Monday, 20 July 2020

What's The Point of Vine Weevils?

Vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus.
Photo: Opuntia
Source: Wikipedia
The Vine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus, is an annoying garden pest that, as I know to my cost having lost a spectacular cascading orange begonia last year, can destroy a plant growing in a container almost overnight. It appears to have no other purpose but to produce more vine weevils.

The damage is done mostly by the larvae which live in the soil or container compost and eat the roots of plants. When they have finished the roots, they move into the corms and stems. Meanwhile the entire plant above ground wilts and dies.

The Vine weevil is actually a flightless beetle of the Curculionidae family. The elytra, the characteristic modified forewings that act as protective covers of most beetles, have become fused to form a protective, grooved black or dark grey shell. A population of vine weevils is always entirely female and reproduction is parthenogenic, so a single female can quickly establish a new population. No males have ever been found.

This is a marked contradiction of the Bible which unambiguously says one male and one female of each 'kind' was present on the Ark:

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female.

Genesis 6:19

So, presumably, Vine weevils must have evolved in the last few thousand years a warp speed, or the Bible is wrong.

But let's leave Bible literalists to come to terms with another instance of the Bible being wrong and obviously written by people who knew little biology. The question here, is how the Vine weevil fits into the notion of intelligent [sic] design. As I explained in my book "The Unintelligent Designer: Refuting the Intelligent Design Hoax:

Design is what links creativity and innovation. It shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users or customers. Design may be described as creativity deployed to a specific end [2].

[...]

In an article on good design principles for information technology, addressing the complexity vs simplicity question, design expert John Spacey said:
Complexity versus simplicity is a common design tradeoff. Complexity always has a cost. As such, complexity is ideally minimized for equivalent functionality and quality… Adding complexity without adding functionality or quality is known as needless complexity. Complexity can be exciting and it is possible to get involved in making technologies, communications or ideas complex for the sake of complexity. Generally, this is a mistake as complexity costs more to develop, support and use [3].

In summary then, we can say the hallmarks of good, intelligent design are:
  • Clear functionality, so that the purpose of the design is clear to see and meets the requirements.
  • Maximal simplicity and minimal complexity.

Vine weevil larvae
Photo: Opuntia
Source: Wikipedia
The vine weevil lays eggs in the soil and these hatch out into translucent white to pale pinkish, legless grubs with a red-brown head. When disturbed they adopt a characteristic 'C' shape. They inhabit the root zone and feed voraciously on the roots of most plant. At night, the adult beetles climb up the plants and eat the leaves from the edges, leaving characteristic notched margin to the leaves. During the day, they hide under debris or between the pot and the compost. They fall to the ground when disturbed or when a bright light is shone on them.

The larvae overwinter and, when the temperature rises in spring, pupate 2-20 cm below the surface. There is a single generation a year.

And that appears to be it. The only purpose for all this complexity appears to be to kill plants and spoil displays, especially in containers and hanging baskets, and to produce more beetles, presumably to do the same, year after year. They are not even a significant prey species nor are they predatory on anything other than plants.

So, perhaps a creationist could suggest a sensible reason why something like the vine weevil would be designed by an intelligent [sic] designer and how it fits into some overall divine purpose. In other words, can an intelligent [sic] design advocate point to the evidence for intelligence or design in the vine weevil?







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