Comment on The End of “Junk DNA”? by Sean Pitman.
Nice to see you are back. I had hoped you might have thought a little more about confirmational bias in selection of your sources. In reading your turtles book I was [struck by] the sentiment expressed again here that you as a literal creationist had anticipated the function of the whole of the genome well before people like John Mattick had provided experimental evidence for the role of non-coding RNA? This is really quite a bold claim but I cant seem to find any reference to your prescient publications on this topic.
A working draft of the human genome was announced in 2000 but our complete genome wasn’t finished until 2003. Before this time, most life scientists argued, since the 1960s, that non-coding DNA was largely functionless – evolutionary remnants that still tagged along with the relatively rare functional genes within our genome. In 1995, Scientific American plainly expounded that under the Neo-Darwinian view, “[t]hese regions have traditionally been regarded as useless accumulations of material from millions of years of evolution.” The view that non-coding DNA is truly “junk DNA” has been adamantly promoted by most at Talk.Origins for years. Certainly by the time I started posting on Talk.Origins in 2001 this view was the common paradigm.
In contrast, I have been personally writing about the functionality of pseudogenes and “junk DNA” since 2001 – on my website and in discussion forums. For example, here is a portion of a discussion I had in 2002 in google.groups:
“We are still very limited in our knowledge about how the genome actually works even though we have sequenced the entire human genome. We are finding out that much of what we previously referred to as “junk DNA” actually has some pretty impressive functions. Just because a portion of DNA does not code for a protein does not mean that it has no function or that it is some remnant of past evolutionary baggage or trials and errors. Even some so-called “pseudogenes” are now being found to in fact have certain important functions… such as gene switching or gene regulation. This is almost reminiscent of the vestigial organ arguments of the past. What used to be thought of as functionless remnants of evolutionary heritage, are now known to have important if not vital functions in the present state of the creature. As the number of “vestigial” organs are shrinking, so are the number of “non-functional” genetic sequences.”
Yet, at this point in time (in 2002), most scientists still held to the view that the vast majority of non-coding DNA was not functional. For example, in 2001 Stephen J. Gould wrote:
Our 30,000 genes make up only 1 percent or so of our total genome. The rest — including bacterial immigrants and other pieces that can replicate and move — originate more as accidents of history than as predictable necessities of physical laws. Moreover, these noncoding regions, disrespectfully called ‘junk DNA,’ also build a pool of potential for future use that, more than any other factor, may establish any lineage’s capacity for further evolutionary increase in complexity (Gould 2001).
Clearly, Gould was mistaken. The non-functionality of “junk DNA” was also predicted by Susumu Ohno (1972), Richard Dawkins (1976), Crick and Orgel (1980), Pagel and Johnstone (1992), and Ken Miller (1994), based on evolutionary presuppositions. In contrast, on teleological grounds, Michael Denton (1986, 1998), Michael Behe (1996), John West (1998), William Dembski (1998), Richard Hirsch (2000), and Jonathan Wells (2004) predicted that “junk DNA” would be found to be functional.
As far back as 1994, pro-ID scientist and Discovery Institute fellow Forrest Mims had warned in a letter to Science against assuming that ‘junk’ DNA was ‘useless.'” Science wouldn’t print Mims’ letter, but soon thereafter, in 1998, leading ID theorist William Dembski repeated this sentiment in First Things:
[Intelligent] design is not a science stopper. Indeed, design can foster inquiry where traditional evolutionary approaches obstruct it. Consider the term “junk DNA.” Implicit in this term is the view that because the genome of an organism has been cobbled together through a long, undirected evolutionary process, the genome is a patchwork of which only limited portions are essential to the organism. Thus on an evolutionary view we expect a lot of useless DNA. If, on the other hand, organisms are designed, we expect DNA, as much as possible, to exhibit function. And indeed, the most recent findings suggest that designating DNA as “junk” merely cloaks our current lack of knowledge about function. For instance, in a recent issue of the Journal of Theoretical Biology, John Bodnar describes how “non-coding DNA in eukaryotic genomes encodes a language which programs organismal growth and development.” Design encourages scientists to look for function where evolution discourages it.
