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mDNA rate of change match creationist predictions, & why this won’t change anything


New research published this week by Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson shows conclusive evidence that recorded mitochondrial DNA change rates almost perfectly match creationist predictions and are wildly off from evolutionary predictions.  Using a mathematical model to congregate the data accumulated from humans, fruit flies, roundworms, and water fleas – Dr. Jeanson shows the following chart figures with a 95% confidence interval.


“The evolutionary results cannot in any way be explained by invoking a slower mutation rate in the past. First, this would be inconsistent with the assumption of constant rates and constant processes invoked in astronomy and geology. Second, for species to be as genetically similar as they are today yet as old as the evolutionists claim, they would need to mutate only once every 21,000–36,000 years and consistently so for millions of years. This incredibly slow rate is completely counter to the actual mutation rates observed in genetics; in fact, rates this slow seem biologically impossible. These results appear to present a dramatic challenge to the millions of years espoused by evolution and old-earth creation, and they seem to powerfully confirm the biblical account.”

More info here (including responses to 7 objections):  http://www.icr.org/article/8017/

Of course, this will not deter the evolutionists.  Casey Luskin of Salvo Magazine published this week an excellent critique of normal evolutionary behavior called “How evolutionary theory predicts what it finds”.  Luskin shows how he explained to famous atheist biologist PZ Myers how the pharyngula stage of development, which Myers advocates as strong evidence for evolution, doesn’t exist in any observation.  When presented with overwhelming data that the stage didn’t exist, Myers story changed.


More info here:  http://www.salvomag.com/new/articles/salvo30/heads-or-tails.php

As Luskin ends his report: “the data often fail to fit the predictions of common descent, but when that happens, proponents of common descent don’t get worried.  They simply change their predictions”.  So, of course this new data on mDNA genetic differences matching creationist predictions and defying evolutionary calculations will do nothing to shake their faith.  Because to them the concept that “evolution is true” guides their interpretation of the data.  It’s the same thing they say we do with our biblical worldview interpreting the data.  They’re right!  But they won’t admit their own bias.  They’ve accepted the conclusion, instead of letting the data actually reflect the truth.  They could say – so have you!  And they’re right.  But that’s the whole point actually!  The topic of origins will always be a faith-based argument.  Everyone interprets the data through their preexisting beliefs about how the world works.  That is why we can talk about evidence all day long and get nowhere.  We will always eventually get down to your beliefs and presuppositions.


About Tim



40 thoughts on “mDNA rate of change match creationist predictions, & why this won’t change anything

  1. Maybe it’s because Jeanson is using a strange creaitonist model I can’t really follow; but I cannot for the life of me figure out where he got his figures for mtDNA differences between people from. He gives a figure for ~30, but I’ve seen studies that have identified 100+ such differences between people. On top of that these differences would only have been accruing for the past 90,000 years or so; since that’s when human populations began to split up and diverge as we left Africa. So his estimates for evolution need to be slashed in half. When taken together with the aforementioned greater number of differences, it seems like his figures aren’t as inconsistent with evolution as he might claim.

    However, perhaps a more interesting fact is that your discussion of “why it doesn’t matter” can equally be applied to creationists. As I was reading his original paper, trying to figure out where he got his figures from, I noted that he cited many other creationists who were giving estimates of mtDNA mutation rates that disagreed with him. In other words, there are people out there who think that there are lower rates of mtDNA mutation and that’s consistent with creationism; and then now there’s people thinking there are higher rates and that is also consistent with creationism.

    So it would seem that creationists have highly flexible predictions of their own. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this; particularly the latter part.

    Posted by Adam Benton | October 3, 2014, 5:16 pm
    • In the linked article by Jeanson, he actually responds to many criticisms including about the amount of changes a few different times.

      The last part of your comment reflects the last part of my post really. I talked about how origins science will always be interpreted through your worldview. There probably are many creationists who predict different models. Creationists AND evolutionists can not prove their models. Can’t be done with historical science. I’m admitting that. Can you admit that?

      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 5:46 pm
      • You’ll have to quote it for me; I’ve read it a few times and still can’t find more than a cursory mention of mtDNA differences.

