Science and Technology
The Father of Genetic Science
by Jeanette Strong
Two, of the many, lies that evolutionists constantly tell is that a scientist must uncritically believe in evolution and that nothing in biology can be understood outside of the religion of evolution. Fortunately Gregor Mendel didnít believe either one of these lies. The following is the story of one of the greatest Creationist scientists and how he discovered genetics and demonstrated the truth of what God told us in Genesis, that He created every organism "After their kind".
Imagine working for eight years on a scientific project, spending
thousands of hours preparing your data. You publish your work and the
whole scientific community ignores it. Strangely enough, this is what
happened to Gregor Mendel, now known as the Father of Genetic Science.
It wasnít until 34 years after his work was originally published, 16
years after his death, that his work was rediscovered. It has since
become the basis for one of the most significant
branches of science.
Gregor Mendel was born in Heinzendorf, Austria (now part of the Czech
Republic) in 1822. In 1843, he entered the monastery of St. Thomas in
Brunn, Moravia and was ordained as a monk on August 6, 1847. His abbot,
Cyrill Napp, sent him to the University of Vienna in 1851 to study
science and math. After two years he returned to the monastery and
taught biology and physics for the next 14 years. After Abbot Napp died
on March 30, 1868, Mendel was elected abbot of the
monastery. He died in 1884.
Mendel began his experiments in breeding peas in 1854. Abbot Napp supported Mendelís work, and built a large greenhouse just for him to use. Mendel spent the first two years breeding strains of the common garden pea Pisum ; he wanted to make sure he had parent plants that would breed true. His goal was to discover the laws that governed the inheritance of specific traits. The leading theory at the time was that offspring inherited a blending of traits, that specific traits were not handed down unaltered, but that the parentsítraits were blended together to produce something new in the offspring.
Mendelís work was very painstaking. After breeding the true parent strains, he had to produce offspring whose inherited traits he could trace. The pea plant he was working with had seven distinct characteristics: (1) seed shape : angular [wrinkled] or round; (2) seed color : green or yellow: (3) seed coat colo r: white or gray; (4) shape of pod : smooth or bumpy; (5) color of unripe pod : green or yellow; (6) location of flowers : tip of plant [terminal] or along whole stem [axial]; and (7) height: tall or dwarf . Each of these traits is very distinct and easy to see, so by using the pea plant, Mendel had picked the perfect organism for his experiments.
In May of 1856, Mendel began his actual experiments. He first crossbred the parent plants for shape - one parent with wrinkled seeds, one with round seeds. Pea plants each contain both male and female parts. In order to make sure he was crossbreeding only the plants he wished to, and not contaminating his experiment, he went down one row of plants and peeled open the buds to reveal the stamen, the male part of the plant. He carefully removed the stamen, making the plant female only, then covered each bud with a little calico cap, to prevent it being disturbed. A few days later, he took pollen from the male part of the plants from another row, and fertilized the female plants. Using a paintbrush to do this, he moved a few grains of pollen at a time from one plant to the other. He then covered the pollenized plants with little calico caps. Mendel harvested the resulting seeds, and prepared for the second generation of plants.
In 1857, he developed the routine he would follow for the next several years: plant the seeds, fertilize the plants, harvest, and count the offspring. Mendel first had to harvest the pods and put them in bags, making a note of which row and plant they came from. He then popped open the pods, classifying the traits of each seed, noting which plants they came from and replacing them in their bags. The first year he counted more than 7000 peas, classifying each one by shape. He discovered that the ratio of round to wrinkled in these second-generation peas was 3:1. When he re-sorted these peas by color, keeping very meticulous records of the parent plants, he found the same ratio of yellow to green, 3:1. Mendel was a patient, thorough worker. At the end of seven years he had repeated his experiments many times, ultimately counting over 300,000 peas. By 1863, his experiments were complete. Mendelís genius was achieved by hard work and meticulous record keeping, what Thomas Edison described as "1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration".
From his work, Mendel discovered that traits are transmitted independently of each other and that each parent hands down one gene (he did not use this term) for each trait in its offspring. He discovered that of the genes, one is dominant and one recessive for each trait. For example, with the peas, the gene for round shape is dominant, so if one parent contributes a gene for round shape, and the other gene is for wrinkled shape, these offspring will be round. To have a wrinkled offspring, a recessive trait, both parents must contribute the gene for wrinkled shape. This helped describe why both constancy and variability occur in offspring. While not using the terms we use today, Mendel was developing the General Laws of Inheritance.
While Mendel was working with his peas, Charles Darwin was finalizing his Theory of Evolution ; he published his book On the Origin of Species in 1859. Darwinís favorite theory of inheritance was "blending", the predominant theory of the day. He also believed in the inheritance of acquired traits, a theory put forth by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck years before. Mendel read Origin of Species in 1860. He studied it thoroughly and made many notes in the margins. He agreed with some of Darwinís points, but disagreed with the basic idea that evolution showed organisms getting better. He believed evolution (variation) occurred within a closed system, what we might call microevolution. "The very observation that a particular trait could be expressed in one of two ways Ė round pea versus wrinkled, tall plant versus dwarf Ė implied limits. Darwinís evolution was entirely open-ended; Mendelís, as any good gardener of the time could see, was closed." (p. 125, Monk in the Garden , Robin Marantz Henig, Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2000). As far as is known, Darwin and Mendel never met, and Darwin never read or even heard of Mendelís work. Many evolutionary scientists say that if Darwin had known of Mendelís work, he would have been able to theorize a mechanism for evolution. However, it seems clear from Mendelís own words that he realized that Darwinís major theory was faulty, that species do not change into new species, but conserve their traits.
In 1863, when he was finished with his experiments, Mendel carefully recorded and analyzed his findings. He delivered them in a two-part lecture on February 8 and March 8, 1865, to the Brunn Society for the Study of Natural science, a group of professional and amateur scientists. His audience had about 40 people in it, most of whom did not understand what he was telling them. In his speech to the Brunn Society on March 8, 1865, he restated the idea of a closed system. "If adaptive changes do occur in response to environmental influences, he said, they tend to be conserved, passed on to subsequent generations. Mendelís experiments provided a theory that explained how this conservation occurs. ĎNothing justifies the assumption that the tendency to form varieties increases so extraordinarily that the species speedily loses all stability, and their offspring diverge into an endless series of extremely variable forms (different kinds),í he said. To the contrary, the tendency is toward stability, with variation being the exception, not the rule." (pp. 141-142, Monk in the Garden ). In 1866, he published a 44-page article about his findings in the Proceedings of the Brunn Society, but this article was largely ignored, in part because the mathematics involved were beyond the understanding of most scientists. He sent out reprints of his article to several scientists, but received very little feedback.
Mendel died in 1884, receiving no recognition for his work. His carefully recorded data was essentially lost until 1900, when his work was rediscovered by three scientists working independently of each other. Evolutionary theorists have since appropriated Mendelís work, claiming it provides a mechanism for evolution. However, not only is it clear that Mendel did not believe this, but as more information is discovered about DNA and inheritance, this concept becomes less and less plausible. God designed living things with the capacity for great variety, but within very specific limits. Mendelís work is confirmation of this wonderful design. Gregor Mendel was one of the Creationists Who Created Science.
Editorís note: Mendelís work was originally dismissed by evolutionist because it so clearly showed the limits of genetic variation. It was only when Darwinís theory was shown to be completely inadequate in explaining the great variety in living things, that genetics was blended into the evolution story. The irony of this is that as more is learned about DNA, the impossibility of evolution is ever more clearly demonstrated.