Cretinism or Evilution? Nos. 4&5
Edited by E.T. Babinski
Why We Believe in a Designer!
Why We Believe in a Designer!
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to make countless stars blaze away countless kilowatts of energy in every corner of this vast cosmos for no apparent purpose; and have the prize of his creation, the earth - which God worked on for "five" out of the "six days of creation" - receive only an infinitesimal portion of the energy expended by even the nearest star, the sun.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to make faint galaxies, faint stars, asteroids, meteors, etc., that produce or reflect so little light that they are undetectable by the earth's inhabitants. [Yet it says in the Bible that all the objects in the firmament were created to "light" the earth, and "for signs and seasons" on earth.]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to intentionally destroy his own cosmic designs, making stars in distant galaxies explode with such intensity that they stand out from all the rest of the hundreds of billions of stars in their immediate galaxy. The energies released by such novas also destroy any life forms (if they happen to exist) on planets circling stars within quite a few light-years of the nova. The cosmos also contains the remains of stellar explosions, like the Cygnus ring, a great expanding ring of matter. And there are whole galaxies seen in the process of colliding with one another; and weird "O-shaped" galaxies that are believed to be the remnants of one galaxy colliding and passing through another and turning it inside out.
The Milky Way galaxy (that we all know and love, since it is where our solar system resides) is presently "ripping apart a helpless smaller galaxy in the constellation Sagittarius and will soon swallow millions of its stars." [See "To Kill a Galaxy" in Astronomy, Vol. 24, no. 12, Dec. 1996]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create large asteroids (like Icarus and Hermes) whose known orbits around the sun intersect with that of our own planet's orbit around the sun, ensuring that at some time in the near or distant future our planet will most likely collide with such objects.
Furthermore, asteroids with "near-earth" orbits can have their orbits subtly altered by gravitational effects over time so that they intersect with earth's orbit. "433 Eros" (which is an asteroid twice the size of the one believed to have struck the earth and wiped out the dinosaurs) presently occupies a near-earth orbit. But recent computer simulations [discussed in the article, "Eros has Earth's Number" in Astronomy, Vol. 24, no. 12, Dec. 1996] have shown that the gravity from the planet Mars is very gradually moving that asteroid into an earth-crossing orbit. Astronomers have predicted that in less than 1.1 million years Eros could collide with the Earth.
To date, over 70 asteroids have been discovered that have "earth-approaching" orbits, and astronomers estimate that several thousand such objects exist out there. Asteroids are difficult to detect since they are small dark bodies of matter, and there is no well-funded program to chart them. As one astronomer stated, "The asteroid with our name on it probably won't even be seen until it is too late, since it will begin as an invisible black dot in the sky, that expands imperceptibly as the asteroid heads stright for us, i.e., rather than moving across the sky."
On Oct. 30, 1937, the earth and the asteroid Hermes missed colliding by only 500,000 miles (that's about twice the distance from the earth to the moon). On March 22, 1989, the asteroid "1989 FC" passed by even nearer, within 437,000 miles of Earth. The latter asteroid was between 650 to 1,600 feet in diameter, and if it had struck the earth it would have exploded with the force of more than a million tons of TNT, and left a crater up to 4 and 1/3 miles across. [Sky & Telescope, July, 1989, pg. 30]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create vacant worlds that circle the Sun along with the earth; and also create immense discs of matter, and planets, that have been detected circling other stars, i.e., countless acres of presumably uninhabited and barren territory.
(With the aid of the Hubble telescope, cloudy rings of matter have been detected circling about half of a hundred stars closely examined in the nearby Orion nebula. These stars are relatively young and the size of our own Sun or smaller. A number of stars near our Sun even have planets and/or discs of matter circling them. Unfortunately, our present astronomical instruments are not sensitive enough to detect earth-sized planets, just gigantic ones, and huge discs of matter, circling stars.
Yet, such huge discs of matter resemble what our own solar system would look like from a distance, since the Kuiper belt (made up of millions of asteroids and cometary bodies) has been observed lying beyond Pluto and circling our own Sun.
Furthermore, the nearby star, Beta Pictoris, which is only 50 light-years away, has a disc of matter surrounding it, and has given astronomers a clue that a number of planet-sized bodies could possibly be circling it. Because we can clearly see the star, Beta Pictoris, even looking right through the disc of matter (the edge of which faces our vantage point and passes right in front of the star), therefore the disc of matter must not contain much dust - which is exactly what one would expect if the material had already condensed into planets.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create dozens of moons in our solar system that can't be seen from Earth except with a telescope - Moons that provide light at night, or, "rule the nights" of uninhabited planets like Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make only a portion of the earth easily habitable by man, the rest being ocean surface, deserts, barren scrub lands, nearly impenetrable rain forests, swampland, frozen tundra, steep mountain ranges and cliff sides, or places lacking fresh water, or having little fresh water to offer.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create myriads of flowers which bloom in impenetrable jungles where none may see them.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create bacteria that live on the bottom of the ocean where black clouds of super heated mineral-rich water spew from chimney-like mounds. Such "hydrothermal vents" in the ocean's floor are also surrounded by 30-inch long worms, clams the size of dinner plates, mussels, and a strange pink-skinned blue-eyed fish, that all live off the unique species of bacteria there, which breaks down the chemicals in the water into useable food. It is a world that exists without sunlight, and without relying on the ecosystems in the ocean above and the land above, neither do such creatures contribute anything vital to the world above.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create species with the ability to live in a cave that was isolated from the rest of the world and which was recently opened to reveal 33 new species of animals, all living in darkness. And, unlike all previously known cave critters, these lived without relying on organic matter flowing into the cave from plants that once grew in the sunlight above. So it had become a self-contained ecological system, only relying on some oxygen that seeped into the cave via cracks, and on fungi and bacteria that lived in the pool of water that partially fills the cave. Such an ecosystem "was sealed off more than 5.5 million years ago...and its creatures have evolved into specialized, self-sufficient forms." Among the 9 new species of carnivores found in the cave and "designed" for this unique ecosystem were two "pseudoscorpions and a worm-sucking leech." [See "Romanian Cave Contains Novel Ecosystem," Science News, Vol. 149, June 29, 1996]
(Why "design" such ecosystems at the sea bottom and in caves isolated from the rest of the world - ecosystems that contribute nothing of any substance to life on the earth above? Kind of makes you believe that such a "Designer" would also put life on other planets that contributes nothing of any substance to life on earth.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create weeds, flowers, annoying insects, fish, birds, diseases, that swarm in senseless profusion then perish.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to make man, a creature whose reproductive urges and reproductive success far outstrips his ability to learn from his mistakes, a creature whose population is predicted to increase by a billion in each of the next few decades, leading to the eradication of nearly all the rest of the creatures that had been "designed."
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to "control the wind, the rain and lightning, such that whole States dry and wither, while at the same time wasting precious rain on the sea; make hurricanes and tornadoes such that cities and people are crushed to shapelessness; and direct lightning to strike the life out of men, women, and children." [Ingersoll] (See Job, chapters 36-38)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to plant upon the earth "thousands of deadly shrubs and vines; stock the earth with ferocious beasts and poisonous reptiles; take pains to breed malaria and a host of other diseases in just the right `host' animals and environments he'd created for that purpose; arrange that the ground would occasionally open and swallow a few of his darlings; establish volcanoes that might at any moment overwhelm his children with rivers of fire; and then neglect to tell his children which of the plants and animals were deadly; failed to say anything about the earthquakes, and kept the volcano business a profound secret." [Ingersoll]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the wonderfully designed Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria which is spread with the aid of the wonderfully designed mosquito.
"About half of all the humans who have ever lived have died from malaria. The Roman Empire was undermined by malaria. The early American colony of Jamestown had to be established three times because of malaria." [Natalie Angier, "Parasites and Sex," The Beauty of the Beastly] Today, malaria kills nearly a million people each year, mainly children and pregnant women in Sub-Saharan Africa, whose brains become infected with the parasite. There are four different species of Plasmodium, the deadliest of the four being Plasmodium falciparum, which is rapidly becoming resistant to drugs. The other three species of Plasmodium can still be treated with high doses of cholorquine.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a world teeming with venomous animals that kill over 60,000 people a year and cause pain and suffering to much more. Every large group of animals - coelenterates (including jellyfish), insects (including caterpillars, fire ants, and killer bees), spiders, fish, amphibians (including poisonous frogs and sea snakes), reptiles (including snakes), even a few mammal and bird species, have poisonous or venom-producing members.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the sea wasp, an Australian jellyfish with tentacles up to 30-feet long that have tens of thousands of stinging cells that contain a neuropoison that can cause a human being to die from asphyxiation or heart failure in less than ten minutes. It may be the most deadly creature in the ocean.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the bacteria that infect the food we eat. Microgram for microgram, the poisons produced by some bacteria in our food are more potent than all other known poisons on earth. It is estimated that one tenth of an ounce of the toxin produced by bacteria causing botulism would be more than enough to kill everyone in the city of New York; and a 12-ounce glassful would be enough to kill all 5.9 billion human beings on the face of the Earth. (The same happens to be true of the toxin that causes tetanus.) Pretty powerful stuff. (Do Design-theorists imagine the Designer working overtime in His own personal biological warfare laboratory?)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that most creatures on earth do not obtain all the vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and protein they need to grow up into the best possible shape, physically and mentally.
For instance, lack of vitamin D causes rickets, lack of vitamin C causes scurvy, lack of niacin causes pellagra, lack of vitamin A causes blindness in children, lack of vitamins C, E, B-6, B-12 and/or iron, causes anemia, lack of vitamin B-12 is linked to fibro-cystic breast condition, lack of calcium, iodine, or other minerals also cause deficiency diseases. As does the lack of necessary quantities of protein in the diet. Such deficiencies caused a lot more problems in the days when essential types of food were less abundant (especially during some seasons of the year) and when nutritional standards were unknown. And such deficiencies continue to plague people in less developed regions of the world. Moreover, such deficiencies are especially hard on babies and children, where a deficiency's effects are magnified and lead to lifelong physical and mental problems.
As many as 30% of the children in China (a country with the world's highest population) are believed to suffer stunted growth (and sexual maturation problems) due to zinc deficiency.
And there is a "goiter belt" along the Atlantic coast from west to central Africa, where many people lack enough iodine in their system. The worst area for this deficiency is in the Republic of Guinea where 70% of all adults have goiter. "Thyroid swelling was sometimes present at birth and affected 55% of school children...Endemic cretinism, mainly in its myxodematous form, was found in about 2% of goitrous patients...myxodematous children, especially those affected by the most severe neurological symptoms, suffer early and high mortality rates." ["Goitrous Endemic in Guinea," The Lancet, Dec. 17, 1994]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the sawtoothed grain beetle, angoumois grain moths, Mediterranean flour moths, scale insects, cabbage worms, corn earworms, corn rootworms, cutworms, tomato fruitworms (along with other insects) that destroy thirty percent of U.S. food crops each year by voraciously devouring leaves, fruits, grain (and also by spreading fungal and bacterial plant rots as well).
The proliferation of such creatures has led at one time or another to human starvation in well nigh every part of the globe.
(And only with the recent inventions of refrigeration and canning have insects been prevented from devouring a huge percentage of harvested food as they used to do.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the boll weevil. "The single most costly insect in the history of American agriculture. It closed down factories, depreciated land values, disrupted railroad business, caused bank failures, and created massive unemployment and homelessness. It has, however, kept the pesticide industry booming, because about 40% of all agricultural insecticides used in the U.S. are sprayed onto cotton primarily to control boll weevils. However, the little weevil still causes as much as $200 to $300 million annually in losses and adds an average of 3 1/2 to 4 cents to every 60 cents per pound of cotton." [May Berenbaum, Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create species of fungi that "destroy billions of dollars worth of crops by causing diseases in the growing plant and by spoiling the stored food. Every year they destroy enough food to feed 300 million people." [Hanson & Morrison, Of Kinkajous, Capybaras, Horned Beetles, Seladangs]
Out of the 40,000 known species of fungi one [or some?] of them caused Ireland's potato famine, forcing many Irish to leave their country. Evicted by fungi. One good thing about fungi is that there is a species that is deadly to locust species which sleep in the ground for a little over sixteen years at a time. The locust awakens to find most of its abdomen eaten by fungus, and it sheds parts of it, leaving only the locust's head and thorax which feebly fumbles about. (So, human beings aren't the only ones fungus picks on! Praise Darwin!)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a fungus that parasitizes grasses by first destroying the grass's sex cells, so that the grass can only reproduce by sending out carbon-copy shoots, instead of via sexual reproduction, which would lead to different combinations of genes and a fungal-resistant species of that grass.
