The original question was:
I remember John Mackay giving a talk about how Brown bears have become white polar bears? Does this mean polar bears can live in warmer climates? If so how does this glorify God as the creator? I would like some clarification on this bear evolving subject?

Answer by Diane Eager and John Mackay

Polar bears can live in warmer climates if they can get to one. Some zoos in warmer climates have polar bears, and they don’t have to live inside a big refrigerator.  They like swimming, and will happily live where there is water, shade and food.  Zoos in Australia cater for their ‘polarness’ at best by feeding them huge ice blocks full of vegetables – yes vegetables!

Furthermore, like most mammals, Polar Bears can alter the thickness of both their coat and of their subcutaneous fat layer. In the high Arctic they maintain a thick dense coat, and their very high fat diet of fur seals enables them to maintain very thick fat layers.  In warmer climates their fur is less dense, and in zoos they are given a diet that has much less fat, and as long as they are active they will not accumulate so much subcutaneous fat.  Even outside a zoo they can survive by eating foods such as seaweed, berries, grasses, as well as scavenging leftover food from humans.

What about their colour?

Hunters and zoo keepers have known for many years that the brown bears and polar bears can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Genetic studies of the hybrid offspring have confirmed they have a mix of genes from both species.  They don’t interbreed in the wild very often because their wild ranges only overlap by small areas.  What colour are the hybrids? You’ve guessed it: half way between white and brown.

Therefore, it is lack of opportunity, rather than lack of ability that keeps them separate. These observations and gene studies confirm that polar bears and brown bears are really members of one created kind.

Have polar bears evolved white fur to fit a snowy environment?

Polar bears are white because their hair does not contain melanin pigment and the hair fibres have cavities within them that make them more reflective. Lack of pigment and change of structure is change, but it is not evolution.  It is the same change as occurs in grey hairs as people (and many animals) grow old.  This is a loss of function, not the gain or a new function.  In other words, they have changed, but they have not evolved in any Darwinian sense of the word.

Now let’s consider bears in the light of Biblical history.

After Noah’s flood, bears and humans spread out through North America, northern Europe and Asia. Due to degeneration of genes some bears lost their ability to make pigment in their hair and became white.  White bears would stand out in green forests and grasslands, and although no other animals would hunt them, humans would.  Therefore, white bears would be disadvantaged in places where humans live, but could survive in places where humans rarely went, such as the high Arctic, as long as they could find food.

Overall, white polar bears are the result of degeneration, selection, adaptation and survival of fittest, but not evolution. They are a reminder that God created living creatures according to their kinds, as stated in Genesis, and that the world is going downhill from created perfection to degeneration, as also stated in Genesis.

P.S. It also means the green furore about global warming leading to the extinction of the polar bear is emotive nonsense. Even if we lost every white bear on the planet, we could have them back in one degenerate mutation.

Related questions:

Dr Lane Craig says animals died before Adam’s sin. Is this correct? Answer here.

SNAKES: If the world was created good, why are creatures like snakes so well designed to hunt prey? Answer here.

 

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About The Contributor

Diane Eager