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Genetic Entropy

May 15, 2007

I hope you’ve read all the articles so far because I’m taking it up another notch. If you haven’t already I suggest reading the short article on Facts and Meanings as well as the ground work set down in the introduction section. Genetic Entropy was really the one concept that got me to really start looking into things, and it was one of my primary reasons for starting the site.

This article is basically a summary of a book called “Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome” written by Dr. John C. Sanford. I have to warn you that I was utterly devastated after reading this book. It utterly crushed my view of the future of humanity and the world. If you are having a bad day or have something important to do soon, I would suggest you stop reading and come back at a later time. Emotions aside, we have made some very important discoveries in genetics that really deserve attention and consideration. Dr. Sanford has posed the question “Why don’t we see this in the news headlines?” the answer is that the truth can be uncomfortable.

scales.gifEvolutionary Background
To give you some context, let’s start off by looking at what has been called the Primary Axiom of Neo-Darwinian Theory. No matter what the specific models or ancestry that are given, the underpinning idea of Neo-Darwinian Theory is that mutation and natural selection combine to cause evolutionary progress. This is how we went from single celled organisms to the dominant species on the planet. Mutation and natural selection can be thought of as a balance. Mutation adds in random variations in the genetic code and natural selection is simply the process by which more fit, healthy organisms are more likely to produce. By itself, natural selection cannot create any new variation, it only eliminates variation. If you are sickly, or have a lethal mutation, natural selection says you will probably not pass your genes on to the next generation. In this view, evolution depends on balance between chaos (mutations) and static order (natural selection).

So what happens if things are out of balance? If natural selection is too strong, or if mutations are practically non-existent then evolution grinds to a halt. There is no new variation, and what varieties do exist would be whittled down to the most “optimum” until you have a basically homogeneous population. If, on the other hand, mutation is too high or natural selection stops (like small populations) then bad mutations start piling up and the species degrades. This is called Muller’s Ratchet which eventually leads to Mutational Meltdown. It is something that we have observed in endangered species and a problem that threatens all species with small or in-bred populations.

Genetics Background
Now that you have some context let me explain two other key points. First off, good mutations are exceedingly rare. They are so rare in fact, that it is hard to get an exact number on how rare they are. In comparison to nearly neutral and bad mutations a fair number is in the order of 1 in a million (1,000,000) mutations actually being beneficial. That means that in general we can consider mutations bad and natural selection must eliminate virtually all mutations.

The second item is what is commonly referred to as Junk DNA. Junk DNA is simply the name that we assign to portions of DNA for which we do not know their function. Originally it was said that about 98.5% of our entire genome was junk DNA. What this translates to is that for 98.5% of the genome we have no idea what it does. Specifically, the assumption was that all functional DNA should encode for proteins so anything that doesn’t encode for a protein must not do anything. Recent research has shown that this assumption is wrong because we have discovered sequences that act as regulatory mechanisms for protein production and respond to the cellular environment. Regulatory sections shrink our supposed 98.5% junk. No one is entirely certain at this point how much of our genome is functional, at this point a big question mark still floats over much of the genome. The important thing to note is that as our knowledge of genetics progresses the amount that is labeled as “junk” is gradually shrinking.

Human Mutation Rate
So given all this information, scientists have been very interested in finding out exactly what the human mutation rate is. The global average of birth rate is 3 children for every 2 people. So if natural selection were laser accurate that would mean that it could hold ground, with no evolutionary progress, with a mutation rate of 1 mutation in every 3 people. This would be just low enough that we could maintain our population at a steady rate, there would be no room for population growth or evolution. A high mutation rate in normal models would be around .1 or 1 in every ten individuals. As the mutation rate gets higher it necessitates a higher birth rate to maintain a population. In a simple model, the necessary birth rate dependent on the mutation is x = 2/(1-m). So with a mutation rate of .5 half of all people would be mutant and thus we would need a birth rate of 4 children per woman to maintain a population that was not accumulating mutations. As this number approaches 1 mutation per person (that’s everyone) you can no longer select any individual who does not have a mutation, even with perfect accuracy in natural selection. Mutations rates with multiple mutations per person necessarily lead to a growing number of mutations, which in experience, leads to reduced fitness and eventual species extinction over long periods of time.

In 2000, Dr. Crowell, from the University of Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, published a paper estimating the human mutation rate at around 175 mutations per person per generation. Kondrashov, from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, published a paper in 2002 estimating the rate of point substitution mutations alone at 100 per person per generation. This high mutation rate is commonly accepted in the scientific community today. Kondrashov’s numbers only include point mutations. They do not include numbers for deletions, insertions, duplications, translocations, inversions, macro-mutations and mitochondrial mutations. There are also sections of DNA called microsatellite regions that have mutation rates easily 1,000 times higher. The true human mutation rate has not been measured exactly – it could easily be in the thousands – and we can observe that it far exceeds comfortable numbers like 1 in 10 individuals.

It would appear mutations happen faster than natural selection can keep up with. Our scale is unbalanced; we are not evolving, but degenerating. What are the implications of this? It means that every generation that is born has 100 more mutations than the generation before it. We are all highly mutant, and not in an X-men kind of way. We judge what is ‘normal’ off of each other. So that means that anything that affects the entire species is considered normal. How many of us have bad vision, allergies, mangled toes, lopsided ears, joint pains, skin spots, jaw pops, back problems, heart problems, and let’s not forget cancer… We are all unhealthy, unfit in one way or another, and it’s sad to admit it, but that is the current state of life. We’ve … Got … Problems. Genetic entropy is all around us, it is so ubiquitous that we don’t even notice it anymore. Blinding Light. The explanatory power of genetic entropy is comprehensive.

Nearly Neutral Mutations
So far we’ve assumed that natural selection is laser accurate, that would allow it to select away one mutation per generation. But Natural Selection operates at the organism level and mutation happens at the molecular level. Let that one sit for a moment. Natural selection is on the level of organisms feeling attracted to one another and mating. Mutation is within a stone’s throw of the small units of existence that we know about. As you read this, 10^24 atoms of your car just turned to rust. Are you going to buy a new car now?

Most mutations are nearly neutral, not entirely neutral but their effects are subtle enough that they are hard to select against, which makes the problem worse. You have a library inside you that is 6 billion letters long. If I go past rows of books, pull out a giant ladder, climb to the top and pull out a book, then I open that book and change one letter, does that matter to the library? Not really. Does that make it entirely neutral? There is an important difference between near-zero and definitely zero importance. If I go in and make 100 typos in the library everyday for a thousand generations you will start noticing a decline in your library user review (fitness). Can this problem be solved by throwing out entire libraries to fix typos? Not really. This problem has been recognized by evolutionary geneticist Kondrashov in his paper Why Have we not died 100 times over?, often called Kondrashov’s Question.

Family History
Consider your own family history, did your parent’s quirks keep them from reproducing? How many quirks can go unnoticed entirely until they are passed on to the next generation. Since I can’t speak for your family I’ll give you a couple examples in my own family. My grandfather was 6′ 4″ and died of an enlarged heart when he was 40. My mother has a not so neutral problem with scoliosis (deformation of the spine) that was passed down to all of her sisters. Thanks to corrective surgery you could never tell today. Having back problems didn’t keep her from having kids, a fact I’m grateful for, but there’s a risk it could get passed on to the next generation, maybe silently. “The fact that the spine and spinal column ever form correctly is amazing given the complexity of the process from an embryological standpoint” (iScoliosis). “The gene that causes scoliosis remains undiscovered”.

I myself have a deviated septum that not even my wife mentioned until after we married. “It’s called tact, you don’t mention other people’s deformities,” according to my wife. In evolutionary terms traits not under selection can drift to fixation (everyone has it). “Estimates are that 80 percent of all nasal septums are off-center, a condition that is generally not noticed.” I also have allergies, some of which I got from my dad, some of which are new that I can pass on to any children I have.

Conclusions
So does this mean we should not have kids? Certainly not. Life is full of risk, and the reason we get up everyday is because somehow we believe that the risk is worth it. Allergies and bent noses don’t make life not worth living, it just means that we should have a healthy respect of our own mortality. We are finite creatures and no matter how cool you are, we all eventually succumb to the entropy of our own bodies. It’s what we do with our time that matters.

In retrospect, this idea really shouldn’t be that shocking. Entropy is a law of nature and everything that we see around us is dying, decaying or falling apart. I have never seen a single thing in all my life that is immune to entropy, it affects everything. My 40 year old apartment naturally degrades, the road outside must be constantly patched, every human ever born eventually dies, and the sun itself will eventually die out.

For more Info
If you would like a more in-depth discussion on Genetic Entropy I would seriously recommend getting the book. This article barely covers up to chapter three. Dr. Sanford addresses every imaginable objection in his book in enough detail that it has (maybe unfortunately) silenced every intellectual criticism so far. In particular, he covers the challenges with natural selection in much more detail than I have. He discusses problems with proposed solutions in Natural Selection, Artificial Selection (Eugenics), problems with noise, cloning, evolving genes, Crow’s solution, macro-beneficial mutations, and historical evidence. He also answers questions like how many mutations can be selected against simultaneously, and other possible objections. If you are a super-poor college student and you are interested in looking into this I will buy you a copy. This isn’t a book promo, this is real life, and I think this is important to know.

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(Contrary to the idea that all humans preceding us were ‘primitives’ there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that our ancestors were more genetically fit in the past. Can you think of any “myths” with long lived, smart, technologically advanced people in them? I’ll be looking at a couple in future articles.)

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26 comments

  1. Wow. That would explain lots of our health problems as the human race.


    • I must ask if you have read the book. Sanford addresses in great detail the reasons why the very process you have described does not lead to forward evolution. You mention the accidental copying of a given gene / chromosome / etc. You mean like Down’s syndrome?

      The problem with this is that merely repeating information that already exists is not necessarily beneficial; quite the contrary, it is often harmful. If order for evolution on the scale that is claimed by Darwin to occur (i.e., a change from one species to an entirely new species), new information must be introduced into the organism. New information. There is no known process by which this can be accomplished, and therefore such a process cannot be assumed.

      Please read the book – the whole book – before offering further critique. This article barely scratches the surface of the subject.


  2. As a Christian I am very distressed by what I seem to be seeing with this Creationism trend. There seems to be this hardline trend to try to force others to believe what we do. And even more than that for each individual sect to tell other Christians just how wrong they are.

    That’s not so bad, this sort of thing has been going on since the Passion. And I am not talking about the Mel Gibson movie. But lately in this never ending battle to be the one true faith some of us have decided to do battle with science.

    They have decided that Biblical inerrency has to collide with scientific discovery. And in doing so they have turned the house of God into a house of cards. They have made the God I love so fragile that He can die if someone finds a typo in His book.

    If God did not make the Earth in 6 days then, as they say, we must throw out the rest of the Bible. They care about fact finding and nit picking rather than the morality of the Bible. And if you ask me, what makes the Good Book good is the goodness that it contains. A dictionary contains a lot of hard facts but I wouldn’t call a dictionary a Book Of Goodness.

