Why Did God Make Viruses?
There are some fundamental differences in how creationists and evolutionists view life. Biblical creationists believe that God created various forms of life according to their kinds with the ability to reproduce and fill the earth (Genesis 1:21 22, 2428). This view includes the concepts that God had purpose in what He created and that it originally was very good (Genesis 1:31; Isaiah 45:18).
In contrast, evolutionists view life as all descending from a single common ancestor by chance processes. Evolutionary arguments tend to imply that life isn’t really very complex or well designed. For example, 100 years ago a cell was promoted as being nothing more than a blob of protoplasm, implying that it wouldn’t be difficult for it to arise by chance. This proved to be wrong; cells are incredibly complex structures. At one time evolutionists argued that organs or structures with no known function actually had no function; at the time, this included hundreds of organs and structures in the human body. Instead, these were believed to be vestiges of evolution. This argument has become rather vestigial itself, as these organs have been found to have function.
Yet this argument reappeared in genetics. Most of the DNA in our bodies does not code for proteins, so it was labeled “junk DNA” by evolutionists who assumed it has no function. As research continues, it is becoming clear that this DNA has numerous essential functions. The evolutionary worldview has a dismal track record for anticipating the astounding complexity in life uncovered by scientific research.
If God created everything good and with a purpose, why are there disease-causing bacteria and viruses in the world? It is true that we first learned about bacteria and viruses because of the problems they cause. Bacteria have been studied in considerable detail and are now recognized to be mainly helpful and absolutely essential for life on Earth; bacteria that cause disease (which developed as a result of the Fall) are the exceptions, not the rule. But what about viruses: what purpose could they possibly have?
The biblical record tells of a global Flood when all created kinds of unclean land animals were reduced to a population of two, the pair that was preserved with Noah on the Ark (Genesis 7). After the Flood, these animals reproduced and filled the earth again (Genesis 8:1519). Today, many of these kinds are represented by whole families. For example, the dog family (Canidae) is believed to represent a created kind. However, this is a very diverse group of animals. There are foxes that are adapted to living in the arctic, and others that live in the desert. There is incredible variety seen in modern domestic dog breeds. Where did all this variety come from? And how could it arise so quickly given that the Flood occurred around 4,300 years ago?
The answer to this puzzle is probably quite complex. Some of the variety would have been carried by the pair of animals on the Ark. When parents pass traits on to their offspring, these traits can appear in new combinations in the offspring (Mendelian genetics). Natural selection can weed some existing traits out of a population. However, a close examination reveals that genetic changes have also arisen in this time. Many of these changes do not appear accidental and do not directly cause disease. For this reason, some creationists have proposed that God “designed animals to be able to undergo genetic mutations which would enable them to adapt to a wide range of environmental challenges while minimizing risk.”
Isn’t That Evolution?
It is important to recognize that biologists use several distinct definitions for evolution that are often blurred together as if they are synonymous. Evolution is sometimes defined as “change in the genetic makeup (or gene frequency) of a population over time.” This has been observed; both creationists and evolutionists recognize this as important in building models to help us understand what likely happened in the past. A second definition of evolution involves the idea that all life descended from a common ancestor over millions of years through naturalistic processes. This has not been observed. In fact, it is in direct opposition to the testimony God (the eyewitness to creation) gives us in the Bible. The idea that all life has a common ancestor requires the assumption that the Bible’s history is false, and the assumption that changes which do occur could produce the variety of life we see today from a single-celled ancestor.
Diseases draw attention and research dollars, so the problems associated with transposons have been recognized before the benefits are understood (much like was true of bacteria). Many people still view these mobile genetic elements as “parasitic” or “selfish.” However, they are quite widespread in the genome of plants, animals, and man. If their insertion was always purely “random,” it seems they should more consistently cause problems in a complex system such as the genome. Therefore, it seems more logical to believe that transposons have purpose and were designed in a way to benefit their possessor.
The Bible Explains the Paradox
The biblical view explains an important paradox we see in the world around us. It anticipates the complexity that is constantly being uncovered by scientific research; God is an all-wise Creator and would be expected to use awesome design patterns and programming. It also explains the decay observed because mankind sinned and brought death into the world; the world is now in bondage to decay (Romans 8:2021). This is an exciting time to be a creationist researcher, as the tremendous volume of scientific research is helping to provide answers to questions that have been asked for decades.