Sunday, November 13, 2005

Malicious design

Intelligent Design (ID) theory – if it can be called a theory – claims that, instead of evolving from natural forces alone, life was intelligently designed by some master designer. If this is the case, then the designer – whoever it was – was quite mean to create viruses, bacteria and parasites that are responsible for much death and suffering in humankind.

ID advocates – who are primarily Christian – argue that organisms had to be designed because of their complexity. However, these advocates always use benign examples, such as the eye or the blood clotting mechanism in humans. They never use examples such as the tapeworm, or the Plasmodium parasite that causes the death of millions of people every year through Malaria. Harmful viruses, bacteria and parasites are extremely intricate organisms, so according to the ID argument they must have also been designed.

I once asked a creationist on a debate forum about this problem, and he indicated that nasty organisms were the result of the fall of humankind; they appeared in the world through our sin. Is sin then a sentient entity, capable of conscious design? I don’t know if this is what the bible teaches. Or, did harmful organisms just appear out of nowhere, without any help from God or some other conscious entity? If this is the case, then ID advocates seem to be contradicting themselves by claiming that all complex organisms need a designer, but then believe that harmful complex organisms do not.

I still did not get any satisfactory answer from the creationist. Who designed all harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites? If we believe that the designer is unknown, then this doesn’t pose a problem to the ID hypotheses, as it is quite possible that the designer possess a malicious streak. However, if we believe that the designer is the benevolent God of the Christian tradition, then this does pose a problem.


Cori said...

I'm not entirely sure about all this from a scientific point of view but aren't viruses and disease a mutation rather than a creation? Surely they are the mutated form of something good, which is exactly what evil is (evil which has led to a fallen world).

A slight tangent to this - the blockbuster movie War of the Worlds pointed out an interesting 'good' that came out of viruses - perhaps they aren't as bad as we think they are??

Shmanky said...

In the Old Testament, the god of the bible usually sends disease as a punishment. So biblically, I would say the disease comes from the god of the bible.

Kevin Parry said...

This is a very good point. The God of the Old Testament, by his own command, often strikes disease, plague or pestilence among those who disobey him. Here are a few references:

Amos 4:10, Exodus 9:3, Exodus 32:35, Deuteronomy 28:21-22, 2 Kings 15:5.
2 Chronicles 21:18, Isaiah 10:16.

So it does seem that if God can command harmful germs, viruses and parasites to do his will, he might have had a hand in creating them.

Roe said...

In the Christian belief system, God created everything. This God being all knowing and all powerful is responsible for the creation of all good and evil. This is a thought that most ID/Christians in general have a tough time with so I'm not surprised that you didn't get a straight answer. They forget that their god is an angry hateful god that wants women to keep quiet in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35) and would love to bath in the blood of us non-believers(Psalms 58:6-10).

The bible claims to be the perfect word of god but most Christians cherry pick it and only take the parts they like so as a result you get silly responses like, viruses are a result of sin or the devil, when in truth this is just evidence of a Christian that doesn't know their own religion well enough.

Event when you take away the dogma there is the fact that all Christians believe that god is all powerful and all knowing, and this in and of itself prevents anything from being outside his control or creation.

If he didn't create something who did?

If someone/something created something he didn't approve of why did he allow it to survive?

These are a few of the tough questions that most Christians are unwilling to honestly examine.

Anonymous said...

I've come up with the same hypothetical hypothesis but named it something a little different, Malevolent Design. I'm currently writing a book on the subject. I have a MySpace page devoted to it, as well:

Founder of FSA
Reverend AtheiStar
Free Speech Atheists
Malevolent Design
7 Day Atheist Challenge
Battered Believer's Syndrome

battle said...

This is my first acquaintance with your blog. Even though I am a Christian I appreciate your irenic tone and willingness to dialog.
Concerning the "malevolent design" argument you say, "However, these advocates always use benign examples, such as the eye or the blood clotting mechanism in humans. They never use examples such as the tapeworm, or the Plasmodium parasite that causes the death of millions of people every year through Malaria."
Actually, the history of malaria and its thousands of years of battling with humans is the primary example used by Michael Behe in his new book, "The Edge of Evolution." He demonstrates that Darwinian evolution has not accounted for any basic improvement in either malaria or its human hosts, in spite of the millions of generations of malaria and its countless mutations. At best, mutations have produced "desperation measures," that actually are harmful to the overall health of the organism.
You are right in that Behe does not go into the philosophical question of the character of God in creating such an organism, but at least he does discuss it as an example favoring intelligent design.

Anonymous said...

I've decided to publish my book myself on my site -- it its entirety! The world, I'm sad to say, really needs it and it'd just be selfish to do it any other way. It, so far, has four very detailed chapters which explain exactly where Malevolent Design can be found both in the universe and in the world's religions. Please check out the latest here:

Founder of FSA
Reverend AtheiStar
Free Speech Atheists
Malevolent Design
7 Day Atheist Challenge
Battered Believer's Syndrome
Proving a Negative

Hubert said...

Hi all...

God created all things and all life GOOD - acording to the bible. No death, no disease, etc.
God created all cretures completlye perfect and in harmony with his will.

When Adam and Eva sinned against God, death came into the world. Everything in nature changed.

Intelligent Design (ID) does not go against the idea of evolution on a SMALL SCALE, but is against the thought that a snail will devolop to en elephant - if it has time enough.

ID-people SHOULD know that bacteria can change form and even plants and animals can do the same.
So evolution is surely possiple. We can observe it happen. But this is not the same as agreeing with Darwin!

When we to day have the multi-resistent bacteriea, they have also devoloped because scince have gone mad and devoloped totally wrong ways to cure disease (antibiotica). Symptom treatment is the way we use instead of teaching people to live right acording to the laws of God, who also created the laws in nature. Therefor multi-resistent bacteria devoloped. God did not create them!

Sinn IS the ultimate cause of all disease and all the degeneration in nature and in mankind.

Tat is what we see, when we study nature: Degeneration and not development into more sofisticated lifeforms. Adam and Eva and all animals and plants were perfect from the beginning. In the near future we will see more and more strange diseases and a nature that reacts strange.

All life has a designer (God), but the designs have been violated by sinn. Originally man and woman were created in the image of God. That means that we had the SAME CHARACTER as God but we were NOT identical to God! Today we are born in the image of the FALLEN Adam! We have the mark of sinn in our flesh and in our mind. Thats why Jesus says that HE will recreate US, so we can recieve HIS character, his way of behavior etc.

Mankind is destroyed and needs to be reborn to prepare for the comming world.

Back to the question: Can nature devolop at the same time as we say that it is created? Yes!

Take for example mad cow disease. We feed plant eating animals with dead meat and nature reacts and creates a wave of destruction an degeneration. This is an illustration on how all destruction began, when mankind left God, and the first animals were killed, and things in nature began to "devolop" - degenerate.

God bless you!
Torben, Copenhagen, Denmark

ATR Laurie said...

I was interested to hear that there will soon be a book out on Malevolent Design. Would like to draw your attention to a book that already gives evidence for this: