Prophets or Evolution - An LDS Perspective


Chapter 19


Natural Selection and Common Descent



"We are in the process of creating what deserves to be called the idiot culture. Not an idiot sub-culture, which every society has bubbling beneath the surface and which can provide harmless fun; but the culture itself. For the first time, the weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal."

Carl Bernstein, U.S. journalist. Guardian (London, June 3, 1992)



Natural Selection


"Natural selection," also called "Survival of the Fittest," is one of the two foundations of the theory of evolution.  The other foundation is the way species change, which originally was based on morphology (i.e. a study of the physical features of an animal), but is now based on random mutations of DNA.


Natural selection claims that a "fit species" will survive better than "less fit species."


What exactly does a "fit species" mean?  Science generally defines a "fit species" as a species which is better able to reproduce or for some other reason has more offspring.


However, the "average man on the street" defines "fit species" as a species which is able to eat or kill its competitor species or in some other way is able to survive better than its competitor species.


Either way, if a new species is able to survive, because of natural selection, this new species is able to get a foothold in the animal kingdom.  This in essence elevates the overall standard of membership in the animal kingdom.  Once the overall standard of survival increases, the next new species has an opportunity to be even better.


This increasing "standard of survival" is claimed to escalate until eventually natural selection, coupled with random mutations of DNA, led to human beings.


To better understand why natural selection is part of the theory of evolution, let us consider an example from the automobile industry.


This example will show how natural selection fits with random mutations of DNA.



The Contest


Suppose there are ten car manufacturing companies, called Company One to Company Ten.  All ten of them have totally inept employees.  The "car companies" represent different species.  The "inept employees" represent random mutations of DNA.


Let us compare natural selection to a contest between 10 cars (one car made by each company) and their ability to climb a long and steep hill.


The goal of the contest is for one of the cars to climb to the top of this very high hill (the top of the hill represents the creation of human DNA by evolution).


All ten car companies have totally inept employees.  The employees are lazy, they never work, they are not trained at all, they totally resist any training, they don't obey orders, they don't understand a single part of the car - and don't want to know, they rarely come to work, and when they do come to work they are either sleeping or eating or watching TV, and so on.


For many thousands of years none of the companies can create a car which has an engine that starts; much less can climb to the top of a hill.


Finally, after many thousands of years, and by pure accident, one of the car companies, Company One, is able to start their engine and climb 1% up the hill.


Suppose, by natural selection (natural selection in this case is the ability of the car companies to financially survive) the other 9 car companies go out of business because everyone buys their car from Company One.


Now suppose that ten new car companies come on the scene.  They are called Company Eleven thru Company Twenty.  Almost all of the employees of these car companies came from Company One, which is by now a very big company with a lot of inept employees.


Now there are employees in eleven car companies which are totally inept.


There is a new race up the hill.  Suppose Company Thirteen, by pure accident, is able to get 2% up the hill.  At this point the other ten car companies (including Company One) soon go bankrupt.


Now the only car company is Company Thirteen and most of its employees came from Company One.  But Company Thirteen has employees, regardless of where they came from, which are just as inept as the old Company One.


Company Thirteen grows and grows even though its cars can only get 2% up the hill.


Now ten more new car companies come on the scene, named Company Twenty-One thru Company Thirty.  Almost all of their employees came from Company Thirteen.


There is a new race.  In this race Company Twenty-Five gets 3% up the hill.  The other ten car companies soon go out of business.


This process continues until there are a hundred races and one of the cars from Company One Thousand-Seven gets to the top of the hill.  It took many, many thousands of years for this race to be won.



The Assumption


The above example explains how natural selection aids in evolution.  Only the "best" car company financially survives.


In essence, when a superior species shows up on the earth, natural selection is the mechanism which guarantees the survival of this new species.


By new species leap-frogging over one another, the overall mixture of species improves over a period of many million of years.


Because over time natural selection preserves better and better species, you get a better and better mixture of species on the earth and eventually you end up with human beings.


So what is wrong with natural selection?


First of all, consider that in the above example, natural selection is irrelevant until the car companies build their cars.  In other words, natural selection works during the hill climb, not during the manufacture of the cars.


Natural selection did not make the employees of the car companies any less inept.


In the world of biology, new genetic material can only be made by random mutations.  The sequence needed by evolution is this:

1) Random mutations make new genes and new species (this is where the car companies build their cars using inept employees),

2) Natural selection preserves the new species if it survives better than other species (this is the hill climb).


But what if #1 above never happens?  What if random mutations are never effective at creating new genes and new species?