    Now to hold up this house of cards they need to systematically attack anything that can knock it down. I have read Sanford’s book. It’s less about science and more about explaining the incredible life spans in the Old Testament and to give one more reason why the Earth can’t be more than 6,000 years old.

    Unlike what “professor” Sanford says, the central premise of the book (that mutations lead only to degeneration, never to gain-of-function mutations or “progress”, unless some outside force intervenes to guide things) is actually easily refuted, by anyone who knows what they are talking about. The easiest path for gain-of-function mutations is gene duplication; a gene, or part of a gene, is accidentally copied more than once during sex cell formation. In the resulting organism, as long as one gene retains its original function, any duplicate copies can collect mutations — and many of these mutations will indeed, by blind chance, lead to novel proteins, with novel functions, and new results for the organism. Such mutations have been well-documented in literally hundreds, if not thousands, of papers.

    Ironically, Sanford (actually a “Courtesy Associate Professor” at Cornell’s Horticultural Sciences department) ought to be especially well acquainted with this process, since plants often end up with a duplicate copy of significant portions of their entire genome to play with (known as “polyploidy”) and gain-of-function mutations from this are also quite well known. Polyploidy is in fact one of the most common methods of speciation in plants. And far from polyploidy only weakening the organism, polyploidy has led to an increase of vigor, increased pest resistance, increased resistance to environmental stresses, and enhanced reproductive success in a number of well-documented cases in plants from grasses to citrus. The fact that such gains can and do *also* happen as the result of deliberate cultivation and breeding, does not in any way diminish or negate the fact that they happen “by accident” in the wild as well.

    And these are the “respectable” Creationists, I especially enjoyed your section on there not being any Cloud Condensation Nuclei before Noah’s flood. Why would water or small dust particles suddenly decide to behave differently at one point in time? This weird science is meant to explain why the first rainbow appears after Noah’s flood, and why no rainbows had been seen in the 2000 years after Adam and Eve. And also to support the Canopy Theory.

    Canopy Theory goes that before Noah, all the water we see now in our oceans existed as one massive cloud cover, then one day when the CCN show up. these clouds can finally begin forming rain drops. No rain before Noah means no rainbows. Where this falls apart is air pressure. We say that we have 1 ATM (1 atmosphere) of pressure on us right now. This is because we have one atmosphere’s worth of air above our heads right now. So now imagine that we have the oceans of the Earth above our heads as cloud cover, besides being overcast to the extreme, we would have as much pressure on us now as if we were at the bottom of the ocean. If the bottom of the ocean can crush the hull of a submarine it can certainly crush an antediluvian’s head.

    We go from that to continents that can apparently move at 35 mph, to explain why South America is so far from Africa. Anyone who lives in California, New Orleans, or anywhere along the Asian coastline knows the dangerous effects that are caused by the tectonic plates moving at the snails pace of today. Now imagine these continents sliding about at 35 mph. Also if you were to expose that much lava along the Atlantic ocean you would boil OFF the Earth’s oceans.

    from here the strangeness continues as we learn that time somehow dilated to make stars that are millions of light years away somehow be only 6000 years old. Not that this “Theory” has any observable results, or implications beyond serving the purposes of Biblical literalists.

    Or to try and tell us that every species that ever existed was on Earth at the same time long ago. If you have ever seen the movie “Them” and heard why giant ants can’t exist alongside people. It’s because of the oxygen content of the air millions of years ago. You see giant bugs need a lot more air than smaller bugs. To handle this problem they have larger tracheae. For those of you who don’t know bugs do not have lungs, they breathe through a series of tubes. Based on the size of these tubes they need a certain oxygen content in the atmosphere to work. Unfortunately for these bugs to breathe properly humans, and a lot of other mammals, would suffocate.

    Also if we were around at the same time as dinosaurs, I would like to see a fossil of a chewed up caveman in the belly of a T-Rex.

    And so Creationists would have us believe that if we want to be good Christians we must believe in rotting genes, time traveling stars, drag racing continents, and the comic strip Alley-Oop as a historical document.

    Christians in the past have made this mistake with Galileo Galilei’s heretical teaching that the Earth does in fact go around the Sun. I still feel a little twinge of embarrassment whenever I look that the moon at night.

    When I read the Bible I read it from the heart. When Jesus says that we should love our neighbors, does that statement become any more or less true depending on whether or not Noah’s flood happened the way we say it did.

    This creationism does more to hurt Christians than help them. Once we are done looking like fools by the time we get round to the teachings of Jesus everyone is convinced that we are talking nonsense.

    I can’t help but think that if the Devil truly wanted to hurt us all he would have to do is search the earth for the loudest, dumbest, sons of bitches he could find. Give them a Bible and a megaphone. And tell them to go nuts.

    I guess in the end I forgive the Creationists, their hearts are in the right place. Even if they have been lead astray. And I pray that you will feel the love of Jesus in your heart, and not in a test tube.


    • I must ask if you have read the book. Sanford addresses in great detail the reasons why the very process you have described does not lead to forward evolution. You mention the accidental copying of a given gene / chromosome / etc. You mean like Down’s syndrome?

      The problem with this is that merely repeating information that already exists is not necessarily beneficial; quite the contrary, it is often harmful. If order for evolution on the scale that is claimed by Darwin to occur (i.e., a change from one species to an entirely new species), new information must be introduced into the organism. New information. There is no known process by which this can be accomplished, and therefore such a process cannot be assumed.

