“The size of the problem is so great, you can calculate on the difference between chimps and humans being just 1% and mutations occurring in every single generation and it would still take… nearly 33 times longer to appear than the maximum evolutionary time-frame of around 6 million years.”
by Les Sherlock Feb 2021 (but first presented in his website c2009)
Evolutionists tell us that the reason we can’t see the process of evolution taking place is because change happens too slowly (typically over millions of years) for it to be seen. This is like saying not being able to see evolutionary change taking place is evidence for evolutionary change taking place! If it can’t be seen it is not science, but faith!
We don't need to observe events over millions of years in order to disprove the theory, however, since if we know both the amount of change required to produce a new kind of creature and the time period available for this to happen, then we can easily calculate if it is possible or not. If the rate of change we can see in DNA today cannot produce the amount of change needed in the available time period, then it is impossible for it to have happened through evolution.
The challenge is very simple: since we have a good idea about the minimum difference between chimps and humans, who we are told evolved from a common ancestor, how did this difference come about?
This Challenge was made some time before the emergence of facts that have changed things. As can be seen here, we now know the difference between chimp and human DNA is huge - probably at least 30%. However, I have left the challenge as it was originally written, simply to show that even with the most optimistic calculations, evolutionary theory cannot explain the facts we can see.
If it is not possible to give a logical explanation for such a comparatively tiny change, it is certainly impossible for the huge amount of change required to produce all living things from a single cell to have taken place. Thus the theory of evolution stands or falls on this issue.
The Challenge Part One: DNA
According to the Human Genome Project web site there are 3,164,700,000 base pairs * in human DNA. However, it is now accepted there is at least a 5% difference between humans and chimps,** although since chimps have over 10% more DNA than humans, it is obviously at least double that!
* Or at least, it was when I first viewed the Human Genome Project (HGP) website. Wickopeadia presently estimates it to be 3.2 billion and HGP gives the various estimates since the year 2000 here.
** ‘Divergence between samples of chimpanzee and human DNA sequences is 5% counting indels.’
Britten, R.J. 2002. Proceedings National Academy Science 99:13633–13635.
See: Quote 1; (which points out chimps have about 12% more DNA than humans: so a 95% similarity is very generous to evolutionists!) See also: Quote 2 and Quote 3
For the sake of this exercise we’ll be generous to evolutionists and calculate on 5%. According to evolutionary theory, this means a minimum of 158,235,000 base pairs have changed since the two species branched out from their common ancestor. The only way this change can happen is by mutation. This is a mistake that happens when DNA is copied. If we assume a similar amount of change took place in the two branches, 79,117,500 had to mutate in each branch. The challenge is to explain how a change of this size could take place.
The steps to meet this challenge are these:
(See here for the way an evolutionist, who specialises in destroying the arguments of creationists, struggled when faced with this challenge. And here for the way committed, atheistic evolutionists, on an Internet discussion group, equally struggled.)
According to the theory of evolution, if a mutation gives advantage, then the mutant will survive better than its contemporaries and the mutation will be passed on, eventually becoming a characteristic of the entire population (or at least, most of the population). So there must be a number of generations
between each mutation for this to take place.
Explain on average how many generations would be required to spread a mutation through a population in order for it to become widespread before another mutation appears.
Example Answer to STEP 1:
Since the most one could expect would be for a population to double every generation, it would take 20 generations to reach 1 million individuals who inherited any given mutation: the evolutionist Massimo Pigliucci calculates on a population of this size.
If, for example, the change from the common ancestor to what we now see took 4 million years and on average the generation length was 15 years, then this would allow 266,667 generations. When I searched the Internet, most evolutionists were saying 4 million years, so this is the period I used. Some say up to 6 million years. Evolutionist Massimo Pigliucci uses a generation length of 25 years, so using three-fifths of his generation length counters any underestimate with 4 million years. See here for my quote from his book, Denying Evolution.
[a] how long the change from common ancestor to modern man and ape took
[b] how long on average was each generation
[c] and therefore how many generations were possible.