The theory of evolution assumes item #1 creates a fantastic amount of new genetic material.  The assumption which allows natural selection to work is that DNA gets better and better and better by purely random mutations.


But note that natural selection has absolutely nothing to do with making random mutations any more favorable.  Natural selection does not protect any "correct" section of DNA from becoming the victim of a mutation.


Natural selection has nothing to do with new genetic material being formed or the introduction of new species.  Natural selection is only useful after multiple new species already exist.  Then it can work.


Natural selection only works after random mutations have created new species.  After the new species is walking around the earth, trying to survive, then and only then does natural selection become a factor.  But natural selection has nothing to do with the creation of new species.


The reality is that random mutations never create new genes or any other part of DNA.  Much of this book will discuss this very issue.


Thus, if random mutations never create any "improved genes" (i.e. a gene which leads to the creation of a superior protein) then natural selection is never a factor in evolution.


Let us go back to our car example.


Let us suppose that over the time period of 660 million years, not a single car company is able to get their engine to start (which is the most likely scenario because engines are complex).  Natural selection is never able to operate and crown a victor after the first hill climb.


Natural selection only works when the cars are on the side of the hill.  Natural selection doesn't work until the engine, the battery, the starter and the transmission all work - and there is gasoline.  If any of these things fail, natural selection has nothing to do.


Suppose ten car companies started the contest, and 660 million years later, these same ten car companies are still making cars unable to have their engines start, or their transmissions work, or their starters turn over, etc.


Thus, for 660 million years, natural selection would have had nothing to do.


When talking about evolution, natural selection is totally useless unless random mutations are able to create new and improved species.  But as this book will show, random mutations are never able to create a new gene, much less a new species.


The bottom line is that natural selection is totally irrelevant in the support of the theory of evolution unless the DNA mutations problems of evolution can first be dealt with.


In other words, until it can be shown by evolutionists that mutations of DNA could have created new genes; many, many, many millions of times; the entire issue of natural selection is moot (i.e. irrelevant).


Some people ask the question: "Doesn't the vast number of species which have existed on this earth prove that DNA has been mutating and new genetic material has been formed by random mutations?"


Actually, this question is a paradox.  The vast number of species which have existed on this earth is a proof that random mutations were not involved.  It is doubtful random mutations could have created a single, very simple single cell, much less the complex DNA of humans.


What about God?  Some might ask: "Why would God create so many species which have so many common morphological features?"


First of all, species have to move in one of four main ways: walk on two legs, walk on four legs, fly or swim.  Of course there are other ways, but these are the main ways that most advanced animals move.


When you design millions of animal species, but only have four modes of transportation, there is going to be a lot of morphological similarities.


For example, think about automobiles.  Automobiles have four wheels.  There have been many hundreds of different automobile designs by many different manufacturers.  But note that there are a lot of physical similarities between cars made by different manufacturers.


The point is a person cannot use natural selection as an evidence for the theory of evolution until they can prove that random mutations of DNA could have produced all the species which have existed on this earth, in the time period since the Cambrian Explosion.


In other words, random mutations of DNA would have had to create millions of different species, each with a unique DNA (by definition) in order to even be able to talk about the importance of natural selection.


But also note that in each car race above, nine car companies were eliminated by "natural selection."  Suppose all nine of these car companies had made some progress, but just not enough progress to win the race.


Even though all nine companies, in each race, made advances, they are eliminated.


What this means is that "natural selection" reduces intelligence (i.e. it reduces the gene pool) because it eliminates species which are not quite good enough to survive, but may have had some new and important features.


With natural selection reducing the gene pool, even more of a burden is placed on random mutations to create massive numbers of new genes.


The point is that natural selection is likely to hinder evolution, not help it, because all it does is reduce the gene pool.



Natural Selection is Non-Differentiating


Another problem with natural selection is that there is nothing in natural selection which is differentiating.  In other words, natural selection is a concept which applies equally well to the concept of Creation.


For example, if God had created all the species on earth, natural selection would still be in force.  This is because species which are more powerful, faster, smarter, etc. will have a better chance of surviving.  But in this case, natural selection did not start operating until God created the species.


Thus, when science looks at situations where one species is wiped out by another species; or they look at a species which has survived when other species didn't survive; this is not an evidence for the theory of evolution because natural selection would work no matter how the species got on the earth or how the species became extinct.


Natural selection, or survival of the fittest, simply does not differentiate between the theory of evolution versus the theory of creation.  Natural selection simply means that superior species survive.


