Saturday, 30 May 2020

Evolution - Letting God Off The Hook for Covid-19

Evolution of Pandemic Coronavirus Outlines Path from Animals to Humans | Duke Health

One of the few amusing aspects to the Covid-19 pandemic is watching intelligent [sic] design creationists trying to explain why their putative creator created the virus in the first place. Attempts have included - er... it wasn't our god but another creator - Satan, and God wanted to teach us a lesson because [fill in whatever hobby-horse is currently upsetting local fundamentalists]. The other problem for creationists to explain was why the virus seems to be spread more easily amongst people who regularly gather in places of worship than amongst those who stay at home.

Now however, some scientists from Duke University Medical Centre, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of Texas at El Paso and New York University have shown that it wasn't creationism's creator god who made the Covid-19 virus after all, but a perfectly natural process we call 'evolution'. This process caused the common coronavirus to change into SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) and to become highly infective and dangerous to humans.

The Duke Health press release explains:

A team of scientists studying the origin of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that has caused the COVID-19 pandemic, found that it was especially well-suited to jump from animals to humans by shapeshifting as it gained the ability to infect human cells.

Conducting a genetic analysis, researchers from Duke University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the University of Texas at El Paso and New York University confirmed that the closest relative of the virus was a coronavirus that infects bats. But that virus’s ability to infect humans was gained through exchanging a critical gene fragment from a coronavirus that infects a scaly mammal called a pangolin, which made it possible for the virus to infect humans.

The researchers report that this jump from species-to-species was the result of the virus’s ability to bind to host cells through alterations in its genetic material. By analogy, it is as if the virus retooled the key that enables it to unlock a host cell’s door -- in this case a human cell. In the case of SARS-CoV-2, the “key” is a spike protein found on the surface of the virus. Coronaviruses use this protein to attach to cells and infect them.

"Very much like the original SARS that jumped from bats to civets, or MERS that went from bats to dromedary camels, and then to humans, the progenitor of this pandemic coronavirus underwent evolutionary changes in its genetic material that enabled it to eventually infect humans,” said Feng Gao, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Duke University School of Medicine and corresponding author of the study publishing online May 29 in the journal Sciences Advances.

The team published their findings in Science Advances yesterday.

So the good news for creationists is that this research lets their favourite creator god off the hook so it can't be blamed for all the death, suffering and economic damage this virus has caused throughout the world. Even if it did just stand and watch or pass by on the other side in total indifference, at least it can't be accused of deliberately making such a repugnant organism.

The bad news is, that creationists are now faced with explaining why evolution is the only explanation for Covid-19 which doesn't make their god look like a malevolent, genocidal, anthropophobic psychopath and only an indolent, casually indifferent one, when they have been campaigning so hard to fool scientifically illiterate simpletons into believing evolution doesn't happen.

It must be tough being a intelligent [sic] design creationist in the time of Covid-19.

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1 comment :

  1. Obviously the creationists have some wriggle room and will suggest that evolution DOES exist and is part of God's long term plan for the improvement of humanity. Huh?
    Well a successful virus evolves so that it becomes useful to its host and produces no noticeable effects. Other corona viruses, such as the common cold, are further along this route but haven't quite made the 'no noticeable effects' grade yet. Our mitochondria are the remains of past successful viruses which are now passed down through our genetic line. There is a slight problem in the creationist adoptation of this theory - they will have to set the creation of the world much further back in history.


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