Evolution and the German E. coli Breakout

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Evolution and the German E. coli Breakout

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The other day I was reading a collection of funny and slightly cynical, enigmatic questions that somebody sent me:

  • If you try to fail, and you succeed, which have you done?
  • Can an atheist get insurance against acts of God?
  • Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
  • What was the best thing before sliced bread?
  • Is there another word for synonym?
  • If humans evolved from monkeys and apes—then why do we still have monkeys and apes?


Bingo! That last one is a really good question. I also read an analysis of the recent E. coli outbreak in Germany where an Ohio State University professor proposed a solution to such plagues.

Tainted vegetables

Attributed at various times to cucumbers, tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant, mutated strain of the E. coli bacteria, the outbreak in May severely sickened at least 3,000 and killed some 35 people. It amounts to one of the worst such epidemics since the bacterium was first identified in 1982.

Many analyzed the circumstances and the genetics involved in the situation. However, Ohio State biology professor Steven Rissing pointed out that part of the phenomena was due to horizontal gene transfer from one bacterial strain to another. “We now know it is an ongoing force of evolution generating new strains of bacteria, including the toxic ones” (Columbus Dispatch, June 26, 2011, Section H3).

He continued with more details about the working knowledge of the genetics, but concluded with an intriguing question, “So where’s the hole in our understanding of biology? It’s the public understanding of the biology of such outbreaks” (ibid).

Public understanding of biology

Professor Rissing makes a good point about public ignorance of biology—but what is the nature of that ignorance and what is the solution to it?

He offered the basic premise of modern science that “biologists understand the genetic and evolutionary processes” (ibid). But do they really—or is there something in life on earth that science is missing?

He then stressed that the solution is to teach more science—specifically the evolutionary process, so that, as in the case of the E. coli outbreak in Germany—the population will understand “why bacteria at home in the guts of cows are just as comfortable in ours because of our descent from a common, warm-blooded ancestor” (ibid).

I agree whole-heartedly with the professor that science and the wonders of nature should be taught in more fully in the educational system. But the “ongoing force of evolution” and “common warm-blooded ancestor” emphasis raises another set of even more puzzling questions!

Questions and conundrums

Why focus on a common warm-blooded ancestor—why not focus on the common, original Maker? That would more aptly explain the remarkable nature of bacterial and other organisms’ amazing commonalities.

Why must science and education think only from the premise of evolution rather than from the far greater premise of deliberate creation? Why must science think so small when it could think so incredibly big?

Why does the scientific discipline of biology expound as its first “law,” the Law of Biogenesis, which is that “life begets life,” and then immediately break it by claiming that life originally came from non-life?

Where did those laws of physics, biology and other sciences come from? Modern science provides the expertise in using all these laws, but where did they come from and why do they always work? The “force of evolution” cannot create and sustain laws! The existence of law requires a lawgiver. Therefore, the laws of physics and nature require a Lawgiver.

How smart is man anyway?

Why are humans so smart and animals so, well, not? No offense to the anthromorphizers of the world, but just look at the facts. Beavers build dams, always have, but always just with sticks and mud—never a Hoover or High Aswan? Parrots and a few other birds can learn to speak words, but no parrot ever composed and delivered a Gettysburg Address. Chimpanzees, they say, have the reasoning power of a 2 or 3-year-old human, and early in the space race some chimps were launched into orbit by humans. All very nice indeed, but the chimps are still just chimps and will never launch a human into space.

Raptors, dogs, horses, pigs and even cats can sometimes be very smart, but only humans are intelligent (although unfortunately, not necessarily wise). There remains a great gulf between mankind and animal-kind—a gulf that cannot be explained by merely brain science. It’s a non-physical essence that the Bible calls the “spirit of man” (1 Corinthians 2:11, King James Version).

Non-physical, i.e. spirit, does not fit the modern evolutionary worldview. Pity that, because if science actually began reasoning from the premise that God does exist, then perhaps it could solve even bigger problems than the recent, tragic E. coli outbreak in Germany.

Please read more about evolution and what the Bible says about the origin of life in our free booklet Creation or Evolution: Does It Matter What You Believe?

