A recent paper in PLOS One raised a very interesting question. The authors asked the question, “What is a mutation?”. The article specifically focused on mutations in bacteria, but the implications are massive for the origins argument. This article is going to break down exactly what these authors found and see what the implications are for the origins models.
Mutations are believed to be random, unregulated changes in the genome. These changes are supposed to accumulate gradually over time and create the variations that we observe in the world today. However, this recent study flips everything we know about mutations on its head. Admittedly this idea only currently applies to bacteria. However, extrapolating into other animals is not unlikely at all so these ideas could just be the beginning of a brand new area of research.
These researchers pointed out that, in these bacteria, mutations are non-random. In other words, these mutations are directed. The researchers state that the bacteria changes it’s DNA to adapt to various environmental factors such as stress. This actually helps the bacteria be much better equipped to handle their rapidly changing environments.
The implications of this study are massive. If mutations are non-random, evolution has a problem. It requires mutations to be random changes in DNA to produce a new trait. This new trait is then selected for or against by natural selection to produce whole new organisms, according to the worldview. If mutations are directed, then evolution has a significant problem. New traits cannot form by a directed mutation for evolution to work. Directed mutation implies a designer and that is unpalatable to evolution.
However, this directed change in the genome raises its own question: do mutations even exist? After all, if these mutations are directed, could all mutations also be directed? The answer appears to be no. At least negative harmful mutations appear to be random. Some other changes in the DNA appear to be non-random however. These changes cannot be considered “mutations” in the truest sense of the word. Instead, they are examples of directed genomic alteration.
Directed genomic alteration is a term I’ve coined to explain this phenomenon in the genome. Mutations have been long tied to random changes and these changes are not random. Since these changes are directed, the organism is able to command them to change their genome to fit their environmental needs. This being the case, the creation model is by far a more suitable explanation for these changes.
As begrudgingly as I say this, the mediated design/ continuous environmental tracking advocates within the creation science community may be slightly ahead of the curve in this instance, albeit accidentally. The continuous environmental tracking model of Dr. Guliuzza and company denies the power of natural selection and thus cannot explain the change in gene frequency within a population. However, if these new findings extend to the animal realm, a whole new world of research opens up.
If animals can edit their genes to an extent to adapt to their environment, a lot of things will be affected. For example, species of bears that look different and are adapted to different environments would suddenly have to be collapsed into at most two or three species. This would create all manner of problems with the idea of evolution by speciation. If there are no species, which I’ve written about in the past, then evolution collapses. Even worse, the continuous environmental tracking model might make a certain amount of sense, and do a lot more to explain the origin of adaptations than mutations do. Removing mutations from the equation completely undermines evolution. There is no mechanism for the development of new traits without mutations. Therefore, I predict evolution will attempt to spin these directed genomic alterations as beneficial mutations in an attempt to save their dogma from following the dinosaurs into extinction.
The creation model is a much better explanation for directed genomic alterations than the evolution model. In particular, aspects of the continuous environmental tracking model seem to work quite well with this idea. However, there is still much to learn about these directed genomic alterations, particularly if they occur in multicellular organisms. I will predict that they do, at least in some organisms, though this may take some time and significant study. I look forward to seeing further development in this area.