(Note: Read Part 3a of the series before reading this post)
The HIV virus mutates at the evolutionary speed limit: 10,000 times faster than most cells such as malaria. And its genome is rather small (nine genes versus thousands in malaria). Its small size combined with a short generation time (1-2 days) and super-rapid mutation rate means every single nucleotide in the HIV genome will mutate 10,000 to 100,000 times in every infected person every day, and thus double point mutations like the one that made malaria immune to Chloroquine occur in every person every day. In fact, over the past several decades every possible combination of up to six point mutations has occurred in HIV somewhere in the world. If RM drives macroevolutionary changes in organisms, then we should observe macroevolution in the HIV virus since it experiences more mutations than any other organism. But we don’t. HIV has run the gamut of all possible mutations to its genome, and yet with all of these mutations in a population of 100 billion billion viruses, no new cellular machinery has been created, and no new organism has developed! HIV is still HIV. It still contains the same number of proteins, still performs the same function, and still binds to its host the same way it always has. There have been no significant biochemical changes. Even gene duplication has failed to produce any new biological information.
After observing trillions upon trillions of microorganisms over thousands upon thousands of generations we have discovered that RM has achieved very little in the way of biochemical advancement, and hence evolutionary significance. If RM cannot produce macro-evolutionary changes in bacteria, parasites, or viruses with their huge population sizes and short generation times, then surely there is no reason to think RM can do more in multi-cellular, di-sexual organisms such as mammals whose population sizes are orders of magnitude smaller, with generation times hundreds and thousands of times longer. As geneticist Francois Jacob said, evolution is a tinkerer, not an engineer. By tinkering around with a genome RM may get lucky and produce some functional advantage for an organism that helps it survive, but it does so at the expense of breaking existing biological information. While burning biological bridges may be functionally advantageous for stopping the advancement of the enemy, and hence one’s survival, it is of no help in building new cellular machinery. As physicist Lee Spetner noted, “Whoever thinks macroevolution can be made by such mutations is like the merchant who lost a little money on every sale but thought he could make it up on volume.” The biochemical engineering needed to originate new kinds requires the aid of an Intelligent Engineer, not a blind tinkerer.
The scientific evidence is not confirming the neo-Darwinian synthesis, but falsifying it. The empirical evidence points to the regular involvement of an Intelligent Designer in the history of life. If modern science had not committed itself to the philosophy of methodological naturalism (in which only naturalistic explanations are allowed for natural phenomenon) Darwinism would be laughed out of court for paucity of evidence.
Darwinism has prevailed, not because it is the best explanation of the data, but because it is the best naturalistic explanation of the data – the only kind of explanation many scientists are willing to consider based on their a priori commitment to naturalism. If one begins by assuming philosophical or methodological naturalism, then something like Darwinism has to be true even in the absence of evidential confirmation and explanatory value. As Richard Dawkins has admitted, “Even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory…we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories.” (emphasis mine) Why? Because Darwinism is a naturalistic theory, while others are not. Darwinism wins the day, not because it has prevailed over the competition, but because it has eliminated the competition by definitional fiat, rooted in a philosophical bias. When you define your league so narrowly that only one team is allowed to play, is it any surprise that you win the World Series?
The question that scientists need to ask themselves – and that you need to ask yourself – is what the goal of science is. Is the goal to find the right answers, or the right kind of answers; i.e. philosophically acceptable ones? I think Greg Koukl answers this question best: “The object and domain of science should be the physical world, but its goal should be truth, not merely physical explanations. Though science is restricted to examining physical effects, when causes are inferred, there should be no limitation.” The goal of science should be discovering the truth about physical reality, and if the evidence points to the involvement of an intelligent agent, then so be it. Indeed, that is where the evidence points, and it does so with a neon sign.
On average, a new mutation will occur every time a copy of the virus is made. Compare this to human beings. Though our genome is 1,000,000 times larger than HIV’s, the typical human being will only experience 1 mutation over the course of an entire lifetime, and trillions upon trillions of copies.
Its genome is less than 1/1000th the size of the malaria genome, and 1/1,000,000th the size of the human genome.
Physicist Lee Spetner, Not by Chance! Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution (Brooklyn, NY: The Judaica Press, 1997).
Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: Norton, 1986), 287.
Greg Koukl, Solid Ground, July/Augusts 2005 issue, 3.