“Beneficial Mutations” is a Contradiction in Terms

ascent of man

Perhaps you’re reading this post on your laptop. Or maybe you’re using a phone or tablet? However you are reading – imagine something for me. What if the data in your device suddenly changes? The files on your hard drive…the apps on your phone…they began morphing. Now I don’t mean they instantly become something else. No – I’m talking about gradual slow change. Single bits of data start to flip…a number “1” becomes a number “3” instead. A “4” becomes a “5”…and so on. And let’s say…the change happens very slowly. Out of all of the gigabytes of data that make up the apps, the code, the operating system and the documents you have stored …a single digit flips every day. What do you think might happen?

Would the blog post or the essay you are writing begin to say something better than it did before (that’s a compelling fantasy, believe me). Would the operating system in your tablet begin to morph into a different but equally functional one?

I don’t think you need a degree in Computer Science to answer those questions with a shake of the head. Gadgets and anything with a microprocessor inside them are very sensitive objects. The software is carefully crafted by – probably – hundreds of engineers over decades of time. It is precisely aligned to do a job. And if something’s not right…your laptop and therefore your life is about to get very frustrating.  If you have ever accidently loaded the wrong driver or a virus into your laptop – you will know what I mean.

In my job I sometimes work with engineers who are designing flight computers to operate in the harsh environment of space. And they put an incredible amount of effort into designing their system to make sure that “1s” cannot turn into “5s” when cosmic rays blast the vehicle. Many software systems in space travel are designed to be self-diagnosing and self-correcting – because if it breaks down on the surface of Mars, there’s not a thing we can do about it!

What I am saying is – the specific information contained within a computer system is valuable and any random unforeseen changes to that information will degrade its function. And it will probably eventually break down as a result of the change.

Why am I bringing this fairly obvious conclusion to your attention today?

Because it strikes me that the popular (some would say undeniable) theory from Charles Darwin of Biological Evolution presents the same scenario in a different context. It proposes random mutations on biological systems. And it points to something called Natural Selection and says that this process will make sure the beneficial mutations are carried forward as animals adapt and grow into different types of animals. Over time.

Beneficial mutations? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

Now I grant you – organisms do vary over time based on their environment. Beak lengths, wing colours are well documented examples. Minor change…or minor evolution… can be observed within a class of creature. It’s observable because life is built so that it will adapt to survive. But what about gradual mutation from one class of animal to another?  (Darwin’s theory of Common Descent) I am skeptical and I think the phrase “Beneficial Mutation” is a contradiction in terms here. Why?

Well – I have two problems with Darwin’s theory. And frankly – I’m going to raise them whether it’s PC to do so or not!

FIRST – where did the original organisms come from? The fossil record seems to show that life began with very simple organisms. We know from recent study of simple single celled organisms that they contain an incredible amount of digital information and complex systems for processing that information and generating proteins to manage and control the organism. There’s a vast amount of digital code in simple organisms. Where did it come from? Why does it suddenly appear in the historical record? Evolution? I don’t think so because random change doesn’t create information – it degrades it.

SECOND – Following on from the simple organisms – suddenly a vast array of incredibly complex animals, all with different body plans, appear in the fossil record (a period often called the Cambrian explosion). The fossil record starts by presenting simple organisms…and then many years later in the record we are suddenly presented with a vast array of amazing new Cambrian fully formed animal fossils. Who wrote the code for them then? There certainly isn’t any evidence of transitions from a few simple forms to a vast array of fully functional complex animals! And nor would we expect there to be – because random change doesn’t create information – it degrades it.

Not only has no evidence of transitional forms been found – but Science has begun to understand more and more about life since Darwin’s day. Roy Davidson in the 1960s discovered that each animal inherits biological circuitry (Developmental Gene Regulatory Networks or dGRNs) when it is conceived. What is a dGRN? It’s a biological control system  – completely separate from the cell’s DNA – that ensures that the organism will grow two wings, two legs and a beak (if it’s a bird). These control systems are very specific to the beast in question. And what Roy found was that any minor change to this dGRN system will render the organism unviable…in other words mutation will kill it.  Just like what will happen to the tablet you are holding if its operating system software begins to randomly flip “1s” and “0s”.

If you are anything like me, we have gotten so used to hearing people say with authority that animals evolve from one physical form to another, we naturally accept it. They say that random mutations – guided by Natural Selection – move species forward over a long period of time.

Yet just because people say this with authority does not make it right.

I don’t buy it…not because I am a Christian (which I am) but because practical experience in life with our information rich Sat Navs, our Laptops and our Tablet Computers shows this theory to be naïve and improbable . I don’t buy it because complex information processing systems – and the information they contain – do not improve when the program randomly changes. They break down.

If information systems – electrical or biological – break down in the face of random change, then the mutations that Darwin was talking about couldn’t form new living creatures. Darwin’s mutations would lead to dead ends instead. So there would be no guiding job for Natural Selection to do.

“Beneficial mutations” is a contradiction in terms.

And it’s not just me saying this. Current Scientific discoveries presented by the likes of Origin Scientist Stephen C Meyer give real weight to this conclusion. A conclusion that applies to biology in the same way as it applies to our digital technology today.

Evolutionary biologists are fond of saying that “life gives the appearance of design.” Hey – so does my IPAD. Let’s at least consider the possibility that life looks designed because it is!


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I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

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