Problems of the Evolutionary Hypothesis
by Cass Hewitt
I do not hold the concept of evolution—Darwinian or otherwise—to be a tenable speculation; this is viewing the debate from a slightly different perspective from those of others who question evolution.
The so called "Theory of Evolution" was first proposed by Darwin based on observable physiological characteristics. This was seized upon as an escape from the dominance of religious thought, which had held that man was a being made, and thus owned, by a mystical God.
Some—a very few-fossilized remains of human—like bones were found, and the "flow-chart" constructed which fit the theory. Basically, in order to explain similarities of form across species the theory was, and is, that the various species must have had a common ancestor and then "diverged" in small but cumulative ways. It was a neat story. And there are some small ways it does work, but only within species. As an explanation for the variety of species, and for the origins of the existence of man, it is thus far an unproved and unprovable hypothesis.
The fossil record theory of evolution had to rely on a few scattered bones for its evidence, obtained from geological strata dating back 4 million years. Very little, relatively speaking, has been discovered, the majority of which are scattered bones from which final body shapes have had to be reconstructed. The evidence is scanty. The famed paleontologist, Richard Leakey said that if all the human-like bones we had were put together in one room, they'd barely cover a couple of large trestle tables. However, with the discovery that the genome was the conveyer of hereditary material, came the "link" that paleontologists were looking for. DNA carries the information for the amino acid content of proteins and triglycerides of lipids which make up the enzymes, organs and structure of the body. Minor physical variations which were passed on to offspring within species were discovered by Mendel, and rediscovered in the early 20th Century (Mendel's work was largely ignored since no one could understand it, and it was assumed to be either wrong or faked-an attitude which persists in science and academia to this day!!). Using simple crosses, these variations could be linked to genome diversity, later discovered to be variations in DNA content and information.
This is where the major error was made. Information regarding genetics was linked to known anatomy and physiology, and assumed to be direct. In other words, the genes provided the information for the structure of the human form, different humanoid forms had been found and posited to have arisen from previous forms, with humans and apes having arisen from a common ancestor, and all animal life having sprung from the same set of cells with accumulated random errors in the DNA inherited by offspring which were the means of transmitting that variability.
How Do Genomic Variations Occur?
There are four ways that genomic variations occur:
1. Point mutation. This is the result of damage to the DNA from external sources such as radiation or cellular aging. The DNA changes one of its base pairs, thus changing the code from one amino acid to another. Almost always this is deleterious.
2. Recombination. This occurs when DNA from one part of the genome breaks away and rejoins at another part of the genome. It is more regularly and frequently an event in all genomes, prokaryote and eukaryote, as small sections of DNA are exchanged between chromosomes during the phases of cell division, usually being either neutral in effect or deleterious as in Philadelphia 21, which leads to Chronic Myloid Leukemia.
3. Transposition. Small fragments of DNA known as transposons are able to "lift" fragments of DNA and transport them, in the case of bacteria, into a different cell via plasmids and viruses, or in the few eukaryotes found to have them, such as Drosophila, around the cell genome.
4. Re-assortment. Possession by eukaryotic cells of two pairs of genetic information which separate randomly in cell division and then pair with the opposite from the second parent during fertilization.
Which type of genomic variations are important for evolutionary theory?
Since evolution posits that changes are acquired and passed on to offspring, except for prokaryotes only changes in the germ line DNA, i.e. sperm and ova, have any significance. Changes to somatic cells are irrelevant to the theory.
Thus, the unit of significance is not time, but generations.
Bacteria have been studied extensively for years. They have a single, looped genome, which has been fully analyzed. With a short life span [E. coli under optimal conditions reproduces in 20 mins] they are ideal for examining generational changes. Many can swap DNA very fast, as the spread of antibiotic resistance genes demonstrates. In spite of years of treatments and environmental changes, alterations to genomes, spread of genes via phages, plasmids, transposons, no bacteria has ever shown any sign of any characteristics of anything but itself. Even bacterial types, eg. staphylococcus, tuberculosis, streptococcus, do not change into one another.
Eukaryotes (Multi celled organisms).
The most extensively studied eukaryote is the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. With only 4 chromosomes and a reproductive cycle of 7 days, they have made an excellent tool for investigation. Used since 1910, when T. H. Morgan first started modern genetics with them, we have been able to study 4,940 generations.
Drosophila, over this time, have been exposed to just about every sort of mutant generator. Mutations have been found for almost all characteristics, the wings, color, eyes, thorax components, and many more. Certain genes that convey rapid mutations have been isolated. Drosophila come in every wing shape (including wingless), color and twisted up contorted variety. But in all this time, they have never shown any indication of being anything other than D. melanogaster.
There are reasons why Drosophila is more likely than humans to express an evolutionary change-they have less DNA to be changed. With only 4 chromosomes compared to humans 22, there is a smaller "target" area. Moreover, they have transposons, which can move DNA rapidly around the cell.
