The Errors of the National Academy of Sciences Booklet - Harun Yahya
THE ERRORS OF THE NATIONAL
ACADEMY OF SCIENCES BOOKLET A Reply to the National Academy of Sciences
Booklet, Science and Creationism
THE NAS'S ERRORS REGARDING MUTATIONS
The National Academy
of Sciences suggests that mutations provide the necessary genetic
variation for evolution, and refers to them as follows: "They may
or may not equip the organism with better means for surviving in its
environment." (Science and Creationism, p. 10). In fact,
however, contrary to what the NAS authors claim, mutations do not
lead to beneficial characteristics, and all experiments and observations
on this subject have confirmed this fact.
Mutations are random changes in a living
thing's DNA, the molecule in which its genetic information is
Mutation refers to random changes in an organism's
DNA, the molecule in which its genetic information is stored. Scientists
compare DNA to a data bank or large library. Just as the random and
unconscious addition of letters to any of the books in a library-or
indeed any change in the order of the letters of such a book-will
ruin the sense of the relevant words and sentences, so too does genetic
mutation in organisms have an information-destroying effect. Mutation,
which acts on the complex information in the DNA in a random and unconscious
manner, harms the DNA, and therefore harms the organism bearing the
DNA. At best, it may have no effect at all. However,
mutations can never add any new information to DNA, and do not make
any kind of improvement in the organism. Not a single instance of
this has ever been observed.
Scientists compare DNA to a data bank
or a large library.
The latest example of this is the negative effects of
mutations on human beings. In recent years, thousands of diseases
have been found to be caused by genetic mutations. Genetics textbooks
list some 4,500 different genetic diseases. Such diseases caused by
genetic mutations include Down's syndrome, sickle-cell anemia, dwarfism,
mental impairment, cystic fibrosis, and certain forms of cancer. The
reason why generations of people were born deformed or sick because
of radiation at Hiroshima, and more recently Chernobyl, is again mutations.
Pierre-Paul Grassé, former president
of the French Academy of Sciences and author of the 35-volume Traité
de Zoologie, likened mutations to spelling mistakes in one of his
papers, and said that they could never give rise to evolution:
If letters are added randomly and unconsciously
to any one of the books in a library, various words and sentences
in that book will lose their meaning. The same thing applies
to DNA. A random and unconscious intervention in the complex
information in DNA-in other words, a mutation-will damage DNA,
and consequently the organism itself. At best, a mutation may
have no effect at all on the organism.
Mutations, in time, occur incoherently. They are not
complementary to one another, nor are they cumulative in successive
generations toward a given direction. They modify what preexists,
but they do so in disorder, no matter how… As soon as some disorder,
even slight, appears in an organized being, sickness, then death follow.
There is no possible compromise between the phenomenon of life and
As Grassé states, mutations bring disorder to exceedingly
ordered structures. Genetic mutations might be compared to an earthquake
or to hurling a clock against a wall. In the same way that an earthquake
cannot improve a city, nor a violent impact a clock, so too genetic
mutations do not improve living things, but rather harm them. Evolutionists
are aware of this, but still propose mutations as the mechanism that
brings about evolution. In order to better see the evolutionists'
inconsistencies in this area, it will be useful to include some statements
on the harmful effects of mutations on living things made by evolutionist
Francisco J. Ayala, of the University
of California, Irvine, a professor of biological sciences and philosophy:
High energy radiations, such as x-rays, increase the
rate of mutation. Mutations induced by radiation are random in the
sense that they arise independently of their effects on the fitness
of the individuals which carry them. Randomly induced mutations are
usually deleterious. In a precisely organized and complex system like
the genome of an organism, a random change will most frequently decrease,
rather than increase, the orderliness or useful information of the
James F. Crow, head of the Genetics
Department at the University of Wisconsin and an expert on radiation
Scientists compare mutations to an earthquake
in a city or a clock being thrown hard against a wall. In the
same way that earthquakes do not develop cities, and hurling
clocks against walls does not improve them, mutations do not
improve living things, but rather damage them.
Almost every mutation is harmful,
and it is the individual who pays the price. Any human activity that
tends to increase the mutation rate must therefore raise serious health
and moral problems for man.3
A random change in the highly integrated
system of chemical processes which constitute life is almost certain
to impair it-just as a random interchange of connections in a television
set is not likely to improve the picture.4
The biologist Dr. Mahlon B. Hoagland:
The information that resides in organisms
that are alive today . . . is far more refined than the work of all
the world's great poets combined. The chance that a random
change of a letter or word or phrase would improve the reading
is remote; on the other hand, it is very likely that a random hit
would be harmful. It is for this reason that many biologists view
with dismay the proliferation of nuclear weapons, nuclear power plants,
and industrially generated mutagenic (mutation-producing) chemicals.5
You'll recall we learned that almost
always a change in an organism's DNA is detrimental
to it; that is, it leads to a reduced capacity to survive.
By way of analogy, random additions of sentences to the plays of Shakespeare
are not likely to improve them! . . . The principle
that DNA changes are harmful by virtue of reducing survival chances
applies whether a change in DNA is caused by a mutation or by some
foreign genes we deliberately add to it.6
The well-known mathematician Dr. Warren Weaver
Moreover, the mutant
genes, in the vast majority of cases, and in all the species so far
studied, lead to some kind of harmful effect. In extreme cases the
harmful effect is death itself, or loss of the ability to produce
offspring, or some other serious abnormality.7
Many will be puzzled
about the statement that practically all known mutant genes are harmful.
For mutations are a necessary part of the process of evolution. How
can a good effect-evolution to higher forms of life-result from mutations
practically all of which are harmful?.8
Weaver's question is a very important one, and demands
an answer from evolutionists: How can a good
effect-evolution to higher forms of life-result from mutations practically
all of which are harmful?
I.L. Cohen, a member of the New York
Academy of Sciences, says: "To propose and argue that mutations even
in tandem with 'natural selection' are the root-causes for 6,000,000
viable, enormously complex species, is to mock logic, deny the weight
of evidence, and reject the fundamentals of mathematical probability."9
This statement unmasks the absurdity of those who believe that all
life forms are the work of mutation and natural selection.
In order for a gilled fish to become a
creature breathing with lungs, it would need a great many mutations.
To expect "beneficial" mutations and ones "aimed directly at
the transition to the lung" to keep occurring is to believe
in the impossible.
Another reason why evolutionists' claims regarding mutation
are not credible is that just as there are no beneficial mutations,
there is no mechanism in nature that might bring together and protect
these useful mutations. For example, a blind creature will need a
few mutations in order to possess an eye and an optic system. Expecting
"beneficial" mutations accurately directed towards the eye, optic
nerves, and visual center in the brain to keep occurring among that
creature's descendants is to believe in the impossible. Therefore,
consciousness and power are required to continue in that creature's
descendants. Furthermore, they must foresee that the creature will
need to see the outside world, they must provide all the necessary
genetic information regarding vision and the eye, and they must carefully
bring beneficial and accurate mutations together down the generations.
Yet, there is no such consciousness and intelligence in nature.
Several evolutionists have drawn attention
to this impossibility. For example, Professor Kevin Padian, of the
University of California at Berkeley, asks whether random mutations
in nature give rise to living species:
How do major evolutionary changes get started?
Does anyone still believe that populations sit around for tens of
thousands of years, waiting for favorable mutations to occur (and
just how does that happen, by the way?), then anxiously guard them
until enough accumulate for selection to push the population toward
new and useful change? There you have the mathematical arguments of
neodarwinism that Waddington and others rightly characterized as "vacuous".10
Grassé has this to say on the same
Mutations, in time, occur incoherently.
