University becomes a hot-bed of anti-creationism!

Professors at the University of Kentucky in Lexington (USA) have been increasingly vocal in their opposition to creationist beliefs.

Recently, an error-filled commentary written by Dr David Westneat appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader. A biologist, Dr Westneat used the old argument that "resistance of bacteria to anti-biotics" is evidence for macro-evolution. For the following reasons, this observation has nothing to do with macro-evolution:

  1. Some bacteria already had the resistance. For instance, when scientists at the University of Alberta revived bacteria from members of the Franklin expedition who perished in the Artic nearly 150 years ago, they found some of the bacteria were resistant to antibiotics such as clindamycin and cefoxitin – both of which were developed more than a century after the men died. In other words, these bacteria had an inherited resistance – the information for resistance was already in the genes. When antibiotics are used in such instances, the non-resistant bacteria die, leaving the resistant ones.

    But no new information has been introduced into the system. For evolution in the molecules-to-man sense to occur, there must be a mechanism for information that did not previously exist to arise from non-information. No one has ever observed such a phenomenon occurring. This is inconsistent with "macro-evolution" – the belief that one kind of animal (such as a fish) changed progressively into another (such as a bird), by gaining the information for things such as lungs, legs and feathers which did not previously exist.

  2. Some bacteria directly transfer their resistance to others. Scientists have observed an amazing process in bacteria in which a loop of DNA (information), called a plasmid, is transferred from one bacterium to another. Thus information that enables bacteria to become resistant to a substance can be transferred to a non-resistant organism. Once again, however, the information already existed – no new information arose from matter. Information in this instance is just transferred around. This cannot, therefore, provide the opposite of the necessary information-gaining mechanism needed for molecules-to-man evolution.

  3. There are a number of instances of bacteria becoming resistant through mutations (inherited copying mistakes). But, when examined closely, all such mutations appear to be losses of information.

    For example, H. pylori bacteria (thought to cause some stomach ulcers) can become resistant to the antiobiotic metronidazole because a mutation in the DNA of the bacterium causes it to lose the ability to produce an enzyme. A similar situation occurs with the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the cause of TB). Penicillin resistance can occur in bacteria because of a mutational breakdown of a mechanism that controls the production of an anti-penicillin enzyme. Though resistant, the bacteria are weakened through enzyme over-production.

    Some antibiotics need to be pumped into bacteria by their own biological machinery. When mutational defects cause this to break down, the bacterium is resistant. Again, it is a loss of information.

  4. In regard to the related topic of insect resistance, the famous evolutionary geneticist Francisco Ayala admitted in an article in Scientific American that in every case of insect resistance studied (at that time – and nothing has modified the conclusion since then), the information for the resistance was already present in the genes. It was an inherited resistance – no new information arose (however, molecules to man evolution requires new information).

We argue that the creationist understanding of this issue constitutes real science.

Published: 9 February 2006