Editor’s note: We are delighted to welcome Kirk Durston as a new contributor. Dr. Durston is a scientist, philosopher, and clergyman with a PhD in Biophysics, an MA in Philosophy, a BSc in Mechanical Engineering, and a BSc in Physics.
I was struck, but not surprised, by a statement made recently by Neil Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics here in Waterloo, Ontario. Speaking of the apparent collapse of evidence for a critical component of the Big Bang theory, he responded, “Even though hundreds or thousands of people are working on an idea, it may still be wrong.”
His statement is a harbinger of a much greater collapse looming on the scientific horizon, also involving thousands of scientists. There is mounting evidence that most, if not all the key predictions of the neo-Darwinian theory of macroevolution are being falsified by advances in science. Here, I will look at a fundamental prediction that Darwinism makes regarding the increase of genetic information.
Computer information is digitally encoded using just two symbols (“1” and “0”). We now know that the instructions for the full diversity of life are digitally encoded in the DNA of all living things using a four-symbol alphabet. In more technical terms, this is referred to as functional information.
In the neo-Darwinian scenario for the origin and diversity of life, the digital functional information for life would have had to begin at zero, increase over time to eventually encode the first simple life form, and continue to increase via natural processes to encode the digital information for the full diversity of life.
An essential, falsifiable prediction of Darwinian theory, therefore, is that functional information must, on average, increase over time.
Interestingly, a prediction of intelligent design science is quite the opposite. Since information always degrades over time for any storage media and replication system, intelligent design science postulates that the digital information of life was initially downloaded into the genomes of life. It predicts that, on average, genetic information is steadily being corrupted by natural processes. The beauty of these two mutually incompatible predictions in science is that the falsification of one entails verification of the other. So which prediction does science falsify, and which does science verify?
Ask computer programmers what effect ongoing random changes in the code would have on the integrity of a program, and they will universally agree that it degrades the software. This is the first problem for neo-Darwinian theory. Mutations produce random changes in the digital information of life. It is generally agreed that the rate of deleterious mutations is much greater than the rate of beneficial mutations. My own work with 35 protein families suggests that the rate of destruction is, at minimum, 8 times the rate of neutral or beneficial mutations.
Simply put, the digital information of life is being destroyed much faster than it can be repaired or improved. New functions may evolve, but the overall loss of functional information in other areas of the genome will, on average, be significantly greater. The net result is that the digital information of life is running down.
The second series of falsifying observations is indicated by actual organisms we have studied most closely. First, the digital information for the bacterial world is slowly eroding away due to a net deletional bias in mutations involving insertions and deletions. A second example is the fruit fly, one of the most studied life forms in evolutionary biology. It, too, shows an ongoing, genome-wide loss of DNA across the entire genus.
Finally, humans are not exempt. As biologist Michael Lynch points out in a paper in PNAS, “Rate, molecular spectrum, and consequences of human mutation“:
[A] consideration of the long-term consequences of current human behaviour for deleterious-mutation accumulation leads to the conclusion that a substantial reduction in human fitness can be expected over the next few centuries in industrialized societies unless novel means of genetic intervention are developed.
We continue to discover more examples of DNA loss, suggesting that the biological world is slowly running down. Microevolution is good at fine-tuning existing forms within their information limits and occasionally getting something right, but the steady accumulation of deleterious mutations on the larger scale suggests that mutation-driven evolution is actually destroying biological life, not creating it.
This is hardly a surprise, as every other area of science, except for evolutionary biology, grants that natural processes degrade information, regardless of the storage media and copying process. For neo-Darwinian macroevolution to work, it requires something that is in flat-out contradiction to the real world.
Photo credit: Kirk Durston.