      Please read the book – the whole book – before offering further critique. This article barely scratches the surface of the subject.


  3. Well I can honestly and unsarcastically say that I did not feel the love of Christ pouring out of that comment. Although, I did really like your summarization of scientific creation “rotting genes, time traveling stars, drag racing continents, and the comic strip Alley-Oop”. That would make a good subtitle for a book. A biblical creationist view of the world is truly absurd, some of it gets even wierder than what you described. So what what does a person do if they find evidence that something truly absurd actually happened? The crux of the matter is that the Bible is a truly absurd document that makes many absurd claims about the world and about God. I would like to add to your list of absurdities:

    On top of the global flood, the Bible claims that God used Moses to get his people out of Egypt in the most dramatic fashion possible complete with swarms of creatures, rivers of blood, and an angel of death. Then a giant pillar of fire led them out into the desert where they were sustained on three square miracles a day. It goes on to talk about how God continued to love the amazingly thick-skulled Israelites even though they took every opportunity to doubt his word and mix with other religions. The story of the Old Testament is the story of how God’s chosen continued to question everything despite God continually demonstrating his power and giving them abundant prosperity at every opportunity.

    The New Testament takes a quantum leap forward in absurdity by then claiming that the Creator of all the Universe, the All-Source of Existence actually cared enough about an insignificant planet among trillions of stars that he would actually be willing to suffer the indignity of being squeezed out at birth and born to a homeless couple of newly wed teenagers taking refuge in a barn.

    The greatest absurdity of all is to say that God would be willing to pay the penalty of death himself to cover for his own creation’s mistakes and that he would then be willing to extend an offer of total forgiveness to absolutely anyone who accepted it, no matter how evil they have been. You see, for someone who can look back on their own life of sin and hatred and actually believe the absurd idea that they could be, not just excused, but totally forgiven that is the greatest absurdity of all. All other absurdities shrink in comparison. It is absurd to think that I am forgiven. It is absurd to say that you are forgiven, and it is certainly absurd to say that anyone can be forgiven without exception.

    So give a little credit to the one who make absurdities like forgiveness and unconditional love possible. Who gives us everything that we really need to believe and so much more. “I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” –Jesus


  4. After years of Christians preaching at me it’s kinda funny to see them preach at each other. I have always wondered how that would look, and I guess I just found out. It was interesting to see the common theme in both messages of “Well you aren’t a real Christian because you just don’t get it”

    It was also interesting to see an emotional appeal being used as an answer to a series of factual concerns about creationism. I am guessing that’s an internal Christian thing that I don’t really get. But it’s still interesting to see in motion.

    Anywho lately I have been concerned about the honesty of Creation Scientists. Anyone who has read my rather rude comment on the evolution page knows what I am talking about.

    The problem that I have found is that a lot of Creation Scientists do their research in sort of a chain, rather than performing their own independent experiments like many mainstream scientists do. This may be due to having limited resources, I am not sure.

    What happens is that many creation scientists will cobble together data from old experiments done by other creation scientist that were done in the past. And using this old creation research they make a new product. Say for example the book “Thousands Not Millions”. Then the next Creation Scientist cites that book as a source while piecing together whatever they were working on. Say for example the page on the Geological Age Of The Earth on this site.

    This may seem like a good idea until we find that the chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. All it takes is one liar along the way, or more likely, a series of small falsehoods and bent truths that compound over time. Ironically enough these compounding falsehoods look a lot like Dr. Sanford’s “rotting genome” model.

    So when I see a quote like Phillip’s “(that mutations lead only to degeneration, never to gain-of-function mutations or “progress”, unless some outside force intervenes to guide things) is actually easily refuted, by anyone who knows what they are talking about. The easiest path for gain-of-function mutations is gene duplication; a gene, or part of a gene, is accidentally copied more than once during sex cell formation. In the resulting organism, as long as one gene retains its original function, any duplicate copies can collect mutations — and many of these mutations will indeed, by blind chance, lead to novel proteins, with novel functions, and new results for the organism. Such mutations have been well-documented in literally hundreds, if not thousands, of papers.”

    I tend to worry that Sanford didn’t feel the need to mention polyploidy. From this I can only come to one of three conclusions: 1 For some reason Sanford didn’t know about polyploidy. 2 He know about plant speciation but since that would hurt book sales he decided to leave it out. 3 Due to his new found faith he was divinely inspired that gain-of-function mutation is a lie being spread by nefarious powers to undermine the glory of God.

    And so I would hate to choose between incompetence, dishonesty, or blind zealotry. And the problem is that I have heard his work cited as a source on many occasions. “Well Professor Sanford said it, and he’s way smarter than you, so you should just accept what he says without question.” You may laugh, but I have heard this argument more than once.

    Now I feel that I should point out that I am only basing this on something I read from someone who sounds like they know what they are talking about. But isn’t that exactly what Creation Scientists are doing?


  5. From the book:
    Appendix 4: Can Gene Duplication and Polyploidy Increase Genetic Information?

    Dr. Sanford devotes an entire chapter of his book to Polyploidy. Here’s a link to scans of the chapter:

    http://livinglove.wordpress.com/files/2007/08/appendix4-pg1.pdf

    http://livinglove.wordpress.com/files/2007/08/appendix4-pg2.pdf

    http://livinglove.wordpress.com/files/2007/08/appendix4-pg3.pdf

    Anything else?
    -Raeliyah, researcher


  6. Since the evolution part of this webpage is very much related to this section I think this link should be very much considered. I heard of another similar case with TNT that supports the evolution argument but I am having trouble finding it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nylonase

    Sometimes the world is hard to explain. Not everything can be accounted for.Thats why we have science.

