With Enough Faith You Can Believe Anything!

The fish in the above public-domain photograph is a ninespine stickleback fish. It gets its name from the nine spines that stick up from its back. A similar fish, the threespine stickleback, looks very similar but (you guessed it!) has only three spines sticking out its back. Both fish have two spines sticking down from their pelvis, but those spines are typically larger in the threespine stickleback. These similar species of fishes have shown us more examples of the failed predictions of evolution.

Both species of stickleback live in the ocean but swim upstream to reproduce in freshwater. According to the evolutionary story, some populations of each species were trapped in lakes when they did this, so they changed their lifestyles to live exclusively in freshwater. Interestingly enough, when they did this, they lost their pelvises and the spines that grew from them.

Why did this happen? The argument is that such spines are very beneficial to fishes that live in the ocean, because if a predator fish tries to eat a stickleback, the stickleback can extend its spines (the ones on its back and the ones on its pelvis) to defend itself. This could also be protective in freshwater, but there is a catch. There are some predators in freshwater that can actually use the stickleback’s pelvic spines to more easily catch and eat the stickleback.

Dragonfly larvae, for example, live in freshwater. A larval dragonfly has a labium, which is essentially a big “claw” it can extend from under its mouth. It can use that “claw” to grab onto a fish and pull it in to eat it. Here is a quick (and AWESOME) video of how that works:

Amazing, isn’t it? Well, it turns out that the pelvis and pelvic spines of a stickleback make it very easy for a predator like a dragonfly larva to use its labium to grab onto the fish and pull it in for a nice meal. As a result, evolutionists say that freshwater sticklebacks have lost their pelvises and pelvic spines over the years.

Now, of course, evolutionists would want us to believe that his happens because of random mutations in certain genes. By sheer coincidence, a mutation occurs that produces less prominent (or weaker) pelvic spines, and because of this, the “lucky” fish was more likely to live and pass on that trait to its progeny. When another mutation occurred that resulted in even smaller or weaker spines or pelvises, it would be naturally selected. Over time, then, the sticklebacks lost their pelvises and pelvic spines simply because a bunch of lucky mutations happened over the years, and those lucky mutations were acted on by natural selection.

Since evolutionists assume the threespine and ninespine sticklebacks are closely-related, they thought that essentially the same genes would control the loss of the pelvis and pelvic spines in each species. As a result, they predicted that when they compared freshwater threespine and ninespine sticklebacks, they would find that essentially the same genes were mutated in each species. Of course, like most evolutionary predictions, it turns out that this evolutionary prediction was dead wrong.

The genes responsible for the loss of the pelvis and pelvic spines in ninespine and threespine sticklebacks are on different chromosomes. In the ninespine stickleback, the responsible gene is on chromosome four. In the threespine stickleback, it is on chromosome 7. The authors think they have ruled out that the same gene somehow “jumped” chromosomes, so they think that these two incredibly similar fish simply found different genetic solutions to the same problem.

To me, this failed prediction of evolution is not the real “meat” of the story. You get to that if you read a bit further. The researchers also found that while gender is determined by genes on chromosome twelve in ninespine sticklebacks, the gender-determining genes on threespine sticklebacks are found on chromosome nineteen. This is incredibly surprising. As the Science Daily article linked above says:

“This is very surprising because these species are fairly closely related,” even though they diverged 13 million years ago, Shapiro says, noting that “mammals have not changed their sex-determination mechanism in more than 150 million years.”

Now, of course, those “millions of years” ideas require one to use scientifically irresponsible dating techniques. However, his point is clear. Evolution would predict that the genetic control of gender would be very similar in species that are supposed to be so closely-related. However, it is not.

So is this just another example of a failed evolutionary prediction? It is actually a little more than that. It is an example of the absurd lengths to which one must go in order to believe in evolution. Remember, Shapiro (the scientist quoted above) is forced to believe that these two species of sticklebacks are closely-related, because he must continue to believe in evolution. So what does he do when he sees that the gender determination genes are different between the species? He simply assumes that one species changed how it determined its gender.

Think about that for a moment. The species are supposed to be closely-related, so it is assumed that their “recent” common ancestor had a genetic means by which it determined gender. Thus, both of theses species inherited that mechanism. However, for some unknown, mystical reason, one (or both) of the fish species studied here found a “better” mechanism for gender determination (through random mutation, of course) and thus “changed” to a new mechanism over time.

There is no explanation as to why the ancestor’s mechanism wasn’t good enough. There is no explanation as to how one mechanism of gender determination could be in place until the other became fully functional. There is no explanation as to how the old mechanism could be “turned off” once the other one was ready to go. Instead, there is only a fervent belief that these two species MUST be closely-related, and therefore any changes between them must be the result of evolution that took place after they each evolved from their common ancestor. Wow! That’s some amazing faith! It’s certainly more than I can muster!


  1. Josiah May 1, 2010 9:40 am

    Correct me if I’m wrong Dr. Wile, but wouldn’t the whole spines issue be evidence for evolution rather than against it? I’m not talking about the changed sex-determination gene. If an intelligent designer who habitually reuses his designs in different species wants a spine free stickleback, surely he’d change the same genetic code. In contrast if the change came about through random chance then any mutation on any chromosome that was selected by the increased survival rate against dragonflies would be passed on.

    While I acknowledge that the issue is more pertinently whether the two species were that closely releated in the first place, I would think there’s a good chance that two or more different genes have to do with spine length in both species of closely related stickleback.

    • jlwile May 1, 2010 12:30 pm

      Josiah, I think that the best interpretation of the data so far is that the pelvic-spine-free sticklebacks did, indeed, evolve from those that had pelvic spines. Remember, loss of genetic information is easy to understand given what we know about genomes, so the idea that the sticklebacks without pelvic spines came from the sticklebacks with pelvic spines is not a problem. The mode by which this happened is not quite as clear, however. I think evidence is mounting that genomes were designed to adapt, and that like any good design, there were redundancies involved. Thus, I think the idea that random mutation “just happened” to produced two completely different genetic changes that resulted in sticklebacks without pelvic spines is pretty far-fetched. It looks to me like the genomes of these sticklebacks were designed to find such solutions, and the fact that two completely different solutions were found indicates there are redundancies built into the process.

      What I think is very hard to believe is that the ninespine and threespine sticklebacks have a common ancestor. If their gender-determining genes are that different, they are probably not closely-related. However, evolutionists are forced to believe that they are closely-related, because all the supposed phylogenies of fish say they are. Creationists can be more objective, trying to follow the data rather than preconceived notions. Thus, although these stickleback fishes are very similar, they probably belong to different holobaramins.