Are Some Mutations Good?

Do good mutations occur?1 Most Evolution Scientists would unequivocally say “Yes”, but most Creation Scientists would say “It depends on how you define a good mutation”:

If a good mutation is defined as a mutation that helps a life form survive in a particular environment, then both Creation Scientists and Evolution Scientists would say that good mutations do occur. But if a good mutation is defined as a mutation that creates complex information needed for Evolution, then most Creation Scientists would say that good mutations are unlikely and have never been proven to occur. Consider the following examples of “good” mutations that Evolution Scientists often portray as evidence for Evolution:

a) The sickle cell mutation. This mutation changed one letter in the elaborate instructions for making the hemoglobin that is in our red blood cells. The result of this one-letter typo can be devastating. It throws a “monkey wrench” into the production of your hemoglobin, and if you inherit the mutation from both parents, you will undoubtedly suffer from a terrible genetic disorder called sickle cell anemia. Even if you inherit the mutation from only one parent you could suffer some unpleasant effects. So, when is this horrible mutation, which has caused so many people to suffer, considered to be good? Only when someone lives in an environment that is rampant with malaria. The parasite that causes malaria cannot thrive in someone who has the defective hemoglobin, therefore having one copy of the mutation can actually help a person survive in a malaria-rich environment.

b) Antibiotic resistance. Most scientists believe that a mutation can sometimes make a bacterium resistant to one or more antibiotics. Here is one way they believe this can happen:

Some types of antibiotics must get inside a bacterium to kill it. A bacterium’s main defense against such deadly intrusions is a membrane that acts as a “wall” to prevent antibiotics and other harmful molecules from entering. However, the wall cannot be made completely impenetrable because useful molecules must be allowed to enter. In order to distinguish between useful and harmful molecules, special pathways are built through the wall that are designed to only allow useful molecules to pass.

Although this system of protection is nearly foolproof, some antibiotics are able to beat the system because they are shaped similar to one of the useful molecules. This allows them to “sneak” through the pathway that was designed for the useful molecule. Once inside, the antibiotic is able to destroy the bacterium. But if a mutation occurs that throws a “monkey wrench” into the instructions for building the relevant pathway, then the pathway will be impassable, or not built at all. Thus the antibiotic is prevented from entering, and the bacterium is resistant to that type of antibiotic. Ironically, such a mutation makes a bacterium weaker because the useful molecules cannot enter through the defective pathway either, but in an antibiotic-rich environment the good far outweighs the bad (from the bacterium’s perspective).

The above examples, as well as similar examples, have been portrayed by some Evolution Scientists as evidence in favor of Evolution over Creation. I think such portrayals are misguided. Although the above examples are “good mutations” in the sense that they help organisms survive in selected environments, they would be no help for Evolution. In each case the mutation was simply a typo that threw a “monkey wrench” into an existing set of elaborate instructions. A typo that prevents complex instructions from being carried out is not evidence that complex instructions2 can be written by typos.

References and Notes for Chapter 9:

1. Evolution Scientists speculate that mutations useful for Evolution do occur but are difficult to document, partly because they are extremely rare compared to other mutations. If this speculation is true, then it would create a separate issue for Evolution as explained below:

According to Evolution Scientists, bacteria DNA evolved into human DNA, as well as the DNA of all other forms of life. They believe this happened as a result of billions of “good” mutations that redesigned DNA at every step along the way. However, they also believe that for every good mutation thousands of other mutations occurred that were not used. Evolution needs a way for the unused mutations to have been mostly cleansed from populations, otherwise they would have too quickly accumulated to unmanageable levels.

Most believers of Evolution are unfazed by the large number of unused mutations that must be eliminated for each usable mutation because they assume that natural selection can “handle the job”. But it appears that natural selection can only eliminate a small percentage of such mutations, as discussed in Chapter 7: Where Did My DNA Come From?

2. The extreme complexity of DNA instructions is discussed in Chapter 5: What Is The Most Complex Thing In The Universe?