Comments

  • KARS
    Thank you Mr. Stiver for your article it has been very amusing. When we leave God our Father out of the picture we truly have a small closed mind. When we finally except Him our minds begin to understand God's marvelous works and geneious.
  • PortD
    To ThinkForYourself: "If humans evolved from monkeys and apes—then why do we still have monkeys and apes?" If the British colonized America, then why do we still have British people? ...because Americans didn't evolve from Brits.
  • ThinkForYourself

    "If humans evolved from monkeys and apes—then why do we still have monkeys and apes?"

    If the British colonized America, then why do we still have British people?

  • prodigal_son

    howiedaherp,
    The example of dogs (e.g. Chihuahua) resulting from evolution is a not correct. The original wild dog genome contained all the genetic information required to breed all the domestic breeds that we know today.

    All humans have done with selective breeding is to filter out the desired genetic traits into specific breeds.

    To illustrate this, if you started with a Chihuahua, selective breeding would not result in the original wild dog. Too much genetic diversity has been filtered out of the breed.

    It is analogous to unpacking a suitcase. The same is true of modern desert bananas which have been selectively bred from a much less attractive wild form.

  • Norbert Z

    howiedaherp,

    To be precise, Randy Stiver wrote that is was a mutated strain of E. coli bacteria (E. coli O157:H7) that was identified in 1982, which is different from the initial discovery of the bacteria in 1885.

    As far as what color Adam and Eve were. The Bible does not say they were of any specific race other than the human race. In my view to start with a premise pertaining to a question that limits them to one race will only give misleading answers when that premise cannot be verified.

    What has been observed and documented is that couples who by all intents outwardly look like they're of one race, yet both were born of mixed race parentage, have the 'possibility' of producing a child with a different color.

  • howiedaherp

    Escherichia coli, was described for the first time in 1885 by a German pediatrician named Theodor Escherich. (ibid. per ucg policy)
    Not in 1982. E. coli is naturally found in the feces of large mammals, including humans. The outbreak in Germany, was not an outbreak of a contagious disease such as the flu. It was in fact a direct result of contaminated raw food. This outbreak also affected Switzerland, Poland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, the UK, Canada, and the USA. (ibid. per ucg policy)
    E. Coli is not a super bug that was created by a bunch of mad scientist trying to play God and destroy mankind. The outbreak was linked to an organic farm in Lower Saxony. Typically for a farm to be organic it must use organic material in the production process as oppose to engineered chemicals. Most cases, The “organic” fertilizer used is manure, normally animal, but in non-FDA regulated areas, it can be human.
    As we know, E. coli can be found in this material naturally, a few days in the sun and a good cleaning after harvest and it will no longer be present. But as described by a CDC Investigation report of the outbreak, the infected product was fenugreek sprouts. Like bean or alfalfa sprouts, they sprout very quickly and are soon harvested and consumed raw. If these sprouts were fertilizes with manure and then ingested by humans than the human would be infected and the live E. coli would grow producing it’s toxic byproduct for our digestive system to absorb.
    The CDC stated “E. coli, like many other bacteria, exchange genetic material and there is no evidence to think that this strain has been modified intentionally.”(ibid. per ucg policy) Therefor the human error that caused this outbreak is more than likely that eating poop can make you sick. This has nothing to do with the evolutionary process. This is science. Facts are what make science. Theory is what drives scientist to find facts.
    We have made EVOLUTION a four letter word in the religious realm because all we think of are teachers making are children believe that we came from monkeys. This could not be farther from the truth. Evolution means, “A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.” (ibid. per ucg policy)
    This amazing process happens every day. There is far more than scientific theory behind evolution. There are facts that we see and enjoy every day. For example a small scale is Botox, The idea of harvesting a neurotoxic fluid from genetically enhanced bacteria creates a deadly byproduct into something that can help people relax there overactive muscles and to cure migraines along with many other specific medical uses. All thanks to evolution.
    A larger scale is that specific breeds of dogs, cats, horses and other animals would be impossible if it were not for evolution. There are, and have never been wild chiwawas roaming the mountains of Mexico. The vegetables we eat. Many of them have evolved to produce more with less effort and resources than their original ancestors. Evolution has made all those things possible. Now for the big issue. If evolution does not exists and there is no need for us to teach anything about the evolutionary process. Than what color was Adam and Eve?... Two Caucasian people do not give birth to an African American child. I’ll leave that for you to ponder further.
    Believe it or not Scientists are not out to disprove creation. A good scientist looks at facts and describes what he/she sees. Then forms a theory on the things he/she can’t see and works toward proving that theory right or wrong. Evolution is not all about whether or not man came from monkeys, though this is a theory it will not be taught as fact until it is proven by something we can see or touch. Evolution is exactly what it is defined as in the English language. “A gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.” It scares me to think that a person who is easily influenced by their religious leaders will read a commentary and believe that it is fact and that scientists are out to get them.

