In diatribes against creationists, evolutionists have long pointed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria as examples of evolution in action.  Since antibiotics were unknown before the 1920s, debaters have taunted their creationist opponents with the claim that evolution is such an observable fact, we’re watching it happen right before our very eyes. The force of that argument has been undermined with a new discovery this week that pushes the “evolution” of such resistance way back before human civilization arrived.  Another article is claiming that human brain chemistry existed way, way back, “long before animals, brains and even nerve cells existed.”

Antibiotic resistance:  An article on Science Daily began, “Scientists were surprised at how fast bacteria developed resistance to the miracle antibiotic drugs when they were developed less than a century ago. Now scientists at McMaster University have found that resistance has been around for at least 30,000 years.”  Gerry Wright and other McMaster scientists analyzed DNA from Arctic permafrost and found the genes for resistance there, including a gene for vancomycin resistance that was thought to have evolved in the 1980s. “We then recreated the gene product in the lab, purified its protein and showed that it had the same activity and structure then as it does now.”  (They noted that this is only the second time a protein has been reconstituted from ancient DNA.)

Wright pondered the quandary raised by this find: “Antibiotic resistance is seen as a current problem and the fact that antibiotics are becoming less effective because of resistance spreading in hospitals is a known fact.  The big question is where does all of this resistance come from?”  It can no longer be seen as a recently-evolved trait in bacteria.  In fact, the McMaster team expects to find these genes in samples going back a million years, according to evolutionary dating.

This requires a significant alteration of the evolutionary story.  “Antibiotics are part of the natural ecology of the planet so when we think that we have developed some drug that won’t be susceptible to resistance or some new thing to use in medicine, we are completely kidding ourselves. These things are part of our natural world and therefore we need to be incredibly careful in how we use them,” Wright said.  To rescue evolution, he turned to the personification fallacy:  “Microorganisms have figured out a way of how to get around them well before we even figured out how to use them.”  Lacking a brain, no microorganism has the power to figure out anything….

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