(What a "wonderful design" for a fungus that feasts on grasses by eating their sex-cells first! Not too "wonderful" for the grasses, though.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a fungus "that infects a beautiful flower related to the carnation, sterilizes the plant, then transforms the blossom into a fungal factory. In the stamen of the flowers, where the pollen of the plant normally would be found, an infected plant displays a bristle of fungal spores. Pushing perversity to the extreme, the fungus causes its floral host to grow bigger and showier flowers than those of normal plants, attracting pollinating insects and ensuring the transmission of parasitic spores [that destroy more flowers - meanwhile, I guess the bees and other insects looking for pollen just have to go hungry - ED.]" [Natalie Angier, "Parasites and Sex," The Beauty of the Beastly]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create tsetse flies which carry sleeping sickness. The fly has rasp-like labellum to saw through the skin of vertebrate animals and create a pool of blood from which they drink. Its "tongue" has two channels, one for sucking up blood, and another for pumping saliva (containing anticoagulants) into the wound. The tsetse fly has been a major obstacle to furthering the development of Africa.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the trypanosome - a single-celled parasite that thrives inside the bloodstream and causes fatal neurological illnesses. In Africa the bite of the tsetse fly spreads trypanosomes over large areas, two species of which afflict people with sleeping sickness. It is estimated that 60,000 African are infected with the disease each year. Other species of trypanosomes in Africa afflict livestock. For generations there had been very little meat in protein-poor regions of Africa because trypanosomes spread by the bite of the tsetse fly decimated the herds.
In South America, Central America and Mexico another species of trypanosome is spread by the extremely painful bite of the "kissing bug." This species of trypanosome causes "Chagas' disease" in humans, which leads to persistent fevers, anemia, loss of nervous control, debilitating gastrointestinal illness, irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure, and death due to inflammation of the heart. Ten to eighteen million people in Latin America are believed to be infected with Chagas' disease, though the infection may remain silent for years as the trypanosomes multiply inside cells, periodically wiggling out to invade and destroy a neighboring cell or to cruise in the bloodstream. And since there are an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people with the disease now living in the U.S., there is an increasing possibility of picking up trypanosomes via a blood transfusion. Some have already done so.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the trypanosome so that it can travel wherever it likes throughout the human bloodstream, mutating regularly to avoid being identified and destroyed by the immune system.
"When the going gets tough and antibodies have identified and wiped out 99 percent of the invaders, one of the few remaining trypanosomes suddenly strips off all identifying markers, sprouts a new coat, and begins reproducing madly, looking for all the world like a brand-new enemy. By the time the immune system has retooled to fight the refurbished foe and launch a second attack, one of the new generation of parasites has already switched to yet another coat and escaped again...Perhaps one in a hundred, perhaps one in a million, a trypanosome will express a protein coat that is quite antigenically different from its twin's...The pressures of pursuit encourage the growth of creatures who make such a change...Most living cells boast tens or hundreds of types of outer coat proteins, called variant surface glycoproteins...But there are as many as a thousand variant surface glycoprotein genes scattered throughout the coils of DNA in each trypanosome. Amazingly, that means that fully 5 to 10 percent of the trypanosome's genetic endowment is devoted to antigenic variation...[Trypanosomes have a] mutation generator - a mechanism by which they systematically introduce point mutations into their variant surface glycoproteins [what marvelous design!- ED]." [The Race Against Lethal Microbes: Learning to Outwit the Shifty Bacteria, Viruses, and Parasites That Cause Infectious Diseases, a report published Aug. 1996 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create assassin bugs with stout beaks they use to pierce insects, spiders, poultry, small rodents and human skin. The "kissing bug" is a member of the larger family of assassin bugs. It is known for flying into people's faces and biting them around the mouth and nose. Its bite is probably the most painful of all insects, the pain often affecting a great deal of the body, including swelling, faintness, vomiting, etc. Kissing bugs also transmit "Chagas' disease," since they defecate as they feed, and the fecal matter contains trypanosomes that get wiped into the person's eyes, nose, or mouth.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the sensation of pain not merely to "warn" us of danger (like the danger of touching a hot frying pan with your bare hands) but also created pain just for its own sake.
"It was no use feeling the pain of an inflamed appendix until modern surgical techniques were sufficiently advanced to remove it. And often the `warnings' appear ill-adjusted to the seriousness of the disease. Toothache kills few people, while sadly some forms of cancer give little pain in the early stages. So we are left with a large amount of pain that seems to serve no purpose and which is not far distant from torture." [C. S. Rodd "Questions People Ask: 4. The Problem of Evil and Suffering" in The Expository Times, Vol. 107, no. 2, Nov. 1995]
(Or take the land leeches of Sri Lanka that can bite a person painlessly and drain them of dangerous amounts of blood. If pain was the designer's "gift" to "warn" us of "life threatening dangers" then he let those damn leeches get by, didn't He?)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create epidermolysis bullosa, a virtually untreatable disorder characterized by widespread and constant blistering of the skin, so that there is no part of the body on which an infant can lie without pain.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create toxoplasmosis which causes numerous difficulties in human infants, including blindness and a risk of severe retardation. A common carrier of this illness is the common house cat.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make men reach their sexual peak at 16 and women reach their's at 35.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make the human male more likely than the female to desire sexual relations with a variety of partners.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create men and women so different that there exists a "battle between the sexes" borne out of the inability of one sex to effectively understand and communicate with the other.
The novelist, Anthony Burgess, once said something illuminating concerning this situation: "I think marriage is the fundamental, the basis of life. Within a marriage, you develop vocabulary, you develop a culture which makes sense within that very, very small closed circle. But one also accepts that it can be outrageously difficult. One of the reasons why some people have turned against Jesus Christ, why people are prepared to accept Scorsese's film The Last Temptation of Christ, is that Christ didn't do the most difficult thing of all - which was to live with a woman [and vice versa! - ED.]." [Anthony Burgess as quoted by Rosemary Hartill in her book, Writer's Revealed: Eight Contemporary Novelists Talk About Faith, Religion And God]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the human body such that 70% of us suffer lower back pain, since our vertebrae are better designed to function as horizontal suspension bridges for our internal organs rather than as vertical supports for a bipedal mammal.
Other marvels of human body design include flat feet, weak ankles and knees, varicose veins, heart failure, dangerously thin portions of the skull, teeth that are impacted (or crooked and badly crowded), hernias, hemorrhoids, allergies, eye problems, appendicitis, gall bladder disease, prostate problems, "female problems," danger of choking (because our breathing passage, eating passage, and speech box are all right on top of each other), not to mention countless birth defects. (Does Jesus really "love all the little zygotes in the world?" - not enough to give them all a whole and healthy start in life).
Walk into any hospital, doctor's office, or televangelists' healing service, and see for yourself "how marvelous is your body and how nothing has been left to chance."
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that "everything that tastes good will either clog your heart or make you fat. Incredibly delicious foods do both." [Rick Reynolds, Only the Truth is Funny]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to design the human body so that it often has problems regulating the histamine hormone.
If your body releases too much histamine in response to a minor bee sting or in response to receiving a small dose of anesthetics for a minor operation, then you can die of anaphylactic shock. In other words, the bee sting or anaesthetic won't kill you, but your body's faulty regulation of its own histamine hormones could.
"Septic shock," which is one of the most dreaded complications in intensive care units, is now thought to be due not merely to an infection but also due to a heavy release of histamine that leads to a life-threatening vasoconstriction.
The role that the misregulation of histamine plays in allergic reactions of all kinds is something for "Design" theorists to consider. Why so many problems with the regulation of histamine? Not enough "back-up systems" in our bodies to "check things out" before flooding our bodies with too much histamine?
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make "the urethra pass right through the human male's prostate gland, a gland very prone to infection and subsequent enlargement. This blocks the urethra and is a very common medical problem in males (1 in 3 men will need to have prostate surgery in their lives). Putting a collapsible tube through an organ that is very likely to expand and block the flow in this tube is not good design." [Chris Colby, "Evidence for Jury-Rigged Design in Nature" on the TALK.ORIGINS ARCHIVE]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that the human male's testes form inside the abdomen, then have to pass through the abdominal wall and into the scrotal sac, thereby leaving two weak spots in the wall of the abdominal muscles. The intestines can poke through these weak spots, called the inguinal canals, which can result in much pain, and also cut off blood flow to the protruding and tightly squeezed intestines.
According to Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who treated natives in Central Africa, "They suffer much oftener than Europeans from strangulated hernia, in which a portion of the intestines pokes out through the abdominal muscles and becomes blocked, so that it can no longer empty itself. It then becomes enormously inflated with gases which form, and this causes terrible pain. Then after several days of torture death takes place, unless the intestine can be got back through the rupture into the abdomen. Our ancestors were well acquainted with this terrible method of dying, but we no longer see it in Europe because every case is operated upon as soon as it is recognized...But in Africa this terrible death is quite common. There are few who have not as boys seen some man rolling in the sand of his hut and howling with agony until death came to release him." [On the Edge of the Primeval Forest, 1961]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create human beings as two-legged upright creatures based on the same skeletal design for four-legged creatures. This has led to innumerable problems for men and women. Aside from lower back pain, foot, ankle, and knee problems, "to effect upright posture based on the skeletal system of four-legged animals the human female's sacrum had to be pushed down somewhat, so that its lower end is now below both the hip socket and the upper level of the pelvic articulation...This has resulted in an encroachment on the female pelvic cavity, thereby narrowing the birth canal and rendering it too small for comfortable birthing. The result is that human childbirth is generally painful and often dangerous. The process of giving birth exposes both the mother and her infant to sizable risks of accidents and infections. For a woman with a small pelvis the rigors of childbirth can be excruciating, even fatal. No other animal has this problem." [Wilton Krogman, "The Scars of Human Evolution," Scientific American, 1951 - as cited in Timothy Anders' The Evolution of Evil]
Only in recent times has the mortality of women and children during childbirth been greatly reduced due to advances in obstetrical medicine. Even today, however, a woman's chances of dying from complications during childbirth remain greater than dying from complications due to having an abortion during her first trimester of pregnancy. If only the Designer had employed a uniquely improved design instead of just jury-rigging the old four-legged skeletal system to make us walk erect!
Speaking of another flaw (albeit a minor one compared to the above), designed into the upright skeletal system of human beings are "two major blood vessels, going to the legs, that must cross a sharp promontory bone at the junction of two lower vertebrae in the spine. The organs in the pelvis exert great pressure on those two blood vessels. During pregnancy, this pressure may build up to such an extent that the vein is nearly pressed shut, making for very poor blood drainage of the left leg. This is the so-called `milk leg' of pregnancy. Four-legged animals experience no such problem." [Wilton Krogman, "The Scars of Human Evolution," Scientific American, 1951 - as cited in Timothy Anders' The Evolution of Evil]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that during gestation the female hyena's clitoris swells to the size of the male hyena's penis, and when her cubs are born they are so large and mature and ferocious - with teeth already erupted through their gums - that they sometimes tear their mother's clitoris on the way out.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that the baby giraffe falls several feet and lands on its head at birth.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to make it so that the male giraffe tastes the urine of the female before they copulate.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to make the giraffe's neck out of the same seven bones found in the necks of most other mammal species.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to construct the pig so that two toes on each of its feet don't touch the ground as it walks.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create many different species of wasp that stick their eggs on the outside of (or poke them inside) the bodies of caterpillars, beetles, crickets and spiders, so that the larva hatch and immediately begin eating their host alive.
In some cases, the wasp produces a toxin that partially paralyzes the host insect, keeping it alive but immobile. The biologist, J. H. Fabre learned to feed paralyzed cricket victims by placing a syrup of sugar and water on their mouthparts - thus showing that they remained alive and sentient while the wasp larva inside them was eating them. The larva even save the heart and brain for last which keeps the rest of their "meat" fresh! (Maybe they save those organs "for last" because the heart is moving and active and the larva perceive it as a "threat" and so only eat it last, and because the brain is usually furthest away and protected by an exoskeletal helmet.)