Natural selection is ignorant in the sense that it has no idea how the animals came to be, it only operates on the animals which exist at any given time.  Natural selection doesn't know, and doesn't care, how the animals came to be; it simply waits for animals to exist.


Thus, whether the animals came to be by random mutations of DNA, or whether the animals came to be by creation, natural selection would work exactly the same.


Thus, natural selection cannot be used as "evidence" for the theory of evolution because it is non-differentiating.



Common Descent


One of the most often used "proofs" of the theory of evolution is that of "common descent," meaning that the similarities in physical features; and thus similarities in DNA; between different species; is a proof of the theory of evolution.


It is nineteenth century morphology technology but it is clearly the most commonly used "evidence" for the theory of evolution.


For example, in a recent pamphlet issued by the National Academy of Sciences, is this quote:


"... species that appear to be more distantly related from their positions in the fossil record are found to have correspondingly greater differences in their DNA than species that appear more closely related in the fossil record."

"Science, Evolution and Creationism,"

by the National Academy of Sciences


This theory is called "common ancestry" or "common descent."


To understand some key concepts; suppose you studied every automobile model made in the world, which is still being sold as new (i.e. they are not "used cars").


Furthermore, suppose you visited the factories which make all of these cars, and you watched how they were made.


Then, suppose you additionally studied every automobile model which is no longer sold as new, including many antique cars.


Suppose you also studied all of the historical reports you could find which discussed the manufacturing plants and processes used to create cars which are no longer being manufactured.


Would you see similar features in the new automobiles and old automobiles and the way they are and were manufactured?  Of course you would.


Would you see progression and changes in features over time in such things as: engine designs, steering wheel designs (including new functions, such as a built-in cell phone controls, volume controls for the radio, speed controls, etc.), tire compositions, the shape of glass, fender designs, air conditioning, etc. etc.  Of course you would.


Would you conclude that the new automobiles had a "common ancestor?"  Most likely you would, and most likely you would be right.


Modern automobiles are "descended" from very old antiques.  Modern automobiles have "evolved," to use the term loosely.


The problem is that every automobile which has ever existed on this earth was designed by intelligent beings.  In this case, the intelligent beings are human beings.


The point is that when we see the "evolution" in automobiles, in fact it was not evolution by random design; it was evolution by intelligent design.  People got smarter and smarter as they were designing automobiles.


Thus, even when you see similarities and progression in features; intelligent design can be the cause.  In fact, when you see so many similarities between manufacturing and the end product, you would conclude that intelligent design had to have been involved.



Side Note


This is not to imply, however, that God was learning things as He created the species on this earth.  He knew everything long before this earth was created.  The "order" that science claims the species on this earth appeared is largely based on the assumption of the theory of evolution.  The real order that species appeared on this earth for the first time is largely unknown.


But in any case, consider that some of the animals in the Cambrian Explosion had very advanced eyes and other very advanced physical features.


Human beings progress in their knowledge (they do not progress in terms of their intelligence), but God does not progress in His Knowledge or Intelligence.



Are Commonalities in DNA Differential?


So how does the DNA of different species differentiate between the theory of evolution and creation science?


Just like "natural selection" is non-differentiating, because it has nothing to do with the origin of the species; finding similarities in the DNA of different species is also non-differentiating, but for an entirely different reason.


That reason will now be explained.


How can the scientific establishment claim that they know that DNA was not designed (i.e. intelligently designed)?  What is their evidence?


Their evidence is that DNA sequences are predictable and consistent between species (i.e. between the physical features of species).


Well, if DNA was designed by God, then the design of the DNA would probably be predictable and consistent between species!!  Duh.


In fact, if the design of DNA is predictable and consistent, this is overwhelming proof that DNA was intelligently designed.


But fortunately for the scientific establishment, Darwin, who knew nothing about DNA, but knew a lot about morphology (i.e. the shapes of animals and their bones) came up with the concept of common ancestry, which is now called "common descent."


Even though Darwin was thinking about morphology, it just so happens that intelligently designed DNA can also be used to claim common descent.  This is one of those things which "fell into the lap" of the scientific establishment.


By using the intelligent design of DNA, but claiming the design was caused by evolution (similar shapes will be generated by similarities in DNA), the scientific establishment can pull the common descent feather out of their cap and claim that DNA (which is intelligently designed because it is predictable and consistent) is proof of evolution (i.e. a proof of common descent).


