THINGS A FRUIT RANCHER’S BOY LEARNED (C. 1958)

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Excerpted from The Evidence of God in an Expanding Universe, edited by John Clover Monsma. New York: G.P. Putman’s Sons, 1958

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THINGS A FRUIT RANCHER’S BOY LEARNED

By Walter Edward Lammerts, Geneticist

B.Sc, Ph.D., University of California. Formerly Director of Research, Armstrong Nurseries, Ontario, Calif.; Professor of Ornamental Horticulture, University of California, Los An­geles; Director of Research, Descanso Gardens, La Canada, Calif.; since 1954 in charge of rose research, Descanso Dis­tributors, Germain’s and Amling-De Vor Nurseries, Livermore, Calif. Specialist in the breeding of ornamental plants, especially roses.

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Probably a truthful answer to the question “Why do I believe in God?” would be, “Because my parents taught me to.” That is the usual way the Divine Spirit works. But they also taught me to believe in Santa Claus and Easter Bunnies. Though I soon saw through these delightful child­hood fairy tales, I grew more impressed as the years went by with the creative wisdom and power of God.

As a fruit rancher’s boy the behavior of the various apples, peaches and pears, and their remarkable though only partial adaptation to the 200 below zero¹ eastern Washington area of Kennewick, fascinated me. Their wondrously beautiful burst of flowers each spring, after looking so dead all winter, always thrilled me deeply. But since they were not completely adapted to our climate, late frosts often killed all the blos­soms and there was no crop, and everyone in the little valley suffered hardship.

Tomato crop damage due to excessive rainfall.

My first and frequent thoughts were along the line of—Why, if God is good, does He permit such frequent crop losses? Soon the answer was clear: it was not God’s fault but man’s. We were trying to grow varieties not fully adapted to our Kennewick climate. In their localities of origin they flowered later in the season, after the danger of frost was over. Hence, though all were designed for temperate zones, each variety was remarkably precise in its adaptation and only by careful breeding and selection could they be adapted to varying climates.

Evidently then all plants and animals were not only created for their original environment but also with a variable amount of genetic variability potential, allowing them to become adapted to other climates in case the necessity should arise. The study of this remarkable ability of plants and animals to vary is called genetics, and because of my boyhood experiments in growing and studying the variations in peach seedlings, I was keen to learn as much about it as possible.

In addition to growing seedlings of peach trees and flowers I was much interested in the various insects, particularly those responsible for cross pollination such as the bees and their mimics, the bee-flies (Bombyliidae). How could this remarkable parallel variation have come about? The fasci­nating books of Jean Henri Fabre on the wonders of insect instincts and their intricate patterns of social life gave further evidence of a most amazing design in Nature.

All through this it was equally obvious that some contrary force was at work, perverting, or at least distorting, the use of plants and animals by man, in such a way that often there were too many ants and not enough bees, either no fruit or so much that we could not sell it, and soil which though decreas­ing in fertility yet yielded increasingly luxuriant crops of weeds. Just why should this be? Nature did not give the answer, but the Bible did. A Divine curse lay upon the soil and Nature generally since the fall of man. Nevertheless, enough remains of the original goodness of creation to show clearly the amazing power and wisdom of God, and it is our task, to the extent of our capabilities, to help restore the earth to its former state of beauty and perfection.

Such then was my philosophy when I started college and came in contact with the materialistic evolution theory, the only philosophy which seriously questions or indeed attempts to replace belief in design in Nature as proof of God’s creative power. A number of years of intense mental struggle resulted, both within myself and with some of the older graduate students. Several facts became clear. For instance, the science of genetics offered no evidence for belief in the two most basic assumptions of Charles Darwin (Origin of Species)—(1) that young organisms of each generation con­tinuously tend to vary slightly from their parents in all possible directions, and (2) that favorable changes are inherited by the next generation and accentuated until extensive changes are built up.

Most mutations are lethal. Among the non-lethal ones the majority are defective changes.

In fact, as discussed in considerable detail by W. J. Tinkle and myself in our book Modern Science and Christian Faith, the end point of variability in any plant or animal is soon reached by selective breeding. Self-pollination in plants or inbreeding in animals results in far less vigorous lines. Except for occasional mutations (changes), such lines breed true and do not continue to vary in all possible directions as postulated by Darwin. The occurrence of occasional muta­tions in them is, however, eagerly pointed to by evolutionists as the material basis of evolution. But are they really? Long continued study of them in many organisms, but especially in the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, indicates that most mutations are lethal. Among the non-lethal ones the majority are defective changes, or at least neutral ones, which have associated physiological effects that decrease the general ruggedness of the individual. Therefore, an accumulation of such heritable mutations would hardly give us the sort of changes needed for species formation.

On rare occasions a mutation such as that of the fruit fly wing called “eversae” does show more viability (capacity to live) —104% at 75~77°F.—but combination of it with others affecting the wing structure results in flies of markedly de­creased viability. But even supposing mutations conferring a 1% advantage do rarely occur, just how rapidly can they be accumulated in a species? Patau (Mathematical Analysis of the Evolution Theory) has shown that it would take about 1,000,000 generations to effect a population breeding true for this new mutation. Certainly, even granting the immense periods of time postulated by geologists, it is difficult to see how such a relatively modern animal as the horse would have evolved from its presumed five-toed doglike ancestor since the relatively recent Eocene times.

Finally, study of the remarkably intricate structures called chromosomes, in which the factors determining the charac­teristics of the body are located, shows remarkable variation in their make-up and pattern, even in such closely related species as Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila pseudo-obscura (fruit flies). In fact, in his Genetics and the Origin of Species Dobzhansky says: “Some chromosome sections have been so thoroughly rebuilt by repeated inversions and translocations that their disc patterns in the salivary chromo­somes no longer resemble each other.” And yet all studies so far of either artificially induced or naturally occurring trans­locations in the fruit fly show that practically all of them are incapable of living when homozygous (of the same essential characters and features)! How then could these striking differences in chromosome arrangement have come about?

Many more facts could be presented were space not limited showing that the materialistic evolution theory simply can­not account for the variations we see in the animate world. They clearly point to a remarkably wise Creator who made living creatures capable of a limited amount of variation, so as to be able to survive even in the ever changing condi­tions of a world more adverse than that in which they origin­ally were created.

However, a study of Nature can only show the power and wisdom of its Creator and not His ultimate purpose. As Paul the Apostle so aptly says: “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

¹ presumed Fahrenheit

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