Jared from Zimbabwe asks for clarification over just what mutations and natural selection are capable of doing and not capable of doing. CMI’s Dr Don Batten responds.

Hi,

I am curious about the few, seemingly at odds, articles that I have read recently. The topic is that of genetic mutations and natural selection. It seems in some ways this is shown to be insignificant and unable to affect any real changes, then in other ways it seems to be very significant.

Many articles have suggested how the great diversity we have in the biological world is from mutations and selections. The suggestion is that this process is pretty solid and consistent giving us many diverse species from just a few. The point has also been made that some of these mutations are actually more severe and occur more rapidly than previously thought. A couple of examples that come to mind is the interbreeding of certain cave dwelling blind fish that regain sight in just a single generation, and tunnel mosquitoes that have developed so independently that they are unable to interbreed with above ground species. This would seem to make sense.

But then I have also read a few other articles that suggest otherwise, mostly summarised by the following points made by John Sanford:

“The bottom line is that Darwinian theory fails on every level. It fails because: 1) mutations arise faster than selection can eliminate them; 2) mutations are overwhelmingly too subtle to be “selectable”; 3) “biological noise” and “survival of the luckiest” overwhelm selection; 4) bad mutations are physically linked to good mutations,2 so that they cannot be separated in inheritance (to get rid of the bad and keep the good). The result is that all higher genomes must clearly degenerate.”

He suggests that mutations get overwhelmed by “noise” and are too subtle to be “selectable”. But does this not work against the very arguments that creationists use to support rapid speciation and variation? He says mutations are too subtle, but surely losing or gaining eyes is not subtle at all and would definitely affect selection? Surely that’s the whole basis for our creation arguments?….

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