Interestingly, Sanford compares generational genetic entropy to the aging process. He points out that the reason we get old is that cells are copied and replaced periodically throughout the body, and the copies are not the same as the original. They contain mutations and do not perform as well. After multiple copied copies the cells hardly work at all, and death inevitably ensues.
He also points out that the early people in the book of Genesis had very long lives because they were starting with a “more perfect” genome. Today we start with copies of the copies of the copies, etc., resulting in a less robust genome at birth. Sanford suggests extinction at about 300 generations from creation. This is sobering and interesting, but…
Is this Real?
Of course, Sanford’s thesis depends on his assumptions (mutation rate, population growth rate, etc.) and the equations of a science known as population genetics. His book made sense to me, but I’m not a biologist, let alone a population geneticist. Besides, his Christian faith may have influenced his science. I didn’t want to embrace or promote the idea until I learned more about it from other sources. I began to ask people closer to the science what they thought but nobody seemed able to confirm or deny genetic entropy. In the summer of 2008, I searched the web for more information on genetic entropy but found virtually nothing. Unable to verify the idea, I decided to just leave the idea alone for awhile.
|Before the Dawn|
Then, the next school year, I discovered secular writing which seemed to confirm the idea. After talking some about creation/evolution, a student suggested I read a book from one of his classes. I found the book, Before the Dawn, by Nicholas Wade, fascinating. In one of the final chapters he writes on the future of evolution. The following words leapt off the page:
“…it follows that human genomes will become more diverse as neutral mutations accumulate. Too much diversity, according to theoretical calculations, could eventually make people infertile unless they mated only with people whose genomes were similar to their own.” Wham! This sentence, coming from an evolutionist, seems to confirm what Sanford wrote, that the accumulation of neutral mutations will eventually result in infertility problems. Wade suggests that people could resolve this by mating with people of similar genetics, yet we have known for a long time that if people mate with others with too similar a genome (our siblings or cousins) genetic defects result.
Excited that I found a secular writer indirectly confirming Sanford’s ideas, I went back to the web to see if there was anything new. That’s when I found a second confirmation, this time in a prestigious scientific journal, the Periodical of the National Academy of Sciences!
In the January 2010 abstract of his article Rate, molecular spectrum and consequences of human mutation, NAS member Michael Lynch wrote,
“Finally, a consideration of the long-term consequences of current human behavior for deleterious-mutation accumulation leads to the conclusion that a substantial reduction in human fitness can be expected over the next few centuries in industrialized societies unless novel means of genetic intervention are developed.” Wow! Basically, what Dr. Lynch is saying is that genetic problems are accumulating in the genome, and unless we do something about it, in two or three hundred years we will have very serious disease and infertility problems. He limits his appraisal to industrialized societies, because they were the focus of his study and because they tend to have lower reproduction rates and all members tend to reproduce, regardless of fitness, but basically he indirectly affirms Sanford’s account.
Both Wade and Lynch express hope that technology will rescue the human genome. It seems clear to both, agreeing with Sanford, that evolution can’t and won’t. Wade conjectures of a solution involving in vitro fertilization and introducing a new chromosome with genes able to correct genetic diseases of the parents. I shudder to think of the implications of this sort of activity.
Interestingly, Lynch comments that the time scale for genetic trouble is roughly the same as doomsday scenarios for global warming. So, why don’t we hear about genetic entropy in the daily news, as we do global warming? Why isn’t this billboard material at our colleges and universities, like sustainability? Because genetic entropy flies in the face of evolutionary dogma, and evolution must be true, because it is the only ideological hope for a culture that denies a creator.