Fine tuning Intelligent Design Viruses

At Reasons.org: Benefits of Viruses

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Reasons to Believe founder, Hugh Ross writes:

Viruses get a bad rap. Typically, we only think about all the harm they bring. The COVID-19 pandemic is one recent example. It brought worldwide terror and great economic harm. COVID joins a long list of deadly viruses that makes many of us wish viruses never existed. Viruses also bring existential angst. Why would an all-powerful, all-loving God create a world with viruses?

Known Benefits of Viruses
Essential for complex life. Life-forms on Earth larger and more complex than microbes would be impossible without abundant diverse viruses. If not for these viruses, bacteria would multiply and quickly occupy every niche and cranny on Earth’s surface. Earth would become a giant bacterial slime ball. Those sextillions of bacteria would consume all the resources essential for life. All life, including all the bacteria, would die.

Bacterial population check. Viruses kill and break apart bacteria at just-right rates in just-right locations to maintain a population and diversity of bacteria that is optimal for both the bacteria and for all other life-forms. We wouldn’t be here without viruses!

Water cycle. All terrestrial life crucially depends on the water cycle. All the water cycle’s precipitation components (rain, mist, snow, hail, and sleet) require microscopic seeds (or nuclei) to form. The most important seeds for precipitation are viruses and bacterial fragments resulting from viral attacks. While dust and soot particles can also serve as seeds for the formation of raindrops and snowflakes, viruses and bacterial fragments allow the initial ice crystals to form at warmer temperatures. We would not have sufficient precipitation over a sufficiently broad area to sustain our agriculture and civilization if not for viruses.

Medical applications. Viruses are beginning to play major roles in medical therapies and in advancing medical technology. Humans now possess the technology to reengineer natural viruses to combat cancer and cure genetic diseases.

Viruses as Drivers of Biogeochemical Cycles
Another benefit of viruses is the crucial role they play in Earth’s deep carbon, oxygen, and water cycles. As I have explained in my new book, Designed to the Core, each of these three cycles must be amazingly fine-tuned for global human civilization to be possible.1 Viruses play a major role in this fine-tuning.

Viruses and the bacterial fragments they create are carbonaceous substances. Through their role in precipitation, they form vast carbonaceous sheets on ocean surfaces. These carbonaceous sheets sink slowly and eventually land on the ocean floors. As they sink, they provide important nutrients for deep-sea and benthic (bottom-dwelling) life. Plate tectonics drives much of the viral and bacterial fragments into Earth’s crust and mantle where some of that carbonaceous material is returned to the atmosphere through volcanic eruptions.

Viruses ensure that carbon, oxygen, and water are cycled from the atmosphere and oceans into Earth’s crust and mantle with just-right amounts returned to Earth’s oceans and atmosphere. Previous studies revealed that the population level of DNA viruses in the world’s oceans is far greater than the populations of all species of marine life combined.2 There are an estimated 1030 DNA viruses in the oceans. If stretched end to end these viruses would extend all the way to the supergiant galaxy NGC 5128, 10 million light-years away. Every second, about a hundred billion trillion DNA viral infections occur in the oceans, killing about 20% of marine microbes daily.

Thanks to the Tara Oceans Expeditions (TOEs), ecologists are now gaining an accurate picture of the population, diversity, and ecological and geochemical roles of marine RNA viruses.

Optimal Fine-Tuning Shows Design
The team that performed the analysis of the TOEs data concluded that the abundance and diversity levels of both DNA and RNA viruses must be fine-tuned in all six marine ecological zones (Arctic, Antarctic, Temperate Epipelagic, Tropical Epipelagic, Temperate Mesopelagic, and Tropical Mesopelagic) to maintain optimal marine ecosystems. Similarly, the abundances and diversities of both DNA and RNA viruses must be fine-tuned to maintain the deep carbon, oxygen, and water cycles at levels optimal for advanced life.

This research shows that the more we learn about viruses the more evidence we uncover for God’s supernatural design and care of all Earth’s resources. That care extends to all Earth’s species of life and especially to the human race.

Reasons.org.

31 Replies to “At Reasons.org: Benefits of Viruses

  1. 1
    doubter says:

    Excellent. This is along the same lines as Granville Sewell’s superb theodicity essay published in Evolution News & Views a while ago (https://evolutionnews.org/2017/07/the-biggest-theological-objection-to-design/). I think it is one of the best deistic rationalizations of the reality of unjust evil and suffering I have encountered. Of course there are other (such as Christian theological) rationalizations, and of course the materialist view that no valid rationalization is possible, so “suck it up”.

