peas were wrinkly because they lacked a structural element that would make them normal and smooth-looking.
And then it occurred to me – recessive genes are blanks. Mutation has made them into blanks by loss of function mutations that are errors in the code.
The material of evolution is genetic variation – this is the number of recessive genes in a gene pool that have evolved from wild type genes. I now knew that a modification or so-called new trait could be encoded by blankety blank for that gene locus (a gene locus is the position of a gene on a chromosome).
Biologists say that Natural Selection positively selects advantageous genes, while eliminating genes that would lower fitness. This sort of makes sense, but they have never stopped to reflect on what they actually mean by this, and what their words correspond to in real life.
I had seen the light, and I now knew that ‘advantageous’ is a qualification, not a thing. Biologists think that advantageous mutations establish function, and deleterious mutations cause dysfunction. They think in a good/bad dichotomy. What they have not realized is that both types of mutation have the same basis – both are mutations causing dysfunction at the level of the genome. A switched off gene can be advantageous in a new set of circumstances, and when this is the case, it is positively selected by Natural Selection.
The actual evidence of actual plants and animals shows that Natural Selection, far from building up complexity, actually reduces it. Oh yes, Natural Selection most certainly brings about the adaptation of species to their environments; and modification in all sorts of directions. Some modifications even bring about new functions to existing organs when species migrate to places with new conditions.
But what is the actual essence of evolution? What is really happening? How does it work in the real world, when all the Evolutionist propagandists have all gone home?
The answer is genetics.
I knew in the mists of my mind from A level biology that mutation consists of random errors in the replication of DNA. Error? What do my errors achieve? Usually nothing good, unless I ‘land on my feet’. How many times have I done that? Many times. The horse landed on its feet – or hooves which are modified central toe bones.
Yes, of course – reduced forms and there are many – are underpinned by mutations to their DNA. These mutated genes have been selected by Natural Selection.
The genes in question, the mutated genes, are genes that have had their expression switched off by errors in the DNA code. I realised that these genes do not produce gene products anymore. The effect of non-expression in some genes can be genetic disease or it can be changes in development of the body.
I knew these genes existed – they are called pseudogenes. Pseudogenes are not transcribed because they have been disabled through mutations.
In Chile searching for a means to understand evolution and creation as both representing the truth, I remembered something that I had read in a Creationist book some 12 years earlier in 1980. I remembered the comment that the horse had ‘de-evolved’ not evolved. In effect, the primitive horse possessed four toes on the front legs and three toes on the back legs. Over time these had been reduced to one. The modern horse runs on one hoof on each leg i.e. one toe on each leg. This adapts it to fast running in grassland environments. (Incidentally the evolution of the horses’ teeth actually created these grasslands). This equine story is presented as a classic textbook proof of evolution. I’d stored this insight I’d read about in the back of my mind.
1992 Chile: Loss of parts – that rang a bell. I’d read The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin aged 14 and again aged 19. It was my favourite book. Darwin based much of his argument for Natural Selection on the observation of rudimentary organs. Many organisms have organs and parts that no longer serve a function, and yet are present in a very rudimentary way. When, in new circumstances an organ is not useful, it is reduced by Natural Selection until it is hardly present in some species, although fully developed in others.
Darwin commented that if species were created, then the presence of reduced, dysfunctional organs and parts makes no sense. Why would God create a form of life with dysfunctional parts? The God proclaimed by the church is a God of purpose. This is one of the most powerful arguments in favour of the operation of Natural Selection, and thus the belief that species have evolved from previous ancestors.
And yet, is this not the seed of its own destruction?
On a bus between Coquimbo and La Serena in the north of Chile it came to me that the answer is genetics.
And the question? Well, it’s a long story, but I had come to believe both in evolution and creation. Most people would say these are totally contradictory beliefs; you opt for one or you opt for the other. In 1992 I found myself in the very confusing and awkward position of believing in both. So I had to sort it out, or I would no longer sleep at night.
Biology was my first love since as far back as I can remember. I was fascinated with trying to understand plants and animals since maybe the age of five or even two when I’m said to have kept on pulling the peony buds off the plant that grew in our garden to gleefully present to my mother.
When I went to university aged 19, it was to study biology (though I finally graduated in anthropology and sociology with a modular degree course). At this time in 1980 I became an Evangelical and this brought me into contact with Creationist books. Sometime later I became a Catholic, though I retained many Evangelical beliefs and contacts.