Bacterium & Evolution II
This is part II of a debate I had
Before we start, let me post this small clip for clarification:
It has been proven that resistance to many modern antibiotics was present decades before their [the antibiotics] discovery. In 1845, sailors on an ill-fated Arctic expedition were buried in the permafrost and remained deeply frozen until their bodies were exhumed in 1986. Preservation was so complete that six strains of nineteenth-century bacteria found dormant in the contents of the sailors' intestines were able to be revived! When tested, these bacteria were found to possess resistance to several modern-day antibiotics, including penicillin. Such traits were obviously present prior to penicillin's discovery, and thus could not be an evolutionary development. (Medical Tribune, December 29, 1988, p. 1, 23.)
In 1998, the National Academy of Sciences published and distributed a book to public schools and other institutions entitled Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science. Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., F.M., wrote a book, Refuting Evolution, which is a topic by topic rebuttal to this
The continual evolution of human pathogens has come to pose one of the most serious health problems facing human societies. Many strains of bacteria have become increasingly resistant to antibiotics as natural selection has amplified resistant strains that arose through naturally occurring genetic variation.
Similar episodes of rapid evolution are occurring in many different organisms. Rats have developed resistance to the poison warfain. Many hundreds of insect species and other agricultural pests have evolved resistance to the pesticides used to combat them – even to chemical defenses genetically engineered into plants.
(Sarfati’s reply – any words in the [boxes] are mine):
However, what has this to do with the evolution of new kinds with new genetic information? Precisely nothing. What has happened in many cases is that some bacteria already had the genes for resistance to the antibiotics. In fact, some bacteria obtained by thawing sources which had been frozen before man developed antibiotics have shown to be antibiotic-resistant [6 different antibiotics in fact, penicillin in modern doses – which is way beyond the strength of natural penicillin found in nature]. When antibiotics are applied to a population of bacteria, those lacking resistance are killed, and any genetic information they carry is eliminated. The survivors carry less information [or specificity], but they are all resistant. The same principle applies to rats and insects “evolving” resistance to pesticides. Again, the resistance was already there, and creatures without resistance are eliminated.
[Much like if we killed all dogs (including Canis Domesticus and Canis Lupus) except for
…In other cases, antibiotic resistance is the result of a mutation, but in all known cases, this mutation has destroyed information. It may seem surprising that destruction of information can sometimes help. But one example is resistance to the antibiotic penicillin. Bacteria normally produce an enzyme, penicillinase, which destroys penicillin. The amount of penicillinase is controlled by a gene. There is normally enough produced to handle any penicillin encountered in the wild, but the bacterium is overwhelmed by the amount given to patients. A mutation disabling this controlling gene results in much more penicillinase being produced.
[Thus, the bacteria found frozen in 1845 already had the mutation to overcome modern medical doses of penicillin. So the mutation wasn’t the result of the penicillin in modern doses, thus seemingly becoming resistant… it already had the resistant mutation – informational or specificity losing – in the population. In other words, no new information was added to the parent population!]
…This enables the bacterium to resist the antibiotics but normally, this mutant would be less fit, as it wastes resources by producing unnecessary penicillinase. Another example of acquired antibiotic resistance is the transfer of pieces of genetic material (called Plasmids) between bacteria, even between those of different species. But this is still using pre-existing information, and doesn’t explain its origin.