Mutations – “Raw Material” of Evolution?

Mutations — radical changes to living organisms at the genetic level — are said to be the “source of raw material for evolution.” Without significant changes occurring at this level, there is no change to the species at all, no evolution at all. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that advocates of Darwin’s theory place great store by mutations. That said, what do scientists really say on the subject? Does the scientific data on mutations live up to the expectations of the defenders of Darwin? Let’s see…

Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould, a fervent defender of evolution, extols Theodosius Dobzhansky as “the greatest evolutionist of our century.” However, Dobzhansky says regarding mutations that they “usually show deterioration, breakdown, or disappearance of some organs. . . . Many mutations are, in fact, lethal to their possessors. Mutants which equal the normal fly in vigor are a minority, and mutants that would make a major improvement of the normal organization in the normal environments are unknown.”

Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, a scientist from the Max Planck Institute said regarding the study of mutations: “By the 1980’s, the hopes and euphoria among scientists had ended in worldwide failure. Mutation breeding as a separate branch of research was abandoned in Western countries. Almost all the mutants exhibited ‘negative selection values,’ that is, they died or were weaker than wild varieties.”

Lönnig further said: “Mutations cannot transform an original species into an entirely new one. This conclusion agrees with all the experiences and results of mutation research of the 20th century taken together as well as with the laws of probability. Thus, the law of recurrent variation implies that genetically properly defined species have real boundaries that cannot be abolished or transgressed by accidental mutations.”

The Encyclopedia Americana said: “The fact that most mutations are damaging to the organism seems hard to reconcile with the view that mutation is the source of raw materials for evolution. Indeed, mutants illustrated in biology textbooks are a collection of freaks and monstrosities and mutation seems to be a destructive rather than a constructive process.”—1977, Volume 10, page 742.

New York University professor, Irving Kristol, said that “laboratory experiments reveal how close to impossible it is for one species to evolve into another, even allowing for selective breeding and some genetic mutation. . . . The gradual transformation of the population of one species into another is a biological hypothesis, not a biological fact.”

Regarding mutations, the late Carl Sagan once declared: “Most of them are harmful or lethal.”

Genetecist Peo Koller stated: “The greatest proportion of mutations are deleterious to the individual who carries the mutated gene. It was found in experiments that, for every successful or useful mutation, there are many thousands which are harmful.”

In his book The Wellsprings of Life, science writer Isaac Asimov admitted: “Most mutations are for the worse.”

In the book Darwin Retried — An Appeal to Reason, the author Norman Macbeth related the following about the respected geneticist, the late Richard Goldschmidt: “After observing mutations in fruit flies for many years, Goldschmidt fell into despair. The changes, he lamented, were so hopelessly micro [small] that if a thousand mutations were combined in one specimen, there would still be no new species.”

The book Molecules to Living Cells made the following statement: “The cells from a carrot or from the liver of a mouse consistently retain their respective tissue and organism identities after countless cycles of reproduction.”

In agreement with the above, Symbiosis in Cell Evolution said: “All life . . . reproduces with incredible fidelity.”

Additionally, Scientific American observed: “Living things are enormously diverse in form, but form is remarkably constant within any given line of descent: pigs remain pigs and oak trees remain oak trees generation after generation.”

In support of the conclusion that no amount of accidental genetic change can cause one kind of life to turn into another kind, French biologist Jean Rostand once said: “I cannot make myself think that these ‘slips’ of heredity have been able, even with the cooperation of natural selection, even with the advantage of the immense periods of time in which evolution works on life, to build the entire world, with its structural prodigality and refinements, its astounding ‘adaptations.’”

Similarly, geneticist C. H. Waddington stated regarding the belief in mutations: “This is really the theory that if you start with any fourteen lines of coherent English and change it one letter at a time, keeping only those things that still make sense, you will eventually finish up with one of the sonnets of Shakespeare. . . . it strikes me as a lunatic sort of logic, and I think we should be able to do better.”

Professor John Moore declared: “Upon rigorous examination and analysis, any dogmatic assertion . . . that gene mutations are the raw material for any evolutionary process involving natural selection is an utterance of a myth.”

Evolutionist Bengelsdorf said: “Mutations, involving base changes in genes, can account for differences between two men . . . But, for various reasons, they cannot account for overall evolution—why there are fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals.”

The magazine Science of November 21, 1980, said: “Species do indeed have a capacity to undergo minor modifications in their physical and other characteristics, but this is limited and with a longer perspective it is reflected in an oscillation about a mean.”

“Even this relatively recent history,” said Theodosius Dobzhansky, in his book Mankind Evolving, “is shot through with uncertainties; authorities are often at odds, both about fundamentals and about details.”


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