One species of parasitic wasp can detect the chemical produced by Mediterranean flour moth caterpillars with which they mark the flour pile they occupy, telling other caterpillars of their species that "this pile is occupied." The wasp only has to follow the scent to its source. "What was `designed' as a warning to other caterpillars to go elsewhere for dinner is an engraved dinner invitation for parasitic wasps (proving that there are worse things than having to share your dinner with a member of your own family)." [May Berenbaum, Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers]
One species of caterpillar, when attacked by their particular wasp predator, drop from their leaves and hang by a thin thread, but the wasp follows them down the thread. Some host species can encapsulate the injected wasp's egg with blood cells that aggregate and harden, thus suffocating the wasp parasite within them. So the Darwinian battle continues.
Speaking of which, there's a species of wasp that drills through wood with its ovipositor to place its eggs on a host beetle. Another species of wasp (lacking the ability to drill such holes), simply injects their eggs through the holes bored by the first wasp species; and when the eggs hatch, the larva of the second wasp has a larger head and mandibles, and eats the larva of the first wasp, and gets to devour the host beetle all by itself! (Talk about jury-rigged "design!" Or did the "Designer" love the second wasp species so much that it created the first wasp species just to bore holes for the second and give up its larva for the second species to feast on?)
There's one wasp that lays an egg inside an aphid then the larva hatches, eats the aphid, cuts a hole in the bottom of the aphid's exoskeletal shell, glues the skeleton to a leaf by sticky secretions from its salivary gland, and spins a cocoon to pupate within the aphid's shell. (More jury-rigged "design!" Or did the "Designer" love that particular wasp species so much that it created the aphid just to be used in such a fashion?)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create microscopic creatures related to spiders, called mites, that are found crawling on the skin of every human body. All animal species have their own peculiar species of mites. One type of human mite, the "follicle mite," was "first discovered in 1972 living in the holes at the base of our eyelashes. They spend their entire lives mating, eating, and relieving themselves among our lashes. A favorite food of the follicle mite is eye-liner. It contains nearly all the nutrients they need to survive." [Eric Elfman, Almanac of the Gross, Disgusting & Totally Repulsive] Some mites are found only on fleas - mite parasites sucking the blood of flea parasites that suck the blood of larger creatures!
Honey bee mites (Varoa jacobsoni) can destroy a colony by infesting all the drones, over a dozen mites per drone. This species of mite prefers drones - puncturing the bee's cuticle and sucking its body fluids. All the drones die and the next virgin queen bee that is born never gets to mate with a male drone bee, and the colony ends there.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create certain female mites that asexually lay a bunch of eggs containing only males. Within three to four days the males mature and mate with their mother, then die.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create Killer Whales that hunt in packs for seal and sea lion pups on certain beaches at certain times of the year - Killer Whales that, unlike all others of their kind, intentionally beach themselves as they chase the pups up the beach, then, know how to thrash their huge lumbering bodies back into the sea with their prey in their jaws - Killer Whales that very often drag the pups straight out to sea without immediately killing them so that they may play with their catch as if exulting in their triumph, tossing the seal or sea lion pup up in the air and swatting it with their tails for a long while before they finally decide to eat it. [Trials of Life video, "Hunting and Escaping"]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a chacma baboon like the one that was seen catching a pigeon, plucking out its feathers, letting it go, recapturing it, pulling out its legs, and then decapitating it. [Dr. A. J. Mattill, Jr., The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create chimpanzees that hunt in packs and drive small monkeys (or young baboons) toward a specific destination where they are captured. Then the monkey's (or baboon's) guts are torn open as they scream, and their organs and flesh are shared by the chimpanzee pack. [Trials of Life video, "Hunting and Escaping"]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create chimpanzees such that rival packs engage in group warfare, injuring and killing each other. Even gorillas, which are strictly vegetarians, will engage in warfare with rival packs of gorillas that may result in broken bones and fatalities. And while we're speaking of large-brained mammals, dolphins have been observed engaging in "dolphin wars" where small groups fiercely battle other small groups over mates. [See "Mother Nature, The Bloody Bitch" in The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Exploration Into the Forces of History by Howard Bloom]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create Humpback whales with the instinct to hunt schools of herring or other fish by "bubble-netting" them. The whales gather round the fish in a wide circle then blow bubbles out their blowholes, making a circular wall of bubbles, which frightens the fish and makes them congregate in the center of the "net." Then a whale swims up through the bottom of the bubble net and grabs as many fish as he can with his mouth wide open.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that the majority of humanity is hobbled by one or more types of parasite (with the exception of nations with modern medical knowledge and the resources to implement such knowledge, where parasite infestations are far fewer than would naturally occur).
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create flies that irritatingly land on people's skin, buzz in their ears, sting and/or bite people, even those already suffering from diseases that God has designed to torment them, and then those flies pass those diseases along to others.
The common housefly is known to transmit some thirty different diseases and parasites to humans, including leprosy, dysentery, diphtheria, smallpox, typhoid, cholera, scarlet fever and many more. Some epidemiologists regard the common housefly as potentially the most dangerous insect in the world. (Others say that God created the mosquito to make flies look better.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create Mydas heros, the largest known fly, with a body length of about 2 1/4 inches and a wingspan of about 4 inches, which resides in South America. "It is so formidable it will attack even well-armed bees and wasps, diving on their backs and paralyzing them with a bite in the soft region of the neck." [Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a large fly from South America (Dermatobia hominis) that overpowers smaller insects (like a mosquito or a smaller fly or anything small that is liable to land on and bite a human being) and glues an about-to-hatch egg on its underside, which that smaller insect carries with it when it lands on a human for lunch. The egg hatches almost instantly and the maggot crawls over to where the smaller insect has made a wound, and it enters the human being there, and matures inside the human.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the African tumbu fly (Cordylobia anthropophaga), "whose larva wriggle about in a boil-like swelling under the skin of humans." [Des Kennedy, Nature's Outcasts]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the Congo floor maggot (of the fly species Auchmeromyia luteola) that gets its food from human beings who sleep on the ground (since the maggot cannot crawl up a bedpost). "It sucks their blood as they sleep. The maggot seems to be totally dependent on human beings as a source of food." [Roger Knutson, Furtive Fauna: A Field Guide to the Creatures Who Live on You]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the screwworm fly of South America and Africa which aims straight for a wound (since it can't drill through the skin all by itself), even one as small as a tick bite, and lays five hundred to three thousand tiny eggs in it. They hatch and the maggots tear away with their sharp mouth hooks on the human [or cow] that is their host. As they feed, they produce a toxin that prevents the wound from healing, so infection quickly sets in. In a matter of a week, the maggots [each grown to about half an inch long] can enter the lungs or brain and kill the person [or cow]. Screwworms have been a major economic problem in livestock-producing areas.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the greenbottle fly that lays its eggs in the open sores of living sheep. The maggots hatch and eat the sheep.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the warble fly that lays its eggs in the nasal passages of horses and other animals, where they live and eat the cartilage and flesh of animals' noses.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the copper-colored fly (Bufolucilla silvarum) that deposits its eggs in the nostrils of toads and frogs, after which the larva, when they hatch, blind and devour their hosts.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create phorid flies that inject their eggs into living ants, one egg per ant. "The maggot emerges from the egg and crawls into the ant's head where it eventually seals the ant's mouth shut. After about two weeks the growing maggot devours the interior of the ant's head, while an enzyme breaks down connective tissue to the point where the head falls off. This heady incubator protects the larva for another couple of weeks as it transforms into a millimeter-long adult phorid fly." [J. Raloff, "When This Fly Arrives, Ants' Heads Roll," Science News, Vol. 146, Nov. 26, 1994] (Talk about jury-rigged design! Or did the Designer make the ant's head just to fit the needs of the phorid fly maggot?)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a parasite that feeds on fly larva (larval flies themselves being parasites that feed off of so many other organisms as pointed out above). I'm speaking of the fly parasite Spalangia endius - "Released in millions, these tiny parasites lay their eggs in fly pupae and their offspring proceed to consume the developing fly." [Des Kennedy, Nature's Outcasts]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the Great Horned Owl, a bird that will decapitate fifteen adult terns but eat only one. [Dr. A. J. Mattill, Jr., The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the Mink, a creature that has been known to wipe out whole families of muskrats in a senseless killing frenzy. [Dr. A. J. Mattill, Jr., The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create lions with the adaptability to sometimes stalk human beings in ways that lions do not usually hunt, as in the case of the British attempt to build a railroad through the Tsavo area of Africa at the turn of the century, when two lions began stalking the camp of railroad laborers in ways no lion had ever been known to hunt before - they attacked in a pair instead of solo, they killed for fun, they attacked large groups in broad daylight [from the movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, which was based on a true story]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a world such that wherever you find animals you will find parasitic worms feeding on them.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a world such that "most human beings are host to any number of flatworms and roundworms. Different species of these worms are found in virtually every part of the body.
"The liver fluke, a leaf-shaped flatworm, is so highly specialized that it must spend the first stages of its life living in a snail and then a fish before it can invade a human and settle in the liver.
"There are hookworms that burrow through the skin of our feet when we walk barefoot and trichina worms that embed in our muscles. Long, skinny guinea worms live just under out skin and look very much like coiled varicose veins. The African eyeworm (loa worm) is a tiny roundworm that often migrates to the cornea of the eye in humans, where it can cause blindness. More than two hundred bladderworms were found in the brain of a woman who died of convulsions." [Barry & David Zimmerman, Why Nothing Can Travel Faster Than Light...]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create tapeworms that grow up to eighty feet long in the intestines of human beings - tapeworms with twenty to thirty hooks and a suckers on its head to prevent being swept away by the passage of food. Tapeworms are "designed" without digestive systems but with the ability to soak up the digested food of their hosts like a sponge soaks up water. And tapeworm eggs, which have to pass through the stomach, are coated with an acid-resistant protein similar to what makes up our fingernails. Furthermore, each worm has both testes and ovaries to facilitate sexual reproduction so they don't have to let their suckers loose for an instant to go search for a mate in the romantic darkness of your intestines.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create pinworms that crawl out to the rim of the anus where small children contaminate their fingers with them, then pass them along to other children with whom they hold hands, then the hand goes into the child's mouth or eye and another child is contaminated, continuing the cycle, where the pinworm passes through the digestive track and out the end again.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create ascarid worms that hatch in your small intestine, travel via the bloodstream to your lungs, develop to where they look like small earthworms, then crawl out of the lungs up your windpipe to your throat, where they are swallowed, then travel down to your stomach and to your intestines where they produce another generation of worms.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a species of roundworm found almost exclusively in human appendixes.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create flukes, tiny flat worms with "organs of attachment" that spend most of their lives feeding off the insides of human beings. They are transmitted via human excrement and urine, and can enter the skin directly if you're walking in infected water. They can cause numerous uncomfortable conditions, including dysentery and abdominal pain, or they can live and reproduce inside your body for twenty years and producing only minor symptoms. The "giant liver fluke" infects people in Southeast Asia who eat watercress grown in infected waters. The "giant intestinal fluke" infects people who shell fresh water chestnuts. But you have to shell them with your teeth to become infected. There's a fluke nicknamed the "Russian doll toy fluke" (Gyrodactylus elegans), which grows three sister flukes, each inside the other as it sucks on its human host - the outermost "sister" opens her mouth and drifts away, leaving a younger "sister" sister still sucking on you. She opens her mouth and drifts away, leaving yet another "sister" sucking on you.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the nematode known as the guinea worm or medina worm, which grows to be three feet long and reaches sexual maturity inside human beings. The larval form of the worm lives inside a tiny crustacean found in drinking water. A human being who has swallowed such water becomes infected by the worm which travels to the legs (or other parts of the body) where it causes painful inflammation and crippling muscle damage. When you bathe in a chilly lake or stream, the worm sticks its head out of your leg and releases thousands of eggs. "Early medicine took advantage of this feature to effect a cure as follows: You chill the leg, the worm pokes its head out, you clamp a stick on the worm and wind her up on the stick a little each day. [It must be done carefully or loss of the limb and death can result. - ED.] The ancient symbol of medicine, a stick with a snake around it, may refer to this cure..." [Animal Review #7, Special Parasite Edition, Sept. 1994]
Legs, however, are by no means the only sites of guinea worm infection. "I can show you pictures of a worm emerging from the back of a child's head. They come out of the chest and genitals. Once one came out under a man's tongue. The swelling was so painful he couldn't swallow and he starved to death." [Dr. Donald Hopkins as quoted in People magazine, Oct. 30, 1995.]