Example Answers to STEP 2:
[a] 4 million years
[b] 15 years
[c] 4,000,000/15= 266,667 generations
(For [c] divide the length of time by the generation length.)
Putting the first two steps together, explain how many mutations took place (i.e. how many different populations of transitional, or in-between, species there were).
Example Answer to STEP 3:
266,667/20= 13,333 different transitional species
(Divide the number of possible generations (answer 2,c) by the number of generations needed to spread a mutation through the population (answer 1))
According to the laws of natural selection, change needs to be beneficial (i.e. an improvement on the present species) in order for it to be favoured and become predominant in the population.
Would it be possible for there to be as many improvements in both lines in the progression from common ancestor to modern man and to ape as you have produced in your answer to step 3?
Example Answer to STEP 4:
No, there couldn’t be 13,333 different stages with each being better than the last!
The more base pairs changing in each single mutational event, the higher the odds against all of those changes producing a change giving an advantage over the present species. If, for example, 100 base pairs mutated at each mutation, this would require 791,175 different mutations (or transitional species).
As there are four different types of base pair, there are four possibilities when one pair mutates. With two pairs there are 16 different possibilities (4 x 4). So for the chances of 100 pairs mutating into any particular combination you have to multiply 1 by 4, 100 times. (1 x 4)^100 = 1, 606, 694, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000
So the chances of getting 100 base pairs to mutate randomly into any particular combination would be 1 in 160,694 x 10^55 * (160,694 followed by 55 zeros). Even if there were ten billion different viable combinations, it would still be 1 chance in 160,694 x 10^45 (160,694 followed by 45 zeros).
To put it more simply, there is more chance of winning the jackpot in the UK lottery in six consecutive draws with the same single entry than finding a viable combination of 100 by chance processes. These are odds impossible for a random event to overcome even once, let alone the number of times needed to produce the difference we now see. If you wish to see the calculations for this in full, they can be seen in the third box down in the calculations (headed ‘nucleotides’) for my reply to the Scientific American magazine.
[a] how many base pairs mutated on average in each mutation
[b] how possible it would be for random mutation to accurately change this number.
Example Answer to STEP 5:
[a] 79,117,500/13,333 = 5,934 base pairs
[b] Impossibly high!
(For [a] divide the number of base pairs needing to mutate by the number of transitional species (answer 3))
Approximately 100 base pairs mutate on average per person per generation, with some people thinking perhaps up to 300 is possible. Molecular biologist Nathaniel Jeanson points out on page 212 of his recently published book, Replacing Darwin, that the most recent research shows both human and chimp nuclear DNA mutating at a rate of around 78 base pairs per generation. This significantly increases the problem for evolutionists in the challenge I am giving here.
(I must emphasise that I am not a scientist: I am simply reporting what I read in scientific literature. Therefore the challenge on this page is written in layman’s terms. If you dispute my conclusions, then read Nathaniel Jeanson’s book, which is written by a scientist specialising in this area and contains a huge number of references to the latest, published, scientific data and research.)
Is your answer to step five within the average, or even the maximum possible size of mutation?
Example Answer to STEP 6:
Apart from a handful of disputed examples, better explained as mutation causing damage or minor natural selection change that could never result in a different kind of living thing, there are no transitional species found in the fossil record. No-one has ever found a creature part-way to developing a wing from a leg, an eye from skin tissue, or any other kind of evolving organ not previously seen in the species. Yet for evolution to form all things gradually, there had to be very many more transitional forms than fully formed ones, as we have just seen. The only explanation we have for the absence of all these transitional species in the fossil record is punctuated equilibrium. This means the changes took place quickly and most of the time no change was taking place.
[a] how punctuated equilibrium fits in with the massive series of changes that had to take place, or
[b] give a viable alternative explanation for the absence of all these transitional forms in the fossil record
Example Answer to STEP 7:
[a] It doesn’t!
[b] I can’t!
What if instead of the mutations taking place as a series, one after the other, many mutations were taking place throughout the population at the same time? Of course, this idea is contrary to the accepted theory of evolution, which has change taking place gradually across a species: not quickly with lots of different types of change taking place simultaneously. But if it did happen, then a large amount of mutation will certainly appear comparatively quickly, as can be seen in the diagram below.
