F Rosa Rubicondior: Malevolent Designer News - How Creationism's Favourite Pestilential Sadist is Fighting Back Against Medical Science

Sunday 12 November 2023

Malevolent Designer News - How Creationism's Favourite Pestilential Sadist is Fighting Back Against Medical Science

Anopheles stephensi, already reached Ghana
First evidence of how the Asian malaria mosquito is spreading drug-resistant malaria in Africa - Lancaster University

You can never write Creationism's favourite sadist off in its battle to keep on killing children with its special tool, malaria. Just when you think medical science has it on the run and it looks possible that we could eradicate malaria like we did its other plaything, smallpox, it performs another twist of the arms race and redesigns the plasmodium parasite or a mosquito vector so they can evade our best efforts to protect children. And, pulling out all the stops, in this case, it's done both.

That's if you subscribe to the childish myth of a magic invisible designer creating all living things of course.

For normal people with a thinking ability above that of a slow 10-year-old, however, what we are seeing is an example of evolution by natural selection in response to an environment in which there are anti-malarial drugs and insecticides that kill mosquitoes.
According to the WHO, there were an estimated 247 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2021 with over 600,000 deaths, mostly in Africa. Children under 5 accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in the region.
Before creationists start trying to cover their embarrassment, and absolve their god of blame by citing something called 'Sin', which apparently changed from a verb to a noun, materialised as an entity capable of operating outside the control of their supposedly omnipotent god and began creating living things too, may I remind them of their intelligent [sic] design guru, Michael J Behe's contribution to this debate.

Behe wrote one of their sacred books, The Edge of Evolution in which he used faulty logic and bad maths to try to prove that malarial resistance in plasmodium falciparum was intelligently designed, in order to appeal to his largely scientifically illiterate and gullible target readership. His 'argument' was destroyed by biologist Kenneth Miller however, when he pointed out that Behe had assumed in his maths that several mutations had to occur in sequence in a single cell as a single event - something that no evolutionary biologist would ever suggest - an argument that appears to have gone way over the heads of Behe's adoring readership.

Behe's faulty logic was in presenting evolution as something so highly unlikely that no evolutionary biologist would offer it as the mechanism by which evolution happens, then base his maths on that faulty logic and, voila! dutifully show that it is so highly unlikely that it probably didn't happen - so God did it!

Apparently, if you start off with a mechanism for evolution that no biologist in their right mind would ever suggest, you can easily show that it couldn't happen. Creationists regard this as 'creation science'!

But, true to form, Behe has now saddled creationists with the problem of blaming 'Sin' for something that he says was created by their putative intelligent [sic] designer, but then believing two mutually exclusive things simultaneously has never been a problem for creationists.

And that makes it all the more difficult for creationists to wave aside the evidence of malevolent intent, if we stick to the creationist superstition for a moment, in the news published recently in Nature Medicine that an insecticide-resistant species of mosquito Anopheles stephensi, capable of spreading drug and diagnostic-resistant strains of Plasmodium falciparum, has spread from Asia to Africa via the Horn of Africa and has already caused a surge in cases of malaria in Ethiopia, and this species is spreading at a fast rate never before recorded for a mosquito, having already reached Ghana in Northwest Africa. The finding, by an international team which includes Dr Luigi Sedda, from the Lancaster Ecology and Epidemiology Group at Lancaster University Medical School, Lancaster, UK, is outlined in a news release from Lancaster University:
Research by Lancaster University has led to the discovery of the role played by the Asian malaria mosquito (Anopheles stephensi) in the spread of drug and diagnosis-resistant malaria in Africa. Malaria is caused by a parasite which is spread by the bite of blood-sucking mosquitoes. According to the WHO, there were an estimated 247 million cases of malaria worldwide in 2021 with over 600,000 deaths, mostly in Africa. Children under 5 accounted for about 80% of all malaria deaths in the region.

Following its first detection in Djibouti in 2012, the Asian malaria mosquito Anopheles stephensi spread to the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea) and beyond (Yemen, Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana) at a speed unknown before for similar species.

People in households/dormitories with An. stephensi positivity had a 270% higher risk of malaria infection than those in households/dormitories where An. stephensi was not detected.

In addition, two other biological threats for the control of malaria were identified: drug resistance and diagnostic resistance of the parasite.

Dr Luigi Sedda, from the Lancaster Ecology and Epidemiology Group at Lancaster Medical School, is a joint first author on the paper which is published in Nature Medicine.

This is a very important finding. The mosquito that has spread in the Horn of Africa from Asia drove a major urban malaria outbreak in Ethiopia. An. stephensi is posing important public health concerns due to the increase in geographical presence, the capacity to persist throughout the year and to resist current insecticides, and to transmit drug and diagnostic resistant parasites.

The epidemiological characteristics of An. stephensi driven malaria can challenge the expectations for the new malaria vaccines to reduce the burden of malaria disease and deaths in Africa, the continent that was already highly hit by malaria and where successes in malaria reduction are currently stalled.

Dr Luigi Sedda, co-first author
Lancaster Ecology and Epidemiology Group,
Lancaster Medical School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.
A water storage facility in a village in Ethiopia, a structure targeted by Anopheles stephensi
The capacity of Anopheles stephensi to use manmade water storage containers which are abundant in rapidly expanding African urban settings, coupled with its unique ecology, behavioural plasticity and resistance to major insecticides, makes it unamenable to conventional mosquito control tools. This latest evidence can change the prospects of malaria control and elimination in the face of any future intervention that ignores the presence of this invasive species.

The study was led by the Armauer Hansen Research Institute in Ethiopia with the collaboration of Lancaster University (UK), the Adama Science and Technology University (Ethiopia); University of California, San Francisco (USA); The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK); Radboudumc University Medical Center (The Netherlands); U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (USA) and the Federal Ministry of Health (Ethiopia).
Well, you have to hand it to creationism's divine malevolence! Faced with the prospect of losing one of its best tools for killing innocent children and greatly increasing the suffering in the world, it has hit back hard and fast with a newly redesigned super mosquito to spread its newly-redesigned malaria parasites.

Of course, that's if you don't accept that evolution by natural selection is quite capable of producing this sort of response to anti-mosquito insecticides and anti-malaria drugs by the well-known evolutionary process biologists know as an evolutionary arms race - the antithesis of intelligent design.

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