(William Dembski, “Intelligent Science and Design,” First Things, Vol. 86:21-27 (October 1998))
Here are a few more recent references:
Casey Luskin (2007):
Tim Standish (2002):
Linda Walkup (2000)
On another issue that you cite again here is the issue of mutation rates. I am curious if you have read the Kong paper in [the journal Science]
on the effects of paternal age on transmitted mutations to offspring. Obviously this has implications for the putative antedeluvian populations and the genetic front loading of the population although unfortunately any front loading by these mechansisms would have been largely if not entirely wiped out in the genetic bottleneck at the flood.
If you read the paper you will see that the number of mutations increases by 2 for every year of paternal age from a baseline in their data of 29.7 years. On an exponential model the mutation rate doubles for every 16.5 years of paternal age.
According to genesis 5 and the patriarchal ages the average paternal age for first child was 155.6 and the text implies they were reproductively active on the average for another 706.9 years.
I don’t see this “implied” by the text. The Bible simply doesn’t say when the antediluvians became too old to have children.
Using Kongs calculation from the direct genomic sequencing of 78 icelandic families what can we determine?
From cell division to cell division, the error rate for DNA polymerase combined with other repair enzymes is about 1 mistake or mutation in 1 billion base pairs copied (for many but not all of the cell types in our bodies). In men, there is approximately one spermatic stem cell division every 16 days (about 23 divisions per year). This implies a yearly mutation rate in male gametes of around (3 x 23) or 69 mutations per year. Yet, we know that the overall human nucleotide mutation rate (SNPs) is less than 100 per generation. Obviously, the mutation rate for gamete production is significantly reduced relative to other types of cells within the body – probably due to enhanced correction rates for mutations due to the error rate of DNA polymerase.
In any case, it seems like the gamete mutation rate would still be related to copy number (the number of stem cell divisions), and therefore would most likely be a linearly increasing mutation rate as copy numbers increased. In other words, if the average increase in gamete mutations is 2 per year (as several references seem to suggest), it seems to me like this increase would stay fairly steady with age – i.e., that it would not follow an exponential curve. As I look as the graphs provided by the article you reference, graphs comparing mutation rates to paternal age, I don’t see that there is evidence to support an exponential increase in the mutation rate with age. The data just as easily supports a linear model; a model that seems to be more consistent with known sources of mutations in germ cells.
According to the linear model for increasing mutations, the mutation rate for progeny of the patriarchs was between 3 (3.09E-8 per nucleotide) and 15 (14.875E-8) times the current rate (1.2E-8). Using their [esponential] model the rates are up to 273,276 per nucleotide per generation, a rate 2.27E13 more than the current rate. Clearly this is absurd but would certainly be in the range of a genetic meltdown anticipated by Sanford.
Given the linear model (which I agree with) an increased rate of 2 mutations per year, starting at the age of 30 years, works out to less than 1600 mutations at the age of 800 years. This is in line with the yearly average mutation rate we humans currently suffer per generation (about 2-3 mutations per year on average or between 50-100 SNPs per generation). I really don’t see the problem here unless one tries to invoke the exponential model.
How does one respond to this sort of data? At the level of the science; with very old age of paternity it is likely that the linear model is an underestimate while the exponential model may fit the data only for conventional ages but if you take literally the ages of the patriachs and construct some mechanistic model one must assume some sort of sigmoidal distribution as nucleotide substitution must reach some point of saturation well below a subtitution per nucleotide per generation.
Again, I don’t see any reason to invoke the exponential model. There may be a slight variance from the linear model with age, but I don’t think it would be enough to significantly outpace current yearly mutation rates for the human genome.
The bigger question is do we even take the science seriously? As I have said before I suspect you do not. If we do, what do we do with the account of the patriarchal ages let alone the similar ages of the Sumerian kings.
I take science, and even the claims of modern scientists (not necessarily the same thing as “science”), very seriously. However, many of the extrapolations of mainstream scientists are very tenuous or simply untenable given the empirical evidence currently in hand. I personally find the Biblical account to be far more in line with the weight of scientific/empirical evidence that I personally understand.
