Does Mapping the Human Genome Prove Evolution?
The headlines virtually shouted the news: “Human Genome Mapped!” The news media had a field day as scientists in early February, 2001, announced they had “cracked the code of the human genome.” Media reports boasted that the mysteries of life were revealed and the end of disease may be just around the corner.
While geneticists are discovering some remarkable things relative to the intricacies of the human body, they are no nearer, scientifically speaking, to unlocking the mysteries of life than before they started. Some of the more humble ones readily concede this; others strut about, revealing nothing but how bereft they are of reasoning equipment.
One gentleman of this latter category is Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. In an article that appeared on the MSNBC web site (February 21, 2001), Caplan’s piece boasted, “Darwin vindicated!” The author subsequently stated:
The genome reveals, indisputably and beyond any serious doubt, that Darwin was right—mankind evolved over a long period of time from primitive ancestors.
Our genes show that scientific creationism cannot be true. The response to all those who thump their bible [sic] and say there is no proof, no test and no evidence in support of evolution is, “The proof is right here, in our genes.”
When I read this ambitious claim, I could hardly wait to carefully examine Caplan’s arguments. After all, anyone with rudimentary analytical skills knows that a mere assemblage of facts do not a case make. One must examine the known data and then draw from them such conclusions as are reasonable, cohesively explaining the information at his disposal. Facts lead to hypotheses, which result in theories, which ultimately may establish the verification or repudiation of one’s assumptions.
And so I waded through Caplan’s swaggering article, looking intently for the proof of which he boasted. I read and reread the brief essay. What I found was one assertion after another—crude, unblushing, hollow assertions—like this:
The theory of evolution is the only way to explain the arrangement of the 30,000 genes and three billion letters that constitute our genetic code.
Where’s the evidence for that statement? It doesn’t exist. Does it make more sense to contend that a complicated code had a coder, or that the ingeniously complex genetic blueprint happened by random chance, arising ultimately from inorganic (absolutely dead) matter?
Other scientists are not so smug. In the February 19, 2001 edition of The San Francisco Chronicle, there appeared an article by Tom Abate. Abate recently had traveled to Maryland, where he visited the Celera Genomics headquarters—the scientific institute that broke the genome code and assembled the “map.” Mr. Abate interviewed Gene Myers, the computer scientist who actually put together the genome map.
Eventually during the interview, the conversation turned to the question of the possible origin of the genetic code. At this point Myers confessed:
We don’t understand ourselves yet … [t]here’s still a metaphysical, magical element.
(Metaphysical means “beyond the physical”; it denotes an area of investigation that has to do with the origins of objects, hence, is outside the legitimate purview of physical science.)
But there is more. Myers continued:
What really astounds me is the architecture of life. The system is extremely complex. It’s like it was designed (emphasis added).
Abate was intrigued:
Designed? Doesn’t that imply a designer, an intelligence, something more than the fortuitous bumping together of chemicals in the primordial slime?
One must give Mr. Abate credit for a reasonable level of logical acumen. Design does demand a designer! (Even skeptics have acknowledged such. In his book, Fundamentals of Critical Thinking, Paul Ricci has stated that the principle that “‘everything designed has a designer’ is an analytically true statement” (1986, 190).
And so, after a thoughtful pause, Myers replied:
There’s a huge intelligence there. I don’t see that as being unscientific. Others may, but not me (emphasis added).
The Chronicle reporter mentions that he also recently interviewed Professor Wally Gilbert of Harvard. He inquired of Gilbert whether or not it was feasible to believe that the “code of life” might be the “handiwork of God.” The Harvard professor replied:
Of course one is free to believe that for any little piece of detail, God did it. From the viewpoint of science, we’re surrounded by uncertainty. The parts we look at are the parts we don’t understand. . . . But the scientific belief is that in due course, an explanation will be found.
It certainly is true that an “explanation” will be apparent eventually. But for many—those who have “worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25)—the “explanation” will be too late!
There are several important points to consider in evaluating the current interest regarding the human genome studies.
(1) The fact that the human genome possesses fewer genes than previously estimated (from above 142,000 down to 30,000 or 40,000) means nothing. It simply indicates, if the data are correct, that the fewer are doing more than previously suspected. Such a fact does not lessen one’s amazement; if anything, it intensifies it.
As even Stephen Jay Gould, the notorious apostle of evolution from Harvard, noted:
[T]he key to complexity is not more genes, but more combinations and interactions generated by fewer units of code (2001).
(2) The fact that we possess certain materials in common with other forms of biological life is not exactly earth-shaking news. Commonality proves nothing conclusively—certainly not a joint kinship. Comparisons may be explained as easily on the basis of a similar plan, issuing from a common designer. In fact, one would expect a wise designer to employ analogous mechanisms for organisms intended to inhabit the same environment.
(3) Assertions regarding the presence of so-called junk DNA (within the human genome) which supposedly reveals an evolutionary heritage is another of those conclusions that does not follow necessarily from the premises.
Two principles must be borne in mind. First, there may be residual elements within the human being that are the result of the long-time degenerative process that has plagued man since his apostasy in Eden (cf. Romans 5:12).
Second, it is also possible that the so-called junk may serve a function that is not understood at present. Even Professor Gould admits that the “junk DNA” may provide a “pool of potential for future use” within the organism. His viewpoint, of course, is that the pool might exist for the purpose of a depository “capacity for further evolutionary increase in complexity”—as if some mythical evolutionary intelligence might have planned for such an eventuality! (See Bergman and Howe 1990.)
We must remind ourselves that for years evolutionists alleged that we have numerous “junk” organs within our bodies that are vestiges of our primitive ancestry. Wiedersheim, a famous German anatomist, catalogued no less than 180 of these “useless” features (Wells, Huxley, and Wells 1934, 415). But with the advancement of scientific knowledge, those “vestigial” organs have been demonstrated to be eminently useful.
(4) Finally, there is this matter. Scientists are trying to decipher how the genome mechanism works, but they haven’t a clue about how the procedure originated or why. In an article titled “Messages From The Genome,” which appeared in the December, 2000 issue of Harper’s Magazine, Arthur Cody describes the operations within the genome as a series of “triggering” processes. One thing triggers another, which triggers another, etc. He then raises this question:
What triggers the triggerer? Nobody knows. More than that, nobody has any theoretical proposal to suggest. . . . “Triggering” is an interesting biological event; it goes nowhere toward explaining construction. What kicks the homeotic gene into action? No answer exists, factual or theoretical. . . . Not only does no one know, no one has the slightest idea how to look for an answer. . . . Everything truly essential about the process is utterly and even radically incomprehensible.
That is not exactly correct. The truth of the situation is this: Science has no answer. Theology does! He who “made all things” is responsible for the intricacy of this system (cf. John 1:3).
Yes, it is a fact that science can say nothing about origins. Logic, however, forces the thinking person to this conclusion: every effect must have an adequate cause, and he who “built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). (For a further discussion of the amazing design of the human body, see our book, “The Human Body—Accident or Design?”:http://www.fortifyyourfaithbookstore.org/products/10-the-human-body-accident-or-design.)
In conclusion, we must point out that there is nothing in the recent announcement concerning the human genome that should cause the slightest concern for those who revere the sacred Scriptures. In the meantime, we will continue to exclaim: “I will give thanks unto You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that my soul knows quite well” (Psalm 139:14).
- Bergman, Jerry and George Howe. 1990. Vestigial Organs are Fully Functional. Creation Research Society.
- Cody, Arthur. 2000. Messages From The Genome. Harper’s Magazine, December.
- Gould, Stephen Jay. 2001. The New York Times, February 19.
- Jackson, Wayne. 2000. The Human Body – Accident or Design? Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications.
- Ricci, Pauil. 1986. Fundamentals of Critical Thinking. Lexington, MA: Ginn Press.
- Wells, H. G., Julian Huxley, and G. P. Wells. 1934. The Science of Life. New York, NY: Literary Club.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.