Friday, May 1, 2009

Silliness regarding the Swine Flu and Evolution

This is from the blog at The author is someone named Ray Comfort.

“The spread of the so-called 'swine flu' demonstrates yet again how useless and sometimes deadly a mutation can be. Furthermore, as the infection spreads around the world, the search for an antidote is desperately sought, but the very fact that the virus is seen as something to be opposed actually supports the Biblical view of this world. It is always good and right to oppose sickness, but in evolutionary terms, why don’t humans simply resign themselves to it and allow the strong to survive? The evolutionary point of view would say the virus has a ‘right’ to live, so 'good luck' to it!”

What an insane thing to say! It is remarkable how utterly ignorant creationists are about how evolution works.

Of course the current evidence indicates that this flu has “evolved” from one that previously infected pigs. Because of that, this flu is a completely new virus and because of its novelty humans have not “evolved” any immunity to it. That is why it is so dangerous. The virus seems to be relatively mild now – the vast majority of people who come in contact with it develop only relatively mild symptoms – but we also know that the virus could evolve in different ways. It could become quite virulent if we are not cautious. Obviously an understanding of evolution is key to telling us how to react to it.

But, more to the point of this blogger’s comments, evolution is all about adapting to a changing environment. That environment includes the evolution of other organisms. No species on Earth, intelligent or otherwise, simply sits back and says to another evolving species, “I give up. You’re the stronger. You win.” Surely species do lose battles for survival – after all species do become extinct. But it never happens without a fight. Organisms have evolved precisely because they have that ability to fight for survival.

Humans are intelligent so they can take precautions that other species cannot take – possibly even developing a vaccine. But certainly knowing what steps to take in order to minimize the spread of the virus are important. Clearly the very evolution of our intelligence is the way in which we have become “stronger” allowing us to survive.

The next set of comments from that blogger seem to me to argue against what he says in the first paragraph:

“Even worse, some people are actually trying to blame God for the pandemic, yet it was Man’s original sin which brought disease and sickness into a perfect world. We have no one but ourselves to blame. God offers a cure, but Man refuses it because it does not come on Man’s terms.

“The fact that living things, and viruses can mutate is part of their design. Change within a species gives organisms the ability to adapt if the environment changes, but mutations almost never adds new information to the DNA, and most mutations are harmful, and they usually subtract information. The trend is down, not up, which absolutely contradicts Darwin.”

Of course the mutation that allowed the virus to jump from pigs to humans was not harmful – at least it was not harmful to the organism that experienced that particular mutation. Which is the whole point. The mutation(s) “added information” (whatever that means) allowing the virus to evolve “up” (whatever that means) so that it could infect a larger number of organisms. Evolution is not human-centric. It centers on the population of organism that is experiencing mutations. Therefore everything that the blogger is saying here is wrong from an evolutionary perspective and contradicts his suggestion that the virus has become so strong that we should just “give up”.

Here is something else that the blogger says:

“The great hope for this fallen, diseased, weatherworn world, is the return of Christ, who has promised to bring restoration, everlasting health and peace to all people. Unfortunately, for evolutionists, this cannot be a part of their thinking, because it leads them into the first chapters of Genesis. They would rather believe a silly lie than acknowledge Biblical truth.”

This, to me, seems to be advice to simply “give up”. Apparently we should all wring our hands, exclaim “alas, alas”, sit back and do nothing until Jesus returns.

That is utter lunacy. Particularly since that’s not about to happen. Moreover that ”silly lie” he mentions is found in the first chapters of Genesis. It’s not found in a study of evolution.

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