September 17, 2012

What About Viruses and Bacteria?

Would a loving God create bacteria and viruses? The fossil record says that these have been around since before the beginning of animal life. Where did these come from and why do they exist?
. A healthy human body contains a few pounds of bacteria. There are many good strains of bacteria, and we would be in deep trouble without any bacteria—especially in regard to our digestion. Bacteria are not inherently bad. However, we all know and fear the bad ones. Some of them are deadly. Were these accidents or intentionally created? 

There is increasing evidence that bacteria are related to the mitochondria of cells. Whether the bacteria devolved from mitochondria or whether mitochondria evolved from bacteria is unclear from the evidence. Most evolutionists, trusting in the all-powerful creativity of undesigned evolution, believe that it only makes sense that simplicity leads to complexity through eons of time and chance. So, the prevailing ‘wisdom’ is that bacteria gave rise to mitochondria. In my theories, it makes perfect sense that the opposite happened: mitochondria (which are complex) devolved into bacteria (less complex in structure). Some dissenting scientists agree that this is a possibility. Somehow mitochondria in some ancient cells became increasingly independent from the rest of the cells, as more genetic code got transferred from the nuclei to the mitochondria. Eventually, one or more of these mitochondria broke free from the main cell and became the first bacteria, I believe.

Was this an accident? Nothing is ultimately an unforeseen and unplanned for accident from God’s perspective. But it may have been the natural result of decay, disorder, and randomness. In that sense, it may have been an accident. No one can say for sure. What I love about it, though, is that even if bacteria were born of decay, God used many of them for good in the design of animals and humans.

Viruses. Most viruses are harmful to humans. The exception is bacteriophages that infect bacteria. These may indirectly help humans in the case where they attack harmful bacteria. Indeed, some bacteriophages have been intentionally utilized to help fight off bacterial infections.

Recently, it has been found that giant viruses—which are nearly as large as bacteria and are more complex than typical viruses—appear to be related to cells. This means that viruses may be the result of devolving cells, in much the same way as bacteria, in my view. Perhaps another part of the cell became independent, or bacteria devolved further into viruses. Who knows for sure?

The Purpose. So, why would God allow these sometimes harmful things in the environment? First, before the Fall of Adam and Eve it is most certain that God would have supernaturally protected them from harm of any kind. There is the indication that where the glorious knowledge of God abounds, things are peaceful and no harm will come (Is. 11:9). The Garden of Eden was one of those places. Bad bacteria and viruses were not welcome. Neither were harmful insects and animals, like lions, allowed to harm man, as in the case of Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan. 6:22). Just because dangerous things exist does not mean that they are not under God’s control. All things are under God’s control. Nothing can harm anyone unless God allows it. Why did God allow fallen angels to enter into the world? It is the same question.

God has allowed harmful things in the environment because He knew that Man would fall and, as punishment, be subjected to a life of futility and decay. God prepared an imperfect world of suffering and decay for the unfolding plan of redemption of mankind. For a brief moment of time—a few short days—God upheld Adam and Eve such that they experienced no physical pain, suffering, or harm; then, they fell and God’s protecting hand was removed, as part of their curse. God wisely made the world from the very beginning to be firmly established (Jer. 10:12). Part of that wisdom and establishing involved preparing the world for a sinful human race. God wasn’t about to redesign the whole huge universe just because they sinned.

I actually agree with young-earth creationists who say that pain, suffering, diseases, and animal death are to remind us of the consequences of sin. There is no reason why these problems with the world could not have existed before Adam’s sin, being prepared for the Fall of mankind. When God’s hand of protection was removed from Adam and Eve, from their limited prospective it would have been just as if the world had been marred and changed for the worse. Harmful bacteria and viruses, then, originated likely from the decaying nature of the universe, but humans only became afflicted with them because of the Fall. 


05/21/2013: Viruses have been found to be more helpful to animals than previously known. In humans and animals, apparently phages (a type of virus mentioned briefly above) are continually fighting off bacteria[1], protecting creatures from harm. From this we see an example of how God made something we generally think of as harmful to be helpful to creatures.


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