FW: Evolution and beneficial mutations

Mon, 28 Aug 95 15:14:00 CDT

From: tkrusz01
To: CRSnet (Creation Reflector)
Subject: Evolution and beneficial mutations
Date: Monday, August 28, 1995 13:16PM

The current evolution story states that species evolve due to
"beneficial" mutations that are passed on to offspring and then selected
for because they convey some procreative advantage to the organism.

Granting for the moment that such beneficial mutations are even
possible, even the most faithful of evolutionists will have to admit
that they must be rare, since a mutation is by nature a
breaking of something that formerly was working. When pressed to
identify an example of a truly beneficial mutation, a biologist I know
of could only identify sickle cell anemia. Hardly an advantage to the
fellow dying from it, though you could argue that the resistance
to malaria it provides is advantageous to those living with a tse tse fly
near by. Even so, the list of "harmful" mutations is quite long e.g.
PK, inability to digest lactose or glutan, and many other
often fatal genetic diseases.

I believe that it is true that many of the mutations that aren't lethal
to the organism are in fact a detriment to procreation. For example,
I've been told that the naval orange was a mutation that occurred
originally on one tree, and all other trees producing naval oranges have
been developed from grafts taken from the original tree. If it had not
been for man's preference for eating oranges without seeds, this tree
would have ceased to exist. A mutation that eliminates your ability to
produce offspring provides no way of passing traits to descendants. I
hope no one wants to argue that the orange tree "knew" about mankind's
dietary preference and was relying on man to take over its procreative

Now suppose that one of these hypothetically beneficial mutations
is about to occur. Where must it take place if this rare event is going
to convey information to its offspring? Only one place, in a gamete,
either the male or female germ cell, that is a sperm or ovum. One might
argue that the mutation could also occur in one of the cells responsible
for manufacturing sperm or ovum cells, thereby causing all the germ cells
it produces to contain some mutation. Any mutation to a normal body
cell even if it were the most hopeful of hopeful monster mutations would
have no way of being conveyed to progeny.

How tragic for the poor daddy reptile that was fortunate enough to have a
passing cosmic ray zap one of its sperm cells giving it the ability to
produce a fully developed chicken, and then to have the poor sperm cell
lose in the race to the ovum to one of the other million sperm. Or
perhaps that particular daddy reptile was too low in the pecking order to
get to mate that year, or perhaps he was eaten by one of his bigger cousins
just as he was about to get his chance to mate, or etc.

The point is this: how vanishingly small the probabilities must be that
a beneficial mutation will ever end up in an offspring. Whether
gradualist or punctuationalist, it still seems to stretch the limits of
credulity. How does an evolutionist account for the thousands, perhaps
hundreds of thousands of mutations that must first be beneficial and
then make it into an offspring when only one sperm and one ovum can play
in the transaction. What are the odds that the mutation will just
happen to occur in one or both of the two gamete cells of the two
organisms that will just happen to unite during a particular and
perhaps infrequent mating event. Can even evolutionary time scales provide
enough occurrences, such that sufficient trials are available for
beneficial mutations to be passed on?

It seems that herein lies the possibility of a statistical disproof of
evolution. Such a task would have to be taken up by one much more
knowledgable in mathematics and biology than I, but shouldn't it be
possible (using evolutionary suppositions and time scales) to estimate the
number of beneficial mutations that must have occurred to progress from
some "less evolved" organism to man (whether ape to man, or rodent to
man, etc). Then estimate the total breeding population thoughout the
time period evolution was occurring. Then estimate the probability that
the germ cells would be mutated, and then the probability that the
individuals with mutated germ cells would mate, and then the probability
that the germ cells in question would be fortunate enough to be the ones
that fuse, and then the probability that the mutation was an advantage,
and then the probability that the offspring escaped predation. And
probably there are a bunch more factors that biologists know about that
further effect the probability. But in the end it should be able to
calculate the maximum number of beneficial mutations that could have
occurred for a particular evolutionary sequence over accepted evolutionary
timescales. This number would then be compared to the number of mutations
that must have occurred which can be directly measured from the genomes
of existing members of the species. I suspect that the two numbers would
differ by several orders of magnitude.

Has this been done before? Is the method sound? Comments?

Tom Krusz