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Creation  Volume 19Issue 4 Cover

Creation 19(4):16–17
September 1997

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Reading between the lines

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A simple message on a radio signal from some distant galaxy would be hailed as proof for an intelligent source ‘out there’. Why doesn’t the message sequence on the DNA molecule indicate an intelligent source?

A simple message on a radio signal from some distant galaxy would be hailed as proof for an intelligent source ‘out there’. Why doesn’t the message sequence on the DNA molecule indicate an intelligent source?

I visited China in 1983, at the time when the cult of Mao was just beginning to loosen its grip on that country. However, Communist party cadres still very much controlled everything, and the minders for my visit made out that this was ‘paradise on earth’. “There is no unemployment in China”, they said.

Beijing’s English language newspaper was full of positive thinking—everything was wonderful in utopia. The newspaper praised all the enterprising citizens who were contributing to the ‘revolution’. And then my eyes fell on a story about a madam comrade, a model citizen, who had started a program for ‘idle youths’, giving them training in various work skills so they no longer got into mischief. In other words, they had been unemployed!

Evolutionary propagandists catch themselves out because it is difficult for them to be consistent.

I suspected my minders had been stretching the truth just a little in claiming that there was no unemployment in China. How could there be ‘idle youth’ in need of skill training if everyone had a job? It was likewise with crime. Crime and corruption did not exist but were reported when the culprits were punished. Propagandists catch themselves out because it is difficult for them to be consistent.

It’s like that when you read the science journals of today, especially the popular ones. Many writers try to give the impression that evolution (everything-made-itself) explains everything—just like the communists tried to persuade people that their doctrine solved everything. However, if you think carefully about what you are being told, you will see that they often give the game away. You have to learn to ‘read between the lines’.

Example 1. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)

On the Lateline program on ABC (Australia) television in 1996, the presenter interviewed one of the astronomers behind the SETI program. Why would anyone bother to send signals into space, hoping to get an answer, when the closest planet (if any exist) is likely to be a hundred thousand light years away? It would take 200,000 years to get an answer! What would motivate anyone to do this? What motivated this astronomer? He said, “It would be the death of religion.” “You mean Christianity?” asked the presenter. “Yes”, was the reply.

This astronomer obviously did not want to believe in the Creator as revealed in the Bible, and therefore would believe that blind chance produced life, which is full of complex information, from simple chemicals. The amount of information in a bacterium is about the same as in two large books. And then this original life form changed into all the life forms on earth, including him, all by itself, without a Creator’s involvement. The astronomer has about 1,000 books of complex information in each of his cells. All this information just happened; no intelligent source was necessary, in his way of thinking. No Creator was necessary. All that meaningful coded information just made itself.

But then how could this astronomer be sure that anything he heard with his radiotelescope from outer space was not also the result of chance? How would he know that it came from an intelligent source? He is ready to recognize the evidence for intelligence on a radio signal from ‘out there’, but not in the incredible living things beneath his very nose—indeed in his nose—here on earth. Such inconsistency is present throughout evolutionary thinking. For more, see God and the extraterrestrials.

Example 2. Antibiotic resistance

In a very interesting article in New Scientist, Jason Chin discussed antibiotic resistance, attributing such resistance to ‘evolution’.1 The whole tone of the paper was ‘evolution does it’. This indoctrinates the uninformed reader in the belief that antibiotic resistance is evolution in action. But is it?

He is ready to recognize the evidence for intelligence on a radio signal from ‘out there’, but not in the incredible living things beneath his very nose—indeed in his nose—here on earth.

Evolution would need a mechanism for creating new genetic information. Chin implies throughout the paper that the antibiotic resistance mechanisms have arisen as a result of exposure to antibiotics—that is, evolution has created new complex functions. However, he unwittingly gives the game away in several places.

Amoxycillin resistance in bacteria has been overcome by adding a compound which blocks the bacterial enzyme which degrades the amoxycillin. The combination, known as Augmentin, the author says, “is a better antibiotic than amoxycillin ever was [that is, even when bacteria had never been previously exposed to amoxycillin]: it is active against a wider range of bacteria …” (my emphasis and addition).

So, reading between the lines … when amoxycillin first came into use it could not kill some types of bacteria because these already had the enzyme that degrades amoxycillin. Addition of the enzyme blocker in Augmentin now allows amoxycillin to kill these bacteria as well.

But that means that there were certain bacteria that already had the resistance mechanism before amoxycillin was in use. It is well known that the genes for such resistance can be transferred between different types of bacteria. The bacteria which were not resistant, but now are, most probably got their resistance from the ones which had the resistance mechanism all along. There is no new genetic information involved, just its transfer from one bacterium to another! In other words, all this has nothing to do with microbes-to-man evolution. There is no new complex information.

