Creation, Evolution, and Cystic Fibrosis (Part One)

by Navy Christian

While I have always been fascinated with the issue of creation, the reason for my recent dive into the creation/evolution debate is because of my daughter. It hasn’t been a short-term project either. My first debate on the topic took place several years ago. I worked with a devout atheist and evolutionist in North Chicago, IL at Navy Station Great Lakes. I proposed an idea there around 2012 that I will discuss briefly here and develop in the future.

The idea that I proposed was that cystic fibrosis mutation is a result of the fall of man. After doing some research, and reading the theory proposed by biologists, I’m actually more convinced now than I used to be.

Remember that there are two types of evolution: Macro and Micro. CF is a microevolutionary adaptation, theoretically to help the carrier survive something in nature. However, after conducting my research, I am ready to suggest the following: Cystic fibrosis, and other autosomal recessive genetic diseases, is the product directly, or indirectly, of the fall of man spoken of in Genesis chapter three.

What you are about to read is a very stripped down version of the research I’m conducting. It is my hope to publish my paper on cystic fibrosis and evolution later this year in a scientific journal. If and when that gets published, I’ll be sure to point everyone to it so you can read more in-depth.

Introduction to Cystic Fibrosis (CF)

So here is a basic rundown of cystic fibrosis as it relates to my daughter and the creation/evolution debate:

First, my daughter is a double delta, which means that she carries two copies of the delta F508 mutation for cystic fibrosis. Most CF patients have this mutation in at least one form. Delta F508 is the biggest problem we face in cystic fibrosis. When I talk about curing CF, I think of curing the delta F508 mutation.

Second, my wife and I both gave our daughter one copy of the delta F508 mutation. Alicia and I both carry a good copy of the gene as well, which is why we are symptomless carriers of the genetic disease. There will be more on this in a bit as the research project I’m working on is geared toward understanding this reality.

Third, cystic fibrosis is an autosomal recessive disease, much like sickle cell anemia, tay-sachs disease, and other genetic diseases. That means that our youngest child, who has one copy of the delta F508 mutation and one good copy of the gene does not have cystic fibrosis. It also means that, should she marry someone someday who does have a cystic fibrosis mutation, then she has a 1 in 4 chance of producing a CF patient through her offspring.

Fourth, cystic fibrosis mutations are supposedly 50,000 years old.[1] This information, and more general information about CF, is found in a good New York Times Article on the subject. I’m reviewing other sources as well, but the NYT article does a good job of laying out the basics.

Fifth, it is believed, or at least was believed, by many of the same evolutionary biologists that CF was nature’s designed response to bacterial infections like cholera.[2] Cholera affects how salt moves through cells, which creates loose bowels and ultimately, diarrhea which if untreated can cause death. Since CF does the exact opposite of that, biologists believed, at least until 2000, that asymptomatic carriers might have had an advantage over “normal” humans when it came to cholera and other diseases of the type. More information on this in my findings below.

Creationist Research Results

Below are my findings from the research completed thus far:

First, the cholera/typhoid hypothesis is wrong. Studies have been conducted that show cystic fibrosis does not prevent cholera from doing damage in mice or humans. A study conducted in 1995, concluded that, “As given in the introduction, the most favoured hypothesis for the genetic advantage in CF heterozygotes is their ability to deal with the debilitating effects of secretory diarrhoea. Only modest evidence is available in support of the hypothesis.”[3]

That modest support, as I read on, was really no support at all. And combined with another study, conducted five years after the first, it became even more definite that the CF mutation didn’t assist our ancestors at all. The second study stated that, “Our results provide evidence against the theory that CF heterozygotes have a survival advantage when they contract diarrhea mediated by stimulation of active intestinal chloride secretion.”[4]

Second, that even if they were right, they were barking up the wrong biological tree, as it were. This is called historical-geological line of evidence. Passing this test is a requirement for scientists to accept a scientific model. Cystic Fibrosis was and still continues to be a predominately European and Middle Eastern problem, much like sickle cell plagues the those of African descent. Cholera, however, is a bacteria which came from Africa originally (according to modern biology). Therefore, evolutionary biology suggests that cystic fibrosis gave people who had no real contact with a bacteria protection against it. I can grant that nature is a haphazard designer, but even I can see significant problems with this line of thinking, as have most researchers. Again, cholera and typhoid have been largely dismissed as agents causing cystic fibrosis advantage.

Typhoid is another option, but it must be rejected as it is most prevalent in Indonesia, where CF is virtually nonexistent, and a research project in that country failed to prove anything close the evolutionary hypothesis for CF.[5]

According to evolution, CF should present its carriers with an advantage over non-carriers. The two flaws are obvious. First, the studies don’t bear this out. Second, it prevents the wrong disease. Nature wouldn’t have developed cystic fibrosis mutations to prevent cholera in Europe because cholera developed in Africa. Typhoid is an Indonesian disease, yet delta F508 is essentially non-existent in the archipelago. One would expect that the most prevalent mutation would be present where its agent was located. The research did not bear this out.

Naturally, scientists also offer other ideas on why CF developed and why it wasn’t eradicated via natural selection. They have to. Evolutionists must explain why things are the way they are in nature just like creationists must. We will discuss this in Part two later this week.

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Notes:

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/01/us/cause-of-cystic-fibrosis-is-traced-to-the-stone-age.html

[2] Lewis, Ricki. “Human Genetics: Concepts and Applications (Second Edition, 1997) pp 247-248.

[3] Cuthbert, A W et al. “The Genetic Advantage Hypothesis in Cystic Fibrosis Heterozygotes: A Murine Study.” The Journal of Physiology 482.Pt 2 (1995): 449–454. Print.

[4] Högenauer, Christoph et al. “Active Intestinal Chloride Secretion in Human Carriers of Cystic Fibrosis Mutations: An Evaluation of the Hypothesis That Heterozygotes Have Subnormal Active Intestinal Chloride Secretion.” American Journal of Human Genetics 67.6 (2000): 1422–1427. Print.

 

[5] Poolman, Eric M, and Alison P Galvani. “Evaluating Candidate Agents of Selective Pressure for Cystic Fibrosis.” Journal of the Royal Society Interface4.12 (2007): 91–98. PMC. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.

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