As icky as it sounds, and as horrible as they certainly can be, we all need parasites…
I apologise that this post isn’t at all a detailed critique or summary of the BBC radio discussion on the subject of parasitism (1). The podcast really is facinating, as they all are, and perhaps I’ll do it justice some time soon. Instead, in order to bolster my own commentary on selected episodes of the In Our Time ongoing series, I want to highlight, for your enlightenment and education, one thing in particular I discovered in relation to the Creation-Evolution debate.
A comment which stood out to me came from Steve Jones, Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College, London. In the course of the discussion it became apparent that although parasites in many cases are harmful and damaging, we as humans, and all of life, are often indebted to and reliant on them. As in all of life and the material universe, if we were minus even one of the many thousands of features, laws or conditions which are all around us and in us, we would not be here at all. And host Melvyn Bragg, asking one of those “I-wish-I-hadn’t-asked-that-question” questions, asked the Prof:
So you’re definitely saying that sometimes parasites can have a positive and good effect?
The answer was one of defense: defense of a world-view and a heart-condition; a reaction to a percieved attack:
“Well the trouble is that words like ‘positive’ and ‘good’ don’t really belong in biology-it turns into ‘theology’ then.“
We can sum this comment up in one word: bias. Or we could call it “intentional ignorance”, or we could call it the language of propaganda. More than that, we need to ask if we are to assume that cancer is not “bad”, and that the rispiritory system, with all its wonders, is not “good”?
We’re led to believe that scientists have disproved the existence of God-which is actually impossible, and in my view akin to not seeing the wood for the trees. Instead they claim that the’ve scientifically shown how everything came into existence by itself and evolved all on its own. The more correct truth is that scientists, including those who may quietly be questioning the politically correct view of origins and evolution are all but forbidden to even suggest the possibility that there could be the remotest chance that there may just be something to that “God” thing.
Stephen Meyer writes about a guiding principle of evolutionary science in his book, “Darwin’s Doubt” (2). “Methodological naturalism”, aka “methodological materialism” is a presumed rule of science, he says. It asserts that to qualify as scientific, a theory must explain phenomena and events in nature…by reference to strictly material causes only:
“According to this principle, scientists may not invoke the activity of a mind or, as one philosopher of science puts it, any “creative intelligence”.
Evolutionary science intentionally dismisses the remotest suggestion of Creation and possibility of intelligent design. No researcher or professor who wants to keep his job or his tenure or funding, or even his girlfriend, can factor any hint of divinity or design into his work or his pronouncements. The most polite designation by evolutionists for these two views of science and anything like them, held by many fine scientists and scientifically trained individuals in the Creation and Intelligent Design movements, is that they are “unscientific”.
Meyer also relates a now famous (or infamous) quote by Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin, laying out his own version of the “ban God” rule:
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs…because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”
Thanks for reading. This post is an edited version of an earlier one.
1: BBC Radio 4 “In Our Time”: “Parasitism”-broadcast January 26th 2017.
2: DARWIN’S DOUBT: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. See also the follow-up, “Debating Darwin’s Doubt” in which Meyer answers his critics.