ICR: Evolution’s Biggest Problem

The tireless creation scientists at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom — have just posted Can Evolution Hurdle the ‘Mutation Protection Paradox’? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

A new study published in The Open Evolution Journal described a paradox that particles-to-people evolution has failed to resolve. Called the “mutation protection paradox,” it could be an intractable problem that would leave creation as the only viable origins hypothesis.

Whoa, baby — a paradox in our beloved “particles-to-people” theory. The paper to which ICR refers is The Evolutionary Dynamics of Digital and Nucleotide Codes: A Mutation Protection Perspective. The abstract says:

Both digital codes in computers and nucleotide codes in cells are protected against mutations. … Our mutation protection perspective enhances the understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of digital and nucleotide codes and its limitations, and reveals a paradox between the necessity of dysfunctioning mutation protection for evolution and its disadvantage for survival. Our mutation protection perspective suggests new directions for research into mutational robustness. [Emphasis supplied.]

Observe how ICR takes the paper’s computer analogy and runs amok:

The detection and repair mechanisms in living systems are much more complicated and ingenious, but they share similar goals. The authors pointed out that in living systems, if a DNA base — analogous to a computer “byte” — is mutated, it is sometimes corrected by referring to backup copies in the cell. … A few hundred others [repair mechanisms] work hard to detect and correct mutations.

Okay, let’s read on in the ICR article:

The dilemma this poses for naturalistic origins hypotheses is that big-picture evolution requires various genetic alterations, such as certain mutations and the wholesale addition of new information-rich sequences. But for the most part, mutation repair mechanisms guard against these very changes!

Ooooooh — a dilemma! We continue:

So, in order for evolution to proceed, mutation protection has to be put on hold. And without mutation detection, errors quickly build up and wreck the system — hence the mutation protection paradox.

This goes beyond being a dilemma, it’s a paradox! Here’s more:

Coded information in living things gives the full appearance of being purposefully programmed to resist just the kinds of DNA alterations that would harm organisms.

Living things give the “full appearance” of being “purposefully programmed.” Wowie! Moving along:

Unfortunately for evolution, these are also just the kinds of DNA changes that would be required to turn microbes into man.

Egad — Darwinism is doomed! Here’s the article’s inescapable conclusion:

Evolutionists have yet to find any realistic resolution to this problem, but for creationists it is no paradox at all. Instead, it is another cellular signature from the Creator.

Well! What do we make of it? Let’s see what the paper upon which ICR relies has to say. It’s authored by William DeJong and Hans Degens:

We contend that evolutionary theory largely ignores mutation protection and the consequences of this protection for possible limitations of the evolutionary dynamics of digital and nucleotide codes. …Our mutation protection perspective articulates the potential of evolutionary programming to simulate evolution, and enhances the understanding of the evolutionary dynamics of digital and nucleotide codes and its limitations.

[…]

Unbounded random change of nucleotide codes through the accumulation of irreparable, advantageous, codeexpanding, inheritable mutations at the level of individual nucleotides, as proposed by evolutionary theory, requires the mutation protection at the level of the individual nucleotides and at the higher levels of the code to be switched off or at least to dysfunction. Dysfunctioning mutation protection, however, is the origin of cancer and hereditary diseases, which reduce the capacity to live and to reproduce.

This looks like a jazzed-up version of the old creationist claim that “favorable mutations are impossible.” What’s going on here? Googling for the authors, we find that the first one appears not to be this guy, William DeJong ( a professor of Community Health Sciences at Boston University), but someone else with that name who is associated with something in the Netherlands called INI-Research. We don’t know what that is. The other author, Hans Degens, is with.Maastricht University, founded in 1976.

Aha — the light dawns. We found this summary of his paper by DeJong, where his creationism is rather openly disclosed. The bold font was supplied by us:

The article thus reveals a paradox that seems irresolvable as dysfunctioning mutation protection cannot be both a necessity for evolution and a disadvantage for survival. This contradiction in evolutionary theory requires the theory to be formulated more accurately – probably by division into a micro- and a macro-evolutionary theory – and to rethink the innovation capacity of random change.

Micro and macro evolution? Only flaming creationists use that jargon. One more excerpt from DeJong’s description of his paper:

My article fits in a well-developed line of evolutionary biology research into the relationship between mutational robustness and evolvability, but can be used as ‘Goliath’s own sword’ to cut off ‘his head’.

That’s clear enough. This is the research ICR is quoting. We’ll leave it up to you, dear reader, to evaluate the situation.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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5 responses to “ICR: Evolution’s Biggest Problem

  1. It’s sad to see an article like that published by what amounts to non-scientists. They must be tickled pink to have published in something as prestigious as The Open Evolution Journal.

    You forgot to mention that their website is in Comic Sans, which should pretty much speak for itself.

    And a third point – they do have a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzh6Ct5cg1o"YouTube video, where it will take five seconds to click on the link and give it a thumbs down. That’s the least we can do.

    [Curmudgeon adds:] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzh6Ct5cg1o

  2. Apologies for not closing my link.

  3. There is a Wiki article on this subject. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_repair in which the point is made that DNA damage, and DNA mutation, are quite different. (scroll down to the section on DNA Damage and Mutation). The money quote from that section:

    In contrast to DNA damage, a mutation is a change in the base sequence of the DNA. A mutation cannot be recognized by enzymes once the base change is present in both DNA strands, and, thus, a mutation cannot be repaired.

    That seems pretty straightforward to me.

  4. Hans Degens is a full blown creationist, you can find more of his wisdom at:

    http://creationresearch.org/crsq/abstracts/Abstracts44-4.htm

  5. It appears De Jong is another creationist in scientific clothing. It’s odd that he doesn’t quote the 2nd law of Thermodynamics in his paper, he appears to be quite fond of it.

    http://www.iscid.org/boards/ubb-get_topic-f-6-t-000626.html