    A vast amount of suffering is caused by evil actions of human beings. Second, there is a vast amount of “natural evil” caused by the natural world by things like disease (including viral borne), floods and earthquakes. Any proposed deistic or other solution to the ancient theological problem of suffering has to explain both categories.

    The basic approach in this essay was to combine various arguments that mankind’s suffering is an inevitable accompaniment of our greatest blessings and benefits, the result of a vast number of intricate tradeoffs in the design engineering of our Reality.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    Question for everyone who believes that the universe was created.

    Why would this creator create an inferior universe? Obviously the creator could do whatever changes the creator desired. The creator cannot lack intelligence to know each aspect of the design. Nor lack the power to adjust it in any way. So why do we believe this is not best of all possible worlds?

    Maybe there is a purpose in all the trade-offs we see and assuming there is inferior design is really the naive position? Is perceived/assumed perfection actually not perfection?

    Maybe we are also meant to not know with certainty. What would certainty do to how we act? Would it be counterproductive?

    Aside: ecologies are complicated systems that require extreme fine tuning to be stable. Could a lot of what we assume is inferior actually be fantastic design necessary for ecological stability? Are there ecologies that we don’t recognize but essentially for a meaningful and stable existence?

  3. 3
    relatd says:

    Jerry at 2,

    Who are you talking to? Who says the universe is inferior? Compared to what? Or is that just all you?

  4. 4
    jerry says:

    Or is that just all you?

    Voltaire for one.

  5. 5
    doubter says:

    Jerry@2&4

    Voltaire may have automatically assumed that the Creator (being absolutely omnipotent) could create an absolutely perfect sufferingless and evilless Reality, but he probably also assumed that this was with still all the opportunities for experience needed by humans (notably including free will and a physical reality of immutable natural laws not constantly being interfered with by a capricious Deity). But thinkers like Granville Sewell and others make other assumptions, one being that the absolute laws of logic constrain even the Deity. These absolute laws of logic dictate that depending on the often conflicting engineering requirements a long list of tradeoffs will be absolutely necessary. Making the result imperfect by your definition.

  6. 6
    jerry says:

    Making the result imperfect by your definition.

    I did not define imperfect.

    I am saying others use various examples of what they call imperfect as an illustration that this is an imperfect world. This is then used against ID or various aspects of it. This has several contradictions built in which I am trying to illustrate.

    Maybe resolving these contradictions will lead somewhere. Maybe to the logic of creation.

    But thinkers like Granville Sewell and others make other assumptions, one being that the absolute laws of logic constrain even the Deity

    I’m not sure where this leads. But my guess is that logic while important was not the defining restraint on creation. If the creator had certain objectives, the specifics of creation would be affected and the constraints would flow from these objectives. So in a way logic would affect what was created.

    Certainly worth debating but that is not what people here are interested in.

    Aside: the creator is very powerful and thus could have designed more than one world to reach his objectives. So why this specific one? Is this the best of all possible worlds that would achieve objectives?

  7. 7
    relatd says:

    Genesis clearly states that what God created was good. However, he did not want humans that were robots, only able to do His will because they were programmed that way. Among the preternatural gifts given to Adam and Eve were: “… infused knowledge, absence of concupiscence, and bodily immortality.” And they could speak directly to God. After they sinned, everything changed.

    Romans 8:21

    “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

    Romans 8:22

    “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

  8. 8
    chuckdarwin says:

    “However, [God] did not want humans that were robots…” It seems that the more basic question is: Why did God create humans in the first place? If he is already perfect, it really makes zero sense…..

  9. 9
    relatd says:

    CD at 8,

    Perhaps one day you’ll become a Christian and be able to discern spiritual things.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    I. “IN THE IMAGE OF GOD”

    “356 Of all visible creatures only man is “able to know and love his creator”.219 He is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”,220 and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity:

    What made you establish man in so great a dignity? Certainly the incalculable love by which you have looked on your creature in yourself! You are taken with love for her; for by love indeed you created her, by love you have given her a being capable of tasting your eternal Good.221

    “357 Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.

    “358 God created everything for man,222 but man in turn was created to serve and love God and to offer all creation back to him:

    What is it that is about to be created, that enjoys such honor? It is man that great and wonderful living creature, more precious in the eyes of God than all other creatures! For him the heavens and the earth, the sea and all the rest of creation exist. God attached so much importance to his salvation that he did not spare his own Son for the sake of man. Nor does he ever cease to work, trying every possible means, until he has raised man up to himself and made him sit at his right hand.223

    359 “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear.”224

    St. Paul tells us that the human race takes its origin from two men: Adam and Christ. . . The first man, Adam, he says, became a living soul, the last Adam a life-giving spirit. The first Adam was made by the last Adam, from whom he also received his soul, to give him life. . . The second Adam stamped his image on the first Adam when he created him. That is why he took on himself the role and the name of the first Adam, in order that he might not lose what he had made in his own image. The first Adam, the last Adam: the first had a beginning, the last knows no end. The last Adam is indeed the first; as he himself says: “I am the first and the last.”225

    360 Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for “from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth”:226

    O wondrous vision, which makes us contemplate the human race in the unity of its origin in God. . . in the unity of its nature, composed equally in all men of a material body and a spiritual soul; in the unity of its immediate end and its mission in the world; in the unity of its dwelling, the earth, whose benefits all men, by right of nature, may use to sustain and develop life; in the unity of its supernatural end: God himself, to whom all ought to tend; in the unity of the means for attaining this end;. . . in the unity of the redemption wrought by Christ for all.227

    361 “This law of human solidarity and charity”,228 without excluding the rich variety of persons, cultures and peoples, assures us that all men are truly brethren.”

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    I don’t remember there being two Adams or is this something Paul made up?

  11. 11
    relatd says:

    Sversky at 10,

    No, Paul made nothing up. The first Adam was created by God. The second Adam is Jesus.

  12. 12
    chuckdarwin says:

    Relatd/8
    It’s ironic that you would reference the Catholic Catechism. I was confirmed at age 8 and required as part of that sacrament to memorize a good portion of the Baltimore Catechism, including:

    Catechism No. 1
    LESSON FIRST: ON THE END OF MAN
    6. Q. Why did God make you?
    A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

    The Baltimore Catechism was officially put to bed in 1992 when the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published, from which you quote.

    Now the BC response to the question Why did God make you? is completely non-responsive, i.e., does not actually answer the question why a perfect God needed or wanted to create a subordinate being. The CCC merely reiterates the BC with a bit more verbosity, but still leaves the question hanging with the stock and trade response the Church uses to confront every unanswerable question, per your citation:

    In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. (emphasis added)

    Oh, mystery of mysteries!

    Perhaps even more ironic is that I took as my confirmation name “Paul,” not after St. Paul as the nuns and my proud parents thought, but because it was my best friend’s name. I knew even at age eight, that day looking at the fresh, cherubic faces of my school mates, that we were being drafted into one of the greatest boondoggles of all time…..

    PS re Seversky/10
    I don’t recall where exactly it is off hand, I think Corinthians or Acts, but Paul does use this weird kind of alpha and omega meme. Nice pair of bookends. You got to give Paul credit, he really could write….

  13. 13
    relatd says:

    CD at 12,

    Wherever you are, God is still with you.

    If you reject the mystery, you may want to reconsider. Pope Francis refers to this as ‘entering into mystery.’ We cannot fully see God as He is. Jesus, as revealed in the Bible, told us what He was supposed to tell us, being both true God and true man.

  14. 14
    chuckdarwin says:

    Relatd/13
    I like and respect Pope Francis. As a former pastoral priest, he gets it. But even as an eight year old, I knew that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. And as Paul noted, that’s the ultimate deal breaker…..

  15. 15
    EvilSnack says:

    It seems to me that atheism does not view God as the creator of the universe, but instead as a being who commanded the genie who in turn created the universe. When it comes to any observation which they regard as a flaw, they speak as if this were something arbitrarily chosen which could have been otherwise, or as a blunder which could have been avoided, and that in either case God should have commanded the genie differently.

  16. 16
    jerry says:

    But even as an eight year old, I knew that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead

    You just endorsed Christianity.

    You are consistently wrong on everything else you say. Best endorsement of a specific religion yet on UD. But here we are discussing religion when ID is not about religion. It seems that you and others cannot help themselves. Too many peanuts.

  17. 17
    relatd says:

    Jerry at 16,

    You don’t get it, do you? There is an intelligence at work in ID. Now, who could that be?

    Space aliens?

    The Christian God?

    Scientists do not discover things like this and find no application for it. The average person, I assure you, does not know this and draws a complete blank as to who the Intelligence is. So, who is it?

    A giant alien machine from another dimension appeared in the middle of nothing and created this universe? You have no argument. People hear intelligence and they connect it to God.

    ID is EXACTLY about religion. You can argue that it’s not. But when it comes time to apply this knowledge and some boy in Science class asks his teacher who is the intelligence, what does his teacher say? Nothing? Space aliens?

