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Super-Adaptable Bacteria?

on June 9, 2007
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PhysOrg.com: “Study of staph shows how bacteria evolve resistance

One of the most common canards in the creation/evolution debate is that bacterial resistance to antibiotics proves that “evolution”—implying microbes-to-man evolution—is empirically verified, indisputable reality. Of course, the informed reader knows that what is being reported as evolution is actually natural selection, which creationists agree with—a reduction of genetic information, not an increase, which is necessary for molecules-to-man evolution.

Although we’ve tackled this misunderstanding on numerous occasions, its ubiquity—and this article from PhysOrg.com—prompt us to give the explanation again.

The common, vague portrayal is that antibiotics cause bacteria to adapt by somehow overcoming the antibiotic attack mechanism, evolving more sophisticated genomes to dodge the antibiotics.

What is being reported as evolution is actually natural selection, which creationists agree with—a reduction of genetic information, not an increase, which is necessary for molecules-to-man evolution.

What actually happens, as even evolutionists will confirm, is that certain members of a population of bacteria have—due to mutations—a makeup that prevents the antibiotic from having its desired effect. For example, an antibiotic may destroy bacteria by eliminating its ability to absorb a certain nutrient. While this may kill most of the bacteria, those bacteria that lack this ability (due to destructive mutations) would not be affected. With the former group of bacteria removed, the latter group of bacteria would increase in number, resulting in the appearance that the single, monolithic population of bacteria has adapted to beat the antibiotic.

This PhysOrg.com article, which reports on careful observations Rockefeller University researchers conducted on bacteria in a patient, does not explain how the bacteria became resistant to antibiotics. However, it does note that the bacteria became resistant to one antibiotic that was not even used on the patient. This reinforces the reality that resistance is not induced by the introduction of antibiotics that force bacteria to evolve, but rather that resistance is the result of antibiotics killing all the bacteria that are susceptible to the antibiotic, leaving the resistant varieties to thrive.

Numerous in-depth articles on our site address this topic. See our Mutations Q&A for articles on this and similar topics.


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