So over at the DI whiners blog, Egnor is, once again, trying to pretend that he’s actually making a case for why evolution is irrelevant to antibiotic resistance. It’s really getting silly; he repeats the same nonsense over and over again, desparately doing the rhetorical version of sticking his fingers in his ears and shouting “La La La! I can’t hear you!”:
The Darwinist assertion that random variation and natural selection (chance and necessity) account for all biological complexity has nothing to do with the mundane observation that it’s unwise to unnecessarily expose populations of bacteria to antibiotics. The observation that an antibiotic will kill the bacteria that are killed by it, and the antibiotic will not kill the bacteria that are not killed by it, is a tautology. If you expose a population of bacteria to antibiotics, the unkilled ones will, over time, outnumber the killed ones. The unkilled ones will be the ones that are resistant to the antibiotics. Think about it. That’s Darwinism’s seminal contribution to our understanding of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.
How many times do we need to go through this? A tautology does not explain anything; and it does not invalidate the explanation from which it was derived.
Egnor wants to keep claiming that all that’s happening with antibiotic resistance is that “bacteria that don’t get killed by antibiotics don’t get killed by antibiotics”. The problem for him is that that’s not the entire story.
The major question is: why are antibiotic resistant bacteria suddenly such a problem? Why can we observe clone-lines of non-resistant bacteria acquiring antibiotic resistance? Why for the first 40 or 50 years of antibiotic use was
there virtually no significant population of antibiotic resistant bacteria outside of hospitals? Why was there virtually no wild bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics?
Why are we suddenly observing the existence of bacteria with different proteins
in their cell walls than we’ve ever seen before? Where did they come from?
Egnor can’t explain any of that. And yet, those are real, observed facts that require explanation. Those are real phenomena that will kill large numbers of people unless we understand them and alter our behavior accordingly.
Egnor is arguing for, in essence, ignoring the process, and trying to cope with it without taking advantage of the insights that can be acquired by understanding what is going on. Following the course of actions that are suggested by
Egnor’s argument will lead to people dying.
Dr. Egnor, with his willful ignorance, would rather watch patients die than admit that there’s something going on that conflicts with his religion. He will not under any circumstances admit to the evolutionary processes producing the new killer strains of resistant bacteria; and because of that, he’ll never adopt the necessary practices by which we can reduce the threat of antibiotic resistance. Because to do so would be to admit the
validity of evolution; and he won’t do that. He’ll just keep arguing that evolution had nothing to do with it; that the deaths of patients caused by resistant infections are unfortunate but unavoidable. All in the name of denying reality.