Saturday 29 April 2017

Does the 'Intelligent (sic) Designer' Hate Humans?

Scanning electron micrograph of a mass of Yersinia pestis, apparently thriving inside Acanthamoeba castellanii.
Plague Bacteria Take Refuge In Amoebae

For those who claim to subscribe to the intelligent (sic) design notion, parasitism is always embarrassing and not something they will normally bring themselves to discuss.

Take the battles medical science is having with the zika virus, the ebola virus, the malaria parasites, antibiotic resistent in pathogens, etc., for instance. If we assume for a moment that resistance to the various treatments is by design, not evolution, then one has to conclude that the designer is on the side of the parasites and is actively trying to out-manoeuvre medical science's efforts.

This study serves as a proof of principle that amoebae can support prolonged survival of Y. pestis in the environment.

Viveka Vadyvaloo, PhD, Co-author
Assistant Professor, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health,
Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Now we have the example of one of the most devastating disease organisms ever to hit mankind - the Black Death-causing Yersinia pestis - has been 'designed' to take refuge in the common amoeba which is abundant in soil and so provides a ready safe haven for Y. pestis to hide in.

First a little background:

The Black Death ravaged the human population in the first wave in the late 1340s and early 1350s, in some places killing the entire population. In England between 1348 and 1350 it killed about one third of the 4 million population. Not far from where I live is the former village of Woodperry, near Beckley, where everyone died. A similar fate befell the inhabitants of Hampton Gay, near Kidlington. In places, there were not enough people to bury the dead. Bodies were collected up every morning and thrown into 'plague pits'. The Black Death killed a similar proportion of the population throughout the then known world and transformed European society.

Noticing that it killed the pious and the impious equally and that prayer made no difference to the outcome, many people turned to new cults in a desperate attempt to save themselves from 'God's Wrath', all to no avail. And so the whole question of man's relationship with God was called into question. If it required the ordained priesthood to ask saints to intervene with God, why didn't this work? Maybe mere humans could have a direct relationship with God! This drove people away from the Catholic Church, even to use the overt greed, debauchery and hypocrisy of Catholic clerics as a scapegoat and probably fuelling a movement that eventually became the Protestant Reformation.

It was all to no avail of course since waves of Plague, when they came, as they did even as late as 1665 in London, still killed the pious and the impious; Catholics and Protestants equally. A devout monk was as likely to succumb to plague as a common prostitute.

Plague is now considered to be a re-emerging disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 95 percent of cases occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. Plague is also endemic in the USA in areas of Colorado and New Mexico. It can still be successfully treated with antibiotics but needs to be treated promptly or it can cause serious illness and death.

Now, with that history of what creationists must believe their putative intelligent (sic) designer intended to happen, they now need to accommodate the findings of this research:

[Regrettably, the copyright holders, the American Society for Microbiology, declined permission to reprint the abstract here because the paper is still under review prior to final publication. However, the abstract as published may be read online here, and the full paper (pdf) with the following link]:

To understand more about how Y. pestis might be surviving within amoebae we considered how Y. pestis survive in human macrophages. Macrophages usually engulf bacterial pathogens and destroy them, but some bacterial pathogens are able to avoid being killed therein by producing proteins that block the digestion.

Viveka Vadyvaloo, PhD, Co-author
Assistant Professor, Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health,
Washington State University, Pullman, WA
Apparently, Y. pestis has been cleverly designed to exploit the amoeba's feeding method whilst protecting itself against actually being eaten. The amoeba, A. castellanii, like other amoebae, feeds by phagocytosis, i.e., it engulfs bacteria into a vacuole, then digests them by secreting digestive enzymes into the vacuole and absorbing the result into it's endoplasm. It appears however that Y. pestis protects itself against digestion by producing proteins that block the action of the amoeba's digestive enzymes.

The researchers found what appear to be healthy populations of Y. pestis living within vacuoles in the amoebae. This is the same mechanism that Y. pestis uses to protect itself against its human hosts own phagocytic blood cells.

Human medical science is currently managing to prevent the former world-wide devastation of plague but, it this putative intelligent (sic) designer is determined to out-manoeuvre us, how long before it gives Y. pestis antibiotic resistance?

There is of course a very simple easily understood explanation for this situation in scientific terms of non-magical evolution. In fact these sorts of arms races are to be expected. But how do creationists explain why their supposed intelligent (sic) designer is so keen on protecting and defending these harmful pathogens and redesigning them to enable them to harm us more effectively and to strip us of our defences? How does this fit in with a model that includes an intelligent and omnibenevolent designer who made it all for humans?

Normally, they will fall back on blaming 'The Fall' of course, so showing that ID is not a science but a fundamentalist religion in disguise.

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