Monday, 14 November 2016

Nasty Design. Nasty Designer?

Mycobacterium abscessus, a species of multidrug resistant mycobacteria, has recently emerged as a significant global threat to individuals with cystic fibrosis and other lung diseases.
Picture credit: © adiruch na chiangmai / Fotolia
Source: ScienceDaily
Emergence and spread of a human-transmissible multidrug-resistant nontuberculous mycobacterium | Science

I've written several posts with examples of the sheer malevolent nastiness of creationists' notional intelligent (sic) designer, asking if it can get any nastier, but this latest example really does take some beating.

It has now redesigned a mycobacterium so it can now overcome our attempts to stop it making children with cystic fibrosis even sicker, often fallay so!

This was discovered by a team from the University of Cambridge, UK and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute was published a few days ago in Science:

Abstract
Lung infections with Mycobacterium abscessus, a species of multidrug-resistant nontuberculous mycobacteria, are emerging as an important global threat to individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF), in whom M. abscessus accelerates inflammatory lung damage, leading to increased morbidity and mortality. Previously, M. abscessus was thought to be independently acquired by susceptible individuals from the environment. However, using whole-genome analysis of a global collection of clinical isolates, we show that the majority of M. abscessus infections are acquired through transmission, potentially via fomites and aerosols, of recently emerged dominant circulating clones that have spread globally. We demonstrate that these clones are associated with worse clinical outcomes, show increased virulence in cell-based and mouse infection models, and thus represent an urgent international infection challenge.

Bryant, J. M., et al
Emergence and spread of a human-transmissible multidrug-resistant nontuberculous mycobacterium
Science 11 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6313, pp. 751-757 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf8156

Copyright © 2016 Association for the Advancement of Science.
Reprinted by kind permission under license #3987680658971

The research team has issued an urgent warning that, because this form appears to be transmitted by contact, by fomites and by aerosol from contaminated individuals. This means hospital wards and treatment centres have become a major source of infection.

From an evolutionary biology point of view, the emergence of drug resistance is of course entirely understandable and predictable, as is the emergence of 'improved' methods of transmission utilizing the modern methods of treatment, but what about from the perspective of someone who subscribes to the notion that everything is designed by magic by an intelligent (sic) designer who is one and the same as the Christian/Islamic god who is also supposedly all-loving, maximally good god?

Didn't this god supposedly tell us to care for the sick? How else should the following passages from the Bible be interpreted?

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Galatians 5:14


Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Matthew 25:34-36


But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?

John 3:17

So, although there might be so specific instruction to care for the sick in the Bible, the tone is clearly that looking after the less fortunate is the sacred duty of all Christians.

The Qur'an is similarly devoid of any specific instruction to care for the sick, however, there are several reports of Muhammad telling Muslims to do so in the Hadiths:

The Muslim is the brother of his fellow Muslim; he does not wrong him or let him down. The one who meets the needs of his brother, Allah will meet his needs. Whoever relieves a Muslim of distress, Allah will relieve him of distress on the Day of Resurrection.

al-Bukhaari 2442; Muslim 2580.


He who alleviates the suffering of a brother out of the sufferings of the world, Allah would alleviate his suffering from the sufferings of the Day of Resurrection, and he who finds relief for one who is hard-pressed, Allah would make things easy for him in the Hereafter...

Muslim 2699

So, what creationists, whether Christian or Muslim, need to explain now is why their favourite intelligent (sic) designer is actively working to thwart the efforts of those who are working to do what it ordered, namely caring for the sick. Why does this designer so relentlessly appear to be on the side of organisms that indiscriminately cause human suffering?

As though designing cystic fibrosis to make the lives of children short and miserable wasn't bad enough, what maximally good designer could possibly come up with something so hideously malevolent as this drug-resistant, virulent and easily transmitted mycobacterium?

Perhaps more importantly, they need to explain how this intelligent (sic) design notion better explains the emergence of these drug-resistant organisms than the scientific Theory of Evolution by natural selection, and hopefully without having to resort to the traditional creationist fall-backs of mystery and magic as pseud-explanations.

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