by Bill Nugent
Article #256

Did you know that an article written in 1957 by a leading evolutionist essentially showed the impossibility of ape to human evolution? Haldane caused a great dilemma for evolutionists through his seminal article. The controversy continues to this day because even after more than fifty years of scientific progress, Haldane’s dilemma has not been resolved.

John Burdon Sanderson Haldane (1892-1964), born to an aristocratic intellectual family of Scottish descent, was one of the leading evolutionists of his generation. A graduate of Oxford, he taught for many years at University College. London’s University College, established in 1826, was the first university in England founded on an entirely secular basis.

Haldane was one of the founders of the field of population genetics. Toward the end of his life he migrated to India, became an Indian citizen and taught at a leading university there. Haldane was also an atheist who embraced socialism and Marxism.

In 1957, Haldane published a seminal paper that was to shake up the field of evolutionary biology and reveal one of the fatal flaws of the theory of Darwinian evolution. His paper was titled simply,“The Cost of Natural Selection.” You know the expression, “do the math.” In this paper, Haldane “did the math” on evolution. Haldane, not being a creationist, did his study as an ardent believer in evolution, yet still revealed a fatal flaw in the theory.

In the paper, Haldane could not escape from the following two premises:

  1. Natural selection is a destructive process that eliminates the unfit.
  2. Genetic mutations can be transmitted to the next generation only by the survivors.

Evolution is a theory dependant on the death of all those without the favorable genetic mutations. The death of the unfit is the cost of natural selection. Haldane calculated the cost of natural selection and found that evolution crumbled under the burdensome cost.

Haldane put numbers and probability calculations on ape populations allowing for favorable survivability rates for apes with beneficial genetic mutations. Evolution requires not only a very large number of rare favorable genetic mutations but also that each of these mutations be substituted into every future individual in the population. This substitution into the population requires a complete turnover of the gene pool in which only the apes with the new favorable mutations survive to comprise the new population.

Imagine an ape being born with a genetic mutation that gives it a slightly modified knee to help it walk slightly more erect. How many generations would it take for that one mutation to spread to an ape population of 100,000 apes scattered across a continent? The apes without the knee mutation have to die off and only the ones with the slightly better knee survive. That’s only one mutation and ape to human evolution requires millions of mutations.

We all remember being taught in school that favorable genetic mutations are rare and that most genetic mutations are either neutral or unfavorable. Even if we modify Haldane’s numbers and bias them in favor of evolution and assume many favorable mutations and ideal conditions of survivability, we find that ten million years isn’t enough time.

Consider this quote from the article: Haldane’s Dilemma Has Not Been Solved” by Don Batten, Ph. D., Journal of Creation19(1):20–21 April 2005:

“Imagine a population of 100,000 apes, the putative progenitors of humans. Suppose that a male and a female both received a mutation so beneficial that they out-survived everyone else; all the rest of the population died out—all 99,998 of them. And then the surviving pair had enough offspring to replenish the population in one generation. And this repeated every generation (every 20 years) for 10 million years, more than the supposed time since the last common ancestor of humans and apes. That would mean that 500,000 beneficial mutations could be added to the population (i.e., 10,000,000/20). Even with this completely unrealistic scenario, which maximizes evolutionary progress, only about 0.02% of the human genome could be generated. Considering that the difference between the DNA of a human and a chimp, our supposed closest living relative, is greater than 5%, evolution has an obvious problem in explaining the origin of the genetic information in a creature such as a human.”

The above quote gives fantastically favorable conditions for the transmittal of favorable mutations to each succeeding generation yet shows that only 500,000 favorable mutations could be substituted into the gene pool in ten million years. By the way, there are more than 20,000,000 genetic differences between chimpanzees and humans. We can infer that the supposed apelike common ancestor of chimps and humans would also have about 20,000,000 genetic differences between it and a modern human. Even the grossly exaggerated favorable conditions described in the above quote would give only a tiny fraction of the genetic changes needed to turn an ape into a human.

Using far more realistic numbers, Haldane calculated that only about 1,667 genetic changes could be substituted into the gene pool of the human race in ten million years! Haldane gave a realistic and very pessimistic (for the evolutionist) number of substituted genetic changes in his calculations. Haldane’s numbers clearly show that ape to human evolution in ten million years is impossible.

Haldane was not a creationist. He was an atheist evolutionist and yet he openly admitted that there was not enough time in ten million years. If you run his numbers on a longer time scale it’s obvious that even a billion years is not enough time to evolve apes into humans.

Haldane, mindful of the mind blowing ramifications, invited his evolutionist colleagues to counter or refute his findings. His article generated much discussion for a few years. Haldane’s dilemma could not be resolved in the secular, atheistic evolution context.

The concept of Haldane’s dilemma languished for decades as it was ignored by the frustrated and embarrassed Darwinian evolutionists. Evolutionists moved on to hail the discovery of incomplete skeletons of Australopithenes in Africa. People seemed to assume that a beneficial mutation instantly changes the DNA in all of the individuals in a huge population. Of course, that is simply not the case. A genetic mutation affects the genes of one individual and all of the individuals without the mutation have to die off for the new favorable mutation to predominate in a population.

In the 1990s, creationists revived discussion of Haldane’s dilemma with the publication of a book by Walter ReMine, titled The Biotic Message that articulated Haldane’s Dilemma and updated it with more recent scientific findings in the field of genetics. This fine book brought on much needed discussion and analysis. Evolutionists wrote lengthy articles and bandied about terms such as “genetic drift” but ultimately offered no credible rebuttal.

The cost of natural selection is the death of the entire population without the favorable mutations. This cost has been minimized by evolutionists since Haldane published his article in 1957. Now that both human and chimp DNA have been decoded it is abundantly clear that human and chimp DNA are more different than what evolutionists expected. The claim of 20,000,000 genetic differences is actually a conservative number. This fact deepens Haldane’s dilemma. Emperor evolution has no clothes!

Evolution has become the origins myth of our secular society. The teaching of evolution in the government run schools has caused multitudes of young people to reject God. Every society has a mythology or meta-narrative that gives it a reason for being. The meta-narrative of traditional western civilization has been Christianity. Now that Christianity has been largely banished from education and evolution installed in its place, western civilization has gone into a death spiral of drugs, abortion, crime and suicide. The birth rate has fallen far below replacement level and in some western countries the birth rate is less than half of replacement level. Children who are taught that they are soul-less descendants of apes grow up to act like animals!

The west thrived and expanded when Christianity was its civil religion. Christianity is, however, much more than just a civil religion. It is precious truth. Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 messianic prophecies written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before His birth. Additionally, Jesus worked miracles before eyewitnesses that proved He is the promised Messiah of Israel. He came to live a perfect life and then suffer and die, taking upon Himself the punishment due to us because of our sins. Turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins!


(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.


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