Student,

This conversation is closed.

Debate: Does antibiotic-resistant bacteria prove Darwin's theory of evolution?

MRSA is a bacterium which has EVOLVED to become resistent to antibiotics. Therefore, if someone gets infected then its extremely difficult for antibiotics to kill the Pathogens.
Many scientists think that we are using to many antibiotics and bacteria is becoming immune. This is a huge problem as how will we protect ourselves against these infectious diseases?

However, i am asking whether this evolution, that has taken place in our lifespan, proves, or helps prove, Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution?

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    Nov 5 2012: If man evolved from apes then why are there still apes.
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      Nov 5 2012: this is a serious question, or you try to provoke something?
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        Nov 5 2012: If you seek a fight then there will always be opportunity in all you see. If you seek knowledge then there will always be a opportunity to learn. Those are your decisions ... not mine.

        Bob.
    • Nov 5 2012: because we were a branch that evolved from teh ape. it doesnt mean all future apes are like us.
      like we have different types of monkeys today.
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      Nov 5 2012: The most accurate answer would be to point out that Human beings are Apes and more specifically Great Apes. I'm guessing however that, what you REALLY meant to ask is:

      "If man evolved from chimpanzees then why are there still chimpanzees."

      This at least is a species to species comparison. Ape is two levels higher. Humans are Great Apes which are Apes. Chimpanzees are Great Apes which are Apes.

      So for the answer to your question to be of any relevance, your starting assumption must be correct. So first let's ask:

      "Did man evolve from chimpanzees?". The answer is no. Chimpanzees and man evolved from a common ancestor. That common ancestor is not a chimpanzee (although arguably it is an Ape) or a man.

      Your question is akin to asking "If I was born from my cousin X why is there still my cousin X?". In fact, you and cousin x are descended from grandpa Y who is neither you nor your cousin.

      Done. Now you have two choices: either add what I just said to your knowledge of the subject and update your views (even if just that specific bit) or continue to repeat that false question to the exasperation of your peers. If you chose the latter, the only real victim of this choice is yourself, you would be willfully keeping yourself ignorant. Surely you have your best interest at heart?
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    Nov 4 2012: Let's see: Certain strains of a bacteria are killed by a drug while other strains are unaffected by it. Does that prove that all life spontaneously came into existence and from that one common ancestor began to evolve by random selection of beneficial mutations over eons of time into the myriad life forms existing today? If that's proof I'm a monkey's uncle!
    • Nov 4 2012: Evolution does not explain the origin of life, only the diversity of life. Why can't creationists grasp this simple clarification?

      Bacterial antibiotic resistance shows how natural selection works. It started with Bacteria where few survived. Since the survivors resists the antibiotics, they reproduce and their offspring inherit this characteristic. Thus, this characteristic is now prevalent. It proves this principle. It's evolution. From that to the whole of life having common ancestors there's a very long way to go. Bacterial antibiotic resistance is still evidence of evolution, but it is not the ultimate evidence. But if we put all the evidence together, evolution is just undeniable.
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        Nov 5 2012: If evolution is undeniable why are there so many learned scientists who deny it?You must admit, Mr. Driven, that everything in Biology appears to be designed, yet evolutionists claim nothing was designed but came about by natural selection of random mutations over eons of time. One vocal Atheist evolutionist scientist (R. Dawkins) wrote, “Biology is the study of complicated things that have the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.” One of the discoverers of the double helix DNA structure (F. Crick) said, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see is not designed.” When a piece of ancient pottery is discovered it is accepted as a designed thing. But, when a new biological truth is discovered it is accepted as not being designed. Evolution promotes naturalistic thinking while rejecting logical thinking. Also, Entropy, if I may call you that, why does evolution offer no explanation for the appearance of such things as consciousness; intelligence; meaning; altruism; or morality. Did unintelligent, blind chemistry create these?
    • Nov 5 2012: Hello Edward,
      Those are interesting questions and it's worth answering most of them. But would take several comments. We might veer too much out of topic. I could try a new idea/question/debate? "Answering questions about evolution." At some point. Anyway, question 1 would be worth answering if I knew of any learned scientist who denied evolution. But I know of none. But I will try the other questions if you are interested. If not interested (and nobody else seems interested) then I will not bother opening that other idea/question/debate. Let me know.
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        Nov 5 2012: I think a rational, logical debate about the strengths and weaknesses of both Darwinian Evolution and Neo-Evolution compared to what is commonly called Creationism would be profitable providing the participants on both sides can be civil. I'll be watching for your post! Bravo!
    • Nov 5 2012: Hello again Edward,
      Don't "bravo" me yet. I was talking about answering questions about evolution, such as yours. Not about opening a false debate between creationism and forms of evolutionary theory (creationism is not science). I would rather answer questions and clarify misconceptions about evolution. Still for it? Anyone else interested?