    This and other examples show that something is missing from Sandford’s book. If every living creature on the planet is degrading on a genetic scale why don’t we see it happening? Can you site examples in other animals? Does Sanford say everything will be gone by what 300 generations? Under the creationist view we are on the 240th generation. However, what generation are rabbits on? For that matter bacteria? Are these creatures better than man? Doesn’t this show doubt of God’s omnipotence? Doesn’t the bible say man was made in god’s image?

    If we are on the 240th generation… that would mean birth rates were higher in the past. They would have to be to account for the number of people we have today. I also found that one human generation under the creationist view is considered to be 25 years. Supposedly, the age of conceiving children is rising. Was it once lower? From what I’ve been reading Joseph and Mary were teenagers. Was this the common age for marriage? In that case what about conception? Values could have been different in terms of restraining one’s one sexual urges, but that would not hold up the once high birth rates proposition.

    Anyhow… creationists have to be very creative to explain everything. Especially, when they are constrained to the bible. No flexibility. If anything Scientology can do a better job and not just because it has the letters “Scien” (Science).

    As it is understood in mainstream science people are actually living longer today than in the past. Is the science of medicine that good?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldest_people

    We also run into problems when we start talking about early diseases afflicting people and killing millions. Here are some examples: Bubonic plague, Small pox, Dysentery and just general infections. Additionally, I think it has been discovered that parasitic infections were quite rampant in the people who wrote the bible.

    In any case, Sanford’s book does not explain the reality of what is happening around us everyday. 200 pages is not enough.


  7. To Zach,
    That was indeed a good demonstration of what not to do.
    I should point out that I am only basing this on something I read from someone who sounds like they know what they are talking about. But isn’t that exactly what Creation Scientists are doing?”
    The reason I responded to Phillip by appealing to the Bible is that his objection was mainly theological. The accusation that creation science is directly orchestrated by satan is a far more severe accusation than forgetting to mention polyploidy in a book. I was hoping to give Phillip leeway to back out on theological terms because his claims about polyploidy, and most of the book, are blatantly false to anyone who has actually read it. Dr. Sanford covers polyploidy extensively (see Raeliyah above) as well as talking about how genes could ever develop new functionality even if they weren’t being depended on for survival. The irony of it all is that Dr. Sanford explicitly points out “Polyploidy was my special area of study during my Ph.D. thesis”. Sanford experimented with plant mutation and genetics first hand. He spents years applying evolutionary concepts in the lab, if “anyone who knows what they are talking about” it is Sanford.

    As far as credibility goes: Sanford has publications in journals such as Science, Nature, and PNAS, and publications which were peer-reviewed on subjects ranging from human gene therapy for AIDS, to basic work on bacteria and algae, to mammalian gene transformation, to genetic vaccination, to basic genetic theory (to name a few of areas). His work has never been limited to plants, but he is certainly not ignorant of them. How can a creationist have so many peer-reviewed publications? The answer is that he has been an evolutionist for almost his entire life. Dr. Sanford is 56 years old now and he spent at least the first 50 believing in evolution, not just passively but actively applying it. He thought very much the same way that critics of his book think. Even after becoming a Christian he was more like Phillip, considering the early parts of Genesis to be utter rubbish and that the Bible was only useful as a moral handbook, even teaching a sunday school that it was all just creative myth. He used to be just like every one of his critics, but at some point he stopped attacking and started researching. The book “Genetic Entropy” was the culmination of the problems he found with neo-darwinian theory. Dr. Sanford knew full well that daring to question evolution would put an end to his career (no matter how great a scientist he was) so he had to have very strong evidence to do so. This pattern is actually repeated frequently, scientists are treated as if they have sustained brain damage the second they start to disagree with the consensus.


  8. So these questions to bring up one really good point that should probably be in the main article. The question is “If this is true, why aren’t we all dead” followed by “Is there any actual evidence of this happening right now?”. These are both really good questions that I overlooked.

    Preliminarily, the effects of mutation are just now starting to be understood, so this will probably be a developing topic in the next couple of years. I got to attend a presentation on Chronic Pancreatitis by the head researcher entitled something like “Untangling Complex Genetic Disorders in Chronic Pancreatitis”. The presenter was totally unaware of Sanford’s work but it answered both questions at the same time.

    So, you asked:
    Chronic Pancreatitis is being used as a case study of complex genetic disorders like Cancer or Alzheimers. The mechanics behind it all are complicated which is why it is hard to predict and harder to treat. The Pancreas makes a perfect example because it is relatively insulated from environmental variables, it does one job, and when someone gets Pancreatitis it is immediately apparent because it is one of the most painful conditions we know of.

    The research team has identified six levels of safeguards to keep the pancreas functioning normally. There are two protein failsafe mechanisms, preventative and active immune response, faulty protein removal, and damage control mechanisms. If ANY one of these systems is still operational you get zero symptoms, everything seems fine. This has two really major effects that I hope people understand:

    1) The body can sustain multiple levels of damage and continue to function normally. Quintuply redundant backup systems mean that often times there are no symptoms until there is extensive damage. This is the definition of a robust system and is strong evidence of good design. Military hardware is built with a backup system in order to take a beating. Some really advanced and robust systems may have more than two backups, such as RAID arrays. Nothing that I know of comes close to the level of sophistication expressed in the genome. More on this later, I suggest you read the ENCODE papers (government-funded evolutionists).

