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Don’t be “resistant” (about writing your own letter to the editor)

July 12, 2005

The growing creation/evolution controversy in the US (and elsewhere) is most visible as it’s played out in the secular media. Although most evolutionists who write guest columns for newspapers (as well as letters to the editor) fail to bring up any specific scientific evidence to bolster their claims, we have begun to notice (probably because pro-evolution writers are frequently challenged by creationists to present some evidence) that evolutionists are recognizing that mere rhetoric is not going to convince many newspaper readers to accept the evolution belief system. 

As a result, some evolutionists have changed their tactics in order to sound less shrill and more reasonable while engaging in the origins debate. They are increasingly attempting to present pro-evolution scientific arguments in their writings. In recent times, for example, one of the supposed evidences being paraded that evolution is true—and that evolution is happening before our eyes and not in the unobservable past—is the use of the argument that germs become resistant to antibiotics (and hence have “evolved” an ability to be resistant). 

As an example of this growing trend, we are showing you a letter to the editor that appeared in one of AiG–US’s hometown newspapers, The Cincinnati Post, in which this particular argument was presented. On the surface of it, the letter sounds convincing in its evolutionary arguments—until you know the real story about antibiotic resistance.

Following this pro-evolution letter to the editor is a rebutting letter submitted by a science teacher in our area. We print his letter not only as a learning exercise, but as a “template” for you to use when someone in your paper (or even on a website) incorrectly uses this old argument of antibiotic resistance. (The pro-creation letter-writer grants you permission to use his text for your own letter to the editor; also see some of the pointers following the template when submitting your letter). 

First, here is the pro-evolution letter to the editor:

To the editor of the Post:

I have a suggestion for teachers who have students who insist that intelligent design must be taught as part of the subject of disease germs that have developed resistance to antibiotics.

Penicillin has become almost obsolete. How could this happen? The simple answer is natural selection. Germs have evolved resistance. In this development they were aided by people who abused penicillin by not emptying the bottle. Don’t use up all the pills, you might kill all the germs. The “best” germs survived. A perfect example of survival of the fittest.

If intelligent design is necessary for evolution, we must insist that intelligent design wants disease germs to develop resistance to antibiotics. Does this fit reality? Is this what you want to believe?—Everett DeJager, Rossmoyne [Ohio, USA]

Sample rebutting letter: about 200 words

[DATE] 

Dear editor,

If germs that are resistant to drugs is the best evidence that Everett DeJager (May 17 letter) can present to defend his belief in molecules-to-man evolution, then evolution is in sadder shape than I thought. As a [science teacher and former evolutionist], I would like to respond.

For “fish to turn into philosophers” requires a mechanism for creating new and useful genetic information. That does not happen when some germs resist antibiotics. Either:

  1. the drug-resistant germs were already in place before the antibiotic was used, or

  2. the DNA information was already there in another bacterium and transferred (in the form of a plasmid via a tiny tube) or

  3. where it has arisen from a genetic copying mistake (mutation), the information decreases.

In summary, apply antibiotics to a population of bacteria and those lacking resistance are killed; any genetic information they carry is eliminated (i.e., the surviving gene pool carries less information, the opposite of what molecules-to-man evolution requires). Such natural “selection” (first described by creationist Edward Blyth, incidentally) is a fact of life, but is sadly lacking as a means for pond scum to have allegedly turned into princes.

Genesis chapter one still has the best explanation for the origin of living things. I highly recommend the website for more information. 

Sincerely,

[Your full name]
[Street address]
[Day phone (IMPORTANT)]

Pointers

  1. Check on the maximum number of words the paper will allow you.  If you have some scientific or engineering credentials, you might want to call the opinion page editor at the paper and ask for a guest column instead—you may be given twice the length of a letter to the editor. Important pointer: many letters are not accepted by papers because they are too long. Always find out what length they will accept.

  2. Try to submit your piece within 1–2 days of the evolutionist article/letter appearing. Submitting it 3 or more days later makes the topic “old news” for many editors. The likelihood of your letter appearing in the paper diminishes each day you wait to submit it. (Thus emailing your letter to the editor is best.)

  3. Do not use inflammatory language. Be respectful (yet firm). Also, have someone with excellent writing skills read your letter before sending it.

  4. Be absolutely accurate in what you write. For example, if you want to add any text to the sample letter below, check this website (using its powerful search engine) or another trustworthy source to verify your statements/conclusions.


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