        Posted by Adam Benton | October 3, 2014, 5:54 pm
        • Sorry, I confused that for response to “Four species do not represent biological diversity on Earth” and “The results of this study falsely represent the evolutionary expectations. Mutational saturation and homoplasy (independently acquired identical mutations) would lower the absolute value of the expected DNA differences under the evolutionary model.” Perhaps I misunderstood your problem with it. I would submit it to him, or calculate your own data/results. Feel free to share with me when you have.

          Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 5:57 pm
          • The paper is long and examine more than 2,000 data points; so it’s taking me a while to work through it. When I finally get to the bottom of it I may well contact him and/or write a full blog on the subject. In the mean time, from what I’ve been able to figure out he’s used percent identity to figure out the number of differences between humans. Basically, this involves comparing two genes of equal length in both individuals and working out the percent of differences between them. Based on this he seems to have averaged or extrapolated out the number of differences across the entire mtDNA. The issue with this if a mutation occurs that changes the length of a gene, the gene can’t be examined. So there’s a very small data set that can be examined with this method, and it’s a dataset biased against including mutations.

            Having got his (distorted) figure for the number of differences between individuals; he plugged in the fact there’s been 200 generations since Adam (not me) and used that to figure out the rate of mutation. So when he does the calculation in reverse (for this article) and concludes how well the rate of mutation lines up with creationist figures, that’s just because he’s using circular reasoning.

            What makes me curious is why he’s taken this approach though. As I mentioned in my first comment, there are actual studies examining the whole mtDNA (and its rate of mutation) out there. So why guesstimate based off creationist assumptions? He does mention such things occasionally, but excludes them from the analysis because they disagree with his conclusions (like, as I said, revealing there are 100+ differences between people). As I said, I’m still not at the bottom of it, so take this commentary with a pinch of salt. But it still seems like this research isn’t well done.

            But does it all matter? Is it just assumptions, as you said in the comment before? I think the thing you have to remember here is that we aren’t directly testing evolution (or creationism), but predictions about population history derived from evolution. So if they were disproven I might expect that to give one pause for thought, but hardly be a complete refutation of the parent theory.

            Now, if these ideas were being tested directly and the prediction failed; then there’d be cause for concern (and such tests have been performed on evolution; which it passed). Or if the vast majority of hypotheses derived from them failed, that would also be problematic. Yet hypotheses derived from evolution are vindicated every week in palaeoanthropology alone. Conversely, I know of no creationist ideas that have stood the test of time. First Henry Morris argued there was no speciation. Then it was ok, there is speciation but no changes between kinds. Then ok, that could happen, but no beneficial mutations. Now it’s admitted there are such mutations, but there’s no added information.

            Now, I’m not hugely well versed on creationist ideas so I suspect I might be missing something. Do you know of ones that have been repeatedly vindicated for years?

            Posted by Adam Benton | October 4, 2014, 5:48 pm
      • Creationists AND evolutionists can not prove their models.

        If you admit here that you can’t verify or falsify creationism, then why do you bother to claim it is true?

        Can’t be done with historical science.

        This is rubbish, as I’ve pointed out to you a number of times.
        An hypothesis that makes testable predictions can be said to be supported if those predictions bear out, and undermined if those predictions do not. An hypothesis that doesn’t make testable predictions cannot be verified or falsified.
        This applies to “historical science” as much as it does to “operational science”.

        I’m admitting that. Can you admit that?

        So you’re admitting that you can’t verify or falsify your claims, and that therefore those claims are useless as explanations of reality?

        Posted by riandouglas | October 3, 2014, 6:57 pm
        • I believe the evidence best supports my position, but since it is historical in nature – outside of observation and testability – then no, it cannot be proven either way. But I don’t think that makes it useless.

          Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 7:14 pm
  2. I do not have a background in science so could you please explain in simple, straightforward terms how this demonstrates a deity is involved?

    And could you also explain what this has do with geology which clearly indicates the earth is considerably older that claimed by creationists?

    Posted by Arkenaten | October 3, 2014, 5:24 pm
    • This doesn’t prove anything, science doesn’t do that. It is simply saying that the data collected falls in line with young-earth creationist predictions and is no where near evolutionary predictions.