Humans have no transposons, and have to rely on point mutation, re-assortment and recombination. However when considering random DNA changes due to environmental assault (i.e. known mutators such as radiation, UV etc) , there is a considerable difficulty. Females form their ovaries and ova while they are still themselves embryos. At birth, all of a females reproductive capacity is already "in place". Ovaries are buried deeply, not easily exposed to environmental assault, and each ova has partially completed its cycle to final stages of release ready for fertilization. We have a better chance with males, whose sperm are made freshly and frequently, in very large amounts, and whose organ of construction is more exposed to the environment. But this means the chances of genetic mutation are halved to only one of the two needed to produce new generations.
Further problems are encountered when considering that:
Most mutations are deleterious, those that are not are usually neutral (for example, brown eyes to blue).
Because only one parent will be carrying the chance arisen genetic variant, it must be dominant in its expression. That is, it is expressed in the phenotype in preference to the original gene carried by the other non-mutant bearing parent. In most cases, the mutant form is recessive (again, brown eyes to blue).
Then there is a dilution effect. Down generations, a single mutation, which may gain expression in 100% offspring in the F1 cross, will gain less expression in the F2 as the offspring reproduce with partners without the mutant form and genetic reassortment of chromosomes will produce offspring not carrying the mutant variant. [From this, of course, comes the claim of every observed trait being evidence that we have all arisen from the same cell, female etc. If it was acknowledged cross fertilization with individuals not carrying strain occurs, we are looking at dilution. However, if we all arose from incestuous crossings among siblings, there is more chance of the trait becoming more present in a population].
From plants, prokaryotes, simple single celled organisms, and more complex organisms all studied extensively, forcibly mutated, crossed and re-crossed with selected mates, the only variation ever seen is always within the species. No specie has been seen to change into the beginnings of another.
The theory claims that the selective pressure for a species to change is survival. However, the problem with this is that species survival is directly related to the ability to produce more offspring in the face of the challenge. This means that a change has to occur quickly, yet the theory states that changes are slow, over millennia.
If the theories claim that changes occur but lie dormant until selection favors them, we have to ask how and why changes of complexity which require the entire change to be present occur, and why should they, when the organism was obviously surviving well enough. An example is that of certain insects which when clustered look like a flower. Coordinated changes all must occur at the same time, for each insect which carries the different colors and shapes to produce its part of the jigsaw. Given that the insects were obviously surviving well enough to produce these changes, slowly over time according to the evolutionists, we have to assume they were surviving well enough as they were in order to have got to that point. So, why would they change, and how would such a complex change occur by "random mutations?"
The issue of complexity is knotty problem for classical evolutionists. Quite apart from the frequently cited case of the mammalian eye, all aspects of which need to be in place to work, we can simply consider that of the working cell itself. Let's look at DNA transcription to produce a protein. The correct DNA sequence must be in place. The mRNA must have been produced correctly by its DNA, and be in place; the tRNA-a different one for each amino acid-must have been correctly transcribed and formed; and the ribosomes-both units must have been correctly transcribed and their tertiary structure formed; and the enzymes involved must all be present and active. The ATP pump must be working to provide the energy required. The correct solution of salts and trace elements must be present and at exactly the correct pH. The cellular pool must have all components for each amino acid present.
And this is just to form one simple protein. To suggest a small change in one gene can bring about major changes in the entire organism, in the face of such complexity beggars belief. I can do no better to help illustrate this difficulty than refer my readers to the essay by Michael Crichton, Complexity Theory. Although he deals with environmentalism, the principles are the same.
The Genetics/Paleontology Problem
But there is another major problem which those who linked genetics to paleontology seem not to understand.
To return to the protein, once all the amino acids are linked into the chain, this is only the first stage. The protein then takes a tertiary conformation. Almost all proteins form an alpha-helix. Since a helix can twist right (d) or left (l) in theory this could be either. In fact, apart from a very few rare instances, all proteins are left helices. This tertiary folding is dependent, not only on the amino acids being present in the correct order, but the molecular shape and charge of the amino acids, the liquid environment the protein is suspended in, and the presence of various trace elements and minerals. Since all proteins take a (l)-alpha helix, we are left facing the conclusion that the shape, the three dimensional attribute, is something which the environment the protein is in forces on it, and that there is only one shape available to proteins because of this constraint.
The issue of tertiary structure is found in DNA, which is not linear, as the diagrams represent, but forms a twisting, twisted and twined shape manipulation of which is essential for genetic transcription and recombination to occur.
Which brings us to Developmental Biology
Developmental biology asks, "what makes the final body shape?" Why an elbow? How come a knee? What rounds a heel, gives a liver the exact shape and conformation it does? And the answer is, we do not know.