But when the evolution establishment claims that predictable and consistent DNA design is a "proof" of common descent; they do not stop there; they continue to talk about how predictable and consistent DNA is a proof of evolution, meaning it is a proof that intelligent design is false.


This is nonsense.  They claim that the very thing (intelligent design); which provides their evidence for common descent; is false (i.e. they claim that intelligent design in false).


The evolution establishment should be grateful and thankful to God for providing intelligently designed DNA (or else humans would not exist).  But does the evolution establishment thank God?  No, they ignore Him and they use the works of God to pretend that God does not exist (i.e. to prove evolution) using clever logic!!


Let us summarize this:

1) Because of intelligent design by God, there is predictability and consistency of DNA design,

2) Because there is predictability and consistency of DNA design, the evolution establishment claims this is proof of common descent, then

3) The evolution establishment claims that the proof of common descent is a disproof of intelligent design.


Thus, the result of intelligent design is turned into a disproof of intelligent design by using clever logic.


If science would simply say that predictability and consistency of DNA is non-differentiating between creation science and evolution, all would be well.  But they do not do that.  They do not even admit that with the issue of natural selection.  They act like natural selection would not be true if God existed; and they claim predictable and consistent DNA design would not exist if God existed.  These claims are absolutely inexcusable.


The evolution establishment seems to forget that if DNA was designed by God, the DNA so designed would also be predictable and consistent.


Apparently the NAS believes that if DNA was intelligently designed, it would not be laid out carefully, predictably and consistently.  Ponder that carefully.  But such is the tilted logic of the scientific establishment.


A creation scientist would look at exactly the same data and conclude that the predictability and consistence of DNA is proof of "intelligent design."


But "intelligent design" would imply God exists.  So the data of creation scientists (which is the same data as the evolution establishment) is rejected as being "unscientific."  Of course, by definition, everything that points to God is "unscientific" because God is excluded from "science."


Thus, predictable and consistent DNA segments is "unscientific" if it leads to evidence for creation science.


But, predictable and consistent DNA segments is "scientific" if it leads to the theory of evolution.


Thus the data that supports the theory of evolution is "scientific;" but the same exact data (which also supports intelligent design) is "unscientific."


In addition to theses things, it should be noted that there are huge, huge, amounts of data in the DNA of millions of different species.  Carefully selected data which supports your theory can easily be found (and data which doesn't fit your theory can easily be ignored).


DNA templates are used by the body to create proteins.  Proteins are used to create the functions of cells.  Cells are what are used to create the functions of the animal.  Thus, if two animals have the same functions they would have the same kinds of cells, and thus the same kinds of protein structures in the cells and thus similarities in DNA.  This would be true with intelligent design or evolution.


It is ludicrous to use DNA to prove DNA wasn't designed by God!


Ponder this carefully: What features of DNA would a scientist use to prove that DNA was not intelligently designed?


Can we humans design DNA yet?  No, we can't; so how can we claim we can "prove" DNA was not designed by God?


Suppose scientists get to the point that they can design DNA for extinct species.  If they ever get to this point, it would only be because they studied and copied ideas from the DNA of existing species.  In fact, they would have copied many segments of DNA of existing species.


When and if scientists can design the DNA for extinct reptiles, will they then say that the DNA which they carefully designed, over many decades, and was copied and pasted from existing DNA, is a proof that DNA was not intelligently designed?  Yes, they will.


If they want to get published in a scientific journal, they will have to figure out some way to claim that the DNA they intelligently designed is a proof that human DNA was not created by God's intelligent design!!  Does this make any sense?


If scientists did design the DNA of an extinct species, would the DNA be predictable and consistent?  Of course it would, because they designed it by stealing ideas and DNA from living species.


In short, the consistency of DNA design can be used to prove intelligent design or the consistency of DNA can be used to prove common descent.


But the consistency of DNA design cannot be used to disprove intelligent design any more than it can be used to disprove common descent.


This debate is a "draw."  It is a non-differentiating phenomenon.  And that is the point.  No matter what similarities and patterns exist in the DNA of various species, any "proof" there is evidence of common descent is also proof that the DNA was intelligently designed by God.  And vice versa.


The "winner" in the debate will not be the team with the best evidence; it will be the team which has the most power in the media.  That is why a person never hears that this issue is a non-differentiating issue.


But like natural selection, this is also an issue which comes into focus after DNA exists.  Before DNA exists there is nothing to talk about and nothing to compare DNA to.


The bottom line is that both natural selection and common descent are non-differentiating.


What this means is that everything in evolution depends on the ability of random mutations of DNA to create new and improved DNA.