      What you are doing asking about geology is actually switching topics. It’s a “yeah, but what about…” technique where without realizing it you are admitting that this data is correct and then defer to a different evidence you believe to be stronger. Unfortunately, as my post ends – old-earthers will always interpret ALL evidence through their preexisting beliefs about how the world works.

      In other words, when it comes to origins science, you find what you want and ignore what doesn’t agree with you. That is what you’re claiming I’m doing while doing it yourself.

      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 5:43 pm
      • No, I am not qualified in either topic, I merely ask where a deity fits in to this picture, as this is what you ( as is the professor) are alluding to,are you not?

        It is an honest question. I see no reason why you are being so rude and hostile.

        Posted by Arkenaten | October 3, 2014, 5:48 pm
        • I’m sorry. I really wasn’t trying to be rude or hostile. This is how a deity fits in. The Bible claims that its God created the world in six days approx. 6000 years ago (if you read it literally). This creationist believes that is true, and has compiled this evidence to support his belief in that position and that God.

          Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 5:52 pm
          • But the geological evidence refutes this.
            There is no geological evidence ( that I am aware of ) to support a 6000 year old earth.

            Besides, a literal reading of the bible is fraught with problems from start to finish.

            Posted by Arkenaten | October 3, 2014, 5:55 pm
            • I’m not sure you understood the ending of my post. Evidence is interpreted through your preexisting worldview. Thus, evolutionists look at geology and see billions of years. Creationists look at geologic evidence and see thousands of years. No way to prove it either way.

              Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 6:25 pm
              • So, are you saying then that the Creationist view and the Secularist view are merely opinions, with no basis in evidence?

                Posted by Arkenaten | October 3, 2014, 6:27 pm
                • I’m saying there is one truth, but it will not be decided through science. Both sides have compelling evidence, when interpreted through their worldviews.

                  Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 6:31 pm
                  • If there is compelling evidence for both views how can both be right?
                    How is one supposed to decide?

                    Posted by Arkenaten | October 3, 2014, 6:35 pm
                    • You have to decide which starting assumptions sound more reliable to you. See this post for more: https://gracesalt.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/admitting-our-assumptions/

                      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 6:38 pm
                    • But you rely on biblical text, yes? How do you know this is reliable?

                      Posted by Arkenaten | October 3, 2014, 6:43 pm
                    • Well, I actually have a whole section of this site dedicated to that topic: https://gracesalt.wordpress.com/biblical-authority/.

                      I believe it for many reasons. One of the main reasons is because I believe the evidence in the world confirms the Biblical hypothesis.

                      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 6:46 pm
                    • I clicked on the first link reliability …and stopped when the issue of Moses was raised.

                      There is no evidence for this character. Nor is there evidence for the Egyptian Slavery or the Exodus.

                      The consensus of experts in the Old Testament and archaeologists and scientists have stated this is all a fiction.

                      Yet you claim he was a real historical figure.
                      On what basis do you come to this conclusion?

                      Posted by Arkenaten | October 3, 2014, 6:53 pm
                    • First of all, the Bible itself is a historical record of the exodus… but beyond that, yes – we do have more evidence…


                      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 7:10 pm
                    • Sorry, Tim. Had to take care of a bit of work. Have to eat, right?
                      Just finished reading the link.

                      Laird is not an archaeologist, but an engineer and an apologist. ( according to the bio) This already puts him on shakey and somewhat biased ground. While his blog piece is interesting there is no sound factual basis for the conclusions he draws re: Kahun which are not substantiated by any archaeologist I could find via a quick Google search.

                      If you were able to back Laird’s assertions with peer reviewed scientific evidence I would be keen to take a look.

                      Posted by Arkenaten | October 3, 2014, 8:29 pm
                    • I think you may need to explore the possibility that ALL researchers are biased.

                      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 8:31 pm
                    • I think you may need to explore the possibility that ALL researchers are biased.

                      Which is why publication and peer review are important, so that other researchers can expose the biases.

                      Posted by riandouglas | October 3, 2014, 8:35 pm
                    • So…. do evolutionary publishers send their articles to creationists for review before publishing? This article in this post is peer-reviewed.

                      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 8:37 pm
  3. Good to see you following the standard YEC trend – accept any claim which seems to support your position and reject uncritically the vast bulk of the literature which shows your claims incorrect.

