At first blush, it might seem a wonderful thing when many different kinds of evidence can be explained by one simple, elegant theory.  Actually, though, too much confirmation can be a theory’s downfall.  When a theory explains too much – even opposite things – it really explains nothing.  For instance, everything in the universe can be explained by the phrase, “Stuff happens.”  Such a theory is useless, even if true.  That’s why any theory that explains too much should be looked at askance.  Here are some recent observations offered in support of the theory of evolution:

Antibiotic resistance:  Evolutionists debating creationists have pointed to the evolution of antibiotic resistance as an example of evolution occurring right before our eyes.  The idea is that bacteria never encountered modern antibiotics till they were synthesized in the early 20th century, so they must have quickly adapted by natural selection to the new environmental challenge.  A paper in Nature just showed, however, that resistance to antibiotics is ancient.1  Canadian researchers sequenced DNA from permafrost said to be 30,000 years old, and found genes for four kinds of antiobiotic resistance already there; in fact, the gene to resist vancomycin was present, and looked similar to modern variants.

The discovery of antibiotics more than 70 years ago initiated a period of drug innovation and implementation in human and animal health and agriculture. These discoveries were tempered in all cases by the emergence of resistant microbes. This history has been interpreted to mean that antibiotic resistance in pathogenic bacteria is a modern phenomenon; this view is reinforced by the fact that collections of microbes that predate the antibiotic era are highly susceptible to antibiotics….

This work firmly establishes that antibiotic resistance genes predate our use of antibiotics and offers the first direct evidence that antibiotic resistance is an ancient, naturally occurring phenomenon widespread in the environment. This is consistent with the rapid emergence of resistance in the clinic and predicts thatnew antibiotics will select for pre-existing resistance determinants that have been circulating within the microbial pangenome for millennia.

Rather than falsifying a key argument for evolution, though, this has been taken as further confirmation of it.  “These results show conclusively that antibiotic resistance is a natural phenomenon,” they authors said, “that predates the modern selective pressure of clinical antibiotic use.”  It just puts the “selective pressure” in the past instead of under our eyes….

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