"Recently, there has been a serious and successful effort to wipe out the guinea worm through hygiene and water purification, which may involve the use of simple nylon swatch filters. A disease that a decade ago afflicted 3.5 million people now debilitates a mere 160,000. It is anticipated that by 1997 guinea worm disease will be a plague of the past [praise be to medical science! - ED]." [Barry and David Zimmerman, Killer Germs]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the nematode that causes trichinosis. Trichinosis nematodes are unusual in infecting only carnivores. The disease is passed from carnivore to carnivore, so seals, and pigs and bears get it. It would take something very odd to get it into a cow. The usual route of transmission to humans involves people eating pigs that ate rats that ate other rats or pigs with trichinosis. It lives in tasty muscle tissue." [Animal Review #7, Special Parasite Edition, Sept. 1994]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create lice which chew the skin or suck the blood of birds and mammals.
Chewing lice have mouthparts used for chewing through skin flakes, wolfing down dried blood, and gobbling up other skin debris. Most are associated with birds and are equipped with a pair of well-developed claws for holding onto feathers and skin, although a hundred species of chewing lice dine on mammalian skin tissue.
Sucking lice have mouthparts with which they can pierce thicker skin tissue and suck up rich fresh blood. This group feeds almost exclusively on mammals; and since mammals are apparently easier to hang onto than swift flying birds, bird feathers, and hairless skin, the legs of these sucking lice are endowed by their "Designer" with just one stout claw - a cliplike device - used for grasping mammalian hairs and staying in place (despite frantic efforts by irritated hosts to dislodge them). The lice that suck human blood mainly grab hold of hairs on the head and pubic region, and pierce the scalp and that other region, causing itchy scabs to form.
Interestingly, while some lice are capable of living a few weeks off their hosts, an elephant louse separated from an elephant cannot survive more than a few hours at most. They also tend to congregate and create itchy annoyance on the elephant's tender ears, armpits, groin area, and around the base of the tail.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create chiggers, a type of flea that lays its eggs under the skin of humans and animals, causing painful growths. The young have to eat their way to the surface when they hatch.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create fleas with thin bodies for moving easily through hair, and with immensely powerful legs for leaping many times their body length onto passing prey. And with the added ability to not just harry and bite, but to spread infections, including plague germs which in the 1300s killed tens of millions in Europe and Asia in a few short years.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the kea, a New Zealand parrot, that swoops down on sheep and tears open its flesh at the exact spot to get at the kidney fat, leaving the sheep to die in agony.
Kidney-fat-eating is a relatively new habit among these birds, acquired by most of them after hanging around slaughterhouses and studying sheep anatomy. Recent experiments have even shown that parrots can count, identify shapes and colors, even learn to talk with human beings! See Barber's, The Human Nature of Birds: A Scientific Discovery with Startling Implications, for a record of experiments that demonstrate previously unimagined levels of intelligence in parrots.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the Shrike, a bird of beautiful plumage, that attacks and slowly kills other birds (like Cardinals) by pecking their skulls open and eating out of it as their prey screams.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create species of ants that wage war with other species of ants, and even take slaves.
Worker ants are armed with stingers and venom and sharp jaws (to defend the colony and/or to attack other colonies).
Fire ants bite through the skin of animals and then swing their abdomen over to inject a powerful burning and blistering venom into the incision made by their jaws. Such blisters can take days to heal and often leave scars.
Some ant species produce a chemical that promotes dissension and civil war in other species, enabling the former to more easily capture and enslave the latter. Others release chemicals that mask the alarm and attack signals of the species of ant they are attacking, so the invaded ant colony stands idly by in confusion as its young are captured and enslaved.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the ant-guest Rove beetle, that produces tasty mind-altering substances that remove the ants' natural aggression toward other species. The beetle also produces substances that makes the ants take the beetle into their colony where it is treated like a baby ant grub. Besides being fed, groomed and protected by the ants as if it were one of their own grubs, this beetle can roam around the colony at will, consuming ant eggs and ant grubs. It even lays its eggs in the colony. However once the beetle's eggs hatch and the larva later spin a cocoon (which ants do not do), the ants dig up any beetle cocoons they find, thinking it's one of their own eggs, and carry it into a dry ant egg chamber. There, the cocoon dries out and the beetle inside dies, since it needs to remain in a moist place, unlike ant eggs. "But don't waste sympathy on the lomechusines (ant-guest Rove beetles), they've made their bed, so it's not all that surprising they have a little trouble lying in it from time to time." [May Berenbaum, Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers]
Insects often reside in other species' nests, using disguises and survival strategies. Some shed their wings, and some flies release a chemical that placates their termite hosts when the termites lick it. One such fly is the female scuttle fly, which is able to convince normally fierce predatory ants to feed and care for her. This fly is believed to be born without wings or legs, since she lacks the musculature to support either. She is just an oblong torso with a tiny head at one end, and a "wick" that probably dispenses a pheromone with an ant-like odor. So she is a quadriplegic invalid dependent on ant nurses to take her in, feed and groom her, roll her limbless torso when it needs to be moved about the colony, transfer her to a safer place if the colony is flooded or is threatened by outside invaders, etc. (What a plan! It's just plain weird what the "Designer" comes up with sometimes, ain't it, though I doubt it would have surprised Darwin very much.) [See, "Freeloading Flies Go Legless and Wingless" by T. Adler in Science News, Vol. 148, Nov. 11, 1995, pg. 311]
The teeny ant brain is easily fooled by chemical signals resembling their own, so other insects with similar chemical signals can take advantage of the colony's incessant labor and good will towards their "fellow" ants.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the ameba - a single-celled creature that sends out "flowing plasmic processes, called pseudopodia, for the capture and ingestion of its prey. In the sea there are relatives of ameba which typically secrete calcareous shells perforated with tiny holes to allow their exceedingly fine pseudopodia to extend in all directions; on account of these fine holes, they are called Foraminifera. They feed upon smaller organisms which they catch in a network of these branching and anastomosing protoplasmic strands; they are web and spider all in one, for, on capturing any prey, the meshes close about it, digest it outside the shell and the dissolved food then flows inwards to the main body within." [Sir Alister Hardy, The Living Stream] ("Pound for pound the ameba is the most ferocious creature on earth." - Graffiti)
"I have seen a big proteus-type ameba (Chaos diffluens) corner a ciliate infusorian (a `ciliate' is a single-celled creature that moves in water faster than an ameba by waving a lot of little `hairs' on the outside of its body, known as `cilia' - one example of such a creature would be a Paramecium) in the angle formed by two filaments of Spirogyra and capture the small ciliate creature in its pseudopodia." [Pierre-P. Grasse, Evolution of Living Organisms]
A species of ameba causes a type of dysentery (intestinal inflammation with diarrhea). And I've heard of cases where amebas got into places they shouldn't have, and eaten what they shouldn't, like a boy who swam in a lake in South Carolina and an ameba entered his eye, ear or nose, and chowed down on the boy's brain and central nervous system (a form of amoebic encephalitis?).
The tooth ameba (Entameba gingivalis) specializes in living inside the human mouth and eating bacteria there, which I'm sure doesn't please the bacteria very much. This ameba only multiplies too much if a person is very run down by a deficiency, illness or infection. As in the macroscopic world so also in the microscopic one, once a person gets sick, the "wolves" close in from all sides.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create all living things with the "widely prevalent tendency to save themselves the bother of building the things they require by their own efforts. Whenever they find it possible to take advantage of the constructive labors of others, the direction of least resistance is followed. The plant does the work with its roots and its green leaves, parasitizing simple mineral and chemical compounds in Mother Earth directly. The cow eats the plant. Man eats both of them, and bacteria (or investment bankers) eat the man. The principle is clear. Life on earth is an endless chain of parasitism." [Hans Zinsser, Rats, Lice and History]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create bacteria that attack animal and plant cells.
Furthermore, the genes in bacteria that increase resistance to their host's immune system and/or to antibiotics, are carried on plasmids (extrachromosomal genetic elements) and most of them are part of transposons ("jumping genes") that can readily hop onto new plasmids in new host bacteria. And the bacteria don't have to be of the same species for such genetic transfers to take place, they just need to touch one another. The process is called "horizontal transfer." And it happens in hospitals all the time where people suffering from different bacterial diseases come into contact with one another. Hence the newer stronger strains of "flesh-eating" bacteria.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create bdellovibrio bacteria that grow on other bacteria, parasitizing their own kind.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create myxobacteria that are able to glide or slide along and which form "wolf packs" that corner and dismember prey. [John Tyler Bonner, The Evolution of Culture in Animals (Princeton U. Press, 1980, p. 98-99]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create viruses that attack bacteria (bacteriophages, literally, "bacteria eaters"). All part of the endless chain of parasitism, as mentioned above.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create diseases that work together, one weakening the body, the other killing it. What "purposeful design!"
I'm speaking not only of AIDS, but measles. In the developing world, up to two million children die each year from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea after they get measles. The measles virus blocks the release of an important chemical from a type of white blood cell. That chemical is critical to the activation of an important immune defense mechanism, leaving the body open to death from the next infection that comes along. ["Measles; Immunology: One Less Mystery," Vaccine Weekly, July 29, 1996, http://www.newsfile.com]
Measles by itself, without the aid of pneumonia or diarrhea, kills more than one million people every year. It is the most contagious of all human infections. And measles vaccines must be administered at just the right time when they can provide protection - when the child is no longer protected by its mother's antibodies but before it is exposed to measles, i.e., around 9 months of age. Before that time, being vaccinated will not immunize the child, and after that time it is too late.
Another instance of diseases that work together in a simply marvelous fashion is the cholera bacterium and the virus that transmits the gene for a deadly toxin from one cholera bacterium to the next, turning the bacterium from a benign to a virulent form. Cholera bacterium have hairlike structures that help the bacteria to stick to the inside of a mammal's small intestine. Most forms of cholera bacterium are relatively benign, but the ones that have the gene for the toxin (acquired by a virus that inserts that gene into cholera bacteria) are virulent and they cause uncontrollable diarrhea. Infected people can lose up to 20 liters of water a day. They die quickly of dehydration if the water is not replaced. There have been seven worldwide cholera epidemics since the 1870s. In 1991 more than 6,000 people died in Peru's epidemic and a simultaneous one that hit several African nations. The disease is most common in regions with poor sanitation of food and water. [Steve Sternberg, "Cholera Hides a Sinister Stowaway," Science News, June 29 1996, pg. 404; and, Nigel Williams, "Phage Transfer: A New Player Turns Up in Cholera Infection," Science, June 28, 1996, pg. 1869.]
Furthermore, it was recently discovered that the dreaded cholera bacterium hitchhikes through the sea on tiny copepods, allowing the bacteria to survive in water long enough to reach distant places on the globe. The copepods along with the cholera inside them, can drift into estuaries and drinking water, growing in numbers where there are more nutrients. There is evidence to suggest that algal blooms provide the copepods (and therefore the cholera bacteria) with a feast that triggers rapid copepod and bacterial expansion and cholera epidemics. Cholera continues to be endemic in certain costal areas and major rivers where there are algal blooms, like the Ganges river. ["Tracking a Killer: Following Cholera With Every Available Means," Frontiers: Newsletter of the National Science Foundation, Oct. 1996]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the tuberculosis bacterium, the world's deadliest contagion. In the last two hundred years it has killed an estimated two billion people and disfigured, crippled, and blinded billions more. During the late nineteenth century it killed more people in the United States than any other disease. It presently infects one third of all the people on earth (though most are merely latent carriers), and kills nearly three million people each year.
