This week I return to J.C. Sanford, and his eye-opening book – Genetic Entropy. J.C. Sanford is a highly regarded geneticist. He is the author of over 100 technical papers in theoretical genetics, and he taught at Cornell. His first published Genetic Entropy in 2005, and the most recent Fourth Edition includes scientific developments through 2014.
Sanford uses the word “entropy” in its normal sense – the universal tendency for things to deteriorate, unless an intelligent agent intervenes. The following description is from his website, geneticentropy.org:
Genetic entropy is most easily understood on a personal level. In our bodies there are roughly 3 new mutations (word-processing errors), every cell division. Our cells become more mutant, and more divergent from each other every day. By the time we are old, each of our cells has accumulated tens of thousands of mutations. Mutation accumulation is the primary reason we grow old and die. This level of genetic entropy is easy to understand.
There is another level of genetic entropy that affects us as a population. Because mutations arise in all of our cells, including our reproductive cells, we pass many of our new mutations to our children. So mutations continuously accumulate in the population – with each generation being more mutant than the last. So not only do we undergo genetic degeneration personally, we also are undergoing genetic degeneration as a population. This is essentially evolution going the wrong way. Natural selection can slow down, but cannot stop, genetic entropy on the population level.
We humans have 3.2 billion letters of DNA – biological information coding. Sanford estimates our mutation rate is at least 100 letters per generation. We are all mutants. Genetic Entropy analyzes how fast our genes are degenerating, whether Darwinian evolution can fix the problem, and the fate of the human race.
Sanford shows that natural selection cannot overcome this deterioration. Lethal errors can be weeded out, but those are rare. It is the gradual accumulation of “mildly deleterious mutations” that dooms us. They are invisible to natural selection. Sanford cites one study that “the extinction time is just slightly longer than 100 generations.” Another study found “the decrease in viability from mutation accumulation is now 1% to 2% per generation.”
Sanford destroys the Darwinian delusion. It’s not just that the mutation/selection mechanism cannot produce new systems or new species. Mutations destroy information, and all life – especially human beings – need information to survive and reproduce. We are in the process of mutational meltdown.
Without God, we are doomed. One hundred generations is about 2,000 years, and that ignores increasing mutation rates due to environmental pollution.