    Why should anyone accept the claims presented in this paper when the vast bulk of cosmology, planetary science, geology, nuclear physics, biology and so on demonstrate the claims without merit?

    Posted by riandouglas | October 3, 2014, 5:36 pm
    • Actually, the author of the report responded to a similar question on the site itself:

      “Comparing the clock in this study to the evolutionary molecular “clock” is essentially an apples-to-oranges comparison. While both clocks are based on the same biological principles, the evolutionists have used a shortcut to determine the mutation rate in their version of the clock. Rather than measure the actual rate of genetic change in the laboratory, evolutionists have determined the “ticking” of the clock from the dates they have assigned to the layers in the fossil record. This would be analogous to a young-earth creationist determining the mutation rate by measuring the genetic differences between two species, assuming a date of origin of 6,000 years, calculating the mutation rate from the genetic differences divided by 6,000 years, and then claiming that modern genetic differences confirm a 6,000-year origin for these species. Hence, evolutionary molecular “clocks” are actually a form of circular reasoning, not independent scientific data points, and they cannot logically contradict the results noted in Figures 1 and 2.”

      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 5:40 pm
      • Rather than measure the actual rate of genetic change in the laboratory, evolutionists have determined the “ticking” of the clock from the dates they have assigned to the layers in the fossil record.

        Since the “dates assigned to the layers in the fossil record” are not arbitrary, I fail to see why this would be a problem.
        Assuming a 6,000 year creation would be, since such an assumption would be arbitrary.
        If the author is making such elementary factual errors, what else might he be mistaken about? Why should we take his conclusions seriously when he doesn’t appear to understand the basics?

        Posted by riandouglas | October 3, 2014, 7:00 pm
        • I believe he goes on in that quote to explain why it is a problem – it’s circular reasoning. We date the layers by the rocks, and the rocks by the layers. 🙂

          Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 7:16 pm
          • Except that’s not how we date fossils or geological layers, which is why I point out the author making a simple error of fact, and this mistake undermining his credibility as any sort of authority on the matter.

            We date the rocks in the layers by the radiometric dating techniques, each of which has a valid range depending upon the half life of the isotope(s), and which overlap with the ranges of other techniques which demonstrates reliability of those techniques.
            Then, when we’ve dates the layer, and we find a fossil in that layer, we know how old the fossil likely is. Then when we find the same sort of fossil elsewhere without a convenient means of radiometric dating in the surrounding rock layer, we can date the layer at that location from the fossil.

            It’s not in the least bit circular, it’s rather simple to understand, it’s demonstrably reliable, and it absolutely demolishes YEC claims. Little wonder it’s misrepresented and/or misunderstood by YECs

            Posted by riandouglas | October 3, 2014, 7:24 pm
            • I’m sorry, I misrepresented his position.

              He wasn’t saying what I said, he was saying the number of mutations was estimated from the ages of the layers vs. the actual recorded number of mutations.

              “Hence, evolutionary molecular “clocks” are actually a form of circular reasoning, not independent scientific data points, and they cannot logically contradict the results noted in Figures 1 and 2.”

              Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 7:33 pm
              • He’s still mistaken – he’s making the claim that the ages assigned to fossils is as arbitrary as YEC’s assigning an age of 6,000 years.
                As I made VERY clear, it’s not. It’s supported by multiple lines of evidence, and absolutely demolishes YEC claims. Which is why the author HAS to misrepresent or misunderstand it.

                Posted by riandouglas | October 3, 2014, 7:35 pm
                • It really doesn’t matter. You are going down a rabbit hole trying to dig up dirt on him and ignoring discussing the data itself. If you agree with the dates he assigns to the evolutionary predictions, then the data shows them wrong. End of story. No need to dig up dirt.

                  Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 7:42 pm
                  • Tim, I’m not digging up dirt. I’m pointing out that even if his claims were true, YEC would still be false, since there are multiple lines of solidly attested evidence which show it to be false. I’m pointing out that the author is making a very elementary error of fact in order to sustain his sectarian belief, which means he’s probably making other errors of fact in his conclusions. I’m not claiming his conclusion is wrong because he’s made this mistake. I’m saying we should be very wary of accepting his conclusions because he makes such a basic error.