    2) Because of the genome’s ability to mask over and compensate for errors in the code it makes natural selections job nearly impossible. If all places in the genome had equal effect then a point mutation would result in a 1/3,000,000,000th reduction in fitness. Which is already absurdly low. But because of redundancy and backup systems the actual effects of a mutation are totally invisible. This does not mean that damage is not being done, it only means it can’t be detected immediately. It is like having a seven-hull ship. A hole in your ship is still there whether you realize it or not and you can only put so many holes until there’s nothing left and the water starts rushing in.

    Let’s look at this from a mathematical perspective: We have six layers of defense to keep you from getting Chronic Pancreatitis. CP is a rare disease which should be expected from something with so many backup layers. In order to calculate the probability of a person getting CP one would multiple the probability of each system failing by the next. Let’s say for example, there was an average 10% probability of any one system failing. .1^6 is 0.000001 or .0001% multiplied by the population in America (300 million?) we would expect 30 people in the entire U.S. to develop CP.

    Well, that’s more than a bit low. And that would be if most of the population was running around with at least one broken gene that can cause massive amounts of pain. That’s not a neutral mutation, and it’s still not selectable. Let’s see: 25% of all the CP alleles on the planet being broken would give you a number around 0.0244% or 73,242 people in America. That’s pretty close to the actual numbers of acute pancreatits sufferers. Sorry I don’t have more detailed statistics, like I mentioned this is a new area of research. I’ll see if I can get the original presentation I saw, though it is intellectual property.

    The effect of redundant systems is multiple orders of magnitude difference. It makes natural selection nearly impossible but it also makes life extremely resistant to genetic damage. I’ve already spent a long time on this single comment but I know it barely scrapes the surface of a very complex issue. I can already hear many of the predictable skeptical responses that I really don’t want to spend the time rebutting. Pancreatitis is generally identified by alcoholism but new research is showing that’s an over generalization, and genetics play a major role. Call me a liar, fine. The issue of genetic complexity is going to be coming to the surface in the next couple of years so I don’t feel the need to expend my life vindicating the idea. Instead, I’d encourage people to read ENCODE papers.


  9. In the first example, I used Chronic Pancreatitis, which is a rare condition. If we apply the same methods to something like Cancer the point becomes even more apparent plus many of the hereditary patterns make far more sense in light of Genetic Entropy.

    What are the odds of getting Cancer in your lifetime? 70%? 80%? Cancer is so common I consider it almost certainty that I will have to deal with it in my lifetime. Cancer isn’t an infectious disease like pneumonia so that means that every occurrence of cancer in another person represents at least one if not multiple mutations that happened in their lifetime.

    Diseases like cancer are exacerbated by the fact that the measured mutation rates (over 100) are only in the sex-cell line and mutation rates in somatic (body) cells are on the order of 1 mutation per cell division. Carcinogens play a role in speeding up the mutation rate in local areas so that we see general connections between lung cancer and smoking or liver cancer and alcoholism. Still, there are chain-smokers that live to be 90 so it’s not a simple 1:1. The other factor is what doctors usually refer to as a genetic predisposition. Think about that one. A genetic predisposition to get cancer means that I am running around with a silent ‘trait’ which can kill me, but because it is not expressed it can’t be selected against. A genetic predisposition is really one or more pre-broken defense mechanisms. People get them from their parents so their genes come pre-aged. A person can be born with 2 out of 4 or 3 out of 4 already damaged systems. That is why people can have a predisposition. Because it takes less deleterious mutations to put them over, because they inherited the rest from their parents. This also explains how people can say “Cancer runs in the family” when there are so many different types of cancer. It is because some of the defense mechanisms like Immune response apply to the entire body.

    I don’t know exactly how many layers of defense against cancer there are and it looks as though we’re still discovering more. I know of Mitochondrial cell death (see DCA). I also know the immune system can respond, and DNA preventative measures for mutations must be overcome.

    Cancer is direct and frightening evidence of genetic entropy. I take no pleasure in pointing out the problems evident with a condition that kills billions. Cancer is caused by a high mutation rate and already done genetic damage. Any mutations that knock out less than the last layer of defense are undetectable and can thus be passed on to the next generation. We simply would not expect to see the high rates of cancer that we do if there was little genetic damage and if the mutation rate was low.


  10. Actually I have a math correction to make. I was treating human DNA as if we were haploid, that’s 23 chromosomes. In reality, every human carries around two copies of the human genome, or 46 chromosomes. This constitutes another layer of defense for the whole system, not just a specific trait. The reason is that most deleterious mutations are recessive. So if you’re walking around with a broken gene, you don’t express it because there are two copies of everything and the functional gene is covering for it.

    That means that if you look at my math, you need to take the levels of defense and double them all. *shudder* That’s right, kick them all up several orders of magnitude. So even a mutation that has no extra layers of defense (I believe sickle cell anemia is one example) an expressed genetic disease actually represents two bad mutations, not one. Chronic Pancreatitis would be 12 system knockouts and Cancer would be at least 6, probably far more.

    A single expressed genetic disease is the tip of an iceberg of hidden mutations. All these mutations are not selectable for the very reason that they are not expressed. So they simply keep accumulating. Natural Selection also can’t take a long period of time to sort things out because they are building up RAPIDLY right NOW. The numbers just don’t line up with Neo-Darwinian evolution. This is as close to a complete disproof of the theory as you can get. Time to move on to a new theory.


  11. Good article. The most obvious consequence of genetic entropy is that it utterly destroys the Darwinian macro-evolutionary theory of origin of species.