      (I will check in a couple of days to see if people are interested. If so, then I'll go for it.)
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        Nov 6 2012: Sorry for the premature support. I have no idea what you are proposing. Please clarify.
    • Nov 7 2012: I am proposing that first I answer the questions you asked above (and/or clarify the misconceptions that could be behind them), after that if somebody else had some more questions/misconceptions, then answer those too.

      I thought it could be fun. But apparently nobody but you and I might care.

      So maybe much later.
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    Nov 5 2012: The most interesting facet of antibiotic-resistance is horizontal gene transfer. As for the question, I consider that was answered many many decades ago.
  • Nov 4 2012: Darwin did not even use the term evolution until the 6th edition of his book. His book was entitled "The Origin of Species through Natural Selection".
    Evolution was an existing theory when Darwin was alive; his contribution to it was the concept of naturally occurring circumstances that favour an aspect of a species will allow that aspect to become dominant. Variability in the species was considered to be there already, circumstances selected one characteristic over another.
    Clearly then, antibiotics can be considered a occurrence of something in the bacteria’s environment that will select more resistant bacteria and kill off the less resistant bacteria. Those bacteria that remain are less likely to be killed by antibacterial agents until stronger agents are found. This occurs in our life time because we are very long lived in comparison to bacteria which reproduce and therefore evolve at lightning speed by comparison.
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    Nov 4 2012: This is agency, which means we instigated it, did it evolve? or did the resistant type survive to flourish but it wasn't because of natural causes, as far as i can remember of my experience with MRSA is that we all have it on our bodies since 2 hours after we are born. Infected people are quarantined immediately and everyone that interacts with the person pending on their health are to wear full hazard gear. This was 20 years ago so it wasn't recent and i don't have a clue how the procedures for MRSA is handled these days.
    • Nov 4 2012: How do you think that evolution works Ken if not by differential survival from variety? After that ask yourself where does this variety come from. If you get to understand that, then you get to understand evolution a bit better.

      That we introduced the selection agent does not mean that it is not evolution. No, most of us did not carry any MRSA bacteria with us 20 years ago.
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        Nov 5 2012: Then Show me in nature where an antibiotic agent naturally occurring has spurned a bacterial change? 22 years ago i had to gear up, wash down before i was allowed passed the prep bubble just to help the patient toilet, i was just an orderly and when we were called in for our groups turn in procedure run down, which meant the nursing staff as well as us to the cleaners and food prep staff for each shift, Our infection Co-ordinators all said the same thing, it's a bacteria we all have that has changed and during my time there, there were four outbreaks in a 5 year period, 22 years ago to be exact. I'm glad i can finally talk about it as i had signed a silence form when i first started there, which only lasts ten years.

        EDIT Also from what i can remember is that it has to do with the condition of your skin, i'm not going to look it up as this was the prevalent information available to us at that time, you got a problem with it then be my guest and do the hard work for us and up date my actually crappy memory, i just remember how it took longer to gear up and strip out than it did to actually care for the patient.
    • Nov 5 2012: Evolving resistance to antibiotics in nature? I don't think that you understood what I said.