As far as very long-lived races are concerned, this is not beyond rational consideration or scientific tenability given that there are many different species that have “negligible senescence” (that do not get old with age). Examples include certain kinds of carp or lobsters or turtles which do not lose very much if any vitality or virility with age. Perhaps humans used to be like this as well? – especially given the fact that our genomes are degenerating over time?
As already discussed, we are headed toward an eventual genetic meltdown. We are not in meltdown mode now, of course, but we are clearly headed downhill genetically and will eventually reach the tipping point. It is science that clearly shows a decaying human genome with implications that it could have been much better, with significantly enhanced features of health, longevity, and overall vitality, thousands of years ago as compared to today – as the Bible claims.
Do we, as you seem want to do, add another layer of exceptionalism (ie miraculous God of the gaps reasoning for understanding of the natural world) as you have done for the question of front loading and genetic bottlenecks for the anteluvian world and repopulation from a breadding pair.
I’m sorry, but I was under the impression that it was you who wanted to invoke God to explain such things – not me. I’ve never invoked God to explain survival after genetic bottlenecks or the current state of affairs starting with a single breeding pair. The available scientific evidence is perfectly consistent with the Biblical account of such a bottleneck after the Noachian Flood as well as the decline of genetic quality of all slowly reproducing gene pools since their original creation. You’re the one who is trying to say that this is not possible outside of a Divine miracle, not me. God-like intelligence is only needed to explain the original origin of life and its diversity – the original “front-loading” if you please. And, I don’t see that you’ve brought anything else to the table that would require God to directly interfere with the natural course of things . . . the natural inevitable decay and degeneration of all slowly reproducing gene pools from their original idealic state.
For many of us, including I suspect the scientists at la sierra who you malign yet again in this posting, we are happy to accept the evidences of science but would see the action of God not in our ignorance as the explanation of the inexplicable in the natural world but in the action of Jesus Christ the incarnate God who is the basis of our faith.
It is the Bible that testifies of Jesus Christ, His nature and origin. Undermine the Bible’s credibility, and you undermine any rational faith you may have in the story of Jesus and any of His claims. You can’t rationally have one without the other. They go hand-in-hand. Certainly Jesus Himself saw it this way. He took the Scriptures seriously – to include the Genesis account of origins. He believed the stories of Genesis and referenced them as literally true. He even claimed to have personally witnessed prehistoric events. Do you believe Him or not?
Sean Pitman Also Commented
Lots of non-Adventist individuals and organizations are committed to Jesus Christ – like the Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, Mormons, etc. However, the simple criteria of being committed to one’s own personal view of Jesus Christ does not qualify one as being a paid representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Now, this isn’t to say that being committed to Jesus Christ and His example, as detailed in the Bible, isn’t a good thing. It’s a very very good thing and the motive of love behind such a decision is the very basis of salvation. However, even being in a saving relationship with Jesus is not enough to qualify an individual to be an effective representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in particular.
The Adventist Church takes on basic Christianity as well as an additional mission – a mission which includes upholding before the world some 28 doctrinal beliefs which the church considers “fundamental” or crucial to its primary goals and mission during the last days of Earth’s history.
Now, one may be saved without being a part of the Adventist mission or church – thank God! In fact, the vast majority of people who will be saved in Heaven one day will never have even heard of Seventh-day Adventists. So, this isn’t an issue of salvation. It is an issue of appropriately representing the primary goals and mission of an organization as that organization defines itself.
You, weather you like it or not, are not in line with many of the primary goals and ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. That doesn’t make you good or bad or outside of the saving love and grace of God. It just means that you cannot adequately represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a paid representative. Your representation would be counterproductive to the stated goals and missions of the church as an organization.
That is why it would be much better for you, and for more honest, if you were to take on a label that more accurately represents your current world views…
When empirical evidence and God’s word go different directions, you will choose the evidence, whereas the SDA Church always has and always will prioritize God’s word.
During the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church the founding fathers took on the position that the Bible prophesied that Jesus would return in 1844. The empirical evidence proved this notion wrong. And, these founding fathers were forced, by the empirical evidence, to admit that their faith in what they thought the Bible said was mistaken.