    This is the conclusion Sanford came to and, once a Darwinian atheist, is now a Christian intelligent design proponent and even a biblical creationist. (ID does not use the bible nor refer to it in any way and it doesn’t need to – it’s just good old fashion common sense, go where the evidence points)

    Where did the information in the genome come from in the first place is still a question unsolvable through Darwinian mechanisms. Complex coded information systems simply do not and cannot arise without intelligent design. Code is a symbolic communications conventions and intrinsically implies intelligence.

    There is no such thing as code without an underlying mind because that’s what code is – a *conceived* convention of symbolism for functional purpose. Random processes do not and cannot create coded information processing. Purely random processes create chaos not order.

    The genome has been deteriorating since the first mutations. Mutations accumulate and cause damage, they do not add new information – they change it or delete it – like deleting 0’s and 1’s in computer code or mutating 0’s into 1’s and vv. Eventually the system will crash.

    Obviously then, the creationist view of the world is not so “absurd” at all! or as cosmologist Robert Jastrow (agnostic) said, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

    Anyone who can read “Genetic Entropy” and still go away believing in the materialist’s origins myth – neo-Darwinism – must be like Frank Deford who said, “I believe that professional wrestling is clean and everything else in the world is fixed.”


    • “Random processes do not and cannot create coded information processing. Purely random processes create chaos not order.”
      ————–
      I understand I’m leaving a comment on a conversation that ended years ago. I’m so impressed with the thought on this board, though, that I want to leave something for the next guy that stumbles across this page. I look at the accumulation of information in this way as an interesting ordering of random events. Something like the way people on Mechanical Turk are able to collaborate to perform surprising feats.

      In response to the portion of the comment I quoted, I’d just like to point out that we only model DNA as an information system. It does not have to behave in totality by information theory’s rules. Using IT as a model, however, one would have to rely on statistical distributions that rely on random processes. People actually expend energy to create randomly distributed information in order to make predictions about that information. In short, there is value in randomness.


  12. I find it funny that creationists and non-creationists are trying to have the same conversation/argument, when they are not. There is a big difference between arguing about the “how” as opposed to the “why”. I think both sides can agree on that.

    Also, keep in mind there are very few similarities between common sense and science. They are not always related.


  13. I noticed that this article is titled “genetic entropy.” Unless this is not related to the field of study, thermodynamics, I think some more clarification is needed to justify the title.


  14. As a scientifically minded Christian, I have felt it my duty to engage evolutionists in debates, particularly on the question of origins. What I have found is, no matter how scientific you argument may be, no matter how much hard science you use to reveal the shortcomings of organic evolution, they are uwilling to listen. Very often it is the evolutionist, not the creationist, who switches the argument to ridicule God, Jesus or the Bible itself. Atheists in particular are fond of doing so. A large Part of the problem lies with what I call the “culture of Darwin.” Scientists are taught to think purely in naturalistic terms. From the very earliest days of their training, they are literally psychologically conditioned to accept that their research and work as scientists must have a naturalistic beginning and conclusion. In other words, evolution did it all. God – even if they believe He exists – has nothing to do with it. I recently had an extended debate with some evolutionists (mainly in their 20’s) concerning the improbability of evolution using evidence from the world of molecular genetics. Although I used hard science to refute many of their perceived “truths” about evolution, AND I quoted from and peer reviewed papers written by evolutionists themselves, my opponents replies becaming predictably offensive, including the usual trashing of the Bible, God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and creationism in general, although I never once referred to anything that could be remotely regarded as “religious.”

    This is perhaps this is the crux of the matter. Those who have set themselves upon me in that YouTube exchange have lived for less than a quarter of a century. They are products of a process that has shaped their thinking in a particular way. The secular education system, television, Hollywood, glossy magazines, the Internet and all other types of media of a dark and secular world have psychologically conditioned them to believe that all Christians are haters and bigots, and that creationism is for Bible thumping bumkins who live on corn patches, possess an IQ of less than 70 and who answer to the name “Bubba.” However, We must share the blame for allowing the media to get away with their outrageous and inflamatory attacks and hateful caricatures of Christians and the Christian faith for far too long. Needless to say, such attacks on Muslims (who are also creationists), the Koran, and the Prophet Muhammed are almost never even entertained, less they incur the fury of the Muslim world. But that is a different subject!

    Perhaps the biggest “open secret” among the evolutionists is that they KNOW perfectly well that evolution as an explanation of how evolved, is in serious trouble, but it is never openly discussed. They continue to churn out different variations of the same old tune, but each time they do so, new tears appear in the song sheet. Much of what they postulate and package as proof always has hidden flaws. It is incumbent upon those of us who call ourselves creationists to actually be scientifically literate, to be up-to-the-minute on new research so we can recognize and expose the fatal flaws of what is essentially naturalistic thought dressed up as science.

    In the aforementioned YouTube debate, I have repeatedly asked my opponents to give me proof of just how life BEGAN on earth, not just how life evolved. None have been able to provide me with an answer that can cite any mechanism that is subject to hard scientific scrutiny. They tell me that my question is “stupid” or “ignorant” because it has nothing to do with how life actually evolved! Well, forgive my “ignorance” here, but just how can any scientists have the gall to lecture me on how life evolved on our planet, when they have no idea just how the process even got started? They then try to put theonus on me by asking what my position would be if life were found to have “evcolved” on other planets? My position ohn this is simple: If we have absolutely no idea how life began on our own planet, then the question on how life evolved elsewhere in the universe is meaningless.

