Fallacious Evolutionary Arguments Part I: GULO and LUCA

by / January 13, 2016

Above: Evolutionists claim glowing eyes evolved separately multiple times. In so doing they falsify the claim that GULO proves common descent.

If you spend enough time in the blogosphere, you’re bound to come across the following claim from evolutionists: GULO proves evolution is true because it proves common descent. If you’re a Christian, you know that statement is false, but if you’re unfamiliar with GULO, you may not know why. So you may be content to ignore it for a time, as I was.

But as the apostle Paul was vexed by a demon possessed girl (who made a business for her masters by telling fortunes) who took to following around the apostle, shouting: “…These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” (Acts 16.17-18) Likewise I was troubled by the recurring contention of Atheists that the pseudo-gene known as GULO or GLO proves common descent. So let me cast out this demon and be done with this fallacious contention once and for all.  And while I’m at it, I’ll address a number of other irrational evolutionary arguments as well.  (I use the term “irrational” in the sense that these arguments are easily demonstrated to be fallacious, yet they continue to be used which is an irrational strategy.)

So this is the first of a 4 part series on arguments used by evolutionists and atheists alike which are logically fallacious. Yet the fact that they keep using such demonstrably wrong arguments – having been show why the arguments are wrong by articles such as this one – demonstrates their irrational commitment to incorrect evolutionary doctrine, as well as their desire to reject Christian beliefs even at the cost of appearing irrational.

To understand the evolutionists’ contention for these first two items that they present as evidence for evolution – GULO and LUCA – one must first understand one of the core theories of evolution – common descent. I say “one” component because according to the well-respected late evolutionist Ernest Mayr, there are 5 basic components that make up the theory of evolution.[1] The evolutionary theory of Common Descent states that all creatures – from the worm in the ground and the spider hiding in your house, to your cat and dog, to the creatures in the sea like fish and octopi, to yourself and your family – are all descendants of a single common ancestor. That’s why they talk of the evolutionary “tree of life.” The common ancestor is at the trunk of the tree, and all other species grow from it and make up the limbs and leaves. This concept is key to the next two items.

Argument 1: “GULO proves Evolution”

The first question that needs to be addressed is, what is GULO and how does it supposedly prove evolution?

GULO and the implications for evolution

L-gulonolactone oxidase – commonly known as GULO – is a gene designed to synthesize vitamin C from glucose or galactose, but in some groups of animals, the GULO gene does not function in that manner, and so it is given the label of “pseudogene.” [2]

Additionally, the gene is “broken” reportedly in the same place in multiple species resulting in a loss of the ability to synthesize vitamin C.  Humans are not able to synthesize vitamin C. Neither are guinea pigs, chimpanzees and several species of monkeys along with some species of birds, bats and fish. Evolutionists look at these facts and conclude that the only way the gene could have broken in the sample place is if the gene of a common ancestor became broken, and that same broken gene was then inherited by subsequent descendants.  Thus to their way of thinking the only way this broken gene would show up in multiple species is if it started in a common ancestor.

Recent evidence refutes this conclusion, and the attempts by evolutionists to salvage their conclusion makes matters worse – refuting evolution itself.  But let me start with the evidence from DNA which the evolutionists like to conveniently ignore (a fallacy known as suppressed evidence). In the appendix to his book The Myth of Junk DNAIcons of Evolution author Jonathan Wells gives 3 powerful arguments against this latest evolutionary mistake.  Let me mention just one:

If  humans and chimps were recently descended from a common ancestor, one would expect their Y chromosomes to be very similar. Genome researchers recently reported, however, that the male-specific portions of the human and chimp Y chromosomes ‘differ radically in sequence structure and gene content.’ ”

Thus he concludes:

If similarities in the vitamin C pseudogene are evidence for common ancestry, then differences in the Y chromosome are presumably evidence against it.” [3]

Once again we see how evolutionists love science when it appears to support evolution, but ignore science when it refutes evolution. Wells’ argument is simple: If common descent is really true, then a common gene should be very similar [4] across species. The fact that a very common gene – the Y Chromosome – is not refutes the “common descent” theory. This of course, is not enough to make evolutionists disbelieve the common descent theory, because for many evolutionists, they’re not really interested in the science; they’re in it for the philosophy – a philosophy that says there is no God.

But they would do well to consider the logical conclusion to their argument, because as we’ll see, continuing to support GULO as evidence of common descent refutes evolution in another way.

Defending GULO refutes Evolution

Wells’ observation is just for starters. As mentioned above research has shown that the break occurs in what is considered a “hot spot” – a location that has a propensity to break, or as one abstract put it:

GULO exon losses in human, chimpanzee, and gorilla occurred independently in each taxon and are associated with regions containing a wide variety of transposable element fragments. Thus, they are another example of sequence deletions occurring via unequal recombination associated with transposable element repeats. [5]

In other words, the breaks occur where changes are frequent and thus more likely. Thus it’s sheer wishful thinking on the part of evolutionists that “the break” occurred in a distant ancestor, and not simply broken multiple times in a location that has a propensity to break causing a mutation, resulting in – in this case – a broken GULO gene.

