What’s the driving force of evolution? Most secular scientists would say natural selection. But a new study suggests another driving force—DNA tangles. These tangles in DNA strands supposedly make evolutionary mutations much more likely.
The study, published in Nature Communications, looked at the mutations of two strains of soil bacteria (Pseudomonas fluorescens). When scientists removed a gene that helps the bacteria swim, both strains redeveloped their swimming abilities through different genes. But while one strain did so in the same genetic area over and over, the other was much less predictable in the genes it mutated to be able to swim again.
“[Scientists] found that, in the SBW25 strain, which mutated in a predictable way, there was a region where the DNA strand looped back on itself, forming a hairpin-shaped triangle,” according to the article.
By removing that hairpin-shaped loop, scientists removed the “mutational hotspot,” causing the bacteria to mutate unpredictably.
“Like many exciting discoveries, this was found by accident,” says Dr. James Horton. “The mutations we were looking at were so-called silent because they don’t change the resulting protein sequence, so initially we didn’t think they were particularly important.”
Overall, the article displayed good observational science—apart from the evolutionary assumptions. To them, these DNA tangles, or hairpin-like loops, make evolutionary mutations much more likely and predictable.
But is that true? Let’s look at this claim through a biblical lens.
Do Tangles in DNA Strands Explain Evolution?
According to a biblical worldview, no. And that’s because mutations aren’t examples of evolution.
You see, in order for mutations to work within macroevolution, they have to be numerous and largely beneficial. They also have to, over time, add lots of new, beneficial genetic information. But we simply don’t see this in observational science. (That’s because most evolutionary theory hinges on historical science, which studies the past, not what we can actually see and test right now. Whenever you study the past, your worldview and assumptions will dictate how you interpret the evidence.)
From what we’ve seen, mutations typically don’t add new information, much less beneficial information. Instead, studies of observable mutations show that they are often mistakes in genetic sequences that already exist. Usually, these mutations are harmful or neutral. Only some have been found to be beneficial within a particular environment. And even then, many of those “beneficial” mutations come at a cost.
Regarding the bacteria study, it’s not fair to assume that the bacteria regaining the ability to swim using different genes is an example of macroevolution. After all, God created within bacteria that ability to adapt to their various surroundings. And after thousands of years, bacteria are still just that—bacteria!
So how should we view these mutation-friendly DNA tangles?
“DNA contains many layers of information that exist not just in the sequence of bases but also in its structure,” says geneticist Dr. Georgia Purdom. “Scientists used to think some mutations in DNA are ‘silent.’ This means that the amino acid sequence of the protein encoded by the DNA doesn’t change. Recent research in bacteria shows that so-called silent mutations can change the structure of the DNA, making it more prone to mutations in a certain area.
“This, in turn, changes the ability of the bacteria to adapt to its environment. The research has nothing to do with evolution but rather shows that DNA and single-celled organisms like bacteria are amazingly complex and could only have come into existence by the creation of the Creator God.”
Learn More About Genetic Mutations from a Biblical Worldview
God created amazing genetic diversity within each original kind. That’s why we have so many different types of horses, cats, dogs, and snakes, just to name a few!
But what about actual genetic mutations? Watch these videos on Answers TV to learn scientific and biblical evidence for why mutations don’t point to molecules-to-man evolution.
Do mutations create the kind of new information required for microbes-to-man evolution? Mutations can produce new traits that may be beneficial in certain environments. But because genes often encode multiple layers of information, even “beneficial” mutations typically come at a cost. Let’s join Patricia Engler in looking more closely at why mutations can’t drive “onwards and upwards” evolution.
Evolutionists declare the story that beneficial genetic mutations sorted by natural selection, given enough time, could account for the story of molecules-to-man evolution. In this episode, Cal Smith explains why this is simply not the case, no matter how much time is proposed.