Quick, Nurse, Give the Patient a Tautology!

Michael Egnor

Is Darwinism essential to understanding bacterial resistance to antibiotics? Consider the following conversation, at the bedside of a patient with a serious antibiotic-resistant infection:
Nurse: Nothing’s working, Doctor!
Doctor: I know. All of our antibiotics have failed. Penicillin, Cipro, Tetracycline. Nothing is working.
Nurse: Let’s ask the Darwinists for help!
Doctor: (Slaps forehead) Of course! Darwinism is the foundation of our understanding of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Quick, Nurse, give the patient a tautology!
Darwinists claim that Darwin’s theory, which is the theory that all biological complexity arose by random variation and natural selection, is essential to our understanding of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. What exactly does Darwinism teach us about antibiotic resistance?


Microbiology tells us that bacterial populations are heterogeneous. Individual bacteria differ from one another. Molecular biology tells us that some bacteria have molecular mechanisms by which they can survive antibiotics. Molecular genetics tells us how these resistance mechanisms are passed to other bacteria and through generations of bacteria. Pharmacology helps us design new antibiotics that circumvent the bacterial defenses.
What does Darwinism add to the sciences of microbiology, molecular biology, molecular genetics, and pharmacology? Darwinism tells us that antibiotic-resistant bacteria survive exposure to antibiotics because of natural selection. That is, bacteria survive antibiotics that they’r e not sensitive to, so non-killed bacteria will eventually outnumber killed bacteria. That’s it.
Microbiology, molecular biology, molecular genetics and pharmacology are indispensable to modern medicine. We’ve learned much about intricate bacterial defenses against antibiotics, and we’ve developed hundreds of antibiotics that have saved millions of lives. What has Darwinism added to these miracles? Just this: non-killed bacterial eventually outnumber killed bacteria.
Darwinism is worthless to modern medicine. That’s becoming a tautology, too.

Michael Egnor

Senior Fellow, Center for Natural & Artificial Intelligence
Michael R. Egnor, MD, is a Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics at State University of New York, Stony Brook, has served as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery, and award-winning brain surgeon. He was named one of New York’s best doctors by the New York Magazine in 2005. He received his medical education at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency at Jackson Memorial Hospital. His research on hydrocephalus has been published in journals including Journal of Neurosurgery, Pediatrics, and Cerebrospinal Fluid Research. He is on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Hydrocephalus Association in the United States and has lectured extensively throughout the United States and Europe.

Share