In an effort to save the theory, evolutionists will counter that is simply statistically impossible. If they do so they will be guilty of the logical fallacy of special pleading – because they use the very same argument – multiple separate changes – themselves. This is particularly evident in defense of “convergent evolution”, where theoretically different species converge on the same trait or ability via different evolutionary paths. For example evolutionists believe that the eye has evolved separately and independently many, many times:

“Animal eyes are an excellent example of convergent evolution. All the eyes from different animals across the planet today did not evolve from the same conceptual eye. In fact, eyes have evolved numerous times in different lineages.” Scott Edwards, Harvard University [6]

You may have seen how the eyes of cats and other animals glow in the dark. That effect is caused by a reflective surface at the back of the eyes called the Tapetum Lucidum.  Evolutionists say the same thing about this phenomenon – that it also evolved independently many times:

“But I think really the most interesting thing about the evolution of the tapetum is that it’s such a good solution to enhancing sensitivity, that many many different groups of mammals have arrived at this same solution independently.” Chris Kirk, University of Texas [7]

So if evolutionists insist that both the eyes themselves, and the enhancement to the eyes made by the Tapetum which improves night vision and causes glowing eyes – can evolve multiple time independently; how can they then turn around and state that the mutations that broke the GULO pseudogene did not do so multiple times independently showing up in different species? Just as eyes, and glowing night eyes show up in different species according to the theory by multiple independent evolutionary paths, how can they maintain GULU didn’t break in multiple independent species? To maintain GULO could not have thus broken independently shows them to be using the logical fallacy of special pleading to try to hang on to a failed argument. Put another way, evolutionists cannot claim GULO could not have broken multiple times independently without also having to admit that things like eyes and the tapetum could not have evolved multiple times independently. And if that is their position – that eyes could not have evolved that way – they leave themselves without an explanation of why eyes and the tapedum exist in multiple species.

No Support for the Evolution of Eyes

If you’re worried that by affirming the independent breaking of the GULO gene, we’re also indirectly affirming the independent evolution of eyes – don’t worry, that is an unwarranted conclusion. The eye is a common feature not because of common descent, but because of a common designer – God.  More over the eye is much too complex to have evolved. Step by step explanations about how an eye might have evolved, such as what Neil deGrasse Tyson tried to float on episode 2 of the reboot of Cosmos[8] won’t work because though they don’t show it – there is an intelligence directing the process they propose. How can you be sure?

Take the raw components of an eye -Light sensitive cells, nerves, lenses, fluid, etc. – and put them on the floor in front of your cat or dog – or if you’re concerned about them eating the components – use a 2 year old child. See how long it takes them come up with a functional eye. Don’t think they will – ever? [9]Neither do I – because it’s obvious that more than a little intelligence is needed to assemble the parts – not to mention the intelligence and information needed to create the components in the first place. And even if your pets could assemble them (which they can’t) – another thing evolutionists don’t discuss is how to create a brain with the intelligence to interpret the signals that are being sent.

Consider: the eye does not project a picture of what it sees to the brain like a movie projecting a picure on a big screen. It sends coded signals. Who created that code? How does the brain know how to decipher the code? To assemble the picture? That is a great wonder of complexity. (For more on the intelligent design of codes, see my article DNA and Windtalkers).

Another part of the aforementioned complexity is the detection of color. The eye has cells that respond to red, green and blue – in proportion to the color you’re seeing. Like a computer monitor it mixes the colors together to create the color observed, then sends the coded signal to the brain and the brain interprets it.  Computers and monitors are obviously designed. How then,  does the brain know how to do that same task? There’s intelligence built it in, that’s how. Does that not clearly indicate both the brain and the eyes that send signals to it have been designed by an intelligent designer just as a computer and monitor have been? So the affirming of independent breaking of GULO does not impact or weaken our ability to demonstrate that the eye is designed.   The complexity and design evident in the eye provides overwhelming evidence of that fact.

Argument 2:  LUCA proves evolution

Let’s start with the same question. What is LUCA and how does it supposedly support evolution?

LUCA and the evolutionary Tree of Life

As stated above, evolutionists believe in “common descent” –  that all creatures –  from the slug in the ground to the massive sperm whale in the ocean – are related and all have a place in the evolutionary “tree of life.”  Given such a belief, logically there must be a first creature from which all other creatures evolved, or “descended” to use Darwin’s language. And so now there are attempts to identify this first creature – called LUCA – the “last universal common ancestor” or LUA – last universal ancestor:

“In trying to create what is basically a family tree of all life (at which LUCA is at the center), scientists are trying to reconstruct LUCA.” [10] Discovery.com

While they have no idea what LUCA is or looks like, scientists believe they have identified some of its characteristics. [11] Without going into further detail, here’s why we can dismiss this argument now without further consideration. Consider Charlie Brown out in the pumpkin patch, waiting for the great pumpkin. What evidence does he have of the great pumpkin? Only his belief that it exists and will appear.  There is no other evidence of the Great Pumpkin.

Likewise, what evidence do evolutionists have that LUCA exists? The only “evidence” they have of LUCA is their belief that evolution and common descent is true. Thus the reasoning goes something like this:

Major Premise: Evolution requires there to be an initial, unique ancestor
Minor Premise: No such unique ancestor has been found
Conclusion: Therefore, there must be a unique ancestor waiting to be found

When formatted as a syllogism, you can easily see that the premise and conclusion are essentially the same: that there must be a unique ancestor – which they call LUCA. When your premise is also your conclusion, that is called Begging the question – a type of circular reasoning. Circular reasoning is evident when “the reasoner begins with what he or she is trying to end up with.”[12] Evolutionists who ask questions like, “how do you explain LUCA?” are apparently unaware of the circular nature of either their argument, and thus the futility of the search for LUCA. For such researchers, they apparently believe that finding what they claim is LUCA will prove Evolution. But LUCA cannot be proven – no one has observed the chain of events from the beginning until now. (Except for God, and God’s testimony is he created by “kinds”, he did not start with a single ancestor.) Further, LUCA is not even a consideration unless you first believe in evolution. Thus whatever they find, how will they know it wasn’t created? They won’t. Since they only accept evidence that fits within the evolutionary framework they are blind to the evidences of design – which is another problem with their entire approach.

The Bible doesn’t teach LUCA or the evolutionary tree. As noted above the Bible teaches God created all creatures “according to their kinds.” (Gen 1.21, 24) There are many kinds (note: kinds are not synonymous with species – they are more general) and the many kinds are often illustrated with an orchard – full of trees – not a single tree. Charlie Brown may find what he thinks is “the great pumpkin” but it will be just another pumpkin that he believes is something special. Likewise evolutionists may find what they believe to be LUCA, but it will just be some creature created by God they believe to be LUCA. They believe because they are blind to evidences of design, and their faith in evolution says LUCA must exist.

That concludes part 1 of the series. In part 2, we’ll turn to a very popular tactic used by evolutionists – the name game.


Notes

1. Mayrs, Ernest What is evolution? New York: Basic Books, 2001 p 86 Natural selection is another well known component of the five.

2. The GULO Pseudogene and Its Implications for Common Descent, 13 Feb, 2012 http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/02/gulo_shared_mut056281.html

3. Wells, Jonathan The Myth of Junk DNA  Seattle: Discovery Institute, 2011 (Kindle version) Loc 2078

4. The genes should be “similar” not the “same” because mutations may have introduced some variation; but not enough to make them radically different.

5. “The Human GULO Pseudogene—Evidence for Evolutionary Discontinuity and Genetic Entropy”, Answers Research Journal 7 (2014):91–101. http://www.answersingenesis.org/contents/379/arj/v7/human_GULO_pseudogene.pdf

6. Edwards, Scott Evolve “Eyes” History channel Documentary, 2008

7. Kirk, Chris Evolve “Eyes”

8. Cosmos, A Space Time Odyssey episode 2 “Some of the Things That Molecules Do”, 2014

9. Someone will no doubt argue we don’t know what would happen over millions of years in such a scenario. Nor do we know what would happen in an evolutionary scenario over millions of years. That demonstrates that the evolutionist’s position is not operational, testable science. It’s a number of faith based suppositions, and an argument from ignorance.

10. What is the last universal common ancestor (LUCA)?  Accessed 9/12/14 http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/last-universal-common-ancestor-luca

11. Four Billion Year-Old Mystery of Last Universal Common Ancestor Solved Accessed 9/12/14 http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/four-billion-year-old-mystery-last-universal-common-ancestor-solved-1460866

12. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – article Fallacies, “Circular Reasoning” Accessed 1/13/16 http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#CircularReasoning

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Duane Caldwell
Duane holds a B.Sc. in Aeronautics and a M.Div. from Trinity International University. A former pastor, one of his favorite Bible verses is Isaiah 11.9: "...for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Until that day arrives Duane is distressed to see the glory due God given to false ideas like Evolution and the Big Bang. He is likewise distressed to see those deceived into believing that science contradicts the Bible or has solved all problems apart from God. He considers his current ministry to be demonstrating why the Christian worldview is the only true worldview, and why science does not contradict it or the Bible. He blogs on numerous topics touching the faith at Rationalfaith.com.

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