In the last century widespread use of antibiotics led to widespread resistance to antibiotics. Sometimes the resistance was rapid and so indicated a transfer of resistance between bacteria rather than independent adaptations. We now understand that bacteria, as well as higher organisms, can trade genetic material via several different mechanisms collectively referred to as horizontal gene transfer. As one science writer put it:
This seems to be a crude analogue of social learning, in which one species can learn the good tricks already discovered by another … the apparent ubiquity of horizontal gene transfer implies that microorganisms have an impressive capacity to actively alter their genomes in response to environmental stresses or opportunities.
This provides evolutionists with a convenient explanatory device for the many instances where the genetic sequence data do not cooperate with evolutionary expectations. Various studies have found that bacterial sequences often do not form the predicted evolutionary tree, and in such cases horizontal gene transfer is the typical explanation.
But while such explanations make sense, they also make evolution vulnerable to Occam’s razor. For when evolutionary predictions fail, as they often do, we find scientific explanations that are independent of evolution. Organisms intelligently adapt to environmental challenges and genes show up in the wrong place. We now understand that epigenetic and horizontal gene transfer mechanisms, respectively, often account for such phenomena. And while evolution requires such mechanisms to save it from its failures, those mechanisms do not need evolution. As we increasingly explain life with empirically observed, non evolutionary, mechanisms, why do we drag along with them the unwieldy nineteenth century Victorian doctrine?
The least of its problems
But horizontal gene transfer’s making evolution superfluous is the least of its problems. For in order for the evolutionary story to make sense, we must believe that evolution created horizontal gene transfer. This mechanism, increasingly understood to be a crucial player in adaptation, is not simple. Unlike the bumper sticker’s reminder, horizontal gene transfer is not something that just happens. It is a consequence of various complex mechanisms for which evolution has no explanation beyond the usual speculation.
So we must believe that evolution, sans horizontal gene transfer, somehow happened upon such a facility which then allowed for more evolution. Apparently we are living in the right multiverse.
This incredible level of serendipity has evolutionary theory looking increasingly ridiculous. Recently this reached a fever pitch when horizontal gene transfer was employed to explain the universal genetic code. The code is essentially the same across all species and yet it is profoundly robust and efficient. Compared to randomly selected codes the actual code is a standout. Now, to account for the codes “universality and optimality,” recent evolutionary speculation calls for a massive level of horizontal gene transfer which was “likely to be present in early communal life” and led to “innovation-sharing protocols.”
And how do we know such a world was “likely”? Because it is needed to evolve the genetic code. The evolutionists explain that traditional evolutionary theory doesn’t account for how the code could have arisen. Amazingly, following Francis Crick, evolutionists have often ascribed such marvels as the genetic code to accidents of history. But if that is excessive serendipity, so is the new idea.
The researchers set up a virtual world to rerun history multiple times and test out different ideas. As one report explained:
Starting with a random initial population of codes being used by different organisms - all using the same DNA bases but with different associations of codons and amino acids - they first explored how the code might evolve in ordinary Darwinian evolution. While the ability of the code to withstand errors improves with time, they found that the results were inconsistent with the pattern we actually see in two ways. First, the code never became shared among all organisms - a number of distinct codes remained in use no matter how long the team ran their simulations. Second, in none of their runs did any of the codes evolve to reach the optimal structure of the actual code. “With vertical, Darwinian evolution,” says Goldenfeld, “we found that the code evolution gets stuck and does not find the true optimum.”
The results were very different when they allowed horizontal gene transfer between different organisms. Now, with advantageous genetic innovations able to flow horizontally across the entire system the code readily discovered the overall optimal structure and came to be universal among all organisms. "In some sense," says Woese, "the genetic code is a fossil or perhaps an echo of the origin of life, just as the cosmic microwave background is a sort of echo of the big bang. And its form points to a process very different from today's Darwinian evolution." For the researchers the conclusion is inescapable: the genetic code must have arisen in an earlier evolutionary phase dominated by horizontal gene transfer.
In other words, a population of organisms that just happened to arise, also just happened to develop advanced genetic codes--a large number of codes. And they then just happened to trades parts of their codes with each other, taking the good and leaving off the bad. This all just happened to happen. And fortunately incredible horizontal transfer mechanisms just happened to arise, to facilitate all this.
Evolutionists are now making the Greek myth makers appear downright sober. In an all-time understatement they do admit that pinning down the details of that early process remains a difficult task. This work augments the already rampant evolutionary serendipity with absurdity. Evolutionary theory is not merely superfluous, it is ridiculous.