Did you know there is a stark difference between natural selection and evolution? I didn’t until recently when the differences were explained to me. Previously I thought the two terms were synonymous. Basically, evolution is the theory that a life form can naturally take completely new external information into its genes that tells it how to bring about a complicated new characteristic that it never had before. Natural selection is the natural ability of a life form to use the variations it already has in its genetic code to bring about changes within the same kind of life form. Dog breeding is the perfect example of this natural selection where dogs can be bred for a specific climate or specific purpose, like hunting.
For years we’ve been told that the new scary superbugs infecting hospitals and gyms were proof of evolution. However, further research that has been available for quite some time has shown that these new germs are merely the result of natural selection, not evolution.
How did these germs become resistant to chemicals designed to kill their kind? There are about three different ways this happened. Firstly, some of these germs were already immune to specific medicines. For instance, let’s say there are about two of every 100 bacteria in an environment with a naturally-occurring dominant gene to resist a specific medication. When the medicine is applied to the bacteria’s environment, the 2% of the bacteria with resistance (they are considered mutants) will survive while the other 98% will die. The surviving bacteria will then have offspring possessing its dominant gene of resistance and the 2% will multiply quickly and thrive in that environment.
Scientists have known for quite some time that in places where modern germ killers never existed, there were already germs resistant to them. Therefore, the resistance in the germs was not introduced from some source outside the organisms, which means evolution had no part in the process.
A second way germs can acquire resistance is by receiving that information from another germ. For example, bacteria have the ability to transfer genetic information to other bacteria using a tube and injecting other bacteria with a “plasmid,” a packet of DNA. The information was already naturally occurring and was passed on to the next germ, causing a mutation, without any outside source or species. No proof exists that this process was ever evolutionary and the present interactions among germs points out this is how information has always been transferred.
The third way resistance is acquired is by genetic mutation. Bacteria possess tiny chemical pumps that they use to take in nourishment from outside their cell walls. If they are surrounded by antibiotics and their pumps work correctly, they inadvertently take in the antibiotics which kills them. However, some bacteria have mutations, or genetic defects, which prevent their pumps from operating properly. In a normal environment, they are weak since their ability to nourish themselves is compromised. But in an environment where man-made germ killers are introduced, the weak bacteria are prone to survive and thrive since their faulty pumps don’t pull in the antibiotics.
Essentially, germs resistant to germ killers tend to be the weakest of their species and germ killers tend to kill off the strongest germs, giving the opportunity for the defective, mutant germs to take over. So the so-called superbugs are really the underachievers of the bunch and are simply the unlikely beneficiaries of an enemy attack, not evolution.
Carl Wieland. Superbugs not super at all. Creation magazine. December 1997. Volume 20, issue 1, pp. 10-13.
Can you tell the difference between evolution and natural selection? Creation Ministries International flyer.
–Harry A. Gaylord–