Genetics doesn’t support the idea of biological evolution
This post is based on the documentary movie “Dismantled” by Back2Genesis.
It’s hard to find anyone who has not heard the often repeated claim that humans and chimpanzees are genetically 98-99% identical. This has been promoted to the world as proof that humans share a common evolutionary ancestor with chimps. However, recent studies now challenge this claim.
Evolutionary geneticists have acknowledged that the actual genetic differences are far greater than we’ve been told. For example, primate evolutionist Todd Preuss states “it is now clear that the genetic difference between humans and chimpanzees are far more extensive than previously thought; their genomes are not 98% or 99% identical” (1). Earlier studies published in the evolutionary scientific literature reported an overall DNA similarity of 98-99%. However, large portions of the chimp genome didn’t align with the human genome and so were excluded from the reported estimates! For instance, the algorithm parameters used in the major milestone publication in Nature reported by the chimpanzee sequencing and analysis consortium omitted over 100 million DNA letters (2)! When accounting for these large non-alignable regions and other omitted sequence data, the actual chimp-human DNA similarity is significantly lower than the 98-99% identity claims.
When they originally started to ask that question they didn’t have full genomic data and so the estimates of similarity were based on little snippets of the genome. And they were choosing protein coding sequences, which are the most similar (we have similar biochemistry). Initially they said 98-99% of the genome are similar between chimp and human. And the text books still say that. But geneticists know that’s not correct.
What is the actual difference between humans and chimpanzees? This is the question that comes up over and over again in the creation-evolution debate. Evolutionists say that we are 98-99% genetically identical to our closest evolutionary relatives. It feels like we are kissing cousins. But what do the scientific data actually say?
If you look at the 2005 chimpanzee genome paper in Nature and look at subsequent papers (the Grenoble paper, the gorilla paper, the orangutan paper) all of the them give a consistent answer that most of our DNA can be aligned with the chimpanzee and vice-versa. And in the region that does align it’s 1-2% different in terms of single-letter differences. But if you ask “Are there sections of the human DNA that fail to align with the chimpanzee? Are there sections of the chimpanzee DNA that fail to align with the human?” The answer is, Yes. And it’s far more DNA than the 1-2% difference. So, if we incorporate all of these numbers together, the overall similarity is about 85%. What is more important is that this 15% relative difference represents 300-400 million single DNA letter differences. That’s a massive number.
The evolutionary theory claims that humans evolved from a hypothetical chimp-like ancestor about 6 million years ago. This is said to have occurred through a long series of beneficial mutations. In light of the actual genomic differences between humans and chimps, this is not genetically feasible. A more accurate chimp-human similarity estimate of 85% represents 300-400 million DNA letter differences, which is an extreme level of genetic discontinuity. This means in order to evolve a chimp-like ancestor to modern humans hundreds of million of beneficial mutations need to arise in an ancestral population. The difficulty with accomplishing this has to do with the extremely long waiting time required for establishing even the smallest sets of mutually dependent mutations. Even granting a best case scenario for evolution by generously assuming that human and chimp DNA is 99% identical, the remaining 1% would still be a difference of 30 million DNA letters. This is an impossible genetic barrier for evolution to traverse in 6 million years.
Impossible waiting time
Let’s assume the difference is 1% (of course that’s not correct, no one believes that now). To get 1% of the genome different requires 30 million mutations. That’s a lot of new information. And when we talk about the waiting time we are saying waiting for 8 specific mutations takes more time than what is assumed since the time of the big bang (3). So, it’s impossible, you cannot change the program of an ape into the program for a human in any amount of time. People ask, “What’s the problem, you say there are 100 new mutations per person per generation. In a big population that’s billions of mutations every generation. What’s the problem with getting information that codes for something?” The difference is that genetic damage is non-specific. Deleterious mutations can happen anywhere in the genome – there is no specificity. So creating damage is easy. It’s easy to break a computer program by changing letters. But it’s really hard to improve them. You have to wait a really long time for the specific letter to mutate to a specific alternative letter at a specific site to create ….. So waiting time for beneficials is different to waiting time for neutral or deleterious mutations. You have to wait a really really long time if you are waiting for a specific beneficial mutation.
Waiting for the right mutations to arise and be established in the pre-human population greatly exceeds evolutionary time scales. Leading evolutionary geneticists acknowledge this is a serious problem for the theory – devastating to the ape to mankind scenario. Population geneticist Michael Lynch confesses in the Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution, “a central problem in the evolutionary theory concern the mechanisms by which adaptations requiring multiple mutations emerge in natural populations” (4). Lynch’s calculations suggest the length of time required for just two specific mutations to become established in a pre-human population is over 200 million years! Well beyond the 6 million year time span during which an ape-like creature is said to have evolved into mankind. Other studies reported in the scientific literature show similar results.
Evolution geneticists, Durrett and Schmidt of Cornell University report in the Annals of Applied Probability that the average waiting time to form a slightly longer DNA sequence of 8 specific mutations is of the order of 650 million years (5). But this estimate is incomplete. When accounting for random loss due to a well-established principle know as genetic drift, the actual waiting time should be 100-fold longer – roughly 65 billion years. This is four times longer than the reputed age of the universe, assuming a big bang singularity 13.7 billion years ago!
At best, all evolution can hope to accomplish in the prescribed 6 million year time span is the formation of a tiny DNA sequence no more than a few genetic letters in length – totally incapable of producing a single new gene!
Modern genetics has demonstrated that it is impossible for humans to have evolved from a chimp-like ancestor via random mutations. It is an unbridgeable genetic gap for evolution to traverse, even given billions of years.
If humans did not evolve from ape-like creatures, then where did we come from? The Genesis account of creation states that God made Adam and Eve. Not as mythical beings, but as the literal historical ancestors of all living people. They were the first two human beings created, with all humans descending from this first couple. From a purely genetic standpoint is it scientifically feasible that all humans descended from a single mother and a single father? Many insist this is absurd, yet the genetic evidence for a literal Adam and Eve is inside each one of us. It’s found in our DNA.
In 1987 a milestone paper was published in Nature by leading evolutionary geneticists who announced the results a mitochondrial DNA analysis (6). Geneticists from the University of California found that all humans are descended from one woman thought to have lived in Africa 100-200 thousand years ago. Their results sent shock waves throughout the scientific community and called for a major rewrite of the evolutionary view of human origins to accommodate the new data. The revision gave rise to the now widely accepted Out of Africa theory. Proponents of the theory couldn’t help but notice its uncanny resemblance to the Biblical Eve. In acknowledgement of this they gave the genetic mother of us all the name “Mitochondrial Eve” (7).
Y Chromosome Adam
According to the evolutionary perspective Mitochondrial Eve was an unnamed woman who evolved out of Africa from a Homo erectus population of apemen (8). Not long after the first mitochondrial studies revealed the single mother of us all, evolutionary geneticists found similar results when analyzing sequences on the male Y chromosome.
In 1997 a team of researchers from Stanford University reported to the American Society of Human Genetics that all men inherited their Y chromosome from a single male ancestor (9). The sequencing of thousands of Y chromosomes from diverse people groups living around the world has revealed an overall lack of Y chromosome diversity – “The human Y chromosome exhibits surprisingly low levels of genetic diversity” (10).
All men share the same Y chromosome, plus a small number of mutations consistent with a single male ancestor of the human race. Once again evolutionary geneticists couldn’t help but give the father of us all a Biblical name, “Y Chromosome Adam” (11). Just as they did with Mitochondrial Eve evolutionists interpret Y Chromosome Adam to be an evolved ape-man from Africa that lived sometime around 100-200 thousand years ago.
