Publication Date

10-6-2010

Document Type

Article

Disciplines

Biology

Abstract

Even though some strains are pathogenic, most E. coli strains still show evidence of being one of God’s “very good” creations.

Fig. 1. E. coli Gram stain (Wiki commons image). E. coli are Gram-negative bacteria, thus red or pink colored. The red color is due to a counterstain, called safranin.

Escherichia coli is frequently in the news (Fig. 1). E. coli often gets “bad press” for contaminating drinking water or causing a food-borne infection (via hamburgers, apple juice, spinach, or other foods). Recently a new strain (E. coli O145) has been implicated in contaminating lettuce in the U.S., while another strain (E. coliO157:H7) is apparently in tons of beef and other foods. Pathogenic (disease-causing) E. coli is becoming so common in foods that the government is likely to “beef up” its regulation on the food industry (Dininny 2010). Even though some strains are pathogenic, most E. coli strains still show evidence of being one of God’s “very good” creations. E. coli is also a common experimental organism (a laboratory “pet”) of biologists, and is valuable for studying genetics and variation in living things.

Newspapers, biology texts and the popular media increasingly discuss “evolution in action.” Evidence to support this concept includes emerging diseases, antibiotic resistance, and changes in characteristics of bacteria, especially the work of Richard Lenski’s lab. Lenski and his coworkers have shown that bacteria can change rapidly in phenotype (outward appearance) and evolutionists have seized upon this rapid phenotypic change as alleged powerful evidence for Darwinian evolution. Thus, E. coliand “evolution in action” is an important two-fold issue involving empirical (or observational/operational) science and its relationship to the theoretical (or historical) origins issue.

Carl Zimmer (2008), in his book, Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life, uses emerging diseases caused by E. coli to bolster his arguments for molecules-to-man evolution. Zimmer’s book popularizes the work of Lenski on emerging (i.e., newly appearing) diseases and increases the appeal of his research as seen in news magazines, general biology and microbiology texts, and at many scientific conferences. Zimmer states that scientists are investigating phenotypic changes in E. coli to demonstrate their ability to undergo “rapid bursts of evolution” (p. 97). Many biologists argue that the wide variation in pathogenicity found in E. coli as support for Darwinian evolution. The typical explanation for the origin of E. coli is that it has been around for billions of years and man only a few millions years. For the mutualistic relationship to have begun between man and microbe, animals and E. coli had to co-evolve in both E. coli and man. The human body had to allow a bacteria to pass through the stomach and reach the intestine (a rapid turnover rate) to become one of the most successful bacteria on the planet (i.e., it's found in every mammal known and even extends to fish).

Increasingly reoccurring themes (examples) are being declared about pathogenic E. coli and its “evolution in action”: primarily how new and emerging diseases arise. The origins of new diseases within the same species are really examples of variation and adaptation. We seek to provide an “answer” and alternative to the Darwinian paradigm through investigation of the origin of E. coli and its role in examples of “evolution in action.” The purpose of this article is to discuss the possible origin of E. coli from the time of Creation; and its modification since the Edenic Curse. The specific objectives of this article are to provide reasonable explanations for: (1) the origin and purpose of E. coli in the human body; (2) the genesis of new pathogenic E. coli strains; and (3) a reasonable alternative to evolution in regard to past changes in E. coli and similar bacteria. Finally, we discuss how E. coli fits into the historic, biblical worldview stages of Creation, Curse, Corruption, and Contagion.3 It will integrate the topics of modification and displacement for emerging diseases.

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