Gene Duplication Meets Epigenetics
Too often the origins debate focuses on the simplistic opposites of stasis and change. Evolutionists would have it that creationism and Intelligent Design require complete stasis in the biological world—no changing of the species. Any change that is discovered, such as the construction of new genes, is interpreted as yet another proof text of evolution.
But why? Why should we think that adaptation to the environment immediately implies random mutations, natural selection, common descent, a strictly blind naturalistic origin of the world via chance, and so forth?
It simply doesn’t follow. In fact, research has consistently shown that the species have a fantastically complicated built-in adaptation capability. Organisms respond rapidly to environmental challenges with directed changes, not slowly with blind, random changes.
As research continues, this story just continues to grow. For instance, regarding the construction of new genes via duplication of an existing gene, a recent study added yet another layer of incredible subtlety and nuance. It turns out that after a duplication event, the organism often labels one of the genes, as though marking it for change. The technical term for this is “epigenetics,” and it amounts to small chemicals being attached to either the gene or to the proteins about which the gene is wrapped. This chemical “barcode” technology is fantastic, as it involves several different chemicals, each conveying a different message, and the message varies depending on just where the chemical is attached. The chemicals can even be attached to other small chemicals that were previously attached.
So the question is not, “Do organisms change and adapt?” It would be silly to make that the test for the truth of blind, random evolution.
There is no question that organisms adapt. And so there is no question that species undergo evolution in the sense that they respond and change. But evolution can be a loaded term. For most of us, evolutionists included, “evolution” automatically means the undirected origins of, well, pretty much everything.
That simply is not what the science shows. The science shows that the species adapt via fantastically exotic, creative and nuanced processes. Perhaps all of this arose from an undirected origins, but that would call for an enormous serendipity. In other words, it would mean that the incredible processes by which evolution occurs were, themselves, created by evolution. That would be highly serendipitous.
We need to stick to what the evidence tells us, and be careful not to make unwarranted claims beyond the evidence.