      People working in hospitals are more prone to carry such things as MRSA. I would not be surprised about that policy if there was suspicion that an MRSA outbreak could happen/was around. That does not mean we all were carrying such things 20 years ago. Today the probability is higher (because of the overuse of antibiotics), but still not all of us have it.
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    Nov 4 2012: The best proof is yet the fact that (neo) darwinism explains life and its origins, and better than any other hypothesis.
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    Nov 3 2012: You may have heard the expression 'lies, damned lies and statistics'. Mathematics is an incredibly precise language with no room for ambiguity. Scientific modelling also tends to be very regimented. The idea is that someone has an idea and devises a way of possibly proving their idea (hypothesis). If it seems 'ground-breaking' then a paper is publised in a peer-reviewed journal. The idea is that anyone who is interested can then go away and repeat the experiment themselves. Darwin is remembered because his hypothesis was incredibly outrageous given the scientic environment of the time, which was arguing humans were at the top of the evolutionary tree. This human centred approach came from the time of the Enlightenment, the 'divine'being invested in one rather than in one's environment. Sorry really complex idea not suited to limited text space. You might have noted in the media during the last few weeks a big debate in the UK about ash trees and the effects of fungal pathogens. Trees live longer than humans, they are alive however they are disregarded as they appear to have no self-awareness. Media saying many questions already answered by other creatures in the natural sphere. Suggesting an organism that can reproduce itself very quickly will be able to adapt to a particular toxin much faster. A more complex multi cell organism may survive an onslaught but genetic mutations may occur. Human genome now decoded but scientists still working on what switches a gene on and off in successive offspring I understand. Hours of fun. C=Ettr2=C. Physics Chemistry Biology History and curious minds. Lovely.
  • Nov 3 2012: "However, i am asking whether this evolution, that has taken place in our lifespan, proves, or helps prove, Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution?"

    It is certainly evidence in favor of the theory of evolution, but Krisztian Pinter is technically correct in pointing out that a scientific theory cannot be proven.

    BTW, scientists are actually creating "designer" bacteria through evolution: they throw a batch of bacteria in a petri dish with some material they want the bacteria to eat and after a while the bacteria evolve until they can digest the material.
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    Nov 3 2012: The term 'theory' of evolution is a bit missleading, as it is already a well proven and accepted fact in science.

    Bacteria resistence against antibiotics is based on mutation and selection according to Darwin, and due to the speed of reproduction rates, the misuse of antibiotics (quantity and false application) endanger its very effectiveness.
  • Nov 3 2012: I don't think so. These "superbugs" such as MRSA, VRE, and the like came about for one reason because doctors were prescribing antibiotics too freely. As a result, the bacteria were mutating and becoming resistant to conventional treatment for infection.

    Now, doctors know better. Unfortunately, some patients are still wanting antibiotics for the sniffles. As a nurse, II and the doctors educated patients on why this is no longer done. They still want them anyway.
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    Nov 3 2012: no it is not, and the reason is that in science, no single thing proves anything. if you have a single observation, it can be explained in infinite number of ways. in science we are interested in models. can you come up with a system that can explain how the world works, and thus it is capable of making predictions? then we are happy.

    all we can say in science is:

    1. if an observation matches the model, we are happy
    2. if the observation does not match the model, we need to either tweak the model, or abandon it

    you can never ever prove theory.
    • Nov 3 2012: i agree, however i asked if it would help prove? a strong indicator towards the conclusion?
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        Nov 3 2012: if you mean strong as "we only need a hundred of these as opposed to a million to be confident" then yes. it is one important example of how selection works. with some care, it can be a good example for all mechanisms of evolution.
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    Nov 3 2012: Nah ! Natural selection is just favouring already-resistant bacteria.

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n2/antibiotic-resistance-evidence

    :-)
    • Nov 3 2012: but it wasnt bacteria resistent it change/evoled ? that link is to a biblical site do you not think that it would be biased then/
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        Nov 3 2012: Hi Freddie.
        I don't thing anyone doubts that the resistant bacteria are already present in the population & are selected by natural selection. Call it evolution if you like, but it doesn't increase complexity.

        ""Genes for resistance to antibiotics, like the antibiotics themselves, are ancient.[1] However, the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections seen in clinical practice stems from antibiotic use both within human medicine and veterinary medicine. Any use of antibiotics can increase selective pressure in a population of bacteria to allow the resistant bacteria to thrive and the susceptible bacteria to die off. As resistance towards antibiotics becomes more common, a greater need for alternative treatments arises. However, despite a push for new antibiotic therapies there has been a continued decline in the number of newly approved drugs.[2] Antibiotic resistance therefore poses a significant problem.""

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antibiotic_resistance

        :-)
        • Nov 4 2012: Peter,
          Are you saying that Bacteria carrying several genes that allow them to resist antibiotics are no more complex than bacteria that do not carry such genes? That would be quite a stretch even by creationist standards.
        • Nov 6 2012: There is no relationship between evolution and an increase in complexity. The reverse s perfectly possible and there are many known instances.
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      Nov 4 2012: "Favouring already existing bacteria..."

      Well what do you think natural selection means???
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        Nov 4 2012: Exactly that. However nothing 'evolves' by natural selection; it just gets selected from a set of existing options. To assist in the vindication of Darwin's theory, we would need a new improved bacteria to appear. One that hasn't existed before.

        :-)
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          Nov 4 2012: New bacteria do appear all the time, because of mutations.
          But do you believe in mutation?
        • Nov 6 2012: Natural selection does not describe evolution - it is a phenomenon associated with it. Natural selection is not the only force involved - genetic drift is also possible, for example.

          Since only a tiny fraction of bacteria have been identified, and since they transfer genetic material between each other - there being little in the way of a bacterial species, as such - it is not surprising that a new specie of bacteria can be identified. To summarize - they don't really have species so the comment is meaningless.
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        Nov 4 2012: Sure it damages the bacteria so that the antibiotic cannot lock on & destroy it. Damaging things is not normally advantageous, & in no way furthers the Darwinist cause.

        :-)
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          Nov 4 2012: Well what if this damage causes damaged bacteria to supersede "normal" bacteria, for instance if antibiotics can no longer destroy them? Wouldn't you call this damage advantageous?
          This does "further the Darwinist cause", because that is all there is to it.

          Something else, since we're at it... I've always wondered. Do Creationists believe domestic cats were created by God?
        • Nov 4 2012: So having a variant of a gene that resists antibiotics is damage? Wow.
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        Nov 4 2012: It's a bit like the flightless flies that don't get blown out to sea on a windy beach. Or the folks with sickle cell anaemia who are immune to aids. The mutation is only advantageous under specific conditions, but the overall fitness is reduced. Four punctures may be handy for getting under a low bridge, but not on the motorway. If you mutate any well designed system it's bad news.
        I doubt God created domestic cats; much more likely a big cat of some sort with enough variability to 'evolve'(if you like) into the many variations we see today.

        :-)
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          Nov 5 2012: Overall fitness? Are you saying that fitness is objective and not relative to environment?
          So you can admit that evolution works on big cats. Do you believe in evolution for any other animal?
        • Nov 6 2012: What people with sickle cell anemia are immune to AIDS? There is no association between sickle cell anemia and AIDS immunity.
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        Nov 5 2012: Hi Gerald.
        Superbugs only exist in sterile environments. Put them outside with all the other bugs & they don't do so well. Their mutation is a disadvantage in any environment other than a sterile one; where their unmutated brothers & sisters are decimated by the antibiotics.
        No one has ever argued with the fact that creatures adapt to their environment under the influence of natural selection. We see it every day & can test it in the lab; it's undeniable, every creature has this ability. What we cannot see or test is the theory that one type of creature can eventually morph into another type of creature . Darwinists call the change within a kind evolution, & show obvious examples; then talk as if the crossing into a new type is the same phenomenon. It's a play on words. There is no convincing evidence that such a thing ever happened.

        :-)
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          Nov 5 2012: I see. You believe in natural selection as a means of small adaptation. This matches the idea that the world is a few millenia old, I guess.
          What I don't understand is why God would work so hard at making it seem like an accident. Why did he arrange bones and genes in a way that really looks like we're all descendants of a common ancestor?
          I mean, can you blame evolutionists?
        • Nov 6 2012: You are mixing terms - you can't deny the existence of evolution because 'it's only natural selection' and use the word evolution in the same sentence. If the superbugs did develop as a result of mutation as you describe then evidently evolution did take place. If they then don;t survive well outside a hospital that's irrelevant. Evolution is evolution is evolution. Clearly there is nothing to stop some mutilations benefiting organisms outside a sterile environment.
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        Nov 5 2012: All my life I have marvelled at the world, the universe, the whole thing. Naturally, evolution was my first port of call. I was disappointed that there was no way to be certain that this was the way it had happened. Church was a meeting place for hypocrites, totally irrelevant to my search.
        When I was 35 I came across the creation guys. They put the science together with the biblical narrative. This made sense to me, & makes more sense as I study it.
        How you see things is based on what you expect to see.
        When I see similar body plans, I do not see evolution, but a variety of near perfect creatures built by one maker & designed to survive in the same environment
        When I see millions of millions of fossils buried deeply, I know they had to be buried rapidly to be fossils at all; so a fairly rapid worldwide flood makes more sense than the piecemeal deposition over billions of years espoused by evolution.
        So this ordered & complex universe does not look to me like an accident, quite the opposite.
        It is not difficult to line up fossils & make up a story about evolution; much more difficult to produce empirical evidence. I could dig up the bodies in our local graveyard & 'prove' that people are getting bigger/smaller/fatter/thinner, & given a reputation, people would believe me.
        Evolution must make sense to those who refuse to consider a non-material explanation, it's sadly all they have. If you want an alternative, then try looking at things from a different perspective.

        :-)
        • Nov 5 2012: Hello Peter,
          I have seen many creationists argue that natural selection and mutations cannot be real and after blindly rejecting these facts it is easy to see why they are against evolution. However you have accepted these facts but could not see that small changes that are made possible by mutations and natural selection, given large enough time, will eventually lead to a specie to morph into a new specie. We are talking about a time scale of billions of years which is more than enough for a specie to morph into another one. Small changes eventually lead to transformations.
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          Nov 5 2012: I hear you, but suppose for a minute the world is billions of years old.
          What do you think might happen to two animals of the same species if they end up in groups living completely isolated from one another for millions of years? You must certainly agree that they might adapt to different environments and, given enough time, might end up becoming two very distinctive animals.
          Is time the only trouble about the theory of evolution?
        • Nov 6 2012: It seems you like things because 'they made sense to me.' Fine - but it doesn't make sense to other people.
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        Nov 5 2012: Hi Alp.
        Never heard of anybody denying natural selection.
        Natural selection selects from pre-existing code. This code is finite within any creature, so the amount of variation is limited. This is obvious from breeding dogs, cattle, & corn; we always end up with dogs, cattle, & corn. If you want to believe otherwise, that's ok. There is no real proof though.
        As most mutations disrupt the code the chances of new useful code appearing spontaneously is extremely remote. All the more so as it would have to have happened millions of times to give the desired results. Just not logical. We also have the small problem of body plans, which apparently have nothing to do with DNA coding. So we can mutate 'til the cows come home, it will not produce a new biological structure.

        :-)
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          Nov 5 2012: "This code is finite within any creature, so the amount of variation is limited."

          This reasoning is wrong, Peter, because mutated organisms don't carry the initial code anymore. They carry a new one, which can be mutated into yet another one. This is limitless, wouldn't you agree?
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        Nov 6 2012: Hi Gerald.
        There are a couple of problems with your scenario. Bill Gates & others have likened the DNA code to our computer code, but immensely more complex. Imagine we started introducing random code into Microsoft Word. How long would it remain usable ? Mutations will wreck the code long before any imagined benefit could take hold. Time & further mutations will only make matters worse; it's not going to happen. There is no reason to think nature is any different.
        According to Stephen Myres the DNA coding has nothing at all to do with body plans, & no amount of 'beneficial' mutations can possibly produce a new organ, or body plan.
        I just can't find any reason to believe in this stuff.