The evolutionary community acknowledges that there was a literal Y Chromosome Adam and there is a literal Mitochondrial Eve. They say it’s clear that all of the Y chromosomes on this planet trace back to a single individual who didn’t live so long ago. The Y chromosomes are only passed on through the male, father to son. While the mitochondrial chromosomes are only transferred through the female. And all the geneticists agree that all the mitochondrial chromosome on this planet get their mitochondria from a woman who lived not so long ago.
There are two fundamental differences between the Adam and Eve of the Bible and the evolutionary interpretation of Mitochondrial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam. The first difference has to do with time and the second has to do with population size. The Genesis account indicates that Adam and Eve lived recently, just thousands of years ago. And they were the only two people alive at the time of their creation.
The evolutionary models claims they lived around 100-200 thousand years ago and belonged to a hominin population of 10,000 individuals. But as you will see it’s not the genetic data that conflicts with the Biblical account of Adam and Eve. The conflict comes from inferences about time and population size.
Evolutionary geneticists estimate that genetic Adam and Eve lived about 100-200 thousand years ago using a method known as the molecular clock. The technique relies on the assumption that mutations accumulate in certain regions of the genome at a constant rate over deep time. Evolutionary scientists have to further assume that humans evolved from a chimp-like ancestor roughly 6 million years ago in order to calibrate the molecular clock.
Both claims are problematic and have been questioned by the genetics community. Distinguished evolutionary geneticist David Reich of Harvard confesses in a publication in Nature, “The fact that the clock is so uncertain is very problematic for us. It means that the dates we get out of genetics are really quite embarrassingly bad and uncertain” (12).
Scientists are now using a more straight-forward approach to determine mutation rates that do not require ape to mankind evolutionary assumptions. It involves directly measuring mutation rates in the present, comparing parents and offspring – known as the Pedigree Method. When comparing DNA sequences between parents and children, the measured mutation rates are typically 10-20 higher than those inferred based on assumptions of ape to mankind evolution.
When the molecular clock is calibrated using empirically measured mutation rates, both Mitochondrial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam lived just thousands of years ago. In discussing the age of Mitochondrial Eve, evolutionary scientists in trends in genetics acknowledge this discrepancy – “mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) data sets often exhibit anomalous patterns. One of these anomalies is the discrepancy between mtDNA mutation rates observed in evolutionary time scales (for example, in dating the divergence between two species) and those measured within family pedigrees. If the high mutation rates seen in some human pedigrees were used to calculate the age of our most recent female common ancestor, she would have lived just 6,000 years ago, a date more consistent with Biblical Eve than Mitochondrial Eve” (13, 14).
There’s a long standing debate and argument in genetics that deals with the difference between the (theoretical) phylogenetic mutation rate and the genealogical (pedigree) mutation rate. If you look at a family, you can calculate the mutation rate in known time. This is the current mutation rate. But the evolutionary community doesn’t like to use that rate because it’s too fast. They use what is called the (theoretical) phylogenetic mutation rate. That is, they look at the difference between humans and chimpanzees (not the real rate, but the differences) and they assume we have been separated by so many millions of years. A generation ago that difference was 3 million years. Now it’s 6 million years. And some people are arguing for 13 million years! Because mathematically they are having a hard time dealing with this!
Take the differences between humans and chimpanzees in some genes like mitochondria or Y chromosome. Divide it be the time that separates us, 6 million years. And you get a very slow mutation rate. But if you go to people alive today and count the number of differences between them and an ancestor and divide that by their time difference, you will get a much faster mutation rate. When we use that rate Mitochondrial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam fall into the Biblical time frame. So when we use today’s measurable laboratory science, Mitochondrial Eve and Y Chromosome Adam are Biblical.