You see, the SDA Church, from its very beginnings, has been forced to recognize the interplay between faith and evidence for the rational mind. One cannot rationally argue that one’s faith in what one thinks the Bible says, or even the origin of the Bible, is entirely independent of the weight of empirical evidence.
It is for this reason that the modern Seventh-day Adventist Church is actually concerned over what is being taught at La Sierra University regarding the topic of origins. If all that mattered was a fideistic faith in the Bible and our own special interpretation of the Bible, the church wouldn’t care what people thought of the empirical evidence. It wouldn’t care what was being taught in science classes within its own schools. This simply isn’t the case.
You are delusional to believe that the SDA Church will agree to disembody and disavow itself of God if the accumulated evidence goes against its present interpretation of scripture.
But the church has changed its mind before regarding its views of the Bible based on the weight of empirical evidence (as noted above).
Again, God does not ask us to believe or have faith without the weight of evidence. He does not expect us to believe in something that has no more evidential backing than the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. That simply wouldn’t be reasonable on the part of God nor would it be fair for Him to act in such a manner…
There is a great gulf between You and I. Where does one start in trying to find common ground and responding to your very concrete thought structure. Its as if the last 200 years have not happened. Your view of natural theology may have been accepted by William Paley but is not an approach to God thought valid by most modern theologians with any acquaintance with science.
One of the problems I personally have with your perspective, and that of many modern theologians, is that it seems to me to be inconsistent with itself. You yourself describe your own position as “irrational”! You reject the authority of the Scriptures when the Biblical authors describe the miracle of God creating life on this planet in just six literal days (clearly what the author of the Genesis account was trying to convey to his readers)… because of what you view as the contrary evidence of modern science. Yet, at the very same time, you accept the claims of the Biblical authors when they describe the miraculous virgin birth, life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. You accept this portion of the Scriptures contrary to the claims of the vast majority of modern scientists who claim that such things are impossible.
Does this not then mean that your internally derived “faith” allows you to pick and choose what you will and will not believe independent of the influence of anything else? It isn’t a matter of consistent Biblical interpretation for you because you simply aren’t consistent in how you interpret the Bible or determine what is or isn’t true. You pick and choose based on your own individual desires for what you want to be true. That is why your faith is inconsistent with itself and is, as you yourself explain, completely irrational to the point of overt fideism. You take on a form of fideism that is its own evidence independent of any influence outside of your own mind and your own feelings and desires – to include any consistent influence from the Bible itself.
What argument can you or any modern theologian present to make what you yourself claim is an irrational position appear remotely attractive to those who appreciate rational thought and careful consistent investigation of fantastic claims?
It is not the 19th century and we are called to preach the grace of God to a secular world. Your vision shows no imagination or understanding of spirituality or the reality and value of vision, myth and abstract concepts that may have no correspondence in concrete realities.
But I do find value in various myths, legends, allegories, and fairytales. Even Jesus used such stories to teach various truths about the existence of realities that are not yet seen. However, it makes a great deal of difference if one believes that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is a good moral fable vs. true empirical historical reality. If the disciples of Jesus had believed His claims to be the Son of God simply allegorical, rather than empirical reality, they would not have put their own lives on the line. No rational person, who is naturally prone to avoid a martyr’s death, is going to put his life on the line for stories that he believes are mythical or allegorical – devoid of any “correspondence with concrete realities”.
They key point here is that if Jesus had not been raised from the dead and His disciples had not personally witnessed the empirical reality of this event, there would be no Christian Church of any kind today. All of Christian faith hinges on the literal reality of the Resurrection. Without this reality, there is no mystical experience with God that can rationally support the claims of Christianity.
Do you agree with Martin Luther in his statement about scripture trumping observation:
“People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool [or ‘man’] wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”
– Martin Luther, Table Talk
If you truly privilege scripture over science you should really revamp this web site to be consistent with the supremacy of scripture along the lines of the site http://www.fixedearth.com/ A site that is at least absolutely consistent with biblical literalism as Luther saw it.