        :-)
        • Nov 6 2012: It's very easy to demonstrate the evolutionary history of numerous organs. The eyes, for example, have been closely studied, and there is no evolutionary mystery at all.
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          Nov 6 2012: I can't explain evolution any further. I'd have to start at the begining. When you say "Time & further mutations will only make matters worse; it's not going to happen", you're leaving out the role played by natural selection, as if chance were the only drive of evolution.
          Also, you believe everything is the way it's supposed to be, like Feynman's joke about licence plates "You'll never believe the licence plate I saw on a car today. NL-5589!!!! Of all possible combinations, NL-5589!!! The odds are 1 to billions!"
          You come from faraway and I don't think you'll ever grasp any of this unless you read a book about evolution. A good one, such as On the Origin of Species, or The Extended Phenotype. And even still, you'd have to let go to a lot of preconceptions you have about what life is. So I don't know... You might be too old for all this counter-intuitiveness.
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        Nov 7 2012: Alan
        Sorry about the aids comment. I did of course mean malaria. Getting old.
        Same point though, sometimes bad clouds have a silver lining.
        I am familiar with the "eye evolution" arguments. Lots of different creatures have eyes of varying complexity, so we line them up in the correct sequence to infer evolution. I don't buy it, we always have to infer. There are 100million cable connections behind each eyeball. That is technology we can understand, but is light years ahead of our abilities, not time & natural selection.

        Gerald
        I am getting old right enough. I've been studying this for 50 years. In that time I think I have heard most of the arguments, seen most of the proofs, & read a book or two. I have found that materialists generally have little understanding of the religious or Id points of view. May I suggest "Signature in the Cell" , "Evolution, a Theory in Crisis", or "Darwin's Black Box".

        :-)
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          Nov 7 2012: Evolution, a theory in crisis. I've read it. It's very unscientific and again, its basic argument is what Dawkins calls the argument of personnal incredulity. Living organisms are very complex, hence they cannot be originated from randomness.
          It doesn't try to explain life. It just makes the statement that, wow, life sure seems to be of supernatural origin.
          I'd have a similarly hard time explaining how a laptop does NOT operate on magic, to people with no scientific knowledge.

          So what books have you read about evolution ?
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        Nov 7 2012: Hi Gerald.
        That I think is the point. If life is scientifically & mathematically impossible by any natural force we know about, it must be caused by a force we don't know about. The more we learn, the bigger the deficit in our understanding. Putting a fancy tag (personal incredulity) on it doesn't really answer the question.

        I'll pass on the Dick measuring contest re. Books.

        :-)
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          Nov 7 2012: if they showed that evolution is mathematically impossible, i eat my shoes with a knife and fork in public.
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          Nov 7 2012: By no means do I judge people on how many books they've read, Peter. I'm curious about what you read, because personnally I didn't find inconsistencies in the evolutionary litterature I've encountered. Things are very well explained in a way that does not require that you take a leap of faith, or take the author's word for it on the basis of his academic authority.
          It's explanatory. It's science.
          So for instance, I don't see how one can be a Creationist after reading Darwin. Hence my curiosity as to whether you'd read "On the Origin of Species". I'd love your personnal opinion on what you found made no sense.

          The more we learn, the more we understand. I don't know how you can deny that modern biology is tremedously deeper than pre-scientific revolution "natural philosophy". That solving problems raises new ones is independant of the fact that we do make progress.

          Even if you were right, and if life was mathematically impossible, and Krisztian Pinter had to publicly dine on both his shoes... how is that an argument for Intelligent Design? Are you saying God is explained mathematically?
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    Nov 3 2012: The case in which bacteria evolve to be able to survive in an environment including antibiotics provides support for the theory that bacteria evolve in this way and is also consistent with the broader theory that life evolves in this way. Consistency provides a piece of supporting data, but no single case constitutes proof.

    People who doubt evolution as a theory might question whether one can assume from the case of bacteria a broad theory extending to all living things.