  18. 18
    jerry says:

    You don’t get it, do you?

    Utterly clueless comment.

    Did you ever think that after 16+ years of commenting on this site, there may be other perspectives than yours that have appeared here. (The site is 17 years old) You haven’t a hint of what mine is, even though I write about it all the time. I am 100% consistent in what I believe/say.

    The comments these days are a shallow understanding of what used to get discussed here. Endless drivel that goes no where.

    ID is EXACTLY about religion

    I cannot think of a better way to turn people away from ID.

    By the way what religion? There’s thousands of them. Are they all the same?

    Aside: which religion(s) have my comments been inconsistent with. Answer: very few.

    Aside2: can anyone explain why Zeus or a souped up version of Zeus is not the creator? By the way I am not proposing Zeus or anything like him.

  19. 19
    martin_r says:

    alright guys.
    back to the topic.

    I posted the following before, but i will repeat it over and over again, so Seversky, Chuck and co. don’t forget.

    So how absurd and embarrassing is this:

    Darwinists developed a theory, which can’t explain the existence of the most abundant biological entity on Earth – viruses.

    Could there be anything more absurd ? :)))))

    There is not a single scientific evidence of how viruses came to be. Nothing. Very similar to the origin of life problem.

    But the problem is much worse for Darwinists, it is worse, than the origin of life problem:

    1. Viruses are not made of cells, it is a completely different system – thus, viruses can’t be included in the tree of life (i am not saying that, Darwinists claim it, see below)

    2. Most species of viruses are unique (Darwinists use a fancy word for it – polyphyletic ), that means, that they have “many evolutionary origins”. It is funny, because Darwinists can’t explain “an evolutionary origin” of one virus (any), let alone “many evolutionary origins” of other viruses. And, we are talking about hundreds of thousands if not millions of viruses(origins).

    Some quotes from mainstream (Darwinian) website:

    Viruses are polyphyletic
    In a phylogenetic tree, the characteristics of members of taxa are inherited from previous ancestors. Viruses cannot be included in the tree of life because they do not share characteristics with cells, and no single gene is shared by all viruses or viral lineages. While cellular life has a single, common origin, viruses are polyphyletic – they have many evolutionary origins.

    There are no ancestral viral lineages
    No single gene has been identified that is shared by all viruses. There are common protein motifs in viral capsids, but these have likely come about through convergent evolution or horizontal gene transfer.

    Many viral genomes encode proteins involved in energy, carbon, and cellular metabolism. It has been argued that the presence of these genes indicates that viruses are ancestral to cells. Unfortunately, metabolic genes are not present in the ancestors of these viruses. This finding makes it difficult to argue that viruses predate cells.

    https://www.virology.ws/2009/03/19/viruses-and-the-tree-of-life/#:~:text=Viruses%20cannot%20be%20included%20in,they%20have%20many%20evolutionary%20origins.

  20. 20
    martin_r says:

    Seversky, Chuck and co., here is another question:

    why viruses even exists ?

    “They lack any form of energy, carbon metabolism, and cannot replicate or evolve. They are reproduced only within cells, and they also evolve within cells.”

    in other words, they don’t eat, don’t live, and what is most funny, THEY CAN’T REPLICATE ON THEIR OWN
    :)))))))))))))

    Seversky, Chuck and Co. … does it make any sense ???

  21. 21
    jerry says:

    Seversky has not been answering questions here since at least 2009, maybe before.

    Does anyone believe he will start now? Use him as a foil but he’s been repeating the same nonsense for over 13 years. Why expect a change now?

    Like OOL, viruses just happened. That’s their best answer.

  22. 22
    relatd says:

    Jery at 18,

    I won’t let you get away by dodging. Turn people away from ID because they can and will associate it with religion? Get a clue. Seriously, get a clue. I just discovered intelligence in the development of living things, which means what? Nothing?

    I don’t care if there are BILLIONS of religions, YOU are the one dodging away from the OBVIOUS. It’s God. The Christian God. No other God. So when 10 year old Bobby asks his Science teacher WHO the intelligence is in ID, she will say what? Nothing? Space aliens? You tell me.

  23. 23
    relatd says:

    Martin_r at 20,

    The words ‘evolution’ and ‘makes sense’ should never appear together in the same sentence.

  24. 24
    jerry says:

    I won’t let you get away by dodging

    I never dodge.

    I do ignore a lot of nonsense and most what gets posted here is nonsense. There’s usually little if any value in answering non-sequiturs unless it lets one build something coherent.

