Lorenzo Montana: “Byblis OT”
IS BACTERIA REALLY EVOLVING?
An atheist, responding to one of my recent posts, insisted that bacteria has been observed to benefit from mutations. There’s a commonly held view that researchers have documented the evolution of bacteria, showing that bacteria “evolve” resistance to antibiotics. This is intended to convince us that we all evolved from a rock over a couple of billion years, that goats or wolves or cows evolved into whales, that here is no God (or as an old friend of mine used to say so upliftingly, when we die we are “bones only”), or at best God started off the evolutionary process and then went away somewhere and forgot about us all.
I’ll freely admit at this point that I am not a scientist, or any kind of expert in anything. Neither am I a politician: I am not expert in political science or economics. But not being a politician will not stop me from having my own take on how things really are or should be, and neither will not being a “scientist” stop me from having my own view of origins, because I’ve yet seen nothing to convince me that we are the offspring of a lump of rock which in turn came out of nothing.
What I do know about bacteria is that bacteria begets bacteria: if it does mutate it never changes into another form of life. This is, I believe, the gist of the articles I’ve summarized below, and such a simple fact, but very profound. Even when bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, there is no new creature under that microscope, just an altered one, one which has not gained any new genetic material, and one which was designed and equipped to survive. You may call this “evolution” if you like, but it is not evidence of “macro”-evolution: one creature is not shown to change into another creature. This, as the creationist asserts, is only further evidence of a Designer.
So here I’ve summarized three articles by creationists for the layman on the subject, which in turn are reviews of recent scientific studies on bacteria.
ARTICLE 1, published July 13, 2013
In an article entitled, “From Bacteria to Giraffes: Adapting Reality to Fantasy”, Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell first commented on a study led by Harvard evolutionary biologist Christopher Marx:
“Vials of bacteria, genetically engineered to have a metabolic problem, were used to see how bacterial mutations may help them overcome stress imposed on them. Essentially cultures of bacteria were “handicapped” in order to force them to “evolve.” All the mutations that developed involved the use or suppression of existing genetic information, not the generation of new genetic information.”
Commenting on evolution in general, Dr. Mitchell wrote that the “classic Darwinian view” of evolution holds that a series of small changes adds up to produce adaptations and ultimately increasingly complex new kinds of organisms.
“Evolutionists generally consider such mutations to be the “engines of evolution.” Mutations, however, do not produce new information such as would be required to evolve new, more complex kinds of organisms. Some mutations enable an organism to adapt to its environment, but such mutations have never been shown to produce new kinds of organisms. In other words, “what is biologically possible for that organism” is limited: research has failed to demonstrate that evolution of new kinds of organisms is biologically possible.”
In my own simple layman’s terms, a life form has a range of possible options in order to survive and adapt, but those options are limited-a bacterium will never turn into a bird and fly away from a threat.
Molecular geneticist Dr. Georgia Purdom and microbiologist Dr. Kevin Anderson, both creationists, explain:
“In bacteria, a wide range of mutations can be shown to provide a beneficial phenotype to the cell. These benefits are often of sufficient phenotypic effect that they can undergo strong positive selection. But the benefits are generally temporary and limited. . . “
Mitchell writes that some common examples of beneficial mutations are those involved in bacterial antibiotic resistance. These mutations potentially enable the bacterium to survive exposure to various antibiotics, but the resistance results from loss or reduction of pre-existing activities such as enzymatic, regulatory, or transport systems.
“Adaptive mutations of various sorts may help bacteria survive in adverse conditions and beneficial mutations do occur, as discussed thoroughly in “A Creationist Perspective of Beneficial Mutations in Bacteria,” but they are not evidence for molecules-to-man evolution. In no case does the beneficial mutation represent an acquisition of the information needed to become a new kind of organism”.
Drs. Purdom and Anderson summarize,
“Beneficial mutations of bacteria fit concisely within a creation model where (a) biological systems and functions were fully formed at creation, (b) subsequent mutations can provide conditional benefits that enable the organism to survive harsh post-Fall conditions even though the mutation is generally degenerative, and (c) most bacteria need the ability to rapidly adapt to ever changing environments and food sources.”
Article 2, published May 27, 2009
In an article titled, “A Creationist Perspective of Beneficial Mutations in Bacteria”, Kevin L. Anderson, PhD, and Georgia Purdom, PhD, wrote:
“Each of these examples (of mutation), as well as numerous others, involves certain environmental conditions that make these mutations phenotypically beneficial. However, these mutations frequently eliminate or reduce pre-existing cellular systems and functions. This has been referred to as antagonistic pleiotropy; meaning the cell experiences a trade-off where a temporary benefit for surviving one environmental condition is provided at the expense of systems used for other environments. If the environmental conditions change, the mutation usually becomes less beneficial and perhaps even detrimental. Hence, these mutations do not provide a genetic mechanism that accounts for the origin of biological systems or functions. Rather, they require the prior existence of the targeted cellular systems. As such, beneficial mutations of bacteria fit concisely within a creation model where (a) biological systems and functions were fully formed at creation, (b) subsequent mutations can provide conditional benefits that enable the organism to survive harsh post-Fall conditions even though the mutation is generally degenerative, and (c) most bacteria need the ability to rapidly adapt to ever changing environments and food sources.
“Many mutations clearly are deleterious to the organism, probably even lethal. Other types of mutations appear to provide some, albeit, temporary benefit.
The authors state that at no point in scientific studies has the bacterial cell developed a new system. It is merely managing the systems it already possesses. Instead, these mutations require the prior existence of the targeted systems. As such, beneficial mutations of bacteria fit concisely within a creation model where biological systems and functions were fully formed at creation. Any subsequent mutations may provide conditional benefits that enable the organism to survive harsh conditions, but the mutations are generally degenerative.
ARTICLE 3: “Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria Shows Adaptive Design”
By BRIAN THOMAS, M.S.
Brian Thomas writes that bacterial survival in antibiotics has been taken as proof of evolution in action, but in-depth studies of the specific mechanisms for antibiotic resistance in bacteria show that no evolutionary processes are involved.
“How do bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance? Often, a small number were already resistant before the antibiotic was applied. There is no innovation in such cases, but merely a shift in which strain of bacteria dominates the habitat. That’s not evolution.
“Sometimes the DNA of bacteria changes, and this can alter their protein shapes. Though these subtle alterations almost always decrease the protein’s job efficiency, they can ward off antibiotics that would ordinarily disrupt certain proteins.
“At times DNA changes are random, in which case they are called mutations. But DNA changes are often non-random, which means that they may have been designed to change. Neither scenario helps evolution, which must explain how whole genes and their encoded proteins came into existence in the first place, not how already existing proteins lose efficiency.”
Thomas, B. 2011. Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria Shows Adaptive Design. Acts & Facts. 40 (7): 18