In this example different mutations of 100 base pairs in eight breeding pairs are combined in having offspring with a further 100 base pair mutation of their own. In turn, these children interbreed resulting in offspring with additional mutation of their own as before. Within just four generations of this taking place, the amount of combined mutation has risen to over 3,000.However, we now hit a different problem. The mutants must interbreed in this kind of way in order for all the mutations to be brought into the same population. But when the different mutations are combined like this, the point would be reached very quickly where the difference in the DNA of the individuals would be too great for conception to be possible, thus preventing the mutations from combining.
This can be seen quite clearly in the Galapagos finches. In their case, although they are all still 100% finches and no new genetic information has appeared that can begin to turn them into anything other than finches, we are told that it is still the case that the genetic drift prevents some of them from interbreeding.
If this is true for the finches, it is obvious that for the massive number of base pairs needing to mutate to produce modern humans and apes from a common ancestor, the difference between the mutants would rapidly become too high for conception to be possible. So trying to get around the problem of the vast amount of change needed in this way simply does not work.
University of Rochester evolutionary biologist, H. Allen Orr, concluded:
"Given realistically low mutation rates, double mutants will be so rare that adaptation is essentially constrained to surveying - and substituting - one-mutational step neighbours."
Orr H A 2003 A minimum on the mean number of steps taken in adaptive walks. J. Theor. Biol. 220:241-47
However you juggle the figures, you cannot get away from the fact that either the amount of change needed in each mutation will be too high to be possible, or the number of transitional species will be too many to fit into the time-scale, too many for natural selection to select, and/or too many to leave no trace in the fossil record.
Up until the year 2012, the evolutionist’s ‘get-out’ was to say that 95% or more of human DNA is junk, therefore anything found in this area can be discounted. However, when the ENCODE findings were published, this excuse was no longer valid, since throughout that 95% of our DNA are vital ‘switches’ controlling the area that previously was believed to be the only useful part of DNA. All the evidence is that when we do finally discover what is going on, there will be very little, if any, DNA that has no use at all. Indeed, since that report further research has shown not merely that there is some function in the so-called 'junk' area, but that it is highly complex and shows a degree of 'computer programming' way in advance of anything humans have ever devised.
As mentioned in the note at the top of this page, the actual difference between chimps and humans is significantly larger than shown in the calculations in this challenge. If you cannot meet the challenge with these figures, and I do not believe you will be able to do, how can you meet it with the real ones?
Another way of describing the problem can be found here, with this quote:
"Think about it; in the evolutionary model there have only been 3–6 million years since humans and chimps diverged. With average human generation times of 20–30 years, this gives them only 100,000 to 300,000 generations to fix the millions of mutations that separate humans and chimps. This includes at least 35 million single letter differences, over 90 million base pairs of non-shared DNA, nearly 700 extra genes in humans (about 6% not shared with chimpanzees), and tens of thousands of chromosomal rearrangements. Also, the chimp genome is about 13% larger than that of humans, but mostly due to the heterochromatin that caps the chromosome telomeres. All this has to happen in a very short amount of evolutionary time. They don’t have enough time, even after discounting the functionality of over 95% of the genome—but their position becomes grave if junk DNA turns out to be functional. Every new function found for Junk DNA makes the evolutionists’ case that much more difficult.”
A simple word game will demonstrate what evolution requires for modern man and chimps to have had a common ancestor. Turn the word 'list' into the word 'moans' by changing one letter at a time. Each time you must produce a valid word. E.g. List, Last, Mast, Most, Moat, Moan, Moans. If we say 'list' represents humans and 'moans' represents chimps, then the middle word will represent the common ancestor. Thus:
You will note the final word at the end of the chimp line has one more letter than the others. This is to reflect the fact that chimps have more DNA than humans.
The above word game is a very simplified version of exactly the same process evolutionists claim took place in DNA to produce all living things over a long period of time, only the 'word' of human DNA contains over 3 billion letters, not merely five or six, and each letter change is the result of mutation preserved by natural selection.
