The biggest buzz over the past couple of years in the evolution research community is the discovery of uncanny similarity between the chromosomal sctructure for humans and that of great apes. In a recent blog post, Chromosome Fusion: Chance or Design? Dr. Barry Starr, a geneticist-in-residence of San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation, states that there are about “60 million or so” genetic differences between humans and members of the chimpanzee family. In my estimation, that many genetic differences equates to no real similarity at all. But, I do understand that a similarity in DNA structure is intriguing.
Withstanding, Dr. Starr observes the DNA similarity doesn’t appear as one would expect. It looks older than proponents of evolution theory calculate the divergence of human ancestors from ape ancestors. Dr. Starr admits that the human chromosomes appear to be 2 ape chromosomes fused together, but that, the cap on the human chromosome looks quite worn. He adds that, “…maybe a new gene was created at the fusion point. Or maybe genes that were shut off before were now turned on in the new fused chromosomes.” He later adds, “When an unfixed change happens in a sperm or egg, then it is passed down to the next generation. If the changes that aren’t fixed happen somewhere important, then they are selected for or against. But if they’re neutral, then they just build up over time. Scientists can even use these sorts of errors to predict how long ago something happened.”
At the point I read Dr. Starr’s postulates about the switching on and shutting off of genes, I got rather excited. Why? because I see the validity of Dr. Starr’s musing but to the opposite effect. While some may conject that genes which were shut off before are now turned on, I propose that genes which were once on have been turned off, have decayed, or have changed in some way. A proponent of Creation would cite that humanity, along with the rest of Creation, is not now as it once was. Due to consequences of what the Bible describes as mankind’s “offense” against God (Rom. 5:17-21; Gen. 3), all Creation, especially mankind, has come into bondage to sin and the effects of sin–decay, blight, death.
I respond by saying “using DNA to trace ancestral roots back to origins is faulty science.” DNA studies work for this present era (for migration patterns, etc.), but they cannot be relied upon for accurate explanation of the way things were at the point of Intelligent Design (i.e. human origin) in light of the way things are presently. In more scientifically provable terms, there is real devolution amid all of the micro evolution (or adaptation) happening in nature. That decay extends to affecting the DNA of humans and all creatures, plant life, and even geological material. As Dr. Starr indicates in his article: “…our DNA gets changed a little all of the time. The environment or even our own cells can cause the wrong letter to end up in our DNA. Our cells are pretty good at fixing these mistakes but they don’t catch them all. What this means is that our DNA builds up mutations over time.”
Who knows (except God) what all has been “shut off” or drastically changed, or even omitted genetically as a result of what theologians term, “the Fall of Mankind.” The fusion of human DNA could have happened as a direct result of humanity’s consignment of itself to deterioration. It is possible that “that the Creator/Designer made humans with chromosomes which had the appearance of having been fused at some time in the past,” and “… this [could have] occurred in a small population of actual humans a few thousand years ago… very early on in human history, soon after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden, or in a small, isolated group from which Noah and his family were drawn prior to the Flood…” (Creation.com, brackets mine)
To answer Dr. Starr’s concerns about what purpose fused DNA would serve in the case of Intelligent Design, I can only state that the full wisdom of Intellegent Design (as it was originally employed at Creation) cannot be examined due to the regresses of devolution. This also can account for why the fusion point seems older than it should be; the ability to estimate such time frames becomes almost impossible due to devolution. At the very least, we know that genetic break-down happens regularly in our present day. Genetic mutations happen as a result of many factors biblical Christianity would attribute to living in a fallen world of dysfunction. Who knows if before the Fall of Mankind if our cells could regenerate perfectly. No one can be sure, but this current faultiness of nature proves the biblical record accurate. Devolution is happening and not every mutation is helpful or the result of “survival of the fittest.” Genetic mutations are not always friendly to fertility. In fact, they are mostly hostile to it, creating sterility. In his blog post, Fusing Chromosomes, John Hawks reports a statement from Mario Ventura et al. which reads, “The two chromosomes fused, and the cap was deleted, inclusing StSat. It could no longer spread around our genome, the way it did in chimpanzees and gorillas…. the duplication of the DNA at the end of chromosomes can cause dangerous mutations that can cause genetic disorders.” John Hawks himself adds,
“People often ask me when this chromosome fusion happened in ancient hominins. I think they attribute excessive importance to this event, reasoning that chromosome fusion may have been the cause of some reproductive isolation… In reality, the fusion must have happened within a population…. The series of events leading to the fusion of human chromosome 2 are genetically very interesting, as are the repeated instances of rearrangement that Ventura and colleagues illustrate in chimpanzees. But chromosome fusion has no special magical power, and whether it was connected to ancient speciations or other events in our evolution will take a lot of creative hypothesis testing.” (Hawks, underscore mine)
While micro evolution is observation in nature, it is relegated to adaptation within kind (Order), so that a new order of creature cannot spring from another, but a member of a species may adapt and develop into either a new sub species or variety… but always within the same Order, Family, Tribe, and Genus. There is not one observable, reproducible scientific example of an evolutionary change in the biological categories of Class, Order, Family, Tribe or even Genus; and this is what Creationists mean when they refer to a “change of kind.”
BREAKOUT SESSION: EVIDENCE FROM MOLECULAR ANTHROPOLOGY FOR AN HISTORICAL ADAM AND EVE
Genetics Proves Design and Disproves Evolution by Stephen Meyer, Ph.D. Cambridge University
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008) by Ben Stein
Fine Tuning of the Universe by Reasonable Faith