While the actual genetic data reveals a single Mitochondrial Eve ancestor and a single Y Chromosome Adam ancestor, evolutionists have insisted that they must have lived in a larger population. For this reason they caution the general public not to mistake the evolutionary Adam and Eve with Adam and Eve of the Bible. Yet they acknowledge there can be no direct evidence for the larger population size of 10,000 because all other Y chromosome and mitochondrial lineages supposedly died off removing all traces of their existence. Leaving, as paleo expert Chris Stringer has said, just one lucky mother and one lucky father – “thus all other mothers from that time ended up unluckily (in terms of the continuity of their mtDNA) having no surviving children” (15).
In an attempt to explain what would otherwise be another remarkable Biblical co-incidence, proponents of the ape to mankind model invoke what is known as coalescent theory. This theory assumes that over many generations it is inevitable that eventually only a single mitochondrial and Y chromosome lineage will remain.
Coalescent theory is based upon the assumption of random mating. So you need a single population where all the people have equal likelihood of intermarriage. But that’s never been the case! From an evolutionary point of view humans and pre-humans have always been in tribes that are separated. So they are not random mating. In fact if you look at the charts that show coalescence – that’s one subpopulation, but there’s lots of other subpopulations and each would be producing a coalescence to a different Adam and a different Eve. Basically, the coalescence argument fails. So their rebuttal position is not scientifically valid and it’s relatively reckless.
Evolutionary scientists reason that if humanity started with just two people it could not explain the total amount of human diversity that we see today. For this reason, a population of 10,000 became a central tenet of the current model.
It’s typically assumed that Adam and Eve would have had no genetic variance. No genetic diversity. However, there is no reason to assume they were created as near-identical clones. If Adam and Eve were created with built-in diversity for traits such as skin color, all of the different looking people groups easily arise in a Biblical timeframe. There would be no reason to wait millions of years for the slow accumulation of mutations if the diversity was encoded in their genomes right from the beginning.
If Adam and Eve were heterozygous as we would reasonable expect, extensive genetic diversity would quickly arise simply through sexual reproduction which reshuffles pre-existing variations to produce different combinations of traits.
This idea that God creates an initial pair with differences between them and within them (heterozygosity) has massive consequences to modern genetics. It also provides a convenient plausible explanation of how you get all the ethno-linguistic differences that we see today. Humans are considered one species and we can produce variety in a single generation. So if a dark skinned Sudanese person marries a light skinned Finnish individual, their children will be an intermediate skin tone. They will have features from both parents. And if you have an Australian Aborigine who married a Hun Chinese and they had children. When the offspring of these two mixed marriages have children they produce a whole diversity of individuals. Why is that? Because people today still have heterozygosity. They have less heterozygosity than Adam and Eve had. In other words, Adam and Eve could have produced in their many children every version of human that we see exists. Once you have an original pair (or population) that has heterozygosity, you can explain people groups just like that.
A striking example of built-in genetic variation can be seen in the example of twins born from mid-brown parents in 2005. Mother Kylee Hodson and father Remi Horder gave birth to twins Kian and Remee who appeared racially different. The two-tone fraternal twins shared the same womb and were born a minute apart. What most people would typically see as racial differences arose in a single generation due to gene segregation.
Dressed like people today, one could reasonably expect Adam and Eve to have a large pool of genetic variation built-in to their genome. Prior to modern genetics, evolutionary scientists claimed that there were fundamentally different races of humans that evolved in different parts of the world over a long period of time. This model was known as the Multiregional Hypothesis. This perception changed with the advent of DNA sequencing which revealed that all human beings are remarkably similar genetically. It is now well established amongst the scientific community that all people regardless of their skin color or ethnicity are 99.9% genetically identical. The so called “racial features” that we focus on are essentially only skin-deep reflecting trivial differences in our genetic material. Physical traits like eye shape and melanin production amount to a miniscule 0.012% difference in our DNA. This means that regardless of our cultural differences, genetically we are all part of one big human family.