    The one field that deserves far more attention is of course, genetic entropy. “Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome” written by Dr. John C. Sanford reveals some horrifying truths about the huiman race. From a scientific perspective, human beings are doomed. The genetic diseases and infirmaties that afflict us are becoming more numerous as time goes on. Each new generation of humans that succeeds us have a slightly more dispordered genetic constitution than the generations before. Gene therapy might aleviate some of our suffering, but the deadly march towards genetic extinction continues unabated. We cannot stop it. The hard scientific proof that humans were genetically more robust in the past is now virtually indisputable. The realization the the human race was spawned from a once genetically perfect parents that became biologically flawed is becoming harder to dismiss. Genetic entropy does not just prove the case, but it literally shouts out the truth from the rooftops. It is not just the evolutionists who are walkingh around with their fingers in their ears – those Christians who have sold out to evolution MUST awaken to the truth.

    It might just set them free.


    • Nicely spoken G:
      Im a christian man, and one who went thru the rigors of the educational system to obtain a bachelors degree in the field I enjoyed so much, Biology!! Trust me I know the propaganda that surrounds NDE as a theory…. But one point you raised that always troubles me….. Why all the vitriol directed at Christians…. Are Muslims not believers in creationism? Of course they are, but it’s like you said, the evolutionists would rather not incur the wrath of the Muslim world, and with passive Christians living in their own back yard, it’s a much easier fight to pick… I always found that cowardly, and it doesn’t suprise me that the excellent detailed, irrefutable findings of the great Dr. Sanford have been swept under the rug so as to keep the sheep-pole that call themselves evolutionists blind, and keep the machine that is the Neo-Darwin Evolutionary Theory churning out a legion of followers that will all have a rude awakening once they pass on to the other side…. Because you know like I know “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD”!!!!……Thank God For salvation, and continue to defend truth with a constant vigor, and a genuine heart!! God bless!!


      • Disappointing. I’m sorry you guys feel so persecuted. Hopefully they’ll get those Muslim creationists worse than they got you.

        All scientists are not biologists, by the way. Rarely does a physicist or a mathematician hear much about the naturalistic foundations of his discipline. Mathematics is where this discussion seems to be light. This is an argument about the rate of mutation and its relation to the number an organism can carry. It seems to cry out for mathematical proof. I see some examples with numbers in them but nothing approaching proof.


      • Having the advantage of being from the future, I can save everybody a lot of trouble. Mendel’s Accountant, the software Sanford and colleagues wrote to model the accumulation of mutation and the resulting collapse of species seems to have some problems:

        1. Because of memory concerns, populations are limited to 1000 and under
        2. Because of memory concerns, neutral mutations are accounted for in a way that excludes them from the original environment, which factors out changes in the beneficial/neutral/bad characterizations of the mutations over time and limits genetic drift
        3. The reseeding process seems to crash (memory) before the generation limit is reached. That may just be people not reseeding the way MA wants them to do it. It’s not automatic in any case.

        This is the foundation of all of Sanford’s predictive work. These are his parameters. They seem to be at least a little fishy.


  15. Really?! Really?
    For starters evolution has two parts:
    1. evolution itself: the fact that species change over time
    2. theories to explain how what this change is and how it changes.
    Only the latter is in debate, despite the acceptance that natural selection or adaptation is only a small part and that neutral genetic evolution is more predominant. And yes, there are many many things that we still don’t know. Like what species have gone extinct because the accumulation of genetic deleterious mutations.

    A very important point: evolution does NOT explain or tries to explain the origin of life. This a different field all together with a lot of speculation, because it is extremely hard to imagine what life was supposed to be when life popped up. I guess that exploring the universe and thus other planets would be very informative to provide raw data to make sense in this field, but that is only my guess. Evolution is the process that explains that life and thus species change over time.

    But besides that, this site is funny to read.


  16. Pachacuti said

    1. evolution itself: the fact that species change over time

    Yes we can say that there is variation within organisms but that does not mean that over time reptiles will evolve from amphibians because amphibians do not have the information in their dna to give rise to amphibians, no matter how many generations you give them.

    “evolution does NOT explain or tries to explain the origin of life.”

    abiogenesis would be the evolution from inorganic matter to organic life.

    Pachacuti’s comment was funny to read


  17. “because amphibians do not have the information in their dna to give rise to amphibians, no matter how many generations you give them”

    Correction

    I meant to say amphibians to do not have the information in their dna to give rise to reptiles.


  18. I’ve read all your comments and I’ve also read Sanfords book. I was both illuminated and devastated at the same time. I have two children out of 3 whose mutations have manifest in this generation as Tourettes and the other a language disorder. If you don’t see proof of entropy around you , take another look. I live with it every day and I can’t deny it . I’d like to! As a parent of children with genetic injuries I now read the SEN magazine and am now aware of the rapidly accumulating rate of children being born with so many more complex genetic mutations. It’s an awful hidden truth which is slowly emerging more and more on our t.v screens, preparing us for the time when some important figure in the world of science or the media will announce genetic entropy to the world whether we want to hear it or not. Brian Cox has mentioned it in his wonders of the universe series. It won’t be long now. Very sad though.


  19. Having read Dr Sanford book and the comments on this page, an area of further study would be Dr Werner Gitt’s Information theory.

    As was mentioned any code needs to have a coder. DNA is not just ‘Chemicals doing chemistry’. DNA is the most sophisticated and complex data storage medium ever discovered, far beyond what we could think of.

    A very brave site to operate, and much more rational than the ‘athiest only’ (dont leave a comment if you are a creationst) forums.


  20. Howdy! This article could not be written any better!
    Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I am going to send this information to him.
    Pretty sure he will have a very good read.
    I appreciate you for sharing!



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