They are not complementary to one another, nor are they cumulative
in successive generations toward a given direction.11
Even if we grant what evolutionists can never actually
demonstrate and accept that "favorable mutations" have come about
in the necessary quantities, this still does not save the theory of
evolution. Some important calculations by the Israeli bio-physicist
Dr. Lee Spetner, who has worked at some of the most eminent universities
in the world, such as MIT and Johns Hopkins, were brought to the attention
of the scientific world in the book Not By Chance. In this book, which
questions neo-Darwinism, Spetner employs the figures given by evolutionist
authorities (such as mutation frequency and the ratio of "favorable
mutations" to all mutations) and makes a detailed calculation of whether
it is possible for one species to change into another. His conclusion
is striking: Impossible! Even if we accept the theoretical existence
of "favorable mutations," which have never been observed in experiments,
it is still impossible for these to accumulate consecutively and in
the right direction in a living species. It is also impossible for
them to be permanent due to the disadvantages they bring with them,
and thus it is impossible for a new species to emerge.
No evolutionist has been able to give a satisfactory response
to Spetner's calculation.
"Favorable mutations" that never were
As we have seen, mutations are harmful to living things
and no example of a beneficial mutation has ever been observed. The
examples put forward by evolutionists as "beneficial mutations" all
actually consist of distortions. In none of these examples have the
benefits necessary for the evolution of an organism-that is, an increase
in genetic information-ever come about. Let us now examine why the instances
of "beneficial mutations" put forward by evolutionists are not actually
useful at all, and cannot lead to evolution.
Above, the unhealthy appearance of a
damaged blood cell.
Sickle-cell anemia is a serious disease stemming from an error
in the gene that encodes the molecule hemoglobin, which is
responsible for carrying oxygen in the blood-in other words,
from a mutation.
Sickle-cell anemia stems from an inherited
fault in the code necessary for the production of the hemoglobin molecule,
which helps carry oxygen in the blood. As a result of this fault,
the structure of the hemoglobin molecule is defective and its ability
to carry oxygen is severely impaired. The normal circular shape of
the cells which carry hemoglobin becomes deformed and turns into a
sickle shape. Since people with sickle-cell anemia gain a resistance
to malaria, evolutionists describe this as a beneficial mutation.
The fact is, however, that there is no increase in complexity nor
any improvement in the organism's functions; on the contrary, there
is a defect. Sufferers from sickle-cell anemia experience impaired
development, a lack of immunity to infection, chronic organ damage
due to clogged veins, poor organ function and organ deficiencies,
and lack of energy.
It is astonishing that this example of
mutation, dealt with in the chapters on diseases of the blood in medical
text books, should be seen as "beneficial." It is irrational for evolutionists
to say that sufferers' resistance to malaria is a gift to them from
evolution, for which reason the mutation in question is a favorable
one. That claim is just as illogical as telling a blind man he has an
advantage because he cannot be blinded by the sun.
Bacterial resistance to antibiotics:
Another example of evolutionists' "beneficial
mutations" is the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. Like all
the other examples, this one, too, is a deception.
It is no secret that bacteria gradually
develop a resistance to antibiotics over time. What happens is this:
Most bacteria subjected to an antibiotic die, but some remain unaffected
by it, and multiplying rapidly they come to comprise the entire population.
In this way, the entire population comes to be immune to the antibiotic.
Evolutionists, however, claim that bacteria
evolve according to the conditions in which they find themselves.
The truth is, however, rather different. The Israeli biophysicist
Professor Lee Spetner is one of the figures who have carried out the
most detailed studies in this area. Professor Spetner explains how
this resistance comes about by means of two separate mechanisms, neither
of which makes any contribution to evolution. The two mechanisms in
Above; Bacterial DNA. Bacteria that suffer
a loss of genetic information as a result of mutation become
resistant to antibiotics. Yet, that mutation does not add any
information to or develop the DNA. For that reason, it is no
proof of evolution.
1) The transmission of already existing
immunity genes in the bacteria and
2) The building of resistance as a result
of losing genetic data because of mutation.
