The "One Gene, One Trait" Myth

For many years, it has been taught that our traits are the result of our genes. Did Ellen touch the cleft in your chin after you were putting up the Christmas lights, Sparky? That crease was caused by a gene, they say.

One of the many outdated myths that persist in textbooks is of one gene for one trait. Handy for evolution, but we were created and it is complicated.
Credit: RGBStock / Helmut Gevert

Eye and hair color, straight or curled, sizes of various body parts, other things — a gene for each. While this idea is useful to advance the particles-to-paralegal storyline, it is not true. Unfortunately, bad science ideas (especially those that support evolution) tend to remain in textbooks.

The truth is much more complicated; Dr. Robert Carter said, "If life were really simple, evolution might be possible"; evolution is increasingly less possible relative to the complexity of life. Several genes are involved in traits and trait expressions, and other factors come into play. Indeed, our Creator likes variety, and he gave us many factors to express our individual characteristics.

I taught college level human genetics and was chagrined to learn that the textbook/workbook I used for a decade until 2017 incorrectly claimed the older, now-refuted, view that common examples of traits were produced by a single gene was valid. A number of claimed examples were researched, finding the expression of all of them were influenced by many genes. Of these examples, 10 were selected and summarized. This finding supports the fact that to produce new traits, even seemingly simple ones, requires several genes as a set, increasing the complexity significantly and reducing the likelihood of producing these new traits by random changes in the genotype as postulated by evolution.

Although this is a bit technical, I reckon that people trained in biology as well as us reg'lar folk can get something out of it. To do that, click on "Common examples of ‘one gene, one trait’ exposed".

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