If you have designed organisms (created organisms), they would be designed and created so they have internal diversity – you don’t have to wait for mutations. So the waiting time goes away. If you want adaptation/diversification without deep waiting time, then just design your organism with variance within it. Even a single organism has heterozygosity and so there’s lots of genetic diversity. Two individuals have four chromosome sets and they are able to accommodate every possible variance. So two people is enough to allow for vast amounts of genetic diversity that could be used by natural selection. To be used for adaptations to the environment. And you don’t need deep time to do that.
Out of Africa theory
The findings from modern genetics have compelled evolutionary scientists to develop a revised story of human origins that shares many striking similarities with the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel dispersion. The new model is called the Out of Africa Theory and has been popular for many years (16). This theory proposes that there was a near-extinction event causing a population bottle-neck that reduced humanity to a single breeding population of just a few thousand (3k-10k) survivors.
In the Out of Africa theory, which is now on the rocks, they postulated that there was a human population of about 10,000 people for an indeterminate amount of time, say 10-100 thousand years. If we compare a modern species that has about that many individuals you could look at the African cheetah. There’s about 10,000 of them in the wild and they are having massive problems. Birth defects are increasing. Reproductive incompatibility in couples is increasing. Litter size is decreasing. All the population biologists are assuming that Cheetahs are going to go extinct – “an ancient population bottleneck has resulted in genetic uniformity and has made the species extremely vulnerable to ecological change” (17). So, how did Homo sapiens evolve through a population bottle-neck that should have driven us to extinction? We suppose it went from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens. Homo erectus were smashing rocks together, while Homo sapiens could fly to the moon!
This theoretical near-extinction event has been used to explain how humans are near-identical genetically. The Out of Africa theory claims that all living humans originated from this small population who lived in the general vicinity of northeast Africa. Alternative studies suggest the small founding population was a little further north, in the general vicinity of the Middle East. The survivors of this theoretical near-extinction event suddenly grew very rapidly splitting into numerous smaller tribes which dispersed further outward and gradually filled Europe, Africa, Asia, and eventually the Americas. Each initial tribe gave rise to its own language and culture and continued to split and disperse to form the people-groups and languages we see today. Each migrating tribe would have carried with it a different sampling of the original population’s gene pool, rapidly producing the distinctive features that some use to define race. In this model mutations would occur that are not necessary to explain these distinctive features, which means that deep time would not be required either.
Just using standard population genetics principles we can explain the origin of races easily in hundreds or thousands of years. All we need is for the population to fragment into smaller populations. Isolation by distance is going to cause changes over time independently in each population. Either through natural selection or just random drift. We have a model for that at the Tower of Babel. A few hundred years after the flood, God separated the nations according to Y chromosomes, it’s the male lineages that define each population, and they spread out on the earth. And they would have remained separate from one other because of language differences for a time. That’s all we need. Once you do that you will have regional differences amongst the people. All of a sudden we have people looking more Asian, people looking more Norwegian, people looking more Australian Aboriginal, and people looking more African. All we need is isolation and a short amount of time.
Instantaneous Divergence model
Evolutionary geneticists reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have named this specific model the Instantaneous Divergence model. This model is virtually indistinguishable from the Biblical model of the human dispersion associated with the Tower of Babel as recorded in Genesis chapter 11. “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech … So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11: 1, 8-9NIV).
One of the funny things about the Out of Africa Theory is that it mirrors the Biblical account. We have a population of people who originated in Africa sometime in the distant past. Well, Biblically we start with two people. The population grew to thousands of people, we don’t know how many. And then the population crashed, Biblically, at the flood. While the Out of Africa theory had a lot of people and the population crashed through a bottle-neck. And then the population began to grow (in both models), and then the population fragmented and spread across the world in both models. The Bible was written first and we’re stuck with it! There’s a limited range of possibilities, Biblically, about human history. But previously in evolutionary theory they could say what they wanted, and the most common view was the multi-regional hypothesis that human beings just evolved in sychrony across the planet and exchanged genes and they evolved. They didn’t expect a bottle-neck event. They didn’t expect going through the Middle East. They didn’t expect a Y Chromosome Adam and a Mitochondrial Eve. Those are things that have to be true if the Bible is true. And those are things that the modern geneticist has discovered.