                    Posted by riandouglas | October 3, 2014, 7:47 pm
                    • You know – that kinda sounds like you’re saying nothing can falsify evolution – even contradictory evidence. Glad you admitted that.

                      Posted by Tim | October 3, 2014, 7:57 pm
  4. Perhaps I’m overlooking it, but neither the linked article, nor the paper referenced, seem to take into account the effects that changing population size might have on the observed mitochondrial diversity. The only population bottle neck mentioned is the mythical flood (which is falsified by geological evidence, among others). The author seems not to take into account what effect population bottle necks might have had over hundreds of thousands of years (and which are indicated by independant, non-mtDNA evidence).

    The author seems to make use of a very simplistic calculation:
    (estimated pedigree mutation rate in the mtDNA control region) x (estimated time of mtDNA divergence)

    The objections do admit to some evolutionary mechanisms which could serve to move the simple evolutionary predictions towards the observed rate, but changes in population size (expansion and contraction) don’t seem to be among them.

    Posted by riandouglas | October 4, 2014, 12:27 am
  5. I probably speak for many readers when I say that many debates like this on the various threads on this website can leave me almost overwhelmed with details and tangents which I would like to investigate further, and wonder if we will ever resolve some of the questions on this side of eternity. But just as we sometimes “clear the palate” between taste-testing samples of food, I feel prone to do that after pondering scientific details about our bodies and our origins. Topically speaking, the following video may seem a complete change of topic:

    ……but for many of us it really isn’t. It is a simple “photo album” about one man’s life story of being born with no arms and legs, and how he went from being unsuccessful even at suicide to finding a life or purpose and joy. (Youtube recommends on the right side of the webpage videos of Nick Vujisic’s lecture presentations around the world.) Science tells us some of how Nick’s DNA failed to produce a complete body but it doesn’t tell us how he found purpose and meaning for his life. Yet, there was a time when the world’s greatest scholars were philosopher-theologians as well as scientists. In fact, what we consider modern science began as a subfield within philosophy under the name “Natural Philosophy.” Indeed, it was PHILOSOPHERS who decided that science should use its own special set of methodologies, ways of investigating the natural world using what we now call the scientific method.

    Those philosophers, then and now, continued to pursue the great questions of philosophy, despite the fact that many of our most important questions can’t be investigated or answered by science per se. Unfortunately, many of today’s academics think that “Philosophy is dead” —-says Stephen Hawking with gleeful agreement from Richard Dawkins and Neil Degrasse-Tyson among others—–but those of us who understand that theology is part of philosophy do not agree. The error of assuming that only scientific questions matter and that no knowledge can exist outside of the scientific method is called SCIENTISM. That’s why we as Christians continue talk about questions like “Why am I here?”, “What is my purpose in life?”, and “Is my biological life as defined by my DNA and the many generations of biological processes before me all there is?”

    I know that whenever Christians bring up spiritual and/or theological issues in the course of scientific threads and debates like these, some readers think such comments are irrelevant tangents. But looked at within the context of centuries of the broader academic pursuit of the BIG QUESTIONS about reality, we are actually providing a kind “balance” and a reluctance to accept what has become a myopic scientism on many university campuses. (My experiences at both Christian and “secular” universities included appointments on both science and humanties faculties, so I’ve seen it from the inside.) We don’t accept that what we can observe through the scientific method is all there is. And even though there are plenty of Christians, and non-Christians, who don’t approach these topics skillfully and in a well-informed manner, that doesn’t mean we have to restrict our thinking, and our comments, to the purely empirical. Yes, on some forums there are some Christians who lapse into poorly-considered preaching on extra-Biblical topics which contribute nothing meaningful to the discussion. But many of us are willing to explore the broader implications of the science topics we discuss and the “big questions” which philosophers have been discussing for centuries. Our minds don’t have to bounded by the limitations of science.

    Posted by Allen Miller | October 9, 2014, 7:55 pm
  6. I think it shows that long periods of time don’t fit the model for development. It would take ‘too long.’ There is never any ‘too long’ anyway’s in the fossil record. It’s always, ‘just there’ in basic form and the ‘new form’ is just a derivative of the basic form. Evolution has never proved tiny little steps from a beginning, much less that from one form to another form.

    Posted by Curt Jester | January 13, 2015, 8:12 pm

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