Another example offered of as proof of evolution is bacteria that can mutate to become resistant to certain drugs. We currently face a situation where we are in need of new drugs that can control harmful bacteria. This is why the doctors urge patients to take all of their medicine until it is gone because strains of bacteria may mutate (or may have already mutated) to survive the antibiotic prescribed. This new strain becomes stronger and more resilient, requiring even stronger antibiotics. Streptomycin, for instance, and other mycin drugs, bind to a site on the ribosome of the bacteria which keeps it from making proteins that it needs, making in its stead proteins that don’t work, and, hence, cannot grow, divide, or propagate. Streptomycin given to a patient, then, stops the bacteria from growing. Because the ribosomes of mammals do not have the site where the mycin drug molecules attach, they are not affected by them. But bacteria can mutate to become resistant to streptomycin. But how does this occur? In this example, the mutation occurs anywhere along the ribosome where the streptomycin attaches, preventing it from stopping the bacterial ribosome from growing and propagating. It was “the result of a decreased specific activity.”4 However, “the resistant strains are usually less fit than the antibiotic-sensitive wild-type strains in the absence of antibiotic treatment.”5 Again, in this example, the mutation causes something to cease. Instead of saying that it has gained a resistance to streptomycin, we should say it lost its sensitivity to it.6 Furthermore, “when treatment ceases or is slowed, the population can revert back to sensitivity, though this reversion is usually slow.”7
One other mutation that is often offered as an example of a beneficial mutation is sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease “is an autosomal recessive disorder that causes anemia, joint pain, a swollen spleen, and frequent and severe infections.” On its own it causes serious health issues. In certain parts of Africa, however, many who have sickle cell disease are afforded an advantage of being either completely resistant to malaria or only develop very mild cases of it. While the carriers of the sickle cell disease may not suffer from its symptoms, of their offspring 25 percent may get sickle cell disease and another 25 percent may get malaria. This does not seem to be an advantageous mutation.
It is necessary to make the point again. Creationists do not necessarily doubt that selection is a process that works in nature. Breeders use selection all the time to breed animals and plants that bear certain traits that are desired. Creationists certainly do not doubt that mutations occur. We all see the result of these mutations in the diseases that afflict humanity. Creationists do not doubt that on rare occasions mutations may be selected which may provide for a new, perhaps even beneficial, trait in a given environment. What Creationists do say, though, is that these mutations are not the kind of thing evolution needs to go from less complexity to more complexity and often the results are deleterious in the long run. Insects can become resistant to insecticides, but they do this by losing sensitivity to insecticide at the binding site.8 Rats may become resistant to certain poisons, but they do so by losing sensitivity to that poison when the enzyme affected by this becomes less efficient. Some crops may, through a mutation which degrades a regulatory gene, increase their yield. Humans occasionally suffer a mutation that removes a regulatory gene and leads to gigantism. Those who suffer with this mutation are given the temporary advantage of being able to reach higher places where food might be found, etc., but they also suffer weakened muscles, difficulty in breathing and pumping their blood, not to mention that man-made and natural objects are often too small to be used by them efficiently. But these are all examples of a loss of information, a loss of specificity. The MIT graduate Lee Spetner observes:
I don’t say it’s impossible for a mutation to add a little information. It’s just highly improbable on theoretical grounds. But in all the reading I’ve done in the life-sciences literature, I’ve never found a mutation that added information. The NDT (Neo-Darwinian Theory–ELP) says not only that such mutations must occur, they must also be probable enough for a long sequence of them to lead to macroevolution.9
This leads us to another question concerning mutations: Since macro-mutations are deleterious, can many very small mutations lead to the kind of information increase needed for evolution to occur?
Other experiments with bacteria where beneficial mutations are claimed also involve a loss of specificity. In a 2006 experiment by Lucinda Notley-McRobba and Thomas Ferenci at the University of Sydney in New South Wales on “Experimental Analysis of Molecular Events During Mutational Periodic Selections in Bacterial Evolution,” Escherichia coli continuous cultures were “analyzed for changes at two loci where mutations provide strong transport advantages to fitness under steady-state glucose limitation,” in order “to understand the processes involved in mutational successions.”1 They reported that "The...mutations of advantage in glucose-limited populations were both loss-of-function changes."2 Loss of functions may be temporarily advantageous, as in the loss of wings on a windy island, but in natural conditions the change is ultimately deleterious. Furthermore, it has been observed that as mutations accumulate over time, the fitness of the bacteria tends to decline.3