    I am one of the most forthright defenders of ID on UD. Have been for years. ID can only tell you so much though even if is a lot. It’s limited.

    It’s God. The Christian God

    Please outline how ID points to the Christian God, which is a triune God. And not the Jewish God, the Muslim God, the Hindu God or even Zeus.

    My guess is that you or few others understand what I am trying to do. I ask questions that never generate any answers. I push for the logic of ID. Usually no one responds.

    That’s all right because I post here mainly to clarify my ideas and see if anyone can answer my analysis/questions so as to expand or contradict my understanding.

    Aside: most here are only interested in Evolution. Even though the ID creator could have set up the means for it to happen naturally.

  25. 25
    PaV says:

    A few points:

    1.) God made man because God is Love, and Love desires to share itself. That is, there must be an “other.”

    2.) This world is NOT perfect. If it were, then why would another world be expected: that is, a “New Heaven and a New Earth”? “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, what God has in store for those who love Him.” We await the perfect. Jesus passed through the closed door of the Upper Room. Entropy is chaotic. We need a world where there is not entropy–that is, where things don’t wear away. Eternal.

    3.) Viruses do the grunt work for biological life. They are the “scrubbing agents” of this world we live here on earth. That life took so long to fully develop, I suspect, is due to the need for the interpenetration of life forms in cyclic fashion, brought about through such things as “horizontal gene transfer” and the passing, back and forth, of viruses.

    4.) The Devil exists. A woman “suffered from a hemorrhage for thirty years,” and it was due to the Devil.

    5.) God allows evil so as to bring good from it. How? Why? We have puny minds. Let’s humbly accept that. Only God can reveal the answer to these questions.

  26. 26
    relatd says:

    Jerry at 24,

    “happen naturally”??? So, like a wind-up toy, God set it on the floor and let it drive around naturally? God got the ball rolling and left everything alone so it could do something “naturally”? That’s CRAP. Pure 100% nonsense. God is 100% active in Creation. His creation, not “naturally.” Atheists want naturally.

    • Quoting the Catechism : “Human intelligence is surely already capable of finding a response to the question of origins. The existence of God the Creator can be known with certainty through his works, by the light of human reason . . . . We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance.”

  27. 27
    relatd says:

    The problem of human suffering has been defined by the Catholic Church with all the necessary logic and Bible references.

    https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-problem-of-suffering-reconsidered

  28. 28
    jerry says:

    A few points

    These are just opinions that have nothing to do with ID except one.

    You may believe them but are they all logical? For example

    This world is NOT perfect. If it were, then why would another world be expected:

    But yet your creator made an imperfect world. Doesn’t make sense that the creator would create something that could obviously be better and has the intellect and power to make it better.

    Why did the creator create an inferior world?

    Note to Caspian – I maintain no one can define the word “evil” but yet it is used all the time. Why don’t you try to define it? And make a thread out of it. By the way there are thousands of comments on UD about this with no resolution. So it should not be discussed here on this OP. But you brought up pain and many will say pain is an example of the word that cannot be defined.

  29. 29
    PaV says:

    Jerry:

    What obliged the Creator to create? What obliges the Creator to create a perfect world? What logic necessitates either of these?

    P.S. Yes, I gave “opinions;” well, not opinions, but beliefs. “Doubter” began all of this by talking about “Christian rationalization.” That’s not ID; that’s religion. If we are going to talk religion, then a bigger picture is needed. Let’s remember that Darwin’s principal argument was against a Creator that created individual species. It was a theological argument, as Cornelius Hunter has made clear.

  30. 30
    jerry says:

    What logic necessitates either of these?

    Explain why the creator would want to create an inferior world?

    That’s what you are arguing for. The creator obviously could do better if desired according to you.

    The logical argument is that this is the best possible world. The issue is how it is best when so many believe it isn’t. If you don’t believe it’s the best possible world, why make it inferior? How would you make it better?

    not opinions, but beliefs

    What’s the difference?

    If you scratch the surface of what people say they believe, it will be just an opinion. The question is how well justified are these opinions.

    Aside: there is no need to introduce religion to the discussion. The best of all possible worlds is a conclusion using logic. No need for religion.

    ID is limited and supports most religions. But there is no need to introduce religion when espousing/promoting ID.

  31. 31
    relatd says:

    Some fiction being posted here. After The Fall, a literal, actual event, Creation was corrupted. The Bible tells us that what God created was good until that event. The mind of God is not the human mind, which is deficient in understanding. Understanding God.

    “No need for religion.” The ATHEIST position. No need for it.

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