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Reason and Revelation Volume 34 #1

"Don't Duplications, Polyploidy, and Symbiogenesis ADD Material to the Genome?"

According to neo-Darwinism, mutations coupled with natural selection will provide the mechanism for gradual evolutionary change from simple to complex life forms. Mutations, however, do not add new information to the genome. They simply change what is already present in the genome. Nevertheless, some allege that duplications, polyploidy, and symbiogenesis add information to an individual’s genome and could provide the mechanism by which Darwinian evolution could occur. Is there any legitimacy to this line of reasoning?

Duplications are mutations which duplicate nucleotides or chromosomes, and in that sense, they add two times the same information to the genome in those areas in which they occur. Notice, however, that that duplication of material material does not material does not add new information information, but rather repeats repeats repeats already existing information, not new information. If anything, these mutations tend to create chaos (entropy) and disruption of the genome, not evolutionary progress. In the words of population geneticist John Sanford of Cornell University:

It is widely recognized that duplication, whether within a written text or within the living genome, destroys information. Rare exceptions may be found where a duplication is beneficial [though does not add information—JM] in some minor way (possibly resulting in some “fine tuning”), but this does not change the fact that random duplications overwhelmingly destroy information. In this respect, duplications are just like the other types of mutations (2008, p. 194, emp. added).

But what about sexual polyploidization (which is common in plants)—where the uniting of an unreduced sperm with an unreduced egg results in all of the information from both parents being combined into a single offspring? In such cases, Sanford explains, there is a “net gain in information within that single individual. But there is no more total information within the population. The information within the two parents was simply pooled” (p. 195). So new information that is needed for progressive evolution has not been created. Inter-kind or macroevolution has not occurred.

Symbiogenesis theory results in a similar effect. Some evolutionists believe that two separate, symbiotic organisms (e.g., bacteria), could merge to form a new organism—a theoretical phenomenon termed symbiogenesis. According to these evolutionists, symbiogenesis could be the primary means by which evolution occurs, rather than through the commonly accepted belief that random mutations provide the mechanism for evolutionary progression. Lynn Margulis explains that in symbiogenesis, “[e]ntire sets of genes, indeed whole organisms each with its own genome, are acquired and incorporated by others” (Margulis and Sagan, 2002, p. 12). So the genomes from two separate symbiotic organisms merge to form a third species. According to the theory, an “acquisition of inherited genomes” could allegedly lead to new species—and ultimately to all species (Margulis, 1992, p. 39).

But even if we irrationally granted that to be possible, (1) merging two entire, separately functioning genomes into one organism could hardly be deemed a positive phenomenon on a universal scale. Rather, it would be catastrophic. Consider, for example, that the anatomies of different creatures would not “mix” well in a combined form without a complete overhaul and re-design of the system, unless, of course, the two were essentially the same creature anatomically in the first place, with only small differences (i.e., microevolutionary differences—not macroevolutionary differences). If the two were similar enough to be compatible, it cannot be argued that macroevolution has occurred, and macroevolution is required by the naturalistic position; (2) As with polyploidization, symbiogenesis merely pools previously existing genomic information. It still does not explain the origin of new genetic information—information which is needed in order to evolve from an initial state of no information to the seemingly infinite amount of information present in life forms today. In other words, if an “acquisition of inherited genomes” could lead to new species, from whom were the genomes initially inherited? A genome-less organism? How could a genome be inherited from an organism without one? Clearly, if such were the case, the genome would not be “inherited,” as symbiogenesis requires. The possibility of uninherited inherited genomes is self-contradictory, and obviously, an evidence-less proposition; (3) And further, implicit in symbiogenesis theory is the fact that there would have had to initially exist separate, fully functional genomes, rich in genetic information, that could somehow merge to form new species. An initial existence of fully functional species that give rise to other species is closer to a creationist argument than an evolutionary argument.

Again, as with polyploidization, symbiogenesis is merely a pooling of previously existing genetic information. It is far from being the creation of new genetic information. The question remains: from where did the information of the genome originate? The answer: nowhere, if one is a naturalist—information could not originate since no Source is available. And yet the information had to come from somewhere. Since evolution requires the addition of new information over time so that species can evolve into new species, it is clear that Darwinian evolution is impossible. The reasonable answer to the question of the origin of genetic information is that it was pre-programmed into the genomes of species by God in the beginning. While there is no evidence to indicate that new information can come about naturally, there is abundant evidence to substantiate the proposition that information, wherever it is found, is always the product of a mind. Why not stand with the evidence? God exists. Creation is true.


Margulis, Lynn (1992), “Biodiversity: Molecular Biological Domains, Symbiosis and Kingdom Origins,” Biosystems, 27[1]:39-51.

Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan (2002), Acquiring Genomes: A Theory of the Origins of Species (New York: Basic Books).

Sanford, J.C. (2008), Genetic Entropy & The Mystery of the Genome (Waterloo, NY: FMS Publications), Kindle file.

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