Most commonly, it eats away lung tissue, forming abscesses that discharge a cheesy foul-smelling pus. It can eat its way through the chest, forming large ulcerations on the body. The patient becomes pale, weak and emaciated, coughing up blood and unable to breathe. Or the germs that are coughed up get swallowed and infect the digestive tract, causing ulcers in the throat, making it difficult to speak or swallow. Or it infects the stomach and bowels, causing vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and acute pain. Or it infects the urinary tract, causing unbearable pain upon urination. It can also eat holes in various bones in the body, crippling limbs, or leading to a hunchback appearance. Or it hardens the face and causes it to turn red, leading to a wolflike appearance. Or it eats away the nose, ears and eyes. In The Forgotten Plague, Dr. Frank Ryan describes the condition of one such victim:
"...her face had suffered thirty years of destructive ulceration, leading to grotesque deformity. Her nose had been eaten away by degrees until there was nothing there except two gibbous caverns. Her left eye had been destroyed. Freida now looked out upon the world from a monstrously scarred mask, created with festering sores that teemed with tuberculosis germs. Even the comfort of plastic surgery had been denied her since every graft that had been attempted had itself become infected and ultimately destroyed by invading germs."
Famous people who died of TB include Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Frederic Chopin, Emily Bronte, Robert Louis Stevenson, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Orwell, and Vivien Leigh.
But the worst news about TB may be read in headlines of the near future. Consider the following: 1) TB is mutating and becoming more difficult to treat. 2) A TB infection can knock out a person's ability to cope with the HIV virus making it into a full blown case of AIDS. 3) AIDS can knock out a person's ability to cope with TB. 4) More than 5.4 million people are presently infected with both the tuberculosis bacterium and the HIV virus. And, 5) By the year 2005, deaths from AIDS are expected to rival the death toll from TB.
Putting it all together it means that HIV infected people will be increasingly likely to catch TB, spreading drug-resistance strains of TB to the population at large. As these two epidemics start to overlap in some areas the death tolls from both AIDS and tuberculosis will continue to mount at a swift pace.
"Africa is in the greatest danger of all. Presently close to 200 million people are infected with inactive tuberculosis. Twenty million are HIV-positive. The dire statistics have prompted one expert to state, with despair, `Africa is lost.'
"As a human race, we are about to face the greatest public health disaster the world has ever known." [Barry and David Zimmerman, Killer Germs]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the Ebola virus, a "hot" virus, that causes severe headaches, backache, nausea, fever, vomiting, turns the eyes blood red, then causes blood clots in the liver, kidneys, lungs, hands, feet and head, wipes out one's personality, and finally the person vomits a bucket of blood followed by unconsciousness. "Then...[Then? Yes, there's more, as in the case of a Mr. Monet who died in a Nairobi hospital from Ebola]...came a sound like a bed sheet being torn in half, the sound of his bowels opening and venting blood from his anus, those mixed with intestinal lining. He sloughed his gut. Having destroyed its host, the virus was now coming out of every orifice, trying to find a new host. Now I ask you, isn't it possible that the Designer could have made this guy suffer just a little bit less? Maybe just bleed out of his nose?" [Corey Washington in the Craig-Washington debate on the SKEPTIC'S WEB]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create viruses (a few short strands of DNA dressed up in a thin protein coat) which have the ability to slip into a bacterial-or-animal-or-plant cell and parasitize it - by making their host cell employ it's energies and chemical factory to produce many copies of the viral invader. Then, as the multiplied copies of the virus exit the host cell, they may burst and kill the weakened cell on their way out to invade and destroy more.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to have made it so that many if not most viruses are able to retreat during battle with the body's immune system and hide inside certain cells. For example, herpes viruses, including herpes simplex 1 & 2, Chicken pox, and Epstein-Barr, are able to hide within certain nerve cells and come out "when the coast is clear" months or even years later, and cause lesions, a painful case of shingles, chronic fatigue syndrome, or even some types of cancers.
And some viruses, called retroviruses, can hide better than all the rest, by inserting and integrating their DNA into the host cell's own DNA and chromosomes. The virus, in effect, becomes part of the cell. Such integrations can cause little or no harm, or they can adversely affect the genetic makeup of the host cell and cause it to become cancerous.
AIDS is a retrovirus that hides inside human immune cells - the same cells that specialize in protecting the body from foreign invaders like viruses! The debilitating presence of the AIDS virus multiplying inside the body's immune cells throws the immune system out of whack, and the person dies of some other illness that the body could normally have protected itself against.
"Some viruses can even turn the body's own immune system against itself, producing what are called autoimmune diseases. In fact, the diseases presently known to be caused by viral agents are only the tip of the iceberg. Viruses may be causative agents in diseases as diverse as severe depression, diabetes, schizophrenia, coronary heart disease, and who knows what else."
"There is even a growing body of evidence that the flu virus of 1918 was the cause of a severe form of catatonia in survivors of that dread epidemic. The disease, called encephalitis lethargica (`sleeping sickness,' but not the same kind of sleeping sickness that is transmitted via tsetse flies), was the subject of Oliver Sach's bestselling book Awakenings (later made into a motion picture starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams)." [Barry and David Zimmerman, Why Nothing Can Travel Faster Than Light]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the ever present rhinovirus "with the capacity to evolve into more than three hundred different known varieties, all causing the common cold." [Barry and David Zimmerman, Why Nothing Can Travel Faster Than Light]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create diseases that make people sneeze once the disease has reached the stage when it is contagious, which helps pass the illness and suffering to more human hosts.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that "wild animals could act as reservoirs for any number of human viruses, making such diseases impossible to eradicate, even with universal vaccination. "A new flu virus appears every few years in humans after hiding in pigs or ducks and having mutated a new protein coat that the human immune system can't readily lock onto...HIV is constantly mutating; in 1986 a new strain, HIV-2, was identified. Others are sure to follow." [Barry and David Zimmerman, Why Nothing Can Travel Faster Than Light]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that "Whatever mechanisms host organisms devise to combat viral infections, viruses seem to come up with ways to circumvent these defenses. So it is with certain viruses and interferon. Recent evidence indicates that both adenoviruses and Epstein-Barr virus produce small RNAs... whose role may be to reverse the effects of interferon." [Molecular Biology of The Gene by James Watson, et al, Fourth Edition, p. 948-949]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a world that first and foremost focuses on devouring and killing children.
For instance, two hundred years ago the French naturalist, Buffon, lamented that "half the children born never reach the age of eight." They died of diseases like smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, the flu, pneumonia, cholera, tuberculosis, meningitis, chicken pox and a host of other diseases like tetanus and staph infections.
A high percentage of bacterially (and/or virally) related deaths occur to the young of all species of animals and plants, not just to the children of man. (My fiancee raised three baby squirrels, one of which died of a virus that attacked its central nervous system right after it had been weaned off the bottle.)
In terms of the theory of evolution it simply means that for aeons, the young of all species were "fast-food" for certain strains of parasitical bacteria and viruses whose ancestors were on this planet living off of the bounty of single-celled creatures for a billion years before multi-cellular forms of life even began to evolve. Bacteria and viruses have been co-evolving and adapting along with their hosts, and so have maintained their complex ability to pry open the lid on animal and plant cells and eat what's inside the can, even though the animals and plants have evolved complex immune system defenses that succeed in protecting them to various extents. It's an escalating battle of course, such that the MHC genes, that produce the surface proteins on all our cells which control immunological recognition - show an immense amount of allelic variation, such that are thousands upon thousands of immune types. Meanwhile, bacteria and viruses, keep evolving complex engines of mutation that keeps their own surface proteins mutating at a higher rate than our immune system can naturally respond to them. Hence, the incredible complexity of the human immune system and the viral and bacterial mutating engines and attack systems.
Whichever young animals or plants survive the initial onslaught of hungry parasitical viruses and bacteria, those animals and plants still have to run the macroscopic gauntlet of life's challenges that follow. But no subsequent danger is ever quite as disrespectful of "higher" life forms as the tiny microbes that hungrily seek to devour the children of all species.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create Haemophilus influenzae, a small bacterium (unrelated to the influenza virus) that is a prime cause of ear infections and meningitis in children.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create cancer, whereby your body starts eating itself alive; and the cancer cell's "hallmark trait" of "extreme genetic instability that snowballs into a variety of genetic alterations, so that if even one tumor cell survives therapy, there is a good chance it will now be resistant to the therapy." [Christopher Wills, Exons, Introns, And Talking Genes]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create specific human oncogenes that grow cancers in specific parts of the body after being activated by radiation or a virus - and also have made spontaneous cancers more likely by "designing" a "unity" between some human oncogenes and the viral genes that cause cancer.
"Since ras genes were already known to function as oncogenes in certain acute transforming retroviruses, the stunning finding that they could also become oncogenes in spontaneous human tumors provided strong circumstantial evidence that [certain] human oncogenes had indeed played a role in the development of their respective tumors. In addition, it provided unity between viral and spontaneous carcinogenesis." [Molecular Biology of The Gene by James Watson, et al, Fourth Edition, p. 1065]
Virologists believe that viruses and the cells they invade must have coevolved since the beginning of life on this planet. They have even shown that a portion of the non-functional DNA in cells is a legacy from retroviruses that have been inserting their viral DNA into animal and plant cell nuclei for hundreds of millions of years. (See the example, directly below.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create the same retroviral DNA sequences in the same relative places in the DNA of both human beings and primates.
There isn't the faintest probability that such sequences could have been inserted on two separate occasions by two of the same species of retroviruses and wound up in the same relative places of the DNA of both man and primates. So, the Designer is either telling us that man and primates evolved from the same distant DNA stock into which a retrovirus inserted its DNA long ago - a stock that split afterwards into man and apes; or, the Designer is pulling a con game not unlike the one proposed by some creationists who argued that the Designer sculpted all the fossils - which merely mimicked the remains of once-living animals and plants - and filled the rocks with them to purposely deceive mankind into believing that such animals and plants had existed in the past. [For information on retroviral sequences found in the same places in both human and primate DNA, see Bonner et al., 1982, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 79:4709; Mariani-Constantini et al., 1989, Journal of Virology 63:4982; and, Edward E. Max, letter published in Creation/Evolution, issue 27, summer 1990, pgs. 45-49]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the gene for collagen (the main structural protein of the skin, bones, and teeth) with as many as 50 introns (or "breaks") within its genetic sequence such that there are 50 chances for error each time that gene is transcribed or copied.
For those unfamiliar with the term, "introns" are segments of genetic material that do not code for genes yet which are found interspersed between segments of genetic material that do code for genes, the latter being called "exons." The introns have to all be "cut out" of the sequence and the exons have to all be spliced together, end to end, in the correct order, before any gene can begin to direct the production of a protein molecule. Collagen contains 50 introns that have to all be cut out, and 51 exons that have to all be spliced together in order. So there are 50 chances for error each time the cell has to manufacture collagen. Such errors do occur, resulting in defective collagen and a type of osteogenesis imperfecta. Individuals who inherit this disease, like the painter, Toulouse-Latrec, have fragile bones and suffer from fractures and growth abnormalities.
There is an evolutionary upside to this awkward system of each gene being "divided or fragmented" by numerous introns. The exon portions of genes can then more easily fragment and recombine with other exon portions, leading to the formation of novel genes, some of which could prove useful. "One new deal believed to have resulted from such exon shuffling is a protein that helps dissolve blood clots (called tissue plasminogen activator, or t-PA for short) that's now being used to treat heart attacks caused by artery-clogging clots. Different exons on the t-Pa gene resemble exons from three other proteins involved in blood clotting: plasminogen, epidermal growth factor, and fibronectin." [Jerold M. Lowenstein, "Genetic Surprises: Some Seriously Weird Things Are Springing Out of the Twisted Tangle of Our DNA," Discover, Dec 1992, pg. 82-88]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create ticks, fleas, lice, flies, mites, bedbugs, mosquitoes, etc., that breed in incomprehensible numbers and thrive on the blood (and/or sweat and feces) of other creatures, transmitting viruses and bacteria that have caused countless deaths.