Even though we who live in this modern age know that the Earth does in fact revolve around the Sun, we still speak in everyday terms as the Sun “rising in the east” and “setting in the west” or the “Sun going down”. Such are terms of perspective. In context, therefore, no further interpretation is necessitated in the Bible’s description of Joshua speaking from his own Earth-bound perspective. Surely you can understand the difference between such passages and passages in Genesis where it would be very very difficult to misinterpret the observation of “evenings and mornings” separating the “days” of creation – regardless of perspective. In such passages the author is clearly claiming that God showed him that the days of creation were separated by what clearly appeared to be “evenings and mornings” from his Earth-bound perspective. There’s a big difference here.
As far as Martin Luther is concerned, he was a great reformer and he did advance important truths for his time. However, he was no prophet and received no privileged revelation regarding such things. He forwarded and acted upon a great many points of misunderstanding regarding the meaning of many Scriptural truths which the Seventh-day Adventist Church has since realized – to include those truths revealed to us by God speaking in a very privileged manner through Ellen White.
Now, you can either accept or reject the Adventist perspective on such things, but it is very difficult to call yourself an Adventist or a true representative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church when you are actually fighting against numerous doctrinal ideals that the Adventist Church, as an organization, still holds to be fundamentally important. It would be much better and far more honest for you to describe yourself in terms that more accurately reflect your true beliefs.
The reality however is that both you and I interpret the scriptures. As I have said before you appear to practice naturalistic evidence based medicine contrary to the biblical description of healing but then pretend that you are following the plain text of scripture when reject entirely naturalism when it comes to origins. You claim;
“You pick and choose what elements you will use to build your own image of “christianity”… which is quite different from the Biblical claims.”
But do not at all seem able to see that you are in fact doing exactly what you project in accepting evidence based medicine contrary to a plain reading of scripture but claiming origin by divine fiat and miracle on the basis of one particular reading of scripture.
There is actually good support for evidence-based medicine in Scripture. Just because the Scriptures also point out the power of prayer and God’s willingness to supernaturally intervene, on occasion, in our lives does not mean that the Scriptures are opposed to evidence-based medicine. Such a notion is completely contrary to the position of the Bible, Mrs. White, and the Adventist Church on the topics of health and medicine in general where the laws of nature, set in place by God, are to be dealt with on a routine basis in the practice of medicine and healthful living.
You continue to misconstrue the point of my discussion of Santa Claus and Christmas. Children can and do grow in their understanding of reality and are able to see beyond the concrete events of Christmas to see it as a representation of a worthy abstraction that is not invalidated by rejecting a fictitious Santa Claus. You seem unable to move from the concrete to the abstract and yet again claim you will reject Christ if your biblical interpretation is found not to be consistent with a simplistic reality. As though your superior mind trumps any non-rational revelation of God.
A non-rational revelation of God would not, by definition, make rational sense – right? (any more than a desire to believe in the reality of existence of Santa Claus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster?) Why then should I believe in any irrational “revelation” that makes no sense to me? Can you provide any rational answer to this question? Wouldn’t any response you might submit be irrational by definition? That’s why your position makes no sense to me. Why even try to argue for what you yourself are arguing has no rational explanation?
Your arrogance is unceasingly amazing.
“And, so far, the organized Adventist Church agrees with me. Of course, you can call yourself whatever you want. But, again, that doesn’t mean that the church is going to recognize your claims as actually representing the church’s view of reality. So, why would you expect anyone holding views that undermine the fundamental goals and ideals of the church, the ‘fundamental beliefs’, to be paid by the church”
You are of course right if you think the church that is being rebuilt by Ted Wilson and Clifford Goldstein with their militant fundamentalism and unsavoury and ungracious political manouvering is the legitimate heir of traditional Adventism but I do not.
Where did Ted Wilson or Clifford Goldstein set up the fundamental doctrinal ideals of the Seventh-day Adventist Church? You give them far too much credit! These fundamentals were set up well before they came on the scene…
At the very least, you must admit that you are strongly opposed to many of the clearly stated doctrinal positions that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has long held, and currently holds, to be “fundamental” to its very existence. You fundamentally disagree with both the founders and the current leaders of the church on many key points of doctrine. You disagree with many of the modern and historical doctrinal positions of the SDA Church as an organization.
