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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CB110:

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


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


  1. In experiments with bacteria, variation (including beneficial mutations) arises in populations that are grown from a single individual (Lederberg and Lederberg 1952). Since the population started with just one chromosome, there was no variation in the original population; all variation must have come from mutations.

    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.

  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. 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.

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


  1. Lederberg, J. and E. M. Lederberg, 1952. Replica plating and indirect selection of bacterial mutants. Journal of Bacteriology 63: 399-406.

Further Reading:

True, Heather L. and Susan L. Lindquist, 2000. A yeast prion provides a mechanism for genetic variation and phenotypic diversity. Nature 407: 477-483. (technical)
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created 2001-2-17