When any species of bacteria are constantly exposed to a given antibiotic, later generations of them begin to show resistance to it—and eventually that antibiotic has no further effect on them. Evolutionists assume that bacteria’s developing resistance to antibiotics is proof for evolution. They say that this resistance develops as a result of mutations that occur in the bacteria.
There were resistant bacteria before the discovery of antibiotics.
Bacteria did not develop resistance after being exposed to antibiotics.
However, this increasing resistance is not the result of bacterial mutations. Bacteria had resistance ability before being exposed to antibiotics. Despite the fact that it is an evolutionist publication, Scientific American made the following statement in its March, 1998 issue:
Many bacteria possessed resistance genes even before commercial antibiotics came into use. Scientists do not know exactly why these genes evolved and were maintained.29
In 1845, sailors on an . . . Arctic expedition were buried in the permafrost and remained deeply frozen until their bodies were exhumed in 1986. Preservation was so complete that six strains of nineteenth-century bacteria found dormant in the contents of the sailors’ intestines were able to be revived! When tested, these bacteria were found to possess resistance to several modern-day antibiotics, including penicillin. 30
Since the medical world now knows that this kind of resistance was present in some bacteria before the discovery of penicillin, it is definitely erroneous to claim that bacterial resistance is an evolutionary development.
In any one species of bacteria, there are countless genetic variations. Some of them, as mentioned above, have genetic information that gives them resistance to some medicines. When bacteria are exposed to a certain medicine, the non-resistant variations are killed off. But the resistant variations survive and multiply even more. After a while, the rapidly multiplying resistant bacteria take the place of the non-resistant bacteria that had been destroyed. Then, since most bacteria in a colony are resistant to that particular antibiotic, it becomes ineffective against them.
Not only can some bacteria inherit their resistance to antibiotics from previous immune generations; they can also have resistance genes from other bacteria transferred to them.
Genes are transmitted between bacteria by means of plasmids, tiny DNA circles in bacteria in which resistance genes are often found encoded. These genes allow the bacteria to become resistant to various toxic materials in their surroundings.
Resistance genes may also be found in the chromosomal DNA in bacteria. A chromosome is much larger than the plasmids in bacterial cells; it is a molecule that determines the cells’ function and division.
A bacterium with genetic immunity to antibiotics can transfer its genetic information through plasmids to another bacterium. Resistance genes are sometimes transferred through viruses. In this case, a virus transfers the resistance gene it withdrew from one bacterium to another. And when a bacterium dies and disintegrates, another bacterium can absorb the resistance gene it releases into the immediate environment.
A non-resistant bacterium can easily add this gene to its own DNA molecules, because such resistance genes are usually in the form of tiny DNA particles called transposons that can easily be added to other DNA molecules.
In such ways, a whole colony of resistant bacteria can be formed in a short time from one resistant bacterium. This has nothing to do with evolution: The genes that make bacteria resistant did not develop through any process of mutation. Only existing genes are distributed among bacteria.29 Stuart B. Levy, “The Challenge of Antibiotic Resistance”, Scientific American, March 1998, p. 35.