Can duplication and mutations cause new information to “arise” in the genome? Dr. Georgia Purdom accepts this challenge posted to creationists.
New information can arise in genomes by duplication and mutation. The myosins, the opsin family and the voltage-gated K+ channel family come to mind as examples. The globin gene clusters are great examples. The beta globin gene resembles those of other globins, suggesting that they are derived from the beta gene. Phylogenies do a good job of telling us when and how the genes evolved. There are pseudogenes found in these clusters that closely resemble the functional genes, suggesting that duplication events occurred. Misalignment during recombination, causing gene duplication, followed by point mutations explains this. Usefulness is the key. This is conceivable assuming the species can afford the selective cost. I could not find anything on your site that could adequately explain why new information can’t spontaneously arise. A thorough mathematical treatment akin to Gibbs free energy equations is needed, but does one exist? Is this another creationist bluff? I’ll call. En Garde!
—D. S., US
New information can arise in genomes by duplication and mutation.
As has been said many times on this site, duplications (see “Yeast Fails to Rise to Evolutionists’ Expectations” [PDF]) and mutations do not add new information to the genome. Duplications are the result of duplicating existing genetic information, and mutations alter existing genetic information (whether original or duplicated). Neither of them adds new information.
Think about it this way: if I give someone a copy of a book they already own, then they don’t have any new information, just a copy of information they already had. If I subsequently take a marker and mark out some of the letters or words in the copy of the book I gave them, they still don’t have any new information—just a messed up copy of one of the books.
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On Jan. 15th, 2008, I went to Cole Harbour High School. Over 120 teens came at lunch to here me preach a creation message! Most of whom were dead set against God. I’m a youth pastor who started a Christian group in the school with some of my youth that go there. We approached the leadership of the school to make our proposal, and to our surprise, they gave permission: “We need all the help we can get,” they said (Why Won’t They Listen? by Ken Ham describes it well here). After my presentation, I was not even challenged; they then just attacked God’s character, which I was able to defend flawlessly—thanks to AIG! I was also able to share the gospel, too—all in one lunch! It was awesome! 40 of them came back after school to ask more questions because they were cut to the heart! I go every Tuesday to this school of 1100. We are doing 2 more local high schools soon. Thanks for all your hard work that makes this possible.
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Let us know what you think.
That is not to say that sometimes mutations can’t have beneficial outcomes, such as antibiotic resistance in bacteria, but this is not an example of new information being added. Mutations alter a current functional system (i.e., nutrient transport) in the bacteria that is the target of the antibiotic such that the bacteria are no longer affected by the antibiotic. It has come at the cost of that functional system performing its original function inefficiently or not at all. To get from bacteria to man, there must be a mechanism to add genetic information such as genes to make arms, legs, and brains. Thus, in reality “tweaking” the genome of a bacterium through duplication and mutation will not result in a human genome.
The myosins, the opsin family and the voltage-gated K+ channel family come to mind as examples. The globin gene clusters are great examples. The beta globin gene resembles those of other globins, suggesting that they are derived from the beta gene.
It must be assumed that duplications and mutations lead to new information/genes in order to state that the beta globin gene cluster is the evidence of multiple duplication events followed by mutations resulting in the different globin genes. It cannot be evidence for evolution if evolution must be assumed prior to examining the evidence. This is an example of circular reasoning.
The human beta globin gene cluster consists of five genes including beta, delta, gamma (G and A), and epsilon. All of the globin proteins have similar—but different—functions and are expressed differentially throughout embryonic development to adulthood. Their spatial arrangement on human chromosome 11 is essential to their proper expression. If the genes are rearranged, they are not expressed at the proper times. How would an organism have survived embryonic development while waiting for the proper duplication and mutation events to occur? Instead the human beta globin cluster is highly organized and well designed.
Phylogenies do a good job of telling us when and how the genes evolved.
Again, phylogenies invoke a form of circular reasoning. Phylogenies cannot be used as evidence for evolution when evolution must be assumed in order to design the phylogeny. It is not surprising that many organisms from insects to worms to fish to humans carry similar globin genes. The globin proteins are necessary for carrying and transporting oxygen, which is needed by almost all eukaryotic life for making energy (also using similar processes).
It is a form of prejudicial conjecture to say that an insect or fish is more “primitive” and therefore their globin proteins are more primitive than the human globin proteins (while it may be a conclusion drawn from an evolutionary worldview, there is no concrete evidence to support it). That is equivalent to saying that a bicycle is an inferior form of transportation and a car is a superior form of transportation. It really depends on the situation as to whether the bicycle or car is a better choice for getting around. When I traveled in China, the streets were so crowded that bicycles were clearly the superior form of transportation! The globin proteins were designed specifically for each organism to carry out the demand for oxygen.
There are pseudogenes found in these clusters that closely resemble the functional genes, suggesting that duplication events occurred. Misalignment during recombination, causing gene duplication, followed by point mutations explains this.
Again it is a form of prejudicial conjecture to suggest that pseudogenes are non-functional leftovers from past duplication events. The function/non-function of pseudogenes has been hotly debated for years. Several studies have shown that some pseudogenes are, in fact, functional. The ENCODE Project has revealed that much of the human “junk” DNA (pseudogenes fall into this category) may have a function, especially in the area of regulation. Regulation of gene expression is especially important to prevent cancer and other diseases. The psi beta pseudogene in the human beta globin gene cluster has been suggested to play a regulatory role in the expression of the other globin genes in that cluster. Another possibility is that some pseudogenes are the result of genes originally designed by God to have a function but as a result of mutation after the Fall are no longer performing this function.
Usefulness is the key. This is conceivable assuming the species can afford the selective cost.
I agree that usefulness would be key to selecting for duplication/mutation events; however, most mutations do not produce useful outcomes, and duplications/mutations have never been observed to add new information. Natural selection merely selects from existing genetic information.
I also agree that the species must be able to afford the selective cost; unfortunately, most species cannot. Bacterial populations reproduce much faster and produce more offspring than humans. This rapid generation time and large population size mean that bacteria can afford the “cost” of selection. When a bacterial population faces adverse environmental conditions, 99.999% of the cells may fail to adapt (through mutation or other genetic alterations) and subsequently die. However, the small percentage that do survive are sufficient for the population to survive. It can rapidly replenish the population back to the original population size.
Humans have much longer generation times and much fewer offspring than bacteria. The “cost” of selection becomes more than the population can pay. Fish-to-fishermen evolution becomes impossible, as the selective cost is too high for most organisms.
I could not find anything on your site that could adequately explain why new information can't spontaneously arise. A thorough mathematical treatment akin to Gibbs free energy equations is needed, but does one exist? Is this another creationist bluff? I’ll call. En Garde!
Throughout this feedback I have referenced numerous articles available on our website and others relating to this issue. I would also recommend Genetic Entropy and The Mystery of the Genome by Dr. John Sanford, In the Beginning Was Information by Dr. Werner Gitt and The Biotic Message by Walter ReMine for more in-depth information (including mathematical treatments) on this topic. I would like to call the evolutionists’ bluff and ask for an adequate explanation—with evidence—as to how new information can spontaneously arise. En garde!
Ultimately the burden of proof lies with those who believe that duplications and mutations can lead from fish to fishermen, not with those who don’t (even though we have spent and continue to spend considerable research showing that this is not possible). However, it’s important to remember that we are both looking at the same evidence. The central issue is what our starting point is when looking at the evidence; belief in the constantly changing ideas of man or belief in the unchanging Word of God.