This is confirmed in the last paragraph of the article. Julian Davies of the University of British Columbia suggests that scientists should be able to predict the ways in which bacteria will foil new antibiotics. He is reported as saying, “I would go and get a handful of soil, I would expose the microbes in the soil to the antibiotic and pick out the ones that grow. And in a fortnight I could tell you the mechanism of resistance that would eventually be found in the clinic.”

Again, the resistance mechanisms are already present in some bacteria. Resistance arises in disease-causing bacteria by transfer of the genetic information from resistant types of bacteria which may not even cause disease. These may be ecologically beneficial bacteria that are involved in normal healthy soil, for example. Or they may be bacteria that normally live in the large intestines of healthy people, or on our skin. A gene for resistance usually has some other role normally and it just happens also to confer resistance to an antibiotic.

So, we can read between the lines in these overtly evolutionary statements and see that the very subject matter contradicts the evolutionist’s beliefs. Complex genetic information does not arise from accidents, it can only be the result of our immensely intelligent Creator’s plan and purpose.

For more on antibiotic resistance see Superbugs: Not super after all! and Anthrax and antibiotics: Is evolution relevant?

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Jason Chin, Resistance is useless, New Scientist 152(2051):32–35, 1996. Note: Resistance can arise from mutations, or errors in the copying of DNA, when bacteria reproduce. For example, there are genes which control the amount of an enzyme produced. An error in a control gene can cause much greater production of the enzyme.Just such a mutation resulted in greatly increased production of an enzyme which breaks down penicillin, resulting in resistance. Note that such mutations are ‘downhill.’ They cause a loss of function. Loss of function can sometimes be beneficial—such as the loss of eyes in fish trapped in a dark cave with acidic water (see Creation 11(2):9, 1989, and ‘Lost World of Mutants’ discovered, Journal of Creation 10(2):172–173, 1996). Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
graham P., New Zealand, 13 March 2013

Excellent. This seems to be the most popular Bait & Switch instance: to pretend that transferred genes are actually new genes. 'Aha!' they say, 'new genetic information has appeared in botulinus spoofilooticus, which it got from screwtapus-screwtapus. Evolution created new information!'

It's self-denying logic, but seems to comfort desperate atheists....

Tom K., Australia, 13 March 2013

I strongly disagree with the contents of this article. Firstly, SETI does many other things besides for broadcasting signals, and quoting 1 scientist from a 1996 interview is not really groundbreaking, I'm sure that all sorts of people, with all types of religious beliefs, were working (and are now working) on SETI. Secondly, regarding anitbiotic resistence, although the author infers that Chin implied that evolution created new complex functions in bacteria, the resulting fact that more bacteria with resistant properties are now more common as a result of the use of the antibiotics confirms the end hypothesis.

@Graham - To suggest that god created all of the possible gene types in one go and now we see different forms of bacteria as a result of gene borrowing between the original created versions seems a bit desperate.

Don Batten responds

Firstly, SETI is an acronym for Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence. Listening for radio signals just about exhausts the options for the SETI program. But I was citing a television program about this anyway; they were not my statements.

Secondly, regarding antibiotic resistance, that more bacteria have resistance proves nothing if they borrowed their resistance genes from bacteria that already had resistance. That does not explain the origin of new genes (which evolution is supposed to explain).

Mutations can create antibiotic resistance, but that involves slight modifications to existing genes, almost always 'breaking' something or making it less specific (less information). It is not a mechanism for creating brand new genes with radicle new functions, let alone a new molecular motor or biochemical pathway, which need multiple complex components designed to work together.

Thirdly, the article is about "reading between the lines", which several commenters don't seem to 'get'. This is not an article about SETI or all the details of antibiotic resistance but specifically about some examples of statements that, when read carefully, 'give the game away' in the context of those statements.

murk P., Canada, 13 March 2013

love it-thanks

only one starting point does not lead to the destruction of all knowledge!

Prov 1:7, Col 2:3

mark D., Australia, 13 March 2013

Don, of course an astronomer who relies on evidence is going to take the big bang cosmology as fact, not nonsense made up thousands of years ago. Scientists have a very good understanding of naturally occurring radio signals, narrow-band signals are the mark of a purposely built transmitter. Natural cosmic noisemakers, such as pulsars, quasars, and the turbulent, thin interstellar gas of our own Milky Way, do not make radio signals that are this narrow.