The first mechanism is no evidence for
In a 2001 article Professor Spetner describes the first
mechanism in this way:
Some microorganisms are endowed with
genes that grant resistance to these antibiotics. This resistance
can take the form of degrading the antibiotic molecule or of ejecting
it from the cell... [T]he organisms having these genes can transfer
them to other bacteria making them resistant as well. Although the
resistance mechanisms are specific to a particular antibiotic, most
pathogenic bacteria have... succeeded in accumulating several sets
of genes granting them resistance to a variety of antibiotics.12
This is no proof of evolution, as Professor Spetner describes:
The acquisition of antibiotic resistance
in this manner... is not the kind that can serve as a prototype for
the mutations needed to account for Evolution… The genetic changes
that could illustrate the theory must not only add information to
the bacterium's genome, they must add new information to the biocosm.
The horizontal transfer of genes only spreads around genes that are
already in some species.13
In other words, there is no evolution here because no new
genetic information appears. All that happens is that genetic information
that already exists is transferred among bacteria.
The second mechanism is no evidence for evolution:
The second form of immunity, that resulting from mutation,
is also no evidence for evolution. Professor Spetner states:
A microorganism can sometimes acquire resistance to an antibiotic through
a random substitution of a single nucleotide... Streptomycin, which
was discovered by Selman Waksman and Albert Schatz and first reported
in 1944, is an antibiotic against which bacteria can acquire resistance
in this way. But although the mutation they undergo in the process is
beneficial to the microorganism in the presence of streptomycin, it
cannot serve as a prototype for the kind of mutations needed by NDT
[Neo-Darwinian Theory]. The type of mutation that grants resistance
to streptomycin is manifest in the ribosome and degrades its molecular
match with the antibiotic molecule.14
In his book Not By Chance, Spetner compares this to the
disturbance of the key-lock relationship. Like a key that perfectly
fits a lock, streptomycin attaches itself to the bacteria's ribosome,
disabling it. Mutation, on the other hand, damages the form of the
ribosome, and in this case the streptomycin cannot attach itself to
the ribosome. Even if this is interpreted as "the bacteria's gaining
immunity to streptomycin" the bacteria actually suffer a loss rather
than a gain. Spetner continues:
The DNA of the E. coli bacterium
This change in the surface of the microorganism's
ribosome prevents the streptomycin molecule from attaching and carrying
out its antibiotic function. It turns out that this degradation is
a loss of specificity and therefore a loss of information. The main
point is that Evolution… cannot be achieved by mutations of this sort,
no matter how many of them there are. Evolution
cannot be built by accumulating mutations that only degrade specificity.15
In summary: A mutation impinging on the bacteria's ribosome
can make the bacteria resistant to streptomycin. The reason for this,
however, is that the mutation "deforms" the ribosome. In other words,
no genetic information is added to the bacteria. On the contrary,
the structure of the ribosome is damaged, and the bacteria are literally
disabled. (It has, in fact, been established that the ribosomes of
bacteria subjected to mutation are much less functional than those
of normal bacteria.) Since this disability prevents the antibiotic,
whose design allows it to attach itself to the ribosome, from latching
on to it , "antibiotic resistance" develops.
In conclusion, there is no instance of a mutation that
"improves genetic information," and the immunity mechanisms in bacteria
do not represent evidence for the theory of evolution. Professor Spetner
states that the mutations required by the theory of evolution have
never been observed:
The mutations needed for macroevolution
have never been observed. No random mutations that could represent the
mutations required by Neo-Darwinian Theory that have been examined on
the molecular level have added any information. The question I address
is: Are the mutations that have been observed the kind the theory needs
for support? The answer turns out to be NO!16
Experiments on fruit flies:
As long as a mutation does not change the morphology-that
is, the shape-of an organism, it cannot be the raw material of evolution.
One of the living things in which morphological mutations have been
most intensively studied is the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster).