You are really more of a “social Adventist” who was raised in the Adventist Church but who really doesn’t subscribe to many of the doctrinal positions of the church as an organization. Why then do you wish to continue to take on the title of “Seventh-day Adventist” when this title doesn’t really do you justice? – when it doesn’t truly represent who you really are and what you really believe? And, why on Earth would you expect anyone who holds similar views to your own to be hired by any organization who claims to be fundamentally opposed to what you actually believe and are willing to teach/preach?
Wouldn’t it be far more honest and ethical for you and those of like mind to more clearly present yourselves and what you stand for and then go and work for those who are more than willing to pay to have such ideas taught in their schools and preached from their pulpits? Why the aversion to completely open and honest transparency here?
And, if the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as an organization, really has no problem with those from your perspective preaching and teaching on the church’s dime, why then hasn’t the Adventist Church come out in open support of such efforts? Why has the Adventist Church, as an organization, gotten so worked up over Neo-Darwinism being so openly promoted as La Sierra University? – if the church really is as supportive of your position as you seem to suggest?
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
Yes, the basic created “kinds” (like all dogs, for instance, arising from the original wolf “kind” or all the animals in the Equidae Family such as horses, donkeys, and zebras that can all produce viable hybrids with each other) gave rise to specialized variations of the original gene pool of options (largely through Mendelian variation). The mitochondrial differences within each animal “species” would, therefore, be no greater than that of the original gene pool. If significant divergence took place fairly rapidly after the Flood (as for the various kinds of cats for instance – from lions to house cats) most of the resulting “species” would have a similar mitochondrial age (with some being a bit younger – as per the following illustration):
As far as extinct animals, like dinosaurs and trilobites, we don’t have their mitochondrial DNA to analyze. But, if we did, their mtDNA would probably be a bit older since they died during the Flood so they didn’t go through the population bottleneck of those land animals and birds that made it through the Flood on the Ark. I’d be curious about sea animals however – since they probably didn’t go through the same degree of population bottleneck since they survived outside of the Ark.
The mtDNA of plants isn’t the same as that of animals. There’s a lot more variation of size and variation of genetic elements in plant mtDNA as compared to animals. So, it’s a lot harder to compare plant mtDNA as far as a molecular clock is concerned. However, there may be a way of doing this of which I’m not yet aware…
Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
We must remember that all of creation, even the holy angels in heaven, are dependent moment upon moment upon God’s active and continual care for their very existence. Apart from God’s active care, decay and ultimately death is inevitable. It wasn’t that God had to tweak something within Adam and Eve that allowed their otherwise perfect bodies to decay, grow old, and die. That’s not it at all. Rather, they started to decay as a natural consequence of stepping outside of God’s continual rejuvenating care for them and their bodies. For they were made out of nothing but dust from the ground and to dust they would easily and very naturally return without God’s intervention (Genesis 3:19).
The consequences of sin, of separation from God, are naturally realized outside of any need for any direct act of God. God didn’t actively cause Adam and Eve to start to decay and get old and eventually die when they rebelled. That just happened over time because they were no longer being rejuvenated by Him – by eating from the Tree of Life as a symbol of their very close connection to God and His rejuvenating power in their lives. Otherwise, there would be no need for God in order for eternal life to exist – since God, according to your argument, is not required to maintain that which is already “perfect” and inherently eternal. Your argument suggests that God has made a bunch of other inherently immortal Gods. On the contrary, it is only “in Him” that we can “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Outside of Him and His constant care for us, we are not inherently immortal or God-like. Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5) – literally! Without God’s active and constant care, we could not exist. We are not like God in this respect and never will be.
Just so there’s no confusion here, the Bible is quite clear that only God is inherently immortal (1 Timothy 6:16) – having life within Himself that is unborrowed and underived (John 5:26 and John 1:4). Everything else “borrows” life from God. And, without God, everything else would naturally decay over time and die. Even when we get to heaven, the leaves of the Tree of Life will be “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). This will be a constant reminder to us all, throughout eternity, that everything we are and have is dependent upon God – always.
