Is Antibiotic Resistance Proof of Evolution?

Remember when you were in high school or perhaps you are currently in high school as we speak where you have learned about antibiotic resistance? The teacher would allude to this being evolution in action. Certainly in debates this is often time alluded to as evidence for evolution.

In the medical field, antibiotic resistance in some areas have baffled some doctors because the bacteria would respond so quickly, sometimes within the first year or so. Was this evolution and is evolution moving more quickly than previously thought?

Creationists have debated for years that bacteria already have resistance built-in their systems, something has been also admitted by evolutionists…

 “One of the most common evidences used in textbooks to support evolution is antibiotic resistance in bacteria. However, the marvelous ability of bacteria to survive against antibiotics does not support the idea of progressiveevolution at all. Public school textbooks claim that bacteria’s sophisticated capacity to change—which appears to be built into their systems—supports the claim that molecules can change into completely different kinds of creatures, like mosquitoes, mushrooms, and men—despite the fact that these changes require the addition of completely different kinds of genetic information.”

The textbook authors recognize that the resistance is already present in the bacterial population (Fig. 15.5) and then claim that selection for resistant bacteria in a population is direct evidence for evolution. Selecting for something that is already present does not provide support for the information-gaining change required for evolution. Students are left with a confused understanding of evolution and are expected to equate observed changes in bacteria with the conversion of one kind into another.” –Answers in Genesis, May 2007 and January 2009. 

In 2012, antibiotic resistance was confirmed again as a ancient trait because it was discovered in bacteria from an isolated cave in New Mexico, many feet underground.

“A growing body of evidence implicates environmental organisms as reservoirs of these resistance genes; however, the role of anthropogenic use of antibiotics in the emergence of these genes is controversial. (*because it goes against what has been taught as evidence for evolution – *emphasis mine) We report a screen of a sample of the culturable microbiome of Lechuguilla Cave, New Mexico, in a region of the cave that has been isolated for over 4 million years. We report that, like surface microbes, these bacteria were highly resistant to antibiotics; some strains were resistant to 14 different commercially available antibiotics. … This supports a growing understanding that antibiotic resistance is natural, ancient, and hard-wired in the microbial pangenome.”

Moreover there was research conducted recently which uncovered a tribe of humans known as Yanomami people who live in a remote region of Venezuela. These people haven’t been in contact with the outside world, yet…it was discovered that these people have bacteria that already had antibiotic resistance genes—including the ability to fight synthetic antibiotics!

In Science Magazine

“The medical team’s interviews with these Yanomami villagers found they were never given drugs or exposed to food or water with antibiotics. Instead, Dantas suggests that the Yanomami gut bacteria have evolved an armory of methods to fight a wide range of toxins that threaten them—just as our ancestors and other primates have done to fight dangerous microbes. For example, the Yanomami bacteria may already have encountered toxins that occur naturally in their environment that are similar in molecular structure to modern antibiotics, but have yet to be discovered by scientists. Or, gut bacteria in humans have evolved a generalized mechanism for detecting certain features shared by all antibiotics—including the synthetic ones designed by scientists—and so can mount a defense against new threats.”

The discovery is troubling because it suggests that “antibiotic resistance is ancient, diverse, and astonishingly widespread in nature—including within our own bodies,” says anthropologist Christina Warinner of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, who is not a co-author. “Such findings and their implications explain why antibiotic resistance was so quick to develop after the introduction of therapeutic antibiotics, and why we today should be very concerned about the proper use and management of antibiotics in both clinical and agricultural contexts.”

This may explain why bacteria reacts so quickly and undermines a basic premise about evolution. One thing to note however, bacteria is not all bad, in fact we couldn’t exist without most bacteria. While it benefits us, it benefits them as well. This was no discovery for evolution but increased knowledge on how bacteria works…:)

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