In the New Scientist magazine, 7 April 2018 they reported a project to map the entire genome of every living thing on the planet, and said:
"Sequencing all life will also let us retrace evolution and see where each species sits in the family tree."
With the ever-increasing power and speed of computers, it is not a very large leap from there to produce a programme like the word game I just described and show all the stages there would need to be between each ‘closely related’ life-form.
I predict, and guarantee with absolute certainty, that if they try to do this to show how humans and chimps evolved from some primitive creature, they will find it needs either an impossibly large number of 'letter' changes for each stage that could take place by random mutation and be preserved by natural selection; an impossibly large number of changes for every stage to produce something better than its parent so it can be selected for by natural selection; and an impossibly large number of stages to fit in with the evolutionary timetable. In other words it will conclusively prove that the only possible explanation for all the living things on the planet is that they were created by an Intelligent Designer.
Exactly how did the present difference we see between man and ape appear through random mutation in a time that fits in with evolutionary theory? If you have a valid answer, then please write either your answers to steps 3 & 5, or your brief description of a scenario that works, here.
Example Answer to The Challenge:
Other than the way I have described it here, the problem is by no means new: indeed it has been known by evolutionists for many years. The famous geneticist J. B. S. Haldane spelled out the problem in 1957, and thereafter it became known as Haldane’s dilemma! He calculated that it would take about 300 generations for a favourable mutation to become fixed in a population (every member having a double copy of it). In the sample answers I gave above, I calculated on just 20! So according to him, the process would take 15 times longer!
He calculated that in the approximately 6 million years since our supposed hominid ancestor split from the chimpanzee line, only about 1000 (fewer than 2000 according to ReMine) such mutations could become fixed. We now know the amount of change necessary to produce modern man and chimps from a common ancestor is orders of magnitude larger than this.
A technical explanation of his problem can be seen at JOURNAL OF CREATION 21(3) 2007 page 116, and a very good paper explaining why mutation is unable to work the required miracle can be seen here.
If you fail to produce a logical explanation to the challenge, you demonstrate that the kind of changes required to produce all life forms from a single cell are impossible and that the theory of evolution is no more than science fiction. Of course, your explanation must be based on what happens in the real world and not on the unrealistically optimistic figures I used here to illustrate the challenge.
For example, if you calculate on the basis of Pigliucci's 25-year generation length, Haldane’s 300-generation requirement to fix a new mutation, the maximum size of beneficial change in a single mutation that can be preserved by natural selection shown by Lenski in his experiment on E. Coli, which is 2 and the minimum possible difference between chimp and human, which is 12%, then this works out at requiring 712,057,500,000 years, or about 52 times the evolutionary estimated age of the universe!
12% of 3,164,700,000, divided by 2 for human/chimp lines, divided by 2 again for double mutations, x 300 for generation gaps, x 25 for generation lengths = 712,057,500,000.
Evolutionists estimate the age of the universe at 13.7 billion years: 712,057,500,000/13,700,000,000=51.975.
Lenski used 12 populations of E. coli, each one being massively larger and with far more generations than could have been the case leading to man/chimp, and the double mutation only happened in one population once - after 30,000 generations! So for it to happen every 300 generations is very optimistic, to say the least. For more detail see toward the end of the introduction to my comments on Richard Dawkins’ book.
If you disagree with a generation length of 25 years, you need to argue with Massimo Pigliucci, not me! If you disagree with the largest possible mutation that can be preserved by natural selection as double mutations, then you need to [a] produce examples of mutations larger than this, which create enough advantage to be preserved by natural selection, and [b] show that it happens often enough to create the amount of mutation needed. Otherwise it makes little difference what you do with the other figures.
The size of the problem is so great, you can calculate on the difference between chimps and humans being just 1% and mutations occurring in every single generation and it would still take 197,793,750 years, which is nearly 33 times longer to appear than the maximum evolutionary time-frame of around 6 million years.
(6 million years is the longest period I have seen claimed: much longer than this and the rest of evolution will not fit into the evolutionary time-frame.)
Stephen Hawking said,
“…you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory”
‘A Brief History of Time’, page 11.
