Friday, 27 November 2015

Does God Prefer Bats?

The evolution of bat nucleic acid-sensing Toll-like receptors - Escalera-Zamudio - 2015 - Molecular Ecology - Wiley Online Library

Here is today's embarrassing question for creationists. Does your hypothetical intelligent designer favour bats and hate the rest of us?

The reason you need to answer this is because a paper published today shows that bats have a better immune system than other mammals. I'm assuming that creationists only believe in one intelligent designer and not millions of competing intelligent designers all closely guarding their designs and refusing to share.

So, if this supposed intelligent designer can design a better immune system for bats, why did it design a lesser one for the rest of us? Of course, this ignores considerations about why an immune system is needed at all and why a benevolent god would have designed parasites and then designed an immune system to protect us from them, albeit a not very effective one, but that's a different issue. I have never managed to find a creationist with the honesty, integrity and courage to tackle the question of where parasites fit in a perfect world designed by a perfect and maximally benevolent designer so I doubt I'll get one now.

So, let's just concentrate on why this supposed designer gave bats a better immune system.

The paper was published in Molecular Ecology by an international team lead by Marina Escalera-Zamudio from the Department of Wildlife Diseases, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany. It shows that bats have a much more efficient system of Toll-like Receptors (TLRs). TLRs are considered to be the first-line defense against pathogens and recognise a wide range of pathogenic molecular signatures.

Bats exhibit traits unique amongst mammals, such as flight, and across different species they have an exceptional breadth in diet, a result of their long-term adaptation to a wide variety of environments and ecological niches. These niches also have specific pathogen profiles which are likely to have shaped the evolution of the bat TLRs in an order-specific manner.

Marina Escalera-Zamudio
Regrettably, the paper published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. is copyright protected and, although the abstract is available online, permission to reprint it is closely guarded. If I obtain this permission I will reprint it here. Meanwhile one can only hope for the day when all scientific research is freely available and accessible to all.

What this finding suggests is an answer to the problem of why bats seem to act as a reservoir species for some pathogens like rabies which can be transmitted by a bat bite but from which bats appear to be immune. Bats have also recently been implicated as a reservoir species for ebola.

So, from an intelligent design perspective, it's hard not to conclude that such an intelligent designer is not favouring bats by designing a superior immune system for them but deliberately withholding this new, improved design from other mammals, including its supposed favourite species, and what it created all the others for, humans.

Would any creationist like to deal with this question, or is it to be the usual avoidance of these difficult questions yet again whilst pretending the intelligent design notion is the best available explanation of the way things are?

Escalera-Zamudio, M., Zepeda-Mendoza, M. L., Loza-Rubio, E., Rojas-Anaya, E., Méndez-Ojeda, M. L., Arias, C. F. and Greenwood, A. D. (2015),
The evolution of bat nucleic acid-sensing Toll-like receptors.
Mol Ecol
, 24: 5899–5909. doi:10.1111/mec.13431

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  1. Thanks for the notice and thanks for you blog. About a year ago I discovered you and sat down and read every single entry you issued since the beginning. Remarkable stuff!

  2. I so hate it. I had a spelling error, typo actually, in my comment and now can't edit it out. I'm mortified.


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