The mosquito alone "has probably killed more people than all the wars in history, and even today is responsible for at least 1 million human deaths every year. The diseases spread by this creature include malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, sleeping sickness, encephalitis, filariasis (which in turn, causes elephantiasis), and more. Thirty years ago, when malaria was actually less common than it is now, mosquitoes killed a person somewhere in the world every ten seconds with this disease alone." [Hanson & Morrison, Of Kinkajous, Capybaras, Horned Beetles, Seladangs]
Ken Olson of the Arthropod-Borne and Infectious Diseases Laboratory at Colorado State University recently warned, "The spread of malaria and the dengue virus by mosquitoes is increasing, control of mosquito populations is very lax worldwide, and they are becoming pesticide resistant." He adds, "We're almost running out of options." So he's working on a way to vaccinate mosquitoes so that they can't carry the dengue virus. ["Building Better Mosquitoes" in Discover, Sept. 1996, p. 16]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the tick, a little blood sucker who finds it by sniffing for traces of carbon dioxide (exhaled by all warm-blooded creatures) or butyric acid (exuded from some animals' skin). If doesn't sniff either chemical it just waits, sometimes for several years, until it does. When it lands the right host it climbs on board and bites it, exuding an anesthetic so the host doesn't even feel the bite, and it buries its head in the host's flesh, feasting on blood and adding an anticoagulant to keep the blood flowing until the tick is engorged. Just a few of the multitude of diseases spread by ticks include Lyme disease, Colorado tick fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Siberian tick typhus, Russian summer encephalitis, Nairobi sheep disease, and Japanese river fever.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the ubiquitous cockroach, several common species of which "spread salmonella food poisoning, cholera, dysentery, plague, hepatitis, and more, all via their excrement and vomit and through direct contact. According to some scientists, many food allergies are actually caused by cockroach excrement either left on the food or airborne with the household dust." [Hanson & Morrison, Of Kinkajous, Capybaras, Horned Beetles, Seladangs]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create stag beetles that have mandibles so large they can't be used for feeding, just for fighting other stag beetles, flipping their male competitors over on their backs. (Or the Hercules beetle, which has two huge bony projections that it uses merely to wrestle with other Hercules beetles over territory and mates.) [Trials of Life video, "Fighting"]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create male monkeys with large canines mainly for the purpose of threatening and biting other males. The females don't have such enlarged canines, nor do they engage in the aggressive bouts the males do. (Or the Bull Moose, whose large sharp horns are used in combat with other male moose, goring and hurting each other, over females.) [Trials of Life video, "Fighting"]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create tiny plant-juice-sucking aphids, and design them to reproduce so fast that they are the most numerous creatures on earth that can be seen with the naked eye. And then create ladybugs, which are gram for gram among the most ferocious predators on earth. Certainly an omnipotent being could have made aphids reproduce more slowly and given ladybugs less voracious appetites, which would have made things balance out more efficiently. As it is, the aphid population can get wildly out of hand in very little time if there aren't enough ladybugs in the vicinity.
The best known ladybug (Hippodamia convergens) can eat 100 aphids a day, day after day, month after month. Ladybug larva can eat even more than adults, up to 40 aphids an hour, and, unlike the adult, will not take a break but keep scuttling about searching for more. True, ladybugs can change their diet to, say, pollen, if they have to - but then their fertility suffers. [Doug Stewart, "Luck Be A Ladybug: Backyard gardeners know why the ladybird beetle brings good fortune: It's appetite for plant pests is extraordinary," National Wildlife, 32:4 June-July 1994]
Of course, even with the help of the incredibly ferocious ladybug, those little plant-suckers (aphids) remain the most numerous creatures on earth (that can be seen with the naked eye). So I guess the Designer gave aphids a reproductive ability that far outstrips their usefulness to creation, especially since aphids help destroy so many plants useful to man. As far as giving a species too great a reproductive ability, the same goes for the many little critters that suck blood rather than plant juices.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the aphid lion (which is the larva of the lacewing insect) that sucks the juice out of aphids, then sticks the empty aphid corpse shells on the pointy hairs on its back, until it has enough aphid exoskeletons to completely cover its body. (Happy Halloween, Darwin!)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the single-celled animal (carried by sand flies) that causes "kalaazar," an illness that slowly destroys the liver and other viscera.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create lungworms that cause death by suffocation.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create hookworms which have spread to about a fifth of all human beings (at present that's a billion), especially in the developing nations of the tropics. "By some estimates, the amount of human blood sucked by hookworms in a single day is equivalent to the total blood of about 1.5 million people." [Natalie Angier, The Beauty of the Beastly] By sucking blood so much blood from their victims, the hookworm makes millions of children grow into physically and mentally defective adults. Such worms are even "designed" so that they can bore into a person's feet, and be passed to newborns through mother's milk.
Hookworms remained a very serious problem in the United States until the latter half of the twentieth century. In fact, one common species is called, Nectarus americanus, "American killer."
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create filaria, which among other things causes elephantiasis (the name comes from the swelling of the limbs and scrotum to elephantine proportions because the parasites block the lymphatic vessels).
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create parasites which drive their host animals crazy, so that their hosts are devoured by other animals which continue to play host to the parasite.
For instance, there is a worm that makes its host mouse become hyperactive, dashing through fields so that it attracts the attention of a predatory bird which is the parasite's next host. Another closely-related worm causes its host mouse to become sluggish, so that it attracts the attention of carnivorous mammals on the ground who are the worm's next hosts.
One species of parasitic larva drives its host snail mad, making it climb to the top of a blade of grass instead of hiding beneath the foliage. Some of the parasitic larva then climb up onto the snail's antennae, turn vivid colors, and pulsate, which attracts the attention of a bird who perhaps thinks it's seeing something mobile and yummy like a caterpillar. Once inside the guts of the bird, the larval worms can mature and reproduce. [Examples are from Natalie Angier's article, "Parasites and Sex" in The Beauty of the Beastly]
(If you think these examples prove the existence of an "infinitely wise and compassionate Designer" see the following example!)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the small liver fluke, aka the "brain worm" (Dicrocoelium dendriticum) that lives in the livers of sheep, deer, and groundhogs, and also in snails, and wood ants. Here's how the "brain worm" got it's name: The eggs of these worms pass out of the sheep's (or deer's or groundhog's) liver through a bile duct into their intestines and out their anus, and the fecal matter containing the eggs is eaten by dung-eating snails. Inside the snail the worms hatch into roundish things that drill through the snail's stomach to its digestive glands. These roundish things grow into "mother sporocytes" that keep reproducing until they've filled the digestive glands of the snail, after which they transform into cercaria, that look like sperm cells. These wriggle to the snail's respiratory chamber. The snail then coughs them up with other snail spit. The gob dries to a point where it resembles a snail egg, then a wood ant hauls it back to the ant's nest where the phoney "snail egg" is eaten. Once inside the ant the cercaria change into metacercaria that implant themselves in the ant's stomach with some of the worms "the brain worms" planting themselves in the ant's brain, making the ant go insane. Every day at dawn the ant climbs to the top of a blade of grass and locks it's jaw around the blade, suspending itself there, motionless, until dusk. A sheep or deer comes along and eats the blade of grass. Then the sheep or deer's pancreatic juices cause the metacercaria to hatch inside their intestines and the worms sniff out the liver and set up camp, producing eggs. And so it goes... (I just want to know what the Designer was smoking when he came up with such a "plan.")
One should note that the worms which drove the ant crazy by infecting its brain did not get to reproduce inside the animal that ate the ant. The "brain worms" sacrificed their chance to leave progeny so that some of their brethren could do so. "If there is such a thing as altruism, here's an excellent example; but from the ant's perspective at least, Mother Teresa this fluke is not." [Natalie Angier, The Beauty of the Beastly]
According to some descriptions I've read, the "snail and ant" part of the drama is apparently not required - the fecal matter from the deer, sheep, or groundhog can get spread on the grass and be eaten by another deer, sheep, or groundhog and infect them without the snail and ant intermediate stages. So we have a "plan" that probably grew more complex over time. More proof of evolution!
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create pine sawyer beetles and the teeny pine-tree-killing nematode worm (Bursaphelenctus xylophilus) that pine sawyer beetles transport from tree to tree. Pine trees vary in their susceptibility to pine wilt nematodes and most native species are relatively resistant. Among the most sensitive (which the nematode always kills) are Scots pines, widely used as windbreak, landscape, and Christmas trees. Here's how it's done. The pine sawyer beetle bites through the bark of pine trees allowing the nematode to enter, which feeds on the thin-walled cells that line the resin canals of pines. In an amazing four days, the nematodes reach their full larval size, which stops resin flow, cutting off the water transport system of the tree. The tree dies soon afterwards and the nematodes stop reproducing and go into a "dispersion" stage of development, where they can lie in wait for up to three years until a pine sawyer beetle lays its eggs in the dead tree. Then the nematodes surround the pupating beetle larva and work their way into its body through its air holes, after which the beetle larva grows up to travel to another tree, carrying the nematodes with them.
(Why go to so much "designed" effort just to kill Christmas trees? I guess the Designer is a Puritan, or maybe a Jehovah's Witness?)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create plants that naturally produce euphoric and hallucinogenic drugs like the poppy, the marijuana or hemp plant, "magic mushrooms," and even catnip for cats. (A cat that has rolled around in a whole field of catnip [O.D.'d on it] will stagger into the house and miss the litter box.)
Ideas for religious conservatives to debate: Man made beer. But God made marijuana. Who you gonna trust? Or, as comedian Bill Hicks said, "To make pot against the law is like saying God made a mistake. Like He looked down on the 7th day and said, `There is my creation, perfect and holy in all ways. Now I can rest...Oh Me...I left pot everywhere. Man, I should never have smoked that joint on the third day. If I leave pot everywhere it'll give people the impression they're supposed to use it. S---. Now I have to create Republicans.' So you see, it's a vicious cycle."
According to May R. Berenbaum (author of Ninety-nine More Maggots, Mites, and Munchers): "Some insects share our weaknesses and vices - the fruit fly infests wineries because it's hopelessly hooked on alcohol, and the `confused gain beetle,' can be found happily chewing its way through bales of marijuana held in storage in police vaults (although the `confusion' in its name alludes to different circumstances)."
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create some species of plants with long dangling roots or climbing vines (like the strangler figs of the Old and New Worlds, or, like Kudzu) that slowly choke all life out of their host tree.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, hemlock, nightshade, deadly nightshade, various mushrooms and berries, and a host of other terrestrial plants that either produce allergic reactions when rubbed against the skin, or are poisonous when eaten. (Oddly enough poison ivy is a favorite browsing snack of deer.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create some species of marine algae with the ability to produce toxins that get into the food chain, causing things like "red tides" that can cause massive fish-kills and make the shellfish in the area poisonous.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create some species of blue-green algae with the ability to produce highly active toxins. These toxic algae occasionally form thick mats in ponds and lakes, causing the death of water fowl and cattle after drinking the contaminated water.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create some insects with the instinct to bite certain vessels in poisonous plants - thicker vessels at the base of the leaf that pump poison to the plant's leaves. After such bites the bulk of the poison drains out of the leaf before reaching the leave's outer edges so that they are safe to eat. (This is not necessarily "design" since the insect may have naturally sought out the thicker fluid-filled vessels at the base of the leaf, thinking it was the juiciest part, then after tasting the poison, switched to eating the more distant less-juicy part of the leaf.)
But if the poison was "designed" to keep bugs from eating the plant, why was a bug "designed" that could still find a way to eat the poisonous plant? Sounds like Darwinism at work again, designs to defeat designs, rather than an infinitely wise Designer.
And, there are many species of bugs that can simply eat poisonous plants, and absorb the poison into their system, making them unpalatable to prey. So they don't need to learn how to drain the leaf of poison before eating it. They just eat it.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the large and small milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus and Lygaeus kalmi, respectively), which are able to ingest milkweed sap, which is poisonous to most other creatures. These bugs have few predator problems since the milkweed poison in their system makes them unpalatable. However, the small milkweed bug has been reported to kill and feed on its larger cousin, probably because its cousin contains a lot of the same poisonous chemicals that attract both bugs to the milkweed plant in the first place. So, we have a case of a strictly vegetarian insect occasionally devouring a member of its sibling species in order to obtain more of the yummy poison they both feed on.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a species of salamander with a line of poison sacs along its flanks which can only be released if the salamander sticks its ribs through its skin, tearing the sacs open. [Trials of Life video, "Hunting and Escaping"]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create putrid smelling plants, like the Amorphophallus, an 8-foot plant from Sumatra whose flower smells like burnt sugar combined with rotten fish, a smell that attracts certain flies, which pollinate the plant. The Amorphophallus titanus produces the world's largest flower, which sometimes grows up to 10-feet tall and blooms only once every five years. Part of the flower looks like a titanic phallus, hence the name. The odor this blooming plant produces is, however, incredibly foul. (So the Designer created some odors in the world's most titanic and prominent flower just to pamper fly noses and revolt human noses? Perhaps the Designer loves flies more than us?)
