On February 29th Jonathan Wells published a short review of a scientific paper by Maurice et al. (2008). You can read the original Wells posting at: The Irrelevance of Darwinian Evolution to Antibiotic Resistance.
Wells was trying to make a point. Concerning the work from Dardel's lab (Maurice et al, 2008), Wells claimed ...
Yet Darwinian evolution had nothing to do with it.We all know how creationists use the word "Darwinism." Most of the time, it's a synonym for evolution. All of the time, it's an attempt to obfuscate and confuse their audience. What Wells is saying is that evolution had nothing to do with the paper. All that happened was a bit of genetics. According to Wells, "Darwin's theory of the origin of species by natural selection" was not involved.
First, some bacteria happen to have a very complex enzyme (acetyltransferase), the origin of which Darwinism hasn’t really explained. Come to think of it, most cases of antibiotic resistance (including resistance to penicillin) involve complex enzymes, and the only “explanations” for them put forward by Darwinists are untestable just-so stories about imaginary mutations over unimaginable time scales.
Second, the acetyltransferase story is about minor changes in an existing species of bacteria. But Darwin’s theory isn’t really about how existing species change over time. People had been observing those long before 1859, and most of the new insights we’ve gained since then have come from genetics, not Darwinism. Yet Mendel’s theory of genetics contradicted Darwin’s, and Darwinists rejected Mendelian genetics for half a century. And although an understanding of genetics is important when dealing with antibiotic resistance, Darwin’s theory of the origin of species by natural selection is not.
Third, Dardel and his colleagues made their discovery using protein crystallography. They were not guided by Darwinian evolutionary theory; in fact, they had no need of that hypothesis.
The senior author of the paper posted a comment on Pharyngula saying, "Actually, we did indeed use darwinian evolution within this work (something unusual in structural biology)." [see Why the Right People Hate IDiots, and links within that posting].
Michael Egnor gallops to the defense of his hero. Today he posted a rebuttal to my criticism of him and Wells [Dr. Larry Moran, Darwinism, and Vicious Personal Invective]. Here's what Egnor says,
Dr. Wells pointed out that research on antibiotic resistance wasn’t guided by Darwinian evolutionary theory. That evolution occurred — that is, that the population of bacteria changed over time — is obviously true, and obviously was relevant to the antibiotic resistance research. Dr. Wells made the observation that the research owed little to Darwin’s theory that all biological complexity arose by natural selection without teleology.This is an incredible admission from a creationist. Egnor admits that the bacteria evolved. He then goes on to define some bizarre version of "Darwin's theory."1 But the cat is out of the bag. What we see here folks, is the recognition that there is a distinction between Darwinism and evolution by natural selection. We're still not clear about the difference but it seems that bacteria can evolve resistance to antibiotics.
Egnor admits that the paper used evolution but it just wasn't Darwinism.
Now let's see if Jonathan Wells agrees. I'll apologize to Wells if he will post a comment here, or on Evolution News & Views, agreeing to the following ..
I, Jonathan Wells, agree that Maurice et al. (2006) employed evolution by natural selection in their methodology. My position is that evolution by natural selection is not what I mean when I use the word Darwinian.Note that I'm not asking him to agree that "Darwinism" was involved in the paper. All he has to do is admit that evolution by natural selection is not what he means when he uses the word "Darwinian."
Michael Egnor has indicated that this is what Wells actually means. Now let's see if Wells himself will admit it.
1. The standard version of Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is that populations evolve due to the differential survival of individuals with a fitter genotype.
Maurice, F., Broutin, I., Podglajen, I., Benas, P., Collatz, E. and Dardel, F. (2008) Enzyme structural plasticity and the emergence of broad-spectrum antibiotic resistance. EMBO Rep. 2008 Feb 22 [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed]