Some mysteries of science hold great weight in solving the problems of today’s world. Others have less importance other than being mild curiosities that perplex scientists. The mystery of how European adults acquired the ability to properly digest the milk sugar lactose, falls in the latter category from a scientific perspective, but lends a piece of evidence supporting creation or guided evolution (intelligent design) over the Darwinian evolution model.
NPR recently tackled the topic and came to some eyebrow-raising conclusions.
A paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science notes that genetic research of a sampling of ancient Europeans concluded that they did not possess lactose persistent (LP) alleles indicative of humans today who are able to drink milk without digestive discomfort or consequence. When asked how humans across the world were able to develop the ability to digest milk in a few thousand years (an extremely short time by evolutionary standards), Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London in the U.K., said, “The first and most correct answer is, we don’t know.”
Here is how NPR describes the sudden milk-loving event:
But around 8,000 years ago in what’s now Turkey — just when humans were starting to milk newly domesticated cows, goats and sheep — mutations near the gene that produces the lactase enzyme started becoming more frequent. And around the same time, adult lactose tolerance developed. The mutation responsible for that may be between 2,000 and 20,000 years old; estimates vary.
But in order for that new trait to have persisted over many generations, something unique must have given milk drinkers an evolutionary edge.
“Something unique.” Remember those words.
What follows in the article and in others on the same topic are scientists scrambling to identify reasons for this sudden genetic mutation to have spread so quickly. One popular theory is that in times of famine, the handful of people who already had the mutation were able to survive because of the advantage they had with their lactose persistence. They survived while lactose intolerant members of their tribes died off, leaving the lucky recipients of the genetic mutation to flourish and procreate.
Others favor the “reverse cause hypothesis,” whereby dairying was adopted in populations with preadaptive high LP allele frequencies. This hypothesis is a little humorous as it basically says they had milk and most of the population couldn’t drink it but they did anyway because they had it. They forced evolution and natural selection because it was there for them to do so.
One more theory was that milk became a replacement for water in arid environments because contaminated water was common.
The problem with all of these theories has to do with timing. It is certainly possible that the population in an area could, over a few thousand years, force lactose persistence upon itself. It’s unlikely, but it’s definitely possible. It could even happen in other areas. What makes it impossible for the theories to be true is that it happened everywhere in the same tiny time period. There weren’t a ton of lactose persistent people crossing the globe from Europe into Africa and every other area on the globe spreading their convenient genetic mutation 8,000 years ago.
“Whatever constellation of factors was involved, they’re going to be different in different regions,” said Thomas. “But the selection pressure might have been equally strong in East Africa and Northern Europe, for example.”
No, it might not have been. Not at the same time. As mentioned in these and other articles, “something unique” happened. This unique occurrence seemed to not have been very unique based upon the scientific data as it spread around the world at a rate contradictory to Darwinian evolution.
This is another example of the infuriating concept of genetic mutations. It is the most convenient trump card available to evolution supporters when trying to cope with some of the great mysteries of history. When something changes that cannot be explained away by natural selection or basic genetic evolution, genetic mutations are often thrown up as the bridge that connects the hypothesis with reality. It is much easier for some to believe in random genetic changes that thankfully benefited a species rather than accept the reality of Adonai’s influence over His creation.
In the case of the sudden ability of humans to drink milk, the science supports the Biblical truth of creation.