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Hox (Homeobox) Genes Evolution’s Saviour?

© 2000 Don Batten, Ph.D..  All Rights Reserved. 

S ome evolutionists hailed homeobox or hox genes as the saviour of evolution soon after they were discovered. They seemed to fit into the Gouldian mode of evolution (punctuated equilibrium) because a small mutation in a hox gene could have profound effects on an organism. However, further research has not born out the evolutionists’ hopes. Dr Christian Schwabe, the non-creationist sceptic of Darwinian evolution from the Medical University of South Carolina (Dept. of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), wrote:

‘Control genes like homeotic genes may be the target of mutations that would conceivably change phenotypes, but one must remember that, the more central one makes changes in a complex system, the more severe the peripheral consequences become. … Homeotic changes induced in Drosophila genes have led only to monstrosities, and most experimenters do not expect to see a bee arise from their Drosophila constructs.’ (Mini Review: Schwabe, C., 1994. Theoretical limitations of molecular phylogenetics and the evolution of relaxins. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. 107B:167–177).

Research in the six years since Schwabe wrote this has only born out his statement. Changes to homeotic genes cause monstrosities (two heads, a leg where an eye should be, etc.); they do not change an amphibian into a reptile, for example. And the mutations do not add any information, they just cause existing information to be mis-directed to produce a fruit-fly leg on the fruit-fly head instead of on the correct body segment, for example.

Evolutionists, of course, use the ubiquity of hox genes in their argument for common ancestry (‘Look, all these creatures share these genes, so all creatures must have had a common ancestor’). However, commonality of such features is to be expected with their origin from the same (supremely) intelligent Creator. All such homology arguments are only arguments for evolution when one excludes, a priori, origins by design. Indeed many of the patterns we see do not fit common ancestry. For example, the discontinuity of distribution of hemoglobin-like proteins, which are found in a few bacteria, molluscs, insects, and vertebrates. One could also note features such as vivipary, thermoregulation (some fish and mammals), eye designs, etc. For more detail, see Walter Remine, The Biotic Message, (cf. my review of this book)

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