The Importance of mtDNA

I have an upcoming post in which I extensively use the phrase “mtDNA”. As I finished the post, I realized I had never defined the term or explained why it was important. This error needs to be corrected. So I decided to take a post and explain what mtDNA is, what it does, and why it matters.

The term “mtDNA” is an abbreviation for the words “mitochondrial DNA”. Mitochondrial DNA unsurprisingly is found in the mitochondria of the cell. The mitochondria are the part of the eukaryotic cell that takes nutrients and turns them into energy that the cell can use. It is sometimes referred to as the powerhouse of the cell. The mtDNA codes for proteins and two types of RNAs in humans: transfer RNA(tRNA) and ribosomal RNA (rRNA). In most organisms, mtDNA is circular rather than the typical double helix shape we typically associate with DNA.  It has important functions within the mitochondria and, if it becomes damaged, numerous genetic diseases result.

The important thing about mtDNA for the purposes of creation science, however, is not so much its design or its function, though those are interesting.  It is its transmission that is important. Unlike nearly all other DNA (the exception being Y chromosomes), mtDNA is not inherited from both parents. Only the mother (in most species) transmits mtDNA.  Only in very very rare instances does the father transmit mtDNA to the offspring. Since these instances are rare, we can use mtDNA to determine a family tree.  Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson at Answers in Genesis has used this to build a family tree back to the wives of Noah’s three sons.

It is possible also to use the mtDNA to make testable predictions (which I will do in the next post).  Dr. Jeanson has done so in Replacing Darwin by looking at the mtDNA mutation rates that have been derived for various organisms, along with humans.  When he ran the numbers, he discovered that the human mtDNA mutation rate was much more compatible with a six thousand year timescale than it was with the supposed millions of years split with chimpanzees.

The problem becomes much worse when Dr. Jeanson calculated the mtDNA mutation rates of several vertebrate taxa.  In each case, the known number of mutations accorded much better with a young, six thousand-year-old earth than they do with an earth even a few million years old. According to the evolutionist timescale, more mutations should have happened in the mtDNA genome than there are places to mutate. In other words, evolution predicts that more mutations should have taken place than there are nucleotides in the mtDNA, sometimes many folds over.  This is a significant issue because it means the entire mtDNA genome within the same genus has been replaced multiple times.

Based on these successful retrodictions, Dr. Jeanson then went on to predict several invertebrate mutations rates based on a six thousand year time scale.  These rates could then predict how many mutations the evolutionists would require over their timescale. Again, the number of mutations is astronomical high. These rates need an explanation from a secular worldview and, as yet, no explanation has been proposed.

Because mtDNA is only maternal, it is much easier to use for calculations. This is why mtDNA matters so much. It can be used to make testable predictions based on the creation model. This is a huge deal.  Evolutionists have long mocked creationism for not being able to make testable predictions.  Here we have the ability to make a testable prediction: the mutation rates of mtDNA genomes.  Other creation scientists have made testable predictions in the past but here is an ongoing one that could be tested relative to the timescales involved.  Yet the silence from the mainstream scientific community is deafening.  The few interactions with this evidence has been mocking.  It’s almost as if evidence does not matter.

Regardless of the mainstream communities’ ignorance and mockery, mtDNA allows us to make testable predictions that support the creation science.  Thus mtDNA is an excellent weapon in the creationist arsenal and it should definitely be deployed frequently.  However, like all other arguments, it should not be expected to convince a hardened evolutionist to change his worldview.

Do you know what’s going to happen when you die? Are you completely sure? If you aren’t, please read this or listen to this. You can know where you will spend eternity. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us, we’d love to talk to you.




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