Thursday, February 16, 2006

In the theory of Intelligent Design (ID), there is some being that designed life, the universe, everything. If this is true, then the designer created viruses and programmed cancer into our genes. Both cancer and viruses have one purpose, the destruction of life. Cancer is a mutation in DNA that reprograms cells to multiply without bound. Cancer cells may also invade other cells, spreading the damaged DNA. Viruses are microscopic parasites that only function when attacking living cells. A virus injects its DNA or RNA into a living cell. The cell's DNA then becomes altered to change the cell into what can be called a virus factory. After the living cell has produced some number of viruses, the cell bursts and more viruses are spread to attack other cells.

Why would a designer of life also create things that only serve to destroy life?

Once, I asked a friend this very question. She replied by saying that Satan created cancer and viruses as punishment for our sins. This explanation means that there are two intelligent designers. Not only that, but the second designer is more powerful than the first. Consider two engineers. The first engineer builds a bridge. The second engineer builds a bomb to destroy the bridge. Whether the bridge remains standing depends on which engineer is the better designer. However, the ID theory allows only one all-powerful designer, so this explanation can't be valid.

Another explanation I have heard is that the intelligent designer created cancer and viruses as a way to limit our life spans. Aging is programmed into our cells, scientists currently think it has to do with the deterioration of cellular mitochondria. People die all the time from causes other than cancer and disease, often times from organ failure due to old age. People of all ages, including children, die from cancer and viruses. These are horrible ways to die. Cancer is atrociously painful, and then you have things like the Ebola virus and HIV. A benevolent designer would not create destructive forces such as cancer and viruses when a simpler, and more kind, solution to the lifespan problem is to increase the rate of aging. This means that the designer is malicious, designing the destruction of the life it created. However, ID proponents hold the intelligent designer to be a loving being, so this explanation can't be valid either.

We must look for more explanations for the existence of cancer and viruses.


Blogger Joseph said...

This is a really good blog. I hope you keep it up.

2/16/2006 4:00 AM  
Anonymous Stereo Soup said...

I'm going to preface this with the statement that I believe in macro-evolution and the science behind it.

A more reasonable argument is that if there were no disease in our world, no viruses, no cancer, than the lessons that pain and loss teach us would be absent in this world. I'm not saying that God invented disease to teach us lessons, but rather, these things are a natural part of the world. Without disease, how would one define or appreciate health?

Another argument would say that mortality creates a system in which at some point in your life, whether you like it or not, you have to admit that you are not in control of your own life. Some day you will die and the decision will not be yours. I for one, like to be in control, and am very uncomfortable with this truth, but denying the truth (like denying evolution) does not get me anywhere.

2/16/2006 11:25 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

There's also an interesting theory on aging and death of cells. It concerns DNA replication and the functionality of Telomerase. When DNA is replicated, the two strands break apart of course, and both are used as templates. Problematically, though, one of the templates does not function exactly the same as the other. A kind of loop has to be made (i wont go into huge detail). The problem is, when the sequence reaches the end of the DNA, there is a single-stranded tip that remains. This is problematic as the DNA begins to shorten more and more after every replication. This is where Telomerase comes in. The enzyme carries a small RNA molecule to the end, allowing for the addition of bases to the single-stranded portion. Now to the problem of aging. It seems, we don't know why yet, that there is an age-dependent decline in telomere length (the single-stranded ends in question). Apparently, telomerase function declines with age, which causes eventual cell death. Cool concept. Keep up the good work bud.

2/24/2006 4:21 PM  

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