I like how Ellen White puts it here:
It is not by an original power inherent in nature that year by year the earth produces its bounties and the world keeps up its continual march around the sun. The hand of infinite power is perpetually at work guiding this planet. It is God’s power momentarily exercised that keeps it in position in its rotations. The God of heaven is constantly at work. It is by His power that vegetation is caused to flourish, that every leaf appears and every flower blooms. It is not as the result of a mechanism, that, once set in motion, continues its work, that the pulse beats and breath follows breath. In God we live and move and have our being. Every breath, every throb of the heart, is the continual evidence of the power of an ever-present God. It is God that maketh the sun to rise in the heavens. He openeth the windows of heaven and giveth rain. He maketh the grass to grow upon the mountains. “He giveth snow like wool: and scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes.” “When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, … he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.” Although the Lord has ceased His work in creating, He is constantly employed in upholding and using as His servants the things which He has made. Said Christ, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (EGW, Manuscript 4, 1882).
Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
Yes, but the only reason why there was no genetic decay prior to the Fall was because God was actively preventing it. As soon as Adam and Eve left that active care of God (to at least some degree), they started to decay according to natural laws that govern such decay processes (such as thermodynamic as well as informational entropic forces). Another way to look at this is that decay is perfectly natural while non-decay would require deliberate intelligent effort to avoid – as in God performing active maintenance very similar to me mowing the lawn or fixing my car when things break over time. The existence of an old Model-T Ford on the road is evidence of active intelligent maintenance over time which has effectively combated the otherwise natural tendencies for decay outside of such careful maintenance and constant repairs.
So, as far as the genetic mutation rates themselves, there’s no reason to believe, as far as I can tell anyway, that these were significantly different in the past several thousand years since the Flood than they are today. At minimum then, it seems pretty reasonable to me to conclude that genetic mutations can be used as a type of clock to roughly estimate the time that a population has existed since it’s most recent common ancestor existed (which for humans and land animals would be since the time of Noah at maximum).
As a rule, I don’t think that God alters natural laws, but works within them in His general dealings with created beings like us. This allows us to reasonably understand the universe and the world in which we live – according to the predictable laws of nature that God originally set in place to govern the universe. It is the very predictability of theses laws that allows for scientific investigation to exist in a meaningful way.
So, is God bound by these laws that He created? Of course not. However, it makes little sense for Him to create such laws only to then decide to consistently work outside of them so as to make our universe and world appear to be irrational, arbitrary or magical – unpredictable. I just don’t think that’s what happens now or what happened in the past as a general rule. This doesn’t exclude miracles of Divine power, of course, but I believe that these miracles are exceptions, not the rule, for the general workings of our world. That being said, the very predictability of our universe is one of the most magical things about it since it didn’t have to be set up to be such a predictable place. This is one of the main things that most intrigued Einstein.
Albert Einstein in a letter to a friend (1956, Lettres a Maurice Solovine) commenting on the mathematical comprehensibility of the world noted:
“You may find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world to the degree that we may speak of such comprehensibility as a miracle or an eternal mystery. Well, a priori one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be in any way grasped through thought… The kind of order created, for example, by Newton’s theory of gravity is of quite a different kind. Even if the axioms of the theory are posited by a human being, the success of such an enterprise presupposes an order in the objective world of a high degree, which one has no a priori right to expect. That is the miracle which grows increasingly persuasive with the increasing development of knowledge.”
Similarly, physicist Eugene Wigner in a widely quoted paper entitled, “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Physical Sciences” (1960) wonders aloud regarding the predictability of the universe:
“The enormous usefulness of mathematics is something bordering on the mysterious…There is no rational explanation for it…The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve…”
Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
Without constant maintenance, everything decays over time… naturally. All Adam and Eve did was to step away from their mechanic.
Most Species the “Same Age” with No “In-Between” Species
I’m not sure why God would need to tinker with genetic mutation rates? It seems to me as though they would naturally occur without the need for Him to modify them…
The interesting thing about mtDNA mutation rates is that they’re similar over a given span of time for a great many different kinds or species of animals – with most types of animals showing very similar numbers of neutral mutations. That’s unexpected from the Darwinian perspective of origins, but not at all unexpected from the Biblical perspective.