The problem with your antibiotic example is that it isn’t true. And I think you mean ‘amoxicillin’. While transfer is a key component in the spread of antibiotic resistance, evolution “of new genes” is taking place. First of all, if we take Staphylococcus aureus (the skin bacterium that can cause “staph” infections) has acquired methicillin resistance genes from a related Staphylococcus species, S. sciuri, which is found on wild animals. The ‘sciuri’ form of these genes does not confer resistance to methicillin. The methicillin sensitive form had to be converted into a methicillin resistant form–in other words, evolution happened. Second, resistance to triclosan in S. aureus is due to mutational changes in the fabI locus as well as other genes. There is compelling evidence that triclosan resistance arose through mutation–evolution happened. Third, many of the genes that are transfer horizontally are called ‘multidrug efflux pumps’, which basically pump nasties out of the bacterial cell. However, these pumps have changed in both what compounds they pump and how well they pump them-again, evolution happened. The counter argument is that the transferred genes themselves arose through evolution. The supposition that an intelligent designer created allelic variants is just daft.

Don Batten responds

Once again you have missed the point of the article; note the title. This is not a treatise on SETI or antibiotic resistance.

Big bang cosmology is 'a fact'? Hardly! Cosmology isn't even science: James Gunn of Princeton University, co-founder of the Sloan survey, says that cosmology is not science. It can't be; all 'evidence' involves the fallacy of affirming the consequent. There is no experiment you can do on the big bang. And there is a lot of evidence against it.

Antibiotic resistance? My comment (again) relates to the claims being made in the article mentioned, where it is claimed that 'evolution' did this or that and then the scientist researching the matter said that he would be able to find the mechanism of antibiotic resistance for a new antibiotic just by looking at the existing bacteria in the soil. In other words, he was saying that the mechanism already existed. 'Evolution' did not need to create anything.

The rest of your arguments are dealt with in the linked reading. You are using circular reasoning; 'it exists, so evolution must have done it', combined with the indefensible position that any change in a gene is 'evolution'. Mutations=evolution? That is the equivocation trick.

Mutations are part of the creation model; they can account for modifications to existing genes (alleles), but they are incapable of creating brand new genes with radically new functions (new gene families, of which there are thousands), molecular motors or biochemical pathways that involve multiple integrated components. See: Can mutations create new information? by molecular biologist, Dr Robert Carter.

PS: re the spelling of the antibiotic, the INN (International Non-Proprietary Name) is 'amoxicillin'. However, the BAN (British Approved Name, as defined in the British Pharmacopoeia) is 'amoxycillin'. Being a Commonwealth country, Australia tends to use BAN names, so here it is called amoxycillin. You should be careful about relying on sources such as Wikipedia.

Mike B., Australia, 13 March 2013

Re the "And in a fortnight I could tell you the mechanism of resistance that would eventually be found in the clinic" refer to how fast natural selection operates (just 1 fortnight); which is direct contradiction to long ages?

Don Batten responds

He was referring to culturing those bacteria in a lab and exposing them to the new antibiotic to isolate those bacteria that were resistant. That is not strictly natural selection, but it does illustrate how quickly resistance to a new antibiotic can develop when the genetic basis for it already exists.

There are many examples of natural selection, which is also part of the creation model, that happened so quickly that it surprised the evolutionists with their 'deep time' thinking, for example: Speedy species surprise.

William O., United States, 13 March 2013

How can you say it would take 200,000 years to get an answer ? This seems to compromise the young earth/universe idea.

Don Batten responds

Read it more carefully, William. I was referring to what was being said on a television program where an interviewer was making this point to the people being interviewed about the SETI program.

However, I could say the same thing to show the futility of their thinking; arguing from within their own paradigm (reductio ad absurdum argument). But how would talking about 200,000 years into the future impinge upon a biblical timeframe for earth history (the past) anyway?

William M., United States, 13 March 2013

Great article! Brief recap of info in some other articles on your site, which makes skeptics more likely to actually read and understand the facts. About a month ago, I pointed a self-proclaimed "atheist" of the fact that no new information was generated in the bacterial transfers. This after he said he saw macroevolution in his university experiments using that process. He had nothing to say to me after that. I wonder why? (No I don't.) :^)

God bless all of you! He blesses us greatly through your ministry!

Don Batten responds

Thanks for your encouragment.

I would encourage a more nuanced approach to the information argument. As I have said, mutations do confer antibiotic resistance as well, but does it involve 'new information'? Well, mutations are almost invariably 'downhill' in their effects; causing loss of control, loss of specificity in enzymes, or loss of functionality in a transport channel, etc. So, the effect of mutations is not to create brand new genes, but to modify existing ones. They are not the stuff of microbes-to-microbiologists evolution. See Mutations Q&A.

john P., Australia, 14 March 2013

It should be obvious to most of skeptics that mutations just sort existing information and modify existing genes, there can be no new information.Regarding SETI- intelligence- God's- our Creator-is right under and in their noses.

All this confirms bible prophesy, in particular what Peter said re running after fables

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