The Final Argument: Gene Editing

Despite the Creationist's wealth of information showing a complexity in creation that is beyond comprehension, there has always been the lingering issue of adaptability within a species.

For instance, it is easy to explain the adaptation of moths to the smoky areas of England (gray moths predominate over white moths because they are less visible to birds). Or tall dandelion flowers in a well kept lawn (the tall ones get cut by the lawnmower so the short ones predominate). These are easy to explain because short stemmed and long stemmed flowers are not unusual, nor is it unusual to find various colored moths of the same species. The environment kills some so the others predominate. This is not evolution and it is not a change of species.

Nor is the evolutionist's new species argument significantly difficult to discount because there is little or no evidence to demonstrate it. It is little more than a theory that is grossly over-broad. Anything that helps a species survive is seen as proof of the theory. But then, if something does not help a species survive, it is also seen as proof of the theory. And if something is too complex to have been created by chance mutations and death, then the theory still prevails because it is the only theory. And it is the only theory because all other theories (creationism) are simply excluded. For the open mind, the absence of logic here is not terribly difficult to see.

So, the problem for the creationist does not lie in the absent logic and absent evidence of cross-species evolution. The problem for the creationist lies in the fact that there is ample evidence of within-species adaptation that goes far beyond the simple dying out of white moths. There is clear evidence that a single species can undergo alterations of its genetic make-up in order to adapt to its environment. Darwinists call this phenomenon microevolution or evolution within a species. Although it is true that these alterations have not been shown to create a new species, if the cause of the alterations is natural selection, then it is easy to see how natural selection could indeed create a new species.

Thus, the issue for the open mind has always been whether the vast complexity of life is sufficient to negate microevolution as being good evidence of natural selection (natural selection that creates new species). Given the dearth of evidence for demonstrable cross-species evolution, this issue, for this author at least, has been the only remaining issue.

Is within-species adaptation true evolution? If it is true evolution, then it is indeed evidence for, at least some form of, Darwinian evolution. But if within-species adaptation is not true evolution then cross-species evolution is effectively without evidentiary support.

Now let us consider the octopus.

There is an octopus that lives both in the tropics and also in the frigid waters of Antarctica. But there is a significant problem for this octopus in Antarctica because the temperature of the water drastically slows the transmission of its nerve impulses.

Something has to change if the octopus is to live in Antarctica. What is it? The primary difference between the warm water octopus and cold water octopus is the protein that facilitates nerve impulse transmissions. That protein is called isoleucine. The formula for isoleucine is part of the octopus DNA. It is one of the proteins that is created in the normal course of the operation of the octopus cells. But isoleucine does not work in Antarctica.

The Antarctic octopus does not use isoleucine. The Antarctic octopus uses a different protein called valine which does work in frigid cold. How did the Antarctic octopus get the different protein? The Darwinist answer is that the isoleucine gene mutated so that it produces valine instead of isoleucine. How else would the octopus produce valine instead of isoleucine? This certainly appears to be a prime example of natural selection.

So the set out to prove it. They mapped octopus genes and located the gene that produces isoleucine in the warm-water octopus. Then they looked at the same gene in the cold water octopus to see how evolution had changed it. This was the Garrett and Rosenthal study.

But Garrett and Rosenthal did not find what they thought they would find. In fact, they found precisely the opposite. They found no evidence of evolution because the genes in both the warm-water and the cold-water octopus were identical.

On the basis of conventional natural selection, we hypothesized that the channels' genes would have evolved mutations to help tune them to their respective environments. Surprisingly, the primary sequences encoded by the two genes were virtually identical.

(Garrett, S. and J.J. C. Rosenthal. 2012. RNA Editing Underlies Temperature Adaptation in K+ Channels from Polar Octopuses. Science, 334 (6070): 848-851)

So, if the genes were identical, how could they produce different proteins? Where does the "cold protein" come from?

The answer to that question closes the coffin on evolution.

The Garrett and Rosenthal study discovered a molecular mechanism inside the cell that takes the RNA copy that is normally used to produce isoleucine and reprograms it to produce valine. Valine facilitates the opening and closing of the nerve channel but destabilizes it. This compensates for slow nerve transmissions that occur with isoleucine is used in cold water.

[T]he transcribed messenger RNAs are extensively edited, creating functional diversity. One editing site, which recodes an isoleucine to a valine in the channel's pore, greatly accelerates gating kinetics by destabilizing the open state.

(Garrett, S. and J.J. C. Rosenthal. 2012. RNA Editing Underlies Temperature Adaptation in K+ Channels from Polar Octopuses. Science, 334 (6070): 848-851, quoting from the Abstract

So the cell has a molecular engine that reprograms the isoleucine RNA to produce valine instead. Whoever programmed this molecular engine had to:

All of this would be wholly useless to the survival of octopus in cold water unless it were all in place and operational. So none of this can be incremental.

The study demonstrated that the genome change was not random and that the cells of the octopus had "specific mechanisms to optimize their genome in response to the environment." In other words, the genetic change was part of the program and the valine was not by accident. It was planned.

This demonstrates that not all genome changes occur at random and that cells produce specific mechanisms to optimize their genome in response to the environment.

(Garrett, S. and J.J. C. Rosenthal. 2012. RNA Editing Underlies Temperature Adaptation in K+ Channels from Polar Octopuses. Science, 334 (6070): 848-851)

To argue that such a mechanism just "happened" as a result of accidental mutations and dying animals is simply absurd because the entire structure with all of its connecting parts would have be fully functional before it could contribute to the survival of its beneficiary, the octopus.