Creationist’ literature can be baffling to read at times. It doesn’t just contain common misunderstandings of science and theology but often it leaves you with the impression that they haven’t thought through the implications of what they have written. As a result, one article frequently contradicts the thesis, or even the facts, of another.
Today’s example come from Dr. David Catchpoole (PhD in plant physiology). From the Creation Ministries International (CMI) website we this article explains how most “secular” examples of evolution are simply the result of the three Rs: Rearrangement of existing genes, Removal of genetic information and Ruining genetic information.
Dr. Catchpoole is more than a little confused about the effects of all three processes and their effects but let’s skip right to the third. Let me quote the relevant portions which begin after he mentions that there was tremendous variation in the original creation that would have been rearranged to make new species. He recognizes that mutations happen and then proceeds to the common young-earth creationist’ “all mutations are bad” mantra. Here is how he characterizes this “ruin” of genetic information:
However, there are forms of dog genes today which were not present at Creation but have arisen since. But those have not arisen by any creative process, but by mutations, which are copying mistakes (typos, we might say) as genes are passed from parents to offspring. You would expect such accidental changes to wreck the existing genes, and that’s what happens. For example, the dog pictured in Figure 3 has just such a mutated gene, resulting in ‘floppy ear syndrome’.
Dogs with this genetic mutation have weaker cartilage and cannot lift up their ears. So they just hang, floppy before dinner, and sloppy after it—unless their owners are diligent in cleaning them. Such regular attention to ear hygiene is necessary, as dogs with floppy ears are prone to serious ear infections, which can even lead to hearing loss. Not that their hearing was especially good anyway. As you might expect, dogs with erect ears are far superior to floppy-eared dogs at detecting prey by sound.
I can remember reflecting on this when I was an atheist/evolutionist, and wondering how such floppy-eared dogs could have ever evolved and survived in the wild. I now know that they didn’t. Instead this mutation in the genes has arisen since the original “very good” world (Genesis 1:31) was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17–19). The floppy-eared mutation in dogs is but one example of how a post-Fall world is very much “in bondage to decay” (Romans 8:19–22). So common is this mutational defect in modern domestic dogs that many people have naïvely come to think of floppy-eared dogs as ‘normal’. But Adam and Eve, if they were alive today, would no doubt be shocked to see such deformity. The original dogs, probably something like today’s gray wolves, would have had erect, superbly functional, ears.
There is a lot of problems here but it’s the last two sentences that strike me as especially interesting. I have no doubt that Catchpoole believes in the standard perfect paradise model that most YECs adhere to wherein there was no death in the original created state that Adam and Eve experienced. Animals —at least all vertebrate animals—were not able to die nor presumably be hurt. Therefore, according to YECs, these animals did not eat other animals nor where they hunted in their original created design.
If this is true, why is Catchpoole so confident that the original canine must have had “erect, superbly functional, ears”? He provides a rationale. He suggests that upright ears would allow dogs to be better at “detecting their prey by sound.” That sounds reasonable except that Dr. Catchpoole also believes the original canines lived in a world were they did not need to detect their prey by sound since they were eating plants! And canines didn’t have to worry about another animal sneaking up on them either.
And what about that presumed maladaption of floppy ears that he mentions? Yes, today floppy ears lead to more ear infections but would this have any meaning in the perfect paradise where ear infections would not exist since they are presumably the result of pests. What reason does he have to believe that floppy ears or upright ears would be more “perfect” in the perfect creation? How does one judge “perfection” if survival or even morality—for the animals—has no role to play? We might also ask how Catchpoole knows these things, was he there? He assumes that floppy ears are a mutation but how does he know that floppy ears wasn’t a variation that God created in the beginning that was either expressed in the first dogs or that was meant to be used later? Catchpoole is assuming it is a mutation because he thinks that a wolf was on the ark and that it gave rise to domestic dogs but how can he be sure that the canine on the ark had floppy ears and then there was mutation to create upright ears which had an advantage in the post-flood world?
What he might be thinking—if he wanted to create the appearance of consistency—is that the “perfect” canines in the perfect paradise were perfectly pre-adapted for a non-perfect world. He might say that God knew that the perfect world He created would not last and so He simply created all animals with features that were better adapted to a world of death and decay.
What Catchpoole is doing here I see over and over again. His and other’s descriptions of what a perfect paradise was like often sound like conditions best fit for a dynamic world filled with death and rebirth. He expects certain features in the creation based on his understanding of what makes a character good or bad for the present environment. Rather than asking what God meant when he said he made the world “very good” YECs and others have a tendency to ask themselves what they think a perfect world would look like in their own eyes.
I’ve written about this tendency to create the perfect paradise in our own eyes rather than through God’s eyes on multiple occasions: