Genotype
The inheritable information carried in the cells of all living organisms. This stored information is used as a "blueprint" for building and maintaining the organism
Phenotype
The physical attributes of an organism. They are caused by both the organism’s genotype and its environment.
Transcription
A five-stage process in which information is copied from DNA to RNA.
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that stores genetic make up, or code. All living things have DNA.
Ribosomes
RNA and protein complexes that help with the expression of genetic information.
RNA
Molecules similar to DNA that are involved in the production of proteins in living things. While DNA molecules are double-stranded, RNA molecules are usually single-stranded.
Natural Selection as a Creative Force
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: Natural selection is based on the survival of the fittest. Can different species develop based on this reasoning?
 
 

Natural selection in itself is not a scientific principle because it is based on circular reasoning. By natural selection, less fit organisms are eliminated and fitter organisms survive to propagate the species. Organisms thus survive the process because they are fitter, and one concludes that they are fitter because they survive.

The process operates by elimination, not addition. In order for the fitter to survive, there must have been a less fit that did not survive. Natural selection does not create features, adaptations, or even life, it merely selects for the feature that provides greater survival value. The features themselves must still come into existence by random chance processes. Moreover, because the mechanism of natural selection operates by eliminating the less fit, it must eventually lead to less diversity unless the random chance "creation" of features outstrips natural selection in pace. This is an extremely unlikely scenario.

How can an elimination mechanism create more diversity? After all, this is what the evolutionary paradigm requires, in order for more complex diverse life forms to have evolved from a single ancestor. If natural selection is to take the place of God, then it is a god of elimination. Platnick (1977) wondered if there is any difference in the noted evolutionist Ernst Mayr's concept of "an all-powerful natural selection" and that of an all-powerful Creator. i,ii

A look at the palaeontological record will reveal a far greater diversity of life in the past than in the present. Moreover, as environmental pressures increase, more species are becoming extinct. Natural selection appears to be doing a good job at eliminating life forms. If given a little bit more time, it might even complete the job. Thus, if variation did not come about by natural selection, where did it come from?

Before discussing this vital question, there is a further issue regarding natural selection that needs to be discussed, and that is the level at which natural selection operates. Natural selection operates at the level of the phenotype and not the level of the genotype.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/denniswong/3577211119
This is a cardinal rule in evolution. Processes that produce changes in the genes occur by chance through mutation and only once the gene has been transcribed and produced the phenotype can natural selection come into play. Mathematical models show that the probability is zero for selection operating at the level of the phenotype to bring about changes when random mutations are performed at the genotype level.iii

Let us consider this by means of a simple analogy. If I have a book with detailed instructions on how to build a number of model airplanes, how do I know which one flies best? I build the airplanes, test fly them, and select the one that flies best. In our example, the instruction book is the genotype and the actual airplane is the phenotype.

Selection can only take place once at least two airplanes have been built and can be tested. There have to be at least two variants or else there is nothing to choose from.

Selection cannot take place at the level of the book, as the words in the book only become meaningful once they have been translated into the airplane. Three questions now arise:

1. Who wrote the book?

2. If the book remained closed on the shelf would I know which airplane flies best?

3. How are the instructions translated into the product?

Let's start with the first question. The book is the genotype, so it came into existence by chance. The variants on the original (more than one airplane design) came about by chance through mutations. This might sound ridiculous, but is precisely what the theory of evolution proposes.

The genotype of even the simplest organisms is far more detailed and complex than our book. To believe this thus requires a great deal of faith.

Turning to the next question, the answer to this is obviously no. A mechanism must exist to unravel the instructions in the book. This requires that the book be opened (the equivalent of enzyme systems that unravel the DNA molecules so that transcription can commence). Does this tell me which airplane flies best? No, they are still not built at this stage. Where did the mechanism to open the book (unravel the DNA molecules) come from? As natural selection will only come into play at the level of the airplanes (the phenotype), once again our only solution must be by chance. Given the complexity of these systems, once again this requires a great deal of faith.

Finally, we turn to the third question: how are the airplanes finally built? By an intelligent human or by robot assembly mechanisms designed by an intelligent human. In the case of the cell, the complex "robot assembly line" is the complex transcription process using RNA and ribosomes to construct proteins.

The proteins are the equivalent of our airplanes, so how did the assembly process come into existence that was to build the final product (the phenotype)? The answer must once again be chance. DNA and RNA are like letters of the alphabet, their validity cannot be tested until translated.

To believe that these mechanisms come about by chance random processes requires extraordinary faith. Indeed, the handiwork of an intelligent Designer is written all over it. This also requires faith, but faith of a different kind.

Ahead to The Origin of Higher Life Forms

 


 

i. Ernst Mayr, Evolution and The Diversity of Life, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976).

ii. N. Platnick, "Review of Evolution and the Diversity of Life" Systematic Zoology (1977): 224-228.

iii. M. Schuetzenberger. 1967. "Algorithms and neo-Darwinian theory" Mathematical challenges to the neo-Darwinian interpretation of evolution (1967): 73.

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