When cells divide, they first must duplicate their DNA. This process is very precise, but rare errors do occur. Such errors can occur during mitosis, where the result is somatic mutations in a growing or adult body. These mutations have no implications for future generations although they may cause cancer. Also, however mutations can occur during meiosis. These germ line changes can be transmitted to future generations and are thus of much greater concern.
The types of error that can occur include substitution of one nucleotide for another (SNPs or single nucleotide polymorphisms) or loss of one or more nucleotides (deletions) or insertions of one or more nucleotides. See indels. Also more extensive changes to a chromosome such as inversions of a piece of information can occur.
Many evolutionists, even today suppose that mutation is the major source of genetic changes needed for organisms to develop new body plans. There are three possible types of mutation: deleterious, neutral and favourable.
If a nucleotide carries absolutely zero information, then it is by definition slightly deleterious since it slows cell replication and wastes energy. Therefore, there are probably no neutral nucleotide sites in the genome. This is an important argument against massive stretches of “junk DNA” in the genome.
Unless an insertion or deletion event involves a multiple of 3 nucleotides, then the loss or gain causes a frameshift mutation. This means that the order of amino acids in the protein as called for by the order of triplet nucleotides, will be totally different after such a deletion or insertion. For example, if we had a sequence of CATGTACCGG, then the triplets would be CAT GTA and CCG. But after the first C is removed, the triplets become ATG TAC and CGG, totally different so that different amino acids will be read from the sequence.
In the case of replacing one nucleotide with another, often the effect will be minimal. Several triplets in some cases code for the same amino acid so that the resulting new triplet may not call for anything different than previously. However, if a change does involve a different amino acid, this could have serious implications for the resulting protein depending upon where in the amino acid chain the change occurs. If the protein fails to fold properly as a result of a different amino acid somewhere in its length, this is a major problem.
Mutations in general have negative implications for the future health and vigour of populations. Both Michael Behe in Darwin Devolves [p. 79] and John Sandford in Genetic Entropy [p. 127] for example, quote a value of about 100 mutations per person per generation in the human reproductive cells (germ line). Thus, each generation obviously carries a heavier genetic load than the previous generation. [John Sandford. 2014. Genetic Entropy. FMS Publications]
Mutation is a most unpromising source of raw material for evolution. Looking at these issues from a Biblical perspective, mutation is seen as part of the curse following man’s fall. Given that organisms were created perfect, mutation has brought about degeneration in fitness and even reduced diversity within the original created kinds.
The bottom line is that mutations result in loss of genetic information and a decline in the health of a population. This is the opposite of what evolution theory calls for.