27 January 2009

Ever As Before: Creationists Still Resist Antibiotic Resistance

It's hard to believe that it's been over a year since I wrote about creationists' arguments against using antibiotic resistance in bacteria as an example of evolution. The creationists' refrain, if you don't remember, is typically:

1) “The genes for resistance are not the result of random mutation; they’ve been there all along, we just didn’t notice them!”
2) “Even if resistance DOES occasionally result from random mutation, it doesn’t count as evolution, because there’s always a price to be paid for gaining resistance.”

Both points are complete balderdash, as I've written before. In short: Evolution is about change in populations--neither for better nor for worse, rather simply for different--by any of several mechanisms. But if you're hung up on random mutation, then we have ample evidence that antibiotic resistance can be the result of random mutation. And if you're hung up on seeing mutations that improve general fitness of resistant bacteria, then, hell, we've got that, too.

I dipped into my archives for this one because the creationists have been dipping into theirs. The Young-Earth Creationist (or "YUCK" for short) evangelist website Answers in Genesis is, once again, trumpeting the first argument, this time by means of a moldering little article from May 2007. Looking at a population of bacteria under antibiotic selection, yuckmeister Ken Ham and his cronies want you to "recognize that the resistance is already present in the bacterial population" and therefore not an example of "the addition of completely different kinds of genetic information." Sound familiar? And apparently that was insightful enough to be worth repeating over a year and a half later.

I guess that's to be expected, though. Some of the nonsense they recycle is thousands of years old.

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