    Please reply and we will talk more.

  • prodigal_son

    The question as to whether man can completely understand evolution is a pertinent one. The theory of evolution is built on a number of axioms that must be accepted if one is even to begin.

    It must be assumed that it is possible to unlock all the secrets of the past using only what is known in the present.

    This assumes that the creator utilised all the same laws and principles during creation, as applied after.

    If this assumption is wrong, all reasoning that follows from it is also flawed.

    When looking at the genetic similarities between humans and animals, scientists often argue, evolution must be correct, unless god set out to deceive man with the similarities.

    It is not clear that god originally intended man to spend his time on earth looking into a microscope.

    Mankind did not even develop his first technology (the fig leaf) until he ate from the tree of knowledge. And he was forbidden from doing that.

    As for evolution, it is closer to a religion than a scientific theory. It does not make testable predictions like mechanics. It is a framework for explaining observations of biological systems. As such it has more in common with a belief system than a branch of science.

    By contrast the bible provides a historical account of creation. It does not purport to be a textbook. Scientific inferences can be made from the events described. But we are still bound by the assumption that the present can be used to unlock the past.

  • prodigal_son

    Evolution is a poor theory with great public relations. It pits itself against intelligent design with all the apparent authority of a fully formed branch of science. It has many deficiencies which are kept from the lay public.

    1. Evolution has no idea how life began. Just suppositions with no evidence.

    2. Evolution struggles with the issues of the improbability that a living system of even a few proteins could form spontaneously. Despite a budget of billions no repeat of this miracle, however contrived can be repeated. (Man can't even copy god's notes).

    ** Link removed to comply with comment policy **

    3. The global genetic database (genome) is supposed to have began with the DNA with the information to make a single cell. The information in the genome is enormous. This is like starting with a laundry list, adding random words, and ending up with every book ever written.(Including separating each book, so one does not run into the next one)

    The view of evolution presented to the public is a slick PR deception. The fact that the "Origin of Species" is silent on the origin is rarely mentioned.

    The lack of fossils linking supposedly related species together (despite the fact that these changes should take many generations) has lead to the argument that evolution speeds up, when big gaps have to be bridged in adaptation.

    This underlines the plastic nature of a "Theory" that, free from the constraint of making provable predictions, can confine itself to the much easier task of explaining observations.

    This is a criticism often levelled at intelligent design, yet it lies at the heart of evolution.

    Evolution is actually just a pagan religion. God is replaced by chance, and in the fullness of time, man himself in the ultimate act of self worship.

    The dominant position that evolution has attained in the media and schools has lead to a progressive brainwashing of the public. Ideas, like the idea that evolution proceeds from primitive life to more advanced is a fallacy. But ask the man in the street and he will often tell you that evolution predicts just this.

    In fact evolution predicts that life just chases blindly after any niche, randomly groping until it finds a foothold. It is just as probable that man would evolve into and ape as the other way around.

    This faith dresses up as science has been used to undermine morality, religion and has even been used to fool the public about the possible origins of numerous mystery illnesses.

    Billions are spend on biological weapons and disease research, yet according to the media, these sources never make people sick. Only nature, and the blind henchman evolution can do that.

    And they dare to call it blind faith.

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