This is the observation that disproves the theory of evolution. Evolutionists have been brushing it under the carpet ever since Haldane, assuming that later research would solve their problem; but, as has been predicted by creationists throughout this time (contrary to the claim constantly pushed by evolutionists that creationists can never predict anything!), the reverse is the case and the mapping of human and chimp genomes in the 21st century, along with the publishing of the ENCODE project results in 2012, shows the obstacle to the theory is insurmountable.
These show the difference between humans and chimps is at least 12% - more than double the 5% used in the calculations on this page. However. In 2018 it was revealed that the closer than 98% similarity claimed by evolutionists was mostly due to the chimp DNA samples being contaminated by human DNA, and the similarity is no more than around 84% and probably less! See here.
If you believe in the theory of evolution, then you can produce as much evidence in other areas as you like, but if you cannot meet the challenge I have set on this page then you will know in your heart that your belief flies in the face of scientific observation of mutation and natural selection in the real world, and is based on the religious belief that God does not exist.
“A milestone meeting was the Wistar Institute Symposium held in Philadelphia in April 1966. The chairman, Sir Peter Medawar, made the following opening remark: “The immediate cause of this conference is a pretty widespread sense of dissatisfaction about what has come to be thought as the accepted evolutionary theory in the English-speaking world, the so-called neo-Darwinian theory. These objections to current neo-Darwinian theory are very widely held among biologists generally; and we must on no account, I think, make light of them.””
Over 50 years later, the only answer evolutionists can give to this problem is to close their eyes, put their fingers in their ears and sing, “La, la, la,” very loudly. See this technical article, which goes into great depth with the mathematical impossibility for evolution either to begin at all or to go on to produce all life forms from a single cell, as discussed at the Wistar Symposium. It is very long, but you only have to read a few paragraphs to realise the fantastically impossible obstacle to evolution.
The Challenge Part Two - Mitochondrial DNA
The Challenge Part One is, of course, looking purely at nuclear DNA, one version of which is inherited from each parent. However, mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from the female, and recent research into this has shown that the variation found between individuals is so small it could only have been subject to mutation for a few thousand years.
See Nathaniel T. Jeanson, Ph.D. 2014. New Genetic-Clock Research Challenges Millions of Years. Acts & Facts. 43 (4). See also his book Replacing Darwin.
In other words, the Bible’s report of Adam and Eve beginning the entire human race around 6,000 years ago is perfectly consistent with what we now see. The Challenge Part One showed that evolution needs mutation that can be preserved by natural selection in nuclear DNA to appear far faster than has ever been observed. Now we see that in mitochondrial DNA it must appear far slower than has ever been observed!
Mitochondrial DNA proves that humans could not possibly have been around for the c180,000 years required by the theory of evolution. See the link above for the report from Nathaniel T. Jeanson, Ph.D., who received his Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University.
Stephen Hawking said,
“…you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory”
* ‘A Brief History of Time’, page 11.
The Challenge Part Three - Abiogenesis
Abiogenesis means life appearing from non-life. In order for evolution to take place, inanimate matter had to change into a living organism. No-one has ever observed this taking place. No-one can even begin to explain how it could have happened in the past. Abiogenesis is not science because it is unobservable, untestable and is contrary to all known laws of nature. There are a number of reasons why it could never happen, but we will look at four.
At the molecular level, the atoms that make up amino acids can exist in two forms: right-handed and left-handed. In inanimate matter they are in a random 50/50 mixture. In life, amino acids that make up proteins must be left-handed, and almost all carbohydrates and polymers must be right-handed. So for a living organism to emerge from inanimate matter, the 50/50 mixture must, contrary to nature, organise itself into single handedness, called homochirality. Furthermore there are over 2,000 different amino acids, but only 20 kinds are used in living things. So without intelligent input, the correct 20 kinds of amino acids must be separated from the rest. An average protein has over 300 amino acids, which would be impossible to form by random means, even in an infinite number of universes; but a protein is nowhere near close to being a living cell because it is far more complicated. See here for more detail on this topic.