In one of the many mutations Drosophila was subjected to, the two-winged
fruit fly developed a second pair of wings. Ever since 1978 this four-winged
fruit fly has gained great popularity in textbooks and other evolutionist
In mutations caused in fruit flies, these
insects have grown an extra pair of wings. However, what evolutionists
are reluctant to make clear is that these extra wings have no
flight muscles, and therefore represent a serious obstacle to
the insect's flying at all. For that reason, the mutations in
question have handicapped the insects, rather than improved
However, one point that evolutionist publications
hardly ever mention is that the extra wings possess no flight muscles.
These fruit flies are therefore deformed, since these wings represent
a serious obstacle to flight. They also have difficulties in mating.
They are unable to survive in the wild. In his important book Icons
of Evolution, the American biologist Jonathan Wells studies the four-winged
fruit fly, together with other classic Darwinist propaganda tools,
and explains in great detail why this example does not constitute
evidence for evolution.
The truth is that fruit flies constituted no proof of
evolution during the 20th century, and that is accepted even by evolutionists.
Gordon Taylor, former chief science advisor of the BBC, once said:
It is a striking, but not much mentioned
fact that, though geneticists have been breeding fruit-flies for sixty
years or more in labs all around the world-flies which produce a new
generation every eleven days-they have never yet seen the emergence
of a new species or even a new enzyme.17
In his book Adam and Evolution, Professor Michael
Pitman makes this comment:
Morgan, Goldschmidt, Muller, and other
geneticists have subjected generations of fruit flies to extreme conditions
of heat, cold, light, dark, and treatment by chemicals and radiation.
All sorts of mutations, practically all trivial or positively deleterious,
have been produced. Man-made evolution? Not really: Few of the geneticists'
monsters could have survived outside the bottles they were bred in.
In practice mutants die, are sterile, or tend to revert to the wild
In conclusion, neither fruit flies, nor bacterial resistance
to antibiotics, nor sickle-cell anemia constitutes evidence of evolution.
Therefore, evolutionists' claims that mutations are the cause of evolution
do not rest on scientific evidence.
1 Pierre-Paul Grassé, Evolution of Living
Organisms, New York: Academic Press, 1977, pp. 97-98. 2 Francisco J. Ayala, "Genotype Environment and Population Numbers,"
Science, vol. 162, December 27, 1968, p. 1456 3 James F. Crow, "Ionizing Radiation and Evolution," Scientific
American, vol. 201, September 1959, p. 138. (emphasis added) 4 James F. Crow (Professor of Genetics, University of Wisconsin),
"Genetic Effects of Radiation," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, no. 14, 1958,
pp. 19-20 5 Mahlon B. Hoagland, The Roots of Life: A Layman's Guide To Genes,
Evolution, and the Ways of Cells, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1981, p. 64 6 Mahlon B. Hoagland, The Roots of Life: A Layman's Guide To Genes,
Evolution, and the Ways of Cells, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1981, p. 145. (emphasis
added) 7 Warren Weaver, "Genetic Effects of Atomic Radiation," Science,
vol. 123, June 29, 1956, p. 1158 8 Warren Weaver, "Genetic Effects of Atomic Radiation," Science,
vol. 123, June 29, 1956, p. 1159 9 I.L. Cohen, Darwin Was Wrong: A Study in Probabilities, New
York: New Research Publications, Inc., 1984, p. 81 10 "The Whole real Guts of Evolution", Paleobiology, vol. 15,
Winter, 1989, p. 77 11 Pierre-Paul Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, New York:
Academic Press, 1977, pp. 97-98 12 Dr. Lee Spetner, "Lee Spetner/Edward Max Dialogue: Continuing
an exchange with Dr. Edward E. Max," 2001; http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.asp
13 Dr. Lee Spetner, http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.asp 14 Dr. Lee Spetner, http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.asp. 15 Dr. Lee Spetner, http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.asp (emphasis
added) 16 Dr. Lee Spetner, http://www.trueorigin.org/spetner2.asp 17 Gordon Rattray Taylor, The Great Evolution Mystery, London:
Abacus, Sphere Books, 1984, p. 48 18 Michael Pitman, Adam and Evolution, London: River Publishing,
1984, p. 70