Nylon-Eating Bacteria Revisited

Back in the early months of this humble blog we posted Creationism and Nylon-Eating Bacteria, in which we referred to a frequent claim of creationists — that evolution is false because it requires a sequence of beneficial mutations, which is impossible. We quoted an article from Answers In Genesis which claimed:

For molecules-to-man evolution to happen, there needs to be a gain in new information within the organism’s genetic material. For instance, for a single-celled organism, such as an ameba, to evolve into something like a cow, new information (not random base pairs, but complex and ordered DNA) would need to develop over time that would code for ears, lungs, brain, legs, etc.


The biblical perspective on change within living things doesn’t require that new information be added to the genome as pond-scum-to-people evolution does. In fact, we expect to see the opposite (loss of genetic information) due to the Curse in Genesis 3. … Observations confirm that mutations overwhelmingly cause a loss of information, not a net gain, as evolution requires.

We responded by referring to an article in Wikipedia about Nylon-eating bacteria which said:

In 1975 a team of Japanese scientists discovered a strain of Flavobacterium living in ponds containing waste water from a factory producing nylon that was capable of digesting certain byproducts of nylon 6 manufacture, such as the linear dimer of 6-aminohexanoate, even though those substances are not known to have existed before the invention of nylon in 1935.

Further study revealed that the three enzymes the bacteria were using to digest the byproducts were novel, significantly different from any other enzymes produced by other Flavobacterium strains (or any other bacteria for that matter), and not effective on any material other than the manmade nylon byproducts.

We concluded that post with this:

And so, my brothers in pond scum, yet another creationist claim is shown to be worthless — as are all the others.

It appears that nylon-eating bacteria have been a continuing concern to creationists. The Discovery Institute recently posted what they imagine to be a rebuttal: Nylon and Nylonase: Ann Gauger Disentangles an Evolutionary Icon. It was written by Klinghoffer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

Nylon is a human-synthesized substance. It’s familiar from ladies’ stockings and a variety of other uses, from toothbrush bristles to car parts. It didn’t exist until 1935 years ago because it hadn’t been invented. Thus a strain of bacteria capable of digesting it would evidently need to do something novel that no bacteria had done before. When Japanese scientists in 1975 discovered such a bacterium at work, Darwinists later brandished this. They said it showed evolving new proteins is a breeze.

Not a breeze, perhaps, but it’s certainly something that is observed to happen. Then he says:

Indeed, our theistic evolutionary friends over at BioLogos were in a triumphant mood on the subject a little while back on their Open Forum (Biological Information and Intelligent Design: evolving new protein folds). Now they had Doug Axe on protein evolution, and by extension Stephen Meyer, beat! … In a brief window of time, some bacteria developed the ability to consume nylon. Ergo, no need for intelligent design in biology?

All that taunting from Darwinists was too much for the Discoveroids. They had to do something. But what? Klinghoffer tells us:

Not so fast, explains Discovery Institute biologist Ann Gauger. In an ID the Future conversation, she talked with Sarah Chaffee.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh! [*End Drool Mode*] Ann Gauger (a/k/a “Annie Green Screen”), is Casey’s replacement in the blogging department. Annie was previously toiling in obscurity at the Discoveroids’ clandestine creationist research facility, Biologic Institute. She had a conversation with another Discoveroid, Sarah Chaffee (whom we call “Savvy Sarah”). What was the result of that Olympian collaboration? Klinghoffer informs us:

Conclusion: “Nylonase was a pre-existing enzyme, had a pre-existing activity. It was easy to convert it to the ability to degrade nylon [by a] step-wise path. Therefore, there’s no reason to think that the enzyme is a newly derived enzyme from a frame shift. We don’t need that explanation.”

Huh? No citations. No data. No anything. Just a wild declaration that that the biological ability to consume nylon isn’t anything new. Bacteria were probably munching on Mrs. Noah’s nylons aboard the Ark. Klinghoffer finishes his post with this:

In short, as an icon of evolution, nylonase has no legs. Listen to the podcast here [link omitted], or download it here [link omitted].