So what we are seeing over time is that the evolutionary model is becoming more Biblical!
The 15% difference in the human and chimpanzee genome is a barrier that can’t be crossed by the idea of biological evolution by means of genetic mutations. This fact destroys the supposed evolution of mankind from apes. And the human genome shows that we have all descended from a single male and a single female. This was predicted by the Bible, but was not expected from the idea of biological evolution.
The assumption of deep time gives mutation rates that are much lower than those observed in the human genome. This should flag that there is something wrong with the assumption of deep time. In fact, biblical chronology matches observed mutation rates much closer than deep time.
If biblical Adam and Eve were created with built-in genetic diversity, then the range of racial differences observed today would soon become evident through sexual reproduction. There is no need to invoke mutational changes. And this diversity was evident spatially when people groups dispersed across the earth when their languages were confused at Babel.
So genetics doesn’t support the idea of biological evolution: molecules to mankind. This means that biology, paleoanthropology and genetics don’t support the idea of biological evolution! Is there any other evidence that supports the idea of biological evolution? It seems unlikely.
We have seen that key evidence from biology, paleoanthropology and modern is consistent with the major origins events described in Genesis. The tide is changing. Scientists and scholars are beginning to see Genesis as far more than a book of myths, but as a reliable account of our origins.
- Preuss T, 2012, “Human brain evolution: From gene discovery to phenotype discovery”, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109, 10709-10716.
- The chimpanzee sequencing and analysis consortium, 2005, “Initial sequence of the chimpanzee genome and comparison with the human genome”, Nature, 437, 69-87.
- Sanford J et al, 2015, “The waiting time problem in a model hominin population”, Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, 12, September 2015.
- Lynch M and Abegg A, 2010, “The rate of establishment of Complex adaptions”, Molecular Biology and Evolution, 27, 1404-1414.
- Durrett R & Schmidt D, 2007, “Waiting for regulatory sequences to appear”, 17, 1-32.
- Cann R L et al, 1987, “Mitrochrondrial DNA and human evolution”, Nature, 325, 31-36.
- Lewin R, 1987, “The unmasking of Mitochrondrial Eve”, Science, 238, 24-26.
- Rensberger B, 1987, “All family trees lead to ‘Eve’, an African, scientists conclude, The Washington Post, 13 January.
- Hammer M F et al, 1997, “The geographic distribution of human Y chromosome variation”, Genetics, 145, 787-805.
- Wilson Sayres M A et al, 2014, “Natural section reduced diversity on human Y chromosomes”, PLoS genetics, 10.
- Gibbons A, 1997, “Y Chromosome shows that Adam was an African”, Science, 278, 804-805.
- Callaway E, 2015, “DNA clock proves tough to set”, Nature, 519, 139-140.
- Hagelberg E, 2003, “Recombination or mutation rate heterogeneity? Implications for Mitochrondrial Eve”, Trends in Genetics, 19, 84-90.
- Callaway E, 2013, “Genetic Adam and Eve did not live too far apart in time: Studies re-date ‘Y chromosome Adam’ and ‘mitochondrial Eve’, Nature, 6 August”.
- Stringer C, 2012, “Lone survivors: How we came to be the only humans on earth”, Times Books.
- Rampino M R and Ambrose S H. 2000, “Volcanic winter in the Garden of Ede: The Toba supereruption and the late Pleistocene human population crash”, Geological Soc of America, Special Paper 345.
- O’Brien et al, 1986, “The cheetah in great peril”, Scientific American, 254, 84-95.
The content of this post comes from the documentary movie “Dismantled” (2020), which is a scientific dismantling of the theory of evolution.
Posted, November 2020