Not to forget the Brazilian and Jamaican Aristolochia grandifloria, a huge plant whose smell is so disgusting that wild animals stampede from the area when the plant blossoms.
Or the stinkhorn mushroom (of which there are about a half dozen species in North America) whose unpleasant odor resembles rotting flesh and attracts insects that are normally attracted to carrion. [There is a wonderful photo of a starfish stinkhorn mushroom filled with bluebottle flies in Natural History, 10/1996, p. 82-83]
The skunk cabbage produces a similar "carrion smelling" odor.
(Needless to say, if you're sending flowers to the family of someone who just died, none of these plants would be appropriate.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the western false hellebore, a plant found in the northern Rockies that leads to deformed heads in offspring should a mother sheep eat the plant. The lambs are born with "monkey face" disease where the nose is shortened or gone altogether and the face is caved in. In extreme cases, both eyeballs are in one eye socket in the middle of the lamb's forehead.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create Venus's fly traps, pitcher plants, bladderworts and sundews, that eat insects, small reptiles and frogs, and (in the case of a large pitcher plant) even mice.
(I wonder what Venus's fly traps ate "in the beginning" when every animal supposedly only ate "green plants" according to Genesis chapter 1? I guess it had to eat itself. Or, were some green plants allowed to eat animals in Eden?)
It's interesting from an evolutionary point of view to note that insect-eating plants are found growing in places that are inhospitable to nearly all other plants, like the floating islands of peat in the Okefenokee Swamp, or the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, or soggy meadows in Norfolk. Such soils lack nitrogen and phosphorus, but have plenty of water and sunlight. Meat-eating plants can get the nitrogen and phosphorus they need from the animals they ingest, and hence don't have to compete with the huge array of plants that exist on richer soils.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a species of deep-sea sponge that has filaments with tiny velcro-like hooks on them that the sponge uses to nab tiny crustaceans. The crustaceans struggle to free themselves for hours as more filaments grow or gather over them. Then the sponge digests the small crustacean it has captured. All other known sponges just filter water, hoping to nab some teeny bits of bacteria or organic matter. But food is quite scarce in the deep sea so this sponge needed something "more" to survive there. (This newly discovered species of "carnivorous deep sea sponge" belongs to a previously known genus of more passive species of sponges.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create animals that eat their own feces (coprophagy).
Chickens eat their own feces. Though I can't quote an authority as to why. (It's probably just a nervous pecking habit.)
Rabbits eat some of their own fecal pellets, running the same meal through their digestive system twice, to break down the food more.
Gorillas, which live in a nearly perpetual state of flatulence due to their leafy vegetarian diet, have been seen eating their own feces, though scientists are unsure whether gorillas obtain added nutrition from such a meal, or if the gorillas simply regard it as a "warm snack within easy reach" on a bitter cold jungle morning.
Of course, many animals eat the feces of other species, including beetles, and flies (whose maggots feed on dung, manure being a source of plagues of flies as in Australia). Butterflies are often attracted to dung or urine-soaked patches of ground to feed, perhaps because nectar lacks some minerals or nutrients they need. (So don't French kiss a butterfly, you don't know where its siphon-tongue has been.) Even adult grasshoppers in the tropics are known to enjoy dung.
(Has dung always been a taste treat for animals, even "in the beginning?" Only a creationist knows for sure. And whether or not a creationist agrees that Adam and Eve had navels, they'd probably agree they had anuses, and used leaves to wipe themselves, and had to watch where they walked. Some creationists say creation was so perfect there was "no decay." "No decay" my ass! Or should I say, "Adam's ass?")
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the Southeast Asian "vampire" moth which jabs its long hard sharp tube-like proboscis into human skin and sucks human blood for 10 to 60 minutes at a sitting. Its proboscis and metabolism are specially designed to endure the rigors of bloodsucking.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a moth in Southeast Asia that lives off the tears of deer, pigs, antelopes, horses, buffaloes, elephants, even human beings (if given a chance). It causes an irritation that stimulates tear flow. One moth sucked a human researcher's tears for 30 minutes before the researcher could no longer endure the irritation. There's no telling how irritating this moth must be to animals that are unable to swat it away from their faces.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create several species of stingless bees that are attracted to sweat and/or human hair, where large numbers can become entangled. These creatures are capable of causing endless annoyance, not to mention the fact that though they do not sting, they do bite.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the lamprey, which bores its circular rasping mouth into the sides of fish and drinks their blood.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a family of very small South American catfish (the candiru), some species of which burrow into the gills of bigger fish, where they suck the fish's blood. Some members of this family have been known to "wriggle their way up the urethra of a human being bathing in a stream, attach themselves, and suck blood. They are [carefully designed] with backward-pointing, erectile spines along their heads that act like barbs on a harpoon and make it impossible to extract the fish by pulling. They can cause agonizing pain, and the only way to get rid of them is by surgery." [Hanson & Morrison, Of Kinkajous, Capybaras, Horned Beetles, Seladangs]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create cuckoos - birds that lay their eggs in the nests of other species of birds. The cuckoo's egg usually hatches first. It's first act is to kill all potential nest mates by pushing their eggs out of the nest. That way the cuckoo ensures it receives all the resources its foster parents can provide - as the cuckoo is usually larger than its foster parents' own offspring and requires more resources. (Loki, I know Thy works!)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create sand sharks and mackerel sharks that produce cannibal fetuses with sharp teeth to devour younger fetuses, until there is only one left to be born. [Dr. A. J. Mattill, Jr., The Seven Mighty Blows to Traditional Beliefs]
Cannibalism within the mother's body is also known to occur in black alpine salamanders. [See Remarkable Animals: A Unique Encyclopedia of Wildlife Wonders, Guinness Books, 1987]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that
as many as a quarter of all those born as single children began life as twins. What happens is that in the womb one twin is overcome, reabsorbed into the thrumming uterus, or into the body of the larger, stronger, faster growing twin. In cases where the absorption process does not take place early enough, or complete enough, some people carry the vestigial remains of their own twin in a mass of tissue inside them. Vertebrae, limbs and fingers of one twin are sometimes found inside the surviving twin. [from "Born Rivals" by Gregg Levoy, Psychology Today, June, 1989:67]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create hyenas, such that the placenta of a pregnant female hyena transforms the female hormone, androstenedione, into the fiery male testosterone - so the young in her womb, of both sexes, are born aggressive. Also, the gestation period for hyenas is so long that they are born with eyes open, muscles coordinated, and teeth already erupted through the gum, which is unusual for a newborn mammal. The increased testosterone in the pregnant female makes her clitoris swell to the size of the male's penis, which proves a painful handicap when she gives birth, since her cubs emerge so large and ferocious that "they sometimes tear their mother's clitoris as they descend through her unusual birthing organ...[And,] though hyenas are generally born in pairs, they don't stay that way for long. Most neonates root around for their mother's teat, but a baby hyena roots around for the back of its sibling's neck. Within hours, one hyena usually kills the other, especially if both cubs are the same sex. Such sibling murder is quite rare among other mammals." [Natalie Angier, "Hormones and Hyenas," The Beauty of the Beastly]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the Micromalthus debilis beetle in which some parthenogenic females give birth to a single male offspring. This larva attaches to his mother's cuticle for a few days, then inserts its head into her genital aperture and devours her.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create cecidomyian gall midges in which some parthenogenic females develop offspring that live within the mother's tissues, eventually filling her entire body and devour her from inside. And within two days, the females from that brood have begun to develop their own children which begin to eat them up.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that when a queen bee grows too old, female bees chase her through the corridors of the hive lunging and biting at her until the old queen is dead.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that a drone honeybee's genitals explode when he mates with a queen bee after which the drone falls dead to the ground. "As soon as the queen opens her sting chamber to receive him, he explodes, his genitals bursting forth like a detonating grenade." [Adrian Forsyth, A Natural History of Sex]
By this method, the drone fills the queen bee with his sperm and sets up a "genital plug" in the female's reproductive orifice, making it difficult for another drone to inject competing genes into her. By using the word "difficult," I mean that the drone's suicidal effort is only partially successful, since the queen is usually in the midst of many drones as she mates, and more than one get to ravish her, though I suppose, lesser amounts of their sperm penetrate her orifice after each explosive entry.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) with a long sharp penis that he uses to puncture his mate in the abdomen and ejaculate into her body cavity, after which "the sperm travels through her blood stream to special receptacles, where she can store it until her time of ovulation." [David Quammen, The Flight of the Iguana]
One species of bedbug (Xylocaris maculipennis) has taken this method a step further. The males of that species stab-rape other males. In fact a male of that species may be assaulted by another male while he is copulating with a female. "The sperm of the rapist enters the vas deferens of his male victim and is used by the victim during copulation." [Adrian Forsyth, A Natural History of Sex] Which is not to say that the sperm of the rapist is injected directly into the raped male's vas deferens with accuracy - the sperm "migrates in the recipient's blood to his testes," and hence to the vas deferens tubules attached to his testes, where the rapist's sperm is then pumped out of the penis of the raped male, and into the female. [MacQuitty & Mound, Megabugs]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a scoop on the end of the male damselfly's penis which can be used before copulating to remove the semen of a previous mate.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create certain species of anglerfish that live in total darkness thousands of feet beneath the sea in which the female of the species is a couple of feet long but the male is only inches long and attaches to her body like a tiny flap of skin. The male finds a female, bites her, then his fangs disappear and his lips fuse to her body (fusing their bloodstreams together) after which the rest of the male's body atrophies away until he's almost nothing but gonads.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the praying mantis such that the male must approach the female with the utmost caution, playing "red light - green light," sometimes having to stand immobile for hours with one leg poised in the air, before making another move toward her. Besides approaching with caution, the male has to signal her at appropriate moments, waggling his antennae, stamping his feet or wiggling his abdomen in a figure-eight. If he reaches her unscathed and mounts her, it takes the male a half hour of rocking his abdomen up and down before sperm is transferred to the female, during which time the female can reach back and eat the male's head, which relieves the male of inhibitory centers of his brain, and his body then rocks up and down with a fervor previously impossible when his brain was still intact. Even when the female reaches out and snaps off the approaching male's head before he has mounted her, the male's hormones by this time are so hyped up that his legs will then move in a circular path until they rest against her and his body climbs on her back and copulates. (Washington Irving, author of "The Tale of the Headless Horseman," meets Charles Darwin?!)
Note: The female mantis does not as a rule eat the male. It only happens when she is hungry. And in a few species of mantises such behavior is rare or perhaps non-existent. However, since mantises are predators that react with swift and deadly accuracy to any sign of movement, the male approaches the female with caution.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create spider species where the females sometimes attack and kill their suitors. In some cases, prospective males must signal their peaceful intent by strumming the outer edges of the web, as if serenading the female into compliance.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a species of orb weaving spider (Araneus pallidus) such that the small male is unable to get his palps properly inserted into the larger female's reproductive organ unless she seizes his abdomen with her pincers. "If she doesn't, he keeps slipping off without getting the job done. Trouble is, once she's got her fangs into him, she can't control herself and sets about feeding on him." [Adrian Forsyth, A Natural History of Sex] (What an unlucky "design" for males of that species!)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create Australia's redback spider (Latrodectus hasselti) such that the small male of the species inserts his "intromittant organ" into the female and then, holding his organ within her, he performs a somersault that places his abdomen beneath the female's jaws. She eats him about 65% of the time, while he continues to copulate with her. Those whom she eats copulate longer and fertilize more eggs. (Coming and going at the same time.)
[See, "Gruesome Diets III: Of Sex, Somersaults, and Death," Discover, 16:11, Nov. 1995, pg. 34; "Why Self-Sacrifice Makes Perfect Sense for Spiders," Time, 147:3, Jan. 15, 1996, pg. 60; and, Pat Coyne, "Why Do Some Female Spiders Eat Their Mates During Sex?" New Statesman & Society, 9:387, Jan. 26, 1996, pg. 31.]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create females of the desert scorpion (Paruroctonus mesaensis) with the desire to eat anything that's small enough to be devoured by them, including males of their own species. What a problem for him! The male must grab the female's claws in his own and drop his sperm packet on a nearby stick, then bat or sting her, let go of her, and run for his life. Most of the time the female lets him go and inserts his sperm packet inside her. But in two cases out of twenty the female is able to seize and munch on the male.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create mantispids (not praying mantises, mantispids are something different), members of whose subfamily, Mantispinae, feed only on spider eggs. Teeny mantispid larva hop onto spiders (if it's a male, they wait for him to come into close contact with a female, the closer the better - as for instance when a male is eaten during copulation, then they hop onto the female - or if it's a female, they wait for her to lay eggs). While they wait, the mantispids enter the spider's book lung (the breathing apparatus) to snack on spider blood. After the spider lays her eggs, the mantispid enters the egg sack before the spider completely seals it shut, and the mantispid feasts on spider eggs as it grows into an adult mantispid.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create the daddy-long-legs spider (Pholcus phalangioides), which leaves its own web to eat other species of spiders living in other webs. Their long legs give them free reign in walking amongst the webs of other spiders, since if one leg gets caught on a sticky filament, the other legs have enough strength and leverage to free it. Once on another spider's web, the daddy longlegs twitches its abdomen, bounces, shivers and contracts its legs in a manner that attracts the web-owner who thinks s/he's got a hearty meal in store for them. But the web-owner then becomes the main course.
Daddy-long-legs of the species Leiobunum longipes engage in leg pulling contests in which one male bites another's leg and tries to yank it out - either by jerking or rotating it. Breaking off a leg can take as many as 20 tries, after which the defeated spider hobbles off, and the other male gets to mate, having demonstrated his superiority.
Faced with a predator, daddy-long-legs secrete noxious and distasteful secretions from the base of their second pair of legs. And if grabbed, they can automatically shed any immobilized leg. (What a help such curious abilities must have been when all animals just ate "green plants" in the "beginning," according to Genesis chapter 1.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create predatory female fireflies that use their flashing lights to attract and devour males of rival species.
"In North America, more than five species of lightning bugs can live in the same area, all trying to mate on the same night. To avoid confusion, each species has a unique sequence of flashes, and the female must respond at the right point during the male's repertoire before he will approach her. When close by, either the pattern of bands on the female's abdomen or the scent of the female acts as the final cue for mating. Sneaky males can try to disrupt the mating display of other males by flying close and adding more flashes, so that the female fails to recognize the first male's display. The sneak then completes the full sequence and mates successfully. A worse misfortune can befall the unwary suitor; some female fireflies mimic the flash patterns of rival species to attract males of that species, only to devour them when they approach her." [MacQuitty and Mound, Megabugs - final sentence edited for clarity by E.T.B.]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create "transvestite" behavior in a species of wasp (Cotesia rubecula). In this species when a male is having sex with a female and another male shows up, the male doing the mounting lowers his antennae to mimic a "receptive female." The late-comer tries to mount the "female mimic," which makes a curious sight previously only seen in XXX-rated bisexual videos: The female in front being mounted, the "transvestite" in the middle, and the late-coming male on the end. Some males return to the mimic several times, trying to mount him, before giving up.
"`Sometimes the mimic maintains his posture for five minutes' - all the while subtly contriving to keep the tip of his abdomen, where a female's genital opening would be, just out of reach. Meanwhile, the true female, whose antennae have returned to the [non-receptive] upright position, wanders away, carrying inside her the sperm of the mimic." ["Animals: A Jealous Lover Will Do Anything" in the "Breakthroughs" section of Discover magazine, May 1994, p. 14]
Speaking in evolutionary terms the female mimic assures that his genes get passed along, including his genes for "transvestite" behavior.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make it so that "30% or more of the baby birds in any nest were sired by someone other than the resident male. Indeed, it is a great challenge to identify a bird species not prone to such evident philandering...Mammals are even worse.] The percentage of mammalian species whose members remain faithful to one mate is only about 2%...Much of the debauchery in nature is committed by females, which gives the lie to the dreary stereotype that only males are promiscuous, and that what females want above all is one good male. Instead, many animal social systems very likely developed as much to allow members to cheat selectively as they did to enable animals to divide into happy couples. Most pair bonds might thus be mere marriages of convenience, offering both partners enough stability to raise their young while leaving a bit of slack for the occasional dalliance." [Natalie Angier, "Mating for Life?" in The Beauty of the Beastly]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create many plant-eating insects, and a few insect-eating plants, and carnivorous insects to feed on the plant-eating insects, and carnivorous insects to feed on carnivorous insects, and parasites for everybody! (Life is just one big buffet.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to make infanticide not uncommon among many animals, including lions, gorillas, chimpanzees, and langurs, not to mention rodents, birds, fish, and numerous invertebrates. (Such infanticide is often the work of a male who murders his competitor's offspring, thereby increasing his own genetic stake.)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create "a microscopic animal that is very picky about its food - so picky that it prefers to all other things the optic nerve, and after it has succeeded in destroying that nerve and covering the eye with the mask of blindness, it has intelligence enough to bore its way through the bones of the nose in search of the other nerve." [Robert Ingersoll]
[The creature that Ingersoll referred to was not stated in the original quotation. It could be the African eyeworm (loa worm), a tiny roundworm that often migrates to the cornea - not the "optic nerve" - of the eye in humans, where it can cause blindness. Or it could be toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by a protozoan that damages the central nervous system, eyes, and viscera of newborn babes, and which can be carried by the common house cat. Or perhaps histoplasmosis, a fungus that may be inhaled and infect the lungs, liver, spleen, or central nervous system, including the eyes. Or maybe, coccidiomycosis, another fungus, that causes respiratory difficulties, fever, and sometimes blindness. - ED.]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create leeches with "suckers on each end of their bodies and teeth shaped like circular-saw blades. Some leeches are small enough that you might accidentally drink them, then they grow up on your vocal cords and suffocate you. Watch for them at desert oases. The most dangerous are the innumerable land leeches of Sri Lanka. They drop from the trees and worm their way through the seams of your clothing. Their little circular-saw teeth cut deeply and painlessly. You can lose a lot of blood." [Animal Review #7, Special Parasite Edition, Sept. 1994]
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to create birds like the ostrich, emu, and kiwi that have wings but cannot fly.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to design the bones of the flightless dodo, penguin and kiwi, making them hollow, as if their ancestors had been adapted for flight.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to design birds so that even modern bird species retain the genes and the ability (as demonstrated in embryology experiments) to grow reptilian teeth, and reptilian fore arm and wrist joints (rather than the normally fused avian joints of modern birds).
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom to design whales so that they all have a rudimentary pelvic girdle (hip bone) and femurs (thigh bones) that remain hidden within their flesh, unattached to their vertebral column. In fact, 1 in 400 Minke whales that have been examined have complete sets of hind legs, i.e., not just femurs but also tibias and fibulas, lying hidden within their flesh. Other species of whales have been photographed with muscular and bony protrusions that extend outside of their flesh in spots where rear legs would be in land-dwelling animals. Nice to know that the genes for such land-dwelling features as rear limbs, are still present and sometimes activated in modern day species of whales!
Moreover, fossilized remains of the earliest known swimming whales show they had hind legs. One species that arose a little later in geologic time had vestigial hind legs. So, whales lost their rear legs over time. While modern whales have no hind legs, except for the exceptions noted above.
Furthermore, embryos of whale species that grow into toothless adults still develop teeth in the womb that are reabsorbed before birth. Also present in whale and dolphin embryos are "five digits" of the hand or feet that are soon lost as the animal grows and the fin develops into its adult form.
The adult blind river dolphin (the susu) has scalloped tail fins, each showing the five digits of the foot from which it originally evolved. The river dolphin also has a distinct neck like land-lubbing vertebrates. Modern sea-going dolphins, like modern whales, do not have a distinct neck. But if you look back in the fossil record, early sea-going whales had trimmer longer bodies, and heads that were more distinct from their bodies than modern-day whale species. [See The Macmillan Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Animals: A Visual Who's Who of Prehistoric Life, Collier Books: New York, 1988, pg. 230-231]
Reminiscent of the river-swimming susu's anatomical ties to land creatures, it should be noted that the earliest whale fossil remains are found in ancient riverbed deposits, as if whales evolved from river-swimming carnivores that gradually moved from the river to the place where all rivers run, the sea, where both whales and dolphins continued to evolve into sea-going creatures less like their land-lubbing ancestors.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite foresight and compassion to make the genes for "the crop and tail-feathers of pigeons vary in order that the fancier might make his grotesque pouter and fantail breeds; and make the genes for the dog vary in order that a breed might be formed of indomitable ferocity with jaws fitted to pin down the bull for man's brutal sport." [Charles Darwin in Variations of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, II (D. Appleton and Company, 1875, p. 415)] (What divine providence!)
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create a multitude of means for hindering some of his creatures from being eaten by others: There are high speed sprints, jinking runs, distraction displays, spines, quills, armor, poisonous secretions, foul smelling and/or burning sprays, near perfect camouflage, even disguises that make a herbivore look as though it were a hunter (as in "eye-spots" on the wings of moths that the moths can flash to frighten birds away).
And only a Designer could have made other animals to pursue and prey upon creatures he'd designed not to be eaten (as in the case of the Great Horned Owl which preys upon the Canadian porcupine). All in all, this doesn't look like "design," it looks like "The Designer" is really "a committee" with different members designing different ways to foil the other's designs. Or maybe the Designer is into "spectator sports" of a gross nature on a grand scale.
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to arrange it so that some insects attracted by a flower's sweet innocent fragrance and hungering for some nectar or pollen, don't have a prayer's chance in hell...
There's a species of praying mantis that looks like a petal of the orchid it perches upon. It is the same bright white color as the orchid and even has a little green ring around its neck resembling the tiny green parts of each orchid petal. Hungry insects that are attracted by the orchid's sweet innocent scent, don't have a chance once the camouflaged mantis reaches out and makes a meal out of them. [Trials of Life video, "Hunting and Escaping"]
Robert Frost, the poet, mentioned a similar example involving a white spider that laid in wait on a white flower, and asked, "What brought the kindred spider to that height, Then steered the moth thither in the night? What but design of darkness to appall?--If design govern in a thing so small."
Only a Designer would have had the infinite wisdom and compassion to create some plant species with the ability to give out "signals" to other members of their species when under attack. And then create the insects to attack them. [The Way Nature Works, Macmillan, 1992]
Only a Designer would have made it sooooo easy to find the "one true faith" that even your parents could pick it out for you, and in most places on earth, they do. It's even easier to find a "true" Christian as opposed to a false one, or a "true" Moslem as opposed to a false one. The "believer in the true way" (of a religion or denomination or interpretation) is always the one with whom you are speaking at the moment.
Only a Designer would have made it so that "The type of person who devotes himself to the pursuit of wisdom is most unlucky in everything, but above all in begetting children - as if Nature had taken pains, I suspect, to keep the disease of wisdom from spreading too widely among mortals." [Erasmus, In Praise of Folly]
After reading the above, it should come as no surprise that many who reject a "blind watchmaker" explanation for the cosmos still have trouble accepting that a "Watchmaker of infinite wisdom and compassion" explains the cosmos. This "trouble" is not new. Long before Darwin's theory, there were philosophers who suspected that something less than an "omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent creator God" seemed to be sufficient to account for the cosmos. Thus, even today, a lot of people don't fully "buy" either atheism or the "Design" hypothesis. Nor do they feel "compelled" to do so.
As for those who say we "must" choose either "God" or "atheism," I ask, "Whose God?" The God of Christian theology (and of which denomination or heretical sect? - today there are over 20,000 Christian denominations and missionary organizations), Jewish theology, Islamic theology, Hindu theology? And, "Whose atheism?" There are different atheist organizations, and different types of atheism, and different folks who endorse each group and/or type, with different approaches and personalities.
Personally I think that a person's attitude, their friendliness and love of others, is more important than particular "beliefs" concerning "big heavy theoretical" questions. So, I always remain open to befriending any of my "enemies" who have an inquiring mind and a sense of humor. There are better things to do than hate one's enemies. Most followers of Jesus' teachings would agree. Voltaire's prayer is also to my liking, "In my life, I have prayed but one prayer: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it."
E. T. BABINSKI
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