So there you are, dear reader. The intelligent designer — blessed be he! — has been restored to his rightful place, and the Darwinists are hiding under their desks.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Nylon-Eating Bacteria Revisited

  1. Klinghoffer declares that nylon

    didn’t exist until 1935 years ago

    Yes, the invention of nylon was one of the highlights of the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE)

  2. Well, this is a disappointment. I was all a-quiver with excitement as I clicked over to bathe in the collective wisdom of Green Screen Annie and Saavy Sarah, but alas my browser instead presented this message:

    Your connection is not secure

    The owner of http://www.discovery.org has configured their web site improperly. To protect your information from being stolen, Firefox has not connected to this web site.

    Alas, I must instead carry on in ignorance…

  3. Derek Freyberg

    I would say the DiscoTute is following in the footsteps of the Twitler in Chief with their fact-free musings, but they’ve been doing this longer than he has (or at least for longer than he has been receiving the amount of publicity he now gets).

  4. So, Annie declares (I’m paraphrasing); “We don’t need no stinkin’ frame shift!” Instead, ID “theory” would postulate that all we need is an invisible all-powerful supernatural designer foreseeing the invention of Nylon and creating bacteria with an enzyme which can then be adapted in a couple of easy steps (probably by the designer) to consume nylon byproducts in a previously foreseen Japanese factory pond. The designer does this for reasons we have yet to discover. Maybe he is fond of the bacteria in that particular pond.

    How is this different than declaring that only a designer can cause a “frame shift,” or that a designer was necessary to create the pre-existing section of DNA modified by the “frame shift?”

    What test does Annie propose to determine whether or not any of these events were the act of her designer or were due to natural causes? Alas, ID is simply an “alternative theory,” invented only to distract and confuse people who might otherwise believe in the actual scientific theory. There is no test that Annie can use to support any statement whatsoever resulting from her alternative theory. Sad.

    Oh, and I heard that operatives from BioLogos wiretapped the phones at the Discovery Institute.

  5. Michael Fugate

    Maybe just maybe the designer doesn’t like blended fabrics – there’s a verse on that someone – too lazy to look it up – and since nylon is used in such garments… What’s next on the designer’s to-do list polyesterase? elastinase?

  6. ” It was easy to convert it to the ability to degrade nylon [by a] step-wise path.”

    Sounds like evolution to me! For IDers evolution is always impossible, except when even they have to admit it happened, in which case it’s trivial!

  7. I would caution Green Screen Annie and Saavy Sarah not to go wading in the nearby pond as they might feel a tingling on their legs as these bacteria start lunching on their nylons! Then again, once the bacteria taste the nylons on their legs, they just might forgo munching any further.

  8. Ross Cameron

    You`d think a know-it-all god would insert some forecasting in his book of what was coming up,science-wise. After all, he was big on prophecies in the OT. But, no mention of planes, trains and automobiles. Naught about medicines to defeat his diseases, superior surgery to correct his mistakes in humans, zero about space travel, radiation, gravity—the list is endless. A bit like the apologies that believers keep on spewing.

  9. About half of the world’s biomass consists of bacteria- yet not a beep in the Bible. Radiation and decay, nope. Mass, force and acceleration, not a word.

  10. The most common elements in the natural world are hydrogen and helium, which are not mentioned in the Bible. Nothing about electrons, protons, neutrons. The largest feature on the surface of the Earth is the Pacific Ocean, not a word. There is nothing about the most common real numbers, the irrationals (like the square root of 2, pi, e) and nothing about complex numbers.
    One could read through the Bible and come away with the impression that it was composed by and for peoples of the Ancient Near East.

  11. It may help if one pints out from time to time that Ann Gauger even denied the evolutionary processes she observed in her own experiments

  12. The biblical perspective on change within living things doesn’t require that new information be added to the genome as pond-scum-to-people evolution does. In fact, we expect to see the opposite (loss of genetic information) due to the Curse in Genesis 3. … Observations confirm that mutations overwhelmingly cause a loss of information, not a net gain, as evolution requires.

    Ne the highlighted weasel word. Even conceding (for the sake of discussion) that harmful mutations, which far outnumber beneficial ones, involve a “loss” of information, not all mutations are harmful.

    And of course, not all mutations, harmful or otherwise, do result in “loss” of information: consider gene duplication.

    None of this is arcane. Klinghoffer et al. offer a perfect illustration of the old saying, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Not to mention “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

  13. Oops . . . that came out as a weasel phrase instead. But the point stands.

    [*Voice from above*] All fixed.