This week correspondents ask about whether the genetic degradation by mutations applies to bacteria, and how the geological record fits into Genesis. CMI’s Don Batten and Carl Wieland respond.

Peter B. from Australia writes:


I agree with the thought of genetic entropy, and that most species given the number of mutations per generation will probably die out in 10,000 to 100,000 years, but how come bacteria are still around? Is that because there many more things that can go wrong with multicellular organisms?

Thanks. Peter B

CMI’s Dr Don Batten replies:

Dear Peter,

Good question! I think it has to do with three things: the mutation rate, the genome size and the mode of replication / reproduction.

If the mutation rate were the same as humans (say 300 per genome of 3,000,000,000 base pairs, or 1 in 10 million), with a typical genome size of say a million base pairs for bacteria, the mutation rate is only one in every 10 replications. Since bacteria reproduce by binary fission, whichever one has the mutation can be effectively eliminated by competition with non-mutated ones, even if the relative decline in fitness is quite small (because of the short generation time and huge populations that are possible).

Computer models, even simple ones like our Weasel, show that you need more than one mutation per individual per generation to get mutational meltdown (error catastrophe). See Weasel; you can click on the download link to download the Windows model, unzip it and install it. You can play with the various parameters and see what happens. Please ignore the typical mutation rates given in the paper above as they were those given by evolutionists based on evolutionary reasoning (that is, because they assumed that life has been around for eons of time, therefore error catastrophe has not happened and therefore the mutation rate is less than … ). They were not measured mutation rates, which were published after we wrote this paper (or we did not know about them!).

Also, because of the short generation times, bacterial populations can rebound quickly from disasters where only a few survive. This is another factor in the survival of bacteria.

I hope this answers your question.

With kind regards,

Don Batten

Chavoux L. from South Africa writes in response to the article

The Issue of Issues(And no, it’s not creation/evolution):


I agree with this article. However, I have to say this: I am not convinced that the current Creation Science interpretation of nature is necessarily true / most in line with the truth of Gen. 1–11. There is nothing in the Bible that claims that all (or even most) of the geological column is the result of the great flood. (It could just as well be the result of the ± 10 000 years since creation). It is possible (though perhaps not the most obvious interpretation) that death existed outside the garden of Eden even before the fall of Gen. 3 (else, why is the tree of life mentioned explicitly as being inside the Garden of Eden?). The correct answer to these kinds of questions could possibly be answered by (creation) science without attacking the truth of the Bible itself. We should always be careful to distinguish between arguments that attack the truth of the Bible and those that might just be attacking our own understanding/interpretation of God’s Word. The first kind should be seen for what it ultimately is: an attack on God’s authority and truthfulness/trustworthiness; the latter might simply be an opportunity for us to get to know Him better and understand His creation better (which is a Good Thing (TM) IMHO)….

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