Monday, August 16, 2010

God, Bob and Dermatobia hominis

Bob is a young earth creationist, and believes that the creation of account found in Genesis is a word-for-word description of how the universe came to be. Bob believes that the book of Genesis is fact:

If evolution isn't true, and God personally crafted each species for a particular niche on this planet, then what does this tell us about God?

It tells us that God has a sick mind.

Examine the family of insects that fall in the order Oestridae. They are commonly known as botflies, a group of large stout bodied flies that resemble bumblebees. They have an interesting characteristic: They are true parasites. If you don't know, a parasite is an animal or plant that lives in or on a host, another animal or plant, and obtains nourishment from the host without benefiting or killing the host.

Among the 150 known species of botflies is Dermatobia Hominis, also known as the human botfly. The life cycle of a human botfly is, in a word, revolting. An adult botfly ambushes a mosquito in mid-flight. While holding the mosquito captive, the botfly lays eggs on the underside of the mosquito's wings. Once the mosquito is freed, it goes on its merry way, looking for a human blood supply. If you are fortunate enough to be bitten by a mosquito carrying Dermatobia's eggs, your body heat causes the eggs to release from the wings and land on your skin. The eggs hatch and release a maggot, who promptly burrow into your flesh, surviving by eating your skin and muscle. The maggot will live inside a human being for six weeks.

Does the very thought of the Botfly make your skin crawl? Probably.

Here's the rub: In Job 38:4-5, God states that He determined the size of the earth. God took measurements, laid pillars and sank cornerstones. But if Job is to be taken as literally as Bob believes, then God designed, planned, and implemented the existence of the human botfly.

Why would God do such a thing? Why would God create the botfly, who can only survive by eating the living flesh of human beings? And it gets worse: Human beings are host to far more than 100 parasite species, with quite a few of these only found in humans. Isn't it the sign of a disturbed mind to create something so horrific?

So if Bob is going to claim that God created the universe as-is, he must argue that God created all the parasites, including blood flukes, tape worms, and Guinea worms. But Bob won't, because he is selling a super-happy-fun version of God, unwilling to give facts and account for the horror God allegedly created.


Pat said...

There are so many problems with the creationist position, that it would take many posts to begin to scratch the surface. Don’t worry: I’m not going to submit many posts. Instead, I’ll briefly summarize one problem and maybe continue the list as appropriate.
First, as a body of knowledge, science, although currently divided into many specialties and subspecialties, nevertheless strives to form a coherent whole. By this, I mean that it’s not satisfactory for a theory (in the technical sense) in one domain, say biology, to be inconsistent with a theory in another domain, say physics. Although a biologist and a physicist work in their respective domains, where there’s contact between the two domains, the two must cohere. Now, one of the problems with the creationist approach to public discourse (and Bob is in this camp), is that the proponents think it’s sufficient to attack the theory of evolution by trying to distort the evidence within the realm of biology. In fact, to present a credible case, they’d have to explain how it is that all the evidence in physics, chemistry and a host of other sciences is also misinterpreted, since it is perfectly consistent with and supports the theory of evolution. The problem here (besides the enormity of the task) is that to carry out a refutation successfully, they wouldn’t be able to use concepts that people like Bob regularly use: no mention of DNA, atoms, etc. , because those concepts make up the larger framework that accommodates the theory of evolution. So for creationists to be right, this edifice would have to be a house of cards that must all come tumbling down.
This is necessary for them to carry the day, not only with respect to showing that the theory of evolution doesn’t have nearly the explanatory force all the rest of us think it does, but because they’re not merely detached observers who claim to notice something wrong with current scientific practices: they have an alternative candidate they’d like to put forward, the biblical account. This presents its own problem, because, if they accept DNA, say, as a correct account of certain biological features, they’d have to explain things like Christ’s DNA. What was that? Half Mary’s and half…hmm, that’s a problem. None Mary’s and…hmm, different problem.
To summarize my summary, then: the problem is to show why all of science is mistaken and to propose an alternative account and set of practices that stand alone and apart from current science.

Irl Hudnutt said...


Exactly. For creationism to be true, the rules for all the other sciences would have to be completely rewritten. Creationism cannot account for the cohesive picture produced across the scientific disciplines, from geology to astronomy to biology.

That's the dirty little secret: Promoters of creationism don't want to "teach the controversy" they want to suppress a coherent picture for an incoherent one.

And make a quick buck doing so.

Pat said...

That’s right. Further, it’s not possible to "teach the controversy," because there is in fact no controversy. The theory of evolution (which Bob, btw, doesn’t realize has a slightly broader scope than Darwin’s understanding of natural selection) is a matter of settled scholarly consensus. That a someone with, say, a “doctorate” in theology from a non-accredited private school that doesn’t make theses available for public scrutiny and his radio host interlocutor don’t accept the theory really doesn’t qualify as a controversy. Occasionally entertaining inanity, yes; controversy, no.

Mohsin said...

Hi, Iri;

who can only survive by eating the living flesh of human beings?

As Sharon Mottola, director of the Belize Zoo, has noted, jungle dwellers like monkeys and jaguars are the primary hosts of the botfly; incredible little bastards that they are, the flesh of ANY mammal can suffice. I don't claim to have all the answers-thus yours truly is equally ineffective at being both a Biblical literalist and a Hitchens thumper-nonetheless, using the same logic put forth in your article one could just as well exalt the Maker of Life's remarkable sagacity, for parasites have played a pivotal if not altogether decisive role in the formation of life as