We do know of certain complexes of gene groups which contribute certain factors involved in the skeleton, largely because of the altered effects seen when the genes are altered. The products of some of these genes, acting in concert with a multiplicity of other factors, does play a part in at least providing the cellular components required to form a developing limb bud, cranium and jaw structure. However, many of the experiments which claim an "effectiveness" are simply noting the presence of an essentially toxic compound useless to the body, and a malformation, as the Hox1a gene associated with slightly mal-formed hands and feet of those carrying the variant (very very rare). This does not, of itself, prove the Hox box does in fact control limb structure, since the product of the mutant gene is a shortened form of the required protein, therefore unrecognizable to the body and possibly treated as many other toxic elements are and consigned to the furthest limbs. There is some other, more positive evidence, which does support the contention that the Hox box provides some of the requirements for limb bud formation in the developing embryo up to the 12 week gestation. However, although it provides the limb bud, there is no evidence that this directs and controls the final shape, i.e. the anatomy of the limb.
In fact, there is no genetic evidence which demonstrates the final skeletal form is purely and solely genetically driven. And the skeletal form is the basis of all of paleontology. The evolutionists are in fact basing their entire "theory" on a mistaken link-that of genetics with skeletal form.
Ultimately, there is far too much complexity to the living cell, plant and animal, for single changes to do much other than contribute to likely elimination of the individual carrying the mutation. To suggest a single mutation can so affect an entire species is like suggesting that the fruit seller at the gates of a vast and complex industrial city can significantly affect the entire city by altering where he is standing by a few feet.
An alternative Speculation to Intelligent Design and Evolution
It is stated by scientists today, that either humans "evolved" from previous, different animals by random mutations in DNA, or we were made by a God. It is never considered that both may be wrong, and there could be other explanations for speciation, a different explanation for the "fossil record." This is due as much to the blind—virtually religious—fervor of evolutionists as to the same religious dogmatism of the creationists. If one does not accept that something is possible, one does not, after all, go looking for it.
I would like to propose (this should be called the Hewitt Conjecture !!) that it is perfectly possible that the reason shape is largely conserved across species, and has stayed so for millions of years, is the same reason as that which directs tertiary formation of proteins. That it is a combination of factors, including the environment which the forms develop in, which directs the final shape, and that the shape found in all animals, (with a series of minor variations) is so, not because of "descent" from a common ancestor, but because in the environment of this world, it cannot take another. That the fact this is a water and air based planet, that all living things are made of carbon, with some hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen thrown in, the combination of molecular shapes and charges, pH, salts, trace elements and minerals, water, temperature, gas pressures and many more combined effect the end result of the DNA of the animal, to effect the developing animal such that the final tertiary structure cannot be anything other than what it is, and which in almost all cases conforms to the same basic shape.
I suggest that the animal forms we see now have always existed as they do, but have minor variations within species, which can arise from a variety of sources, largely genetic recombination, and which has the effect of allowing specie continuity in the face of minor environmental changes, such as the case of pale and dark moths on trees darkened by industrial smoke pollution. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of sea dwelling animals, including the mammals, have an overall "fish" structure. The starfish and octopi are minimally represented. The implication is that salt water at certain pressures acting on marine animal DNA have to produce the same basic structure.
There is one final point. The fossil record is not as sequential as paleontologists represent it. Fossil remains have been found "out of sequence" in the time scale and are either ignored or written off as "aberrances, or washdowns."
Fossil remains have been found in strata dated at millions of years old; they are identical to Homo sapiens sapiens. That is, us. Hundreds of examples exist. Mary Leakey, of Olduvai Gorge fame, claimed to have found a footprint identical in every respect to that of modern man, in strata identified as being 3.6 million years old. A huge variety of human artefacts, flint tools and bones identical to homo sapiens sapiens have been found in strata confidendently dated to the mid-Pliocene—3.5 million years ago. A Professor of Geology found, in the lower Pliocene strata of Castelnodolo, near Brescia, a complete human skeleton indistinguishable from that of a modern woman. The staining in the bones, the depth and number of different strata above the skeleton and its position made it highly unlikely it could have been a more recent burial. The inescapable conclusion is that this speciment of homo sapiens sapiens was walking around 3.5 million years ago. (This claim has been questioned by those attacking creationism because of a difference found in salt deposits between human and other site fossils, and carbon dating. Since no reason is offered as to why human bones have to absorb salt at the same rate as other animals is given, and since carbon dating has been demonstrated to be only of value for relatively recent time periods, becoming susbtantially erratic and meaningless the older the sample, this refutation is itself unacceptable in this particular instance. However, whether or not this particular fossil find is truly evidence of mankinds longevity is irrelevant to the argument in this article).
Why are all these facts so ignored? Because, in the words of a noted evolutionist, Professor R.A. Macalister, in 1921, "this implies a long standstill for evolution which is contrary to Darwin's theory, and therefor must be disallowed..." We will of course, overlook the sharks, which haven't changed for 150 million years !! A flat contradiction of the "fossil record" and evolution, but which never gets addressed by evolutionists. Wonder why.