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Microevolution selects only existing variation (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Microevolution selects only existing variation (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CB110:

Microevolution (for example, the development of insecticide resistance) merely selects preexisting variation. It does not demonstrate that mutations create new variation.

Source: Wallace, Timothy, 2002. Five major evolutionist misconceptions about evolution.

CreationWiki response:

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. In experiments with bacteria, variation (including beneficial mutations) arises in populations that are grown from a single individual. Since the population started with just one chromosome, there was no variation in the original population; all variation must have come from mutations.

Talk Origins is ignoring other sources of variation including Mobile genetic elements which is a rearranging of the genetic information from inside or out side a cell; Natural Genetic Engineering, in which cell deliberately rewrite portions of DNA to form new proteins; Gene transference in which a cell acquires DNA from other organisms usually through viruses, and the simple turning on and off of genes. All these can produce increased variety from even a single cell.

Furthermore, disease organisms and insect pests have developed resistance to a variety of antibiotics and pesticides, many of them artificial and unlike anything in nature. It is highly improbable that all insects were created with resistance to all pesticides.

Other explanations for this include Mobile genetic elements, Natural Genetic Engineering, Gene transference and the turning on and off of genes. Also such immunity need not be genetic, but simply the organism’s immune system finding a way to deal with it. Such a process could be nothing more than weeding out degenerative immune systems.

2. Mutation is the only natural process that adds variation to populations. Selection and genetic drift remove variation. If mutations did not create new variation, there would now be little or no variation to select from.

WRONG! There are other natural process that adds variation to populations. They include Genetic recombination, Mobile genetic elements, Natural Genetic Engineering, Gene transference, the turning on and off of genes, and non genetic reaction between an organism and its environment.

In particular, reducing populations to a single pair of individuals, as Noah's Flood requires, would have removed very nearly all variation from the world's wildlife in one stroke.

While this is true it does not necessarily remove the potential variation in the pair’s genes. While Genetic recombination, Mobile genetic elements, Natural Genetic Engineering, Gene transference, the turning on and off of genes, and non genetic reaction between an organism and its environment are all ways in which potential variation can be expressed; it is simple to show the recombination can produce considerable diversity from a single pair of individuals. It just requires the pair of individuals have some degree of variation in themselves.


If we start with a single pair of individuals, with four pairs of unique interchangeable DNA segments, their offspring can produce considerable variation in just a few generations. In this case, the pair have 256 possible arrangements of this one section of DNA. Since, according to the Bible, God brought the animals to Noah, it is logical to assume that God brought him the most genetically diverse pairs of each kind of animal.

3. It is true that much microevolution selects from preexisting variation. In animals, that kind of microevolution occurs much faster than waiting for certain mutations to occur, so we often see artificial selection programs stall when they have selected among all the variation that was there to begin with.

All this shows is that the claim is basically correct, and that it stands on sound experimental ground.

However, if the selection is maintained, change should continue, albeit at a much slower rate.

Note Talk Origins’ wording change: they now say "should continue", rather than "does continue". Translating this into plain English, Talk Origins have no facts to back up their claim, it is just an unproven prediction of Evolution theory. In other words the facts support the Creation model of variation, not the Evolution model.