Evolution and Harmless Mutations

About 30 years ago, I acquired a white cat named Peewee. As you can see, he looks like a normal cat, and for all intents and purposes, he was normal. But notice the little bend near the tip of the tail. This was a genetic defect inherited from his mother, for she had the same bend in her tail. If Peewee had ever fathered kittens, some or all of them would likely have had that same defect. But this was a completely harmless mutation. It had no effect on Peewee or his mother, and it would have had no effect on his offspring. It gave no advantage or disadvantage over other cats. I think this points to a serious problem with evolutionary theory.

Evolution, we are told, works by natural selection favoring animals with certain random genetic mutational changes. These random mutations happen fairly often, and over x number of generations, those organisms with advantageous mutations survive and increase, and those that don’t eventually die out. This is a simplified explanation of how evolution works, but I think evolutionary theory itself has been over-simplified to make it sound plausible.

Mutations do occur, but the vast majority of them are either detrimental or innocuous. We would call them birth defects if we noticed them at all. In comparison, beneficial mutations rarely (if ever) happen. In other words, the number of birth defects far exceeds the number of improvements to a species. We can understand how natural selection can filter out harmful mutations. Some make the offspring infertile. Others make it much more difficult for the animal to survive in the wild. But what about mutations like a bent tail that have no influence on the survival of the species? How can natural selection filter them out? Or perhaps we should ask if they are filtered out at all.

If a beneficial mutation occurs in a dog, that dog must separate from other dogs to form its own pack to maintain that mutation in a separate gene pool. Otherwise the mutation gets ‘lost’ in the original gene pool as the dog breeds with other dogs that don’t have that mutation. But there can’t be a separate gene pool at first because the dog with the beneficial mutation has no other dogs with the same mutation to mate with. It has to breed with other non-mutated dogs, and hence each puppy may or may not have the mutation. Eventually, however, if the beneficial mutation is to have a chance to take over, the pack must split: one pack containing primarily dogs with the mutation, and another those without. If evolution is true, this must have occurred at least billions of times between the first living cell and the large number of unique lifeforms present today. This seems a bit of a stretch to me, but it’s only the beginning of the problem.

Assuming this has occured billions of times (and I think this is a big assumption), what is there to prevent this same mechanism from acting on innocuous mutations as well? They should also eventually form separate gene pools, and probably much more often, because there are more innocuous mutations than advantageous ones. But why don’t we see very many innocuous mutations? The features of most of today’s lifeforms are useful and advantageous. Why is that? Take bent tails for example. We can see that they occur. But why aren’t most tails bent? If tails came about through a series of random mutations, why should they be symmetrical at all? Yet we recognize a straight tail as normal, and anything other than that as somehow a corruption of the norm, never as something that hasn’t quite fully evolved yet.

Peewee the cat

Why are fingernails on the end of fingers and claws on the ends of paws and feet? These are most useful locations. If mutations are random, nails and claws could have appeared almost anywhere – on one’s back for example. In most places they would not give a survival advantage or disadvantage compared to those without nails. Those ‘back nail’ mutations would have continued in the gene pool. But there are no ‘back nails’, ‘elbow nails’, ‘nose nails’, etc. What are the chances that nails and claws appeared only once and in just the most useful location? 1 What are the chances that each one of our bodily features appeared where they did exactly where needed? Consider how many species there are and the number of supposed mutations required to reach their current stage of evolution. We’re talking at least billions, if not trillions, of mutations, and almost all of those mutations are optimal for the survival of the species. What are the chances of that happening with very few, if any, innocuous mutations being passed on? The ratio of advantageous features to innocuous features is too high for evolution to account for.

Moreover, even though evolution supposedly filters out sub-optimal mutations over time, we see plenty of life forms that have disadvantages coexisting with others that have advantages. Multiple varieties of ants, for example, exist in the same habitat, and although many times one has an advantage over the others and they fight each other, they’re not being forced in the direction of extinction. Apart from environmental changes, their populations remain steady over the long term.

Evolution simplifies things too much so it can sound believable. It appears true on the surface, but if you seriously think about it and investigate it, you’ll find many holes impossible to fill. Many evolutionary scientists, some tops in their field, have also considered the difficulties and abandoned the theory. The Bible, on the other hand, seems very implausible on the surface, but the more I study it, the more I see it matches reality. The Bible will stand up to close scrutiny much better than evolution.

Notes:

  1. Of course, according to evolutionary theory, nails and claws would not have appeared fully formed at first. Nail and claws are defined by thousands of genes. It would have taken tens or hundreds of thousands of years for them to evolve. The first mutations may have just produced a rough patch on the skin, if they were visible at all. But that means the beginnings of nails and claws were just innocuous mutations. They were not useful as nails and claws at first. Those innocuous ‘pre-claws’ survived natural selection to evolve into fully formed nails and claws. Why don’t other innocuous mutations survive?