2. Irreducible Complexity
'Complexity' means there are many parts involved; and 'irreducible' means every one of those parts must be in place or the entire system will not work. Remove any one of the parts and it will stop functioning. Of course, this topic is one of the big obstacles to the evolution of species: all living things have different organs in their bodies, and those organs are made up of many parts. Until the vital parts are all present in an organ it will not work, so it couldn't gradually build up a bit at a time: it all had to be there right from the start.
There are also many different organs needed for a body to live - whether it's a human body, a flower, an insect, or whatever. They all must be in place and functioning before life is possible for that particular life form. However here we are looking at abiogenesis, rather than evolution of species.
Irreducible complexity considers the things that must be present before a system can function. The very first living organism, at the very least, had to be capable of taking in energy and reproducing. This means when its DNA miraculously appeared out of inanimate matter, it had to code for mechanisms to enable it to do these things, without which it could not live and evolve. Dawkins claims that the beginning of life had to be simple and thinks it would have been based on a simpler RNA system, rather than the DNA/RNA combination that controls all living things. However, in another context, he also says that change to the system of DNA would be fatal (Greatest Show on Earth, page 409); so clearly it would be impossible for DNA to have changed from something else; but even if the impossible happened yet again and life did indeed begin with a much simpler coding system, it still had to be complex enough to create the ability to live and breed. It is absolutely impossible for the amount of coding necessary for everything the organism needed for this, to arise by chance in a single event.
We'll look at DNA in the next section, but DNA on its own is useless - there has to be a system to read the information stored in DNA and then use it to perform the many functions needed for a living cell to exist and contribute to the life of the body in which it is positioned. Research has shown that the DNA is 'unzipped', read, copied, the copy is then used to manufacture the part required, (e.g. protein) and then taken to the part of the cell where it is needed. And that is a simplification! All of this must be present and fully functioning before the first cell could live. It is a highly complex system, but without an intelligent Designer, it all had to come together by random movements of the different parts.
3. Specified Complexity
As stated earlier, 'Complexity' means there are many parts involved; and 'specified' means every one of those parts must be in the right order. See here for more on specified complexity.
Very close to irreducible complexity, we are here considering the coding of DNA. The smallest living organism capable of independent life known to man is a microbe called Pelagibacter. At www.genome we are told it has 1,308,759 nucleotides, with 1,354 protein genes and 35 RNA genes. Nucleotides are the individual parts of DNA. They are the 'letters' that make up the code that DNA carries.
Although there are smaller organisms, those are incapable of independent life: they require higher organisms in order to survive. No scientific observation can produce anything capable of life and reproduction that could be significantly smaller than this; but the possibility of such a large number of elements combining in the correct order by random means is so astronomically small it could never happen - even in an infinite number of universes! It's like the dry stone wall shown on the home page appearing as a result of a land slip, or throwing the pieces of a jigsaw up into the air and expecting them to land in exactly the correct order for the completed picture to be seen.
4 Earth’s Atmosphere
It is well known that biological molecules like amino acid bonds are destroyed in the presence of oxygen, making it impossible for life to evolve. So for a living organism to appear from inanimate matter, oxygen could not have been present in the earth’s atmosphere. On the other hand, since the earth’s ozone layer is made of oxygen, the layer would not exist without it; and the ultraviolet rays from the sun would destroy any biological molecules. To quote Michael Denton:
"What we have is sort of a “Catch 22” situation. If we have oxygen we have no organic compounds, but if we don’t have oxygen we have none either."
M. Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, MD: Adler & Adler, 1985), p. 261.
It is common to hear the claim that life first formed in water, not on the land; but the problem here is just as great. To quote Richard Morris:
"Furthermore, water tends to break chains of amino acids apart. If any proteins had formed in the oceans 3.5 billion years ago, they would have quickly disintegrated."
R. Morris, The Big Questions (New York: Times Books/Henry Holt, 2002), p. 167.
Inanimate matter could never turn into a living organism by unintelligent means
The amount of observable change in mitochondrial DNA is far too small for humans to have been around longer than a few thousand years
The amount of change needed in nuclear DNA to produce humans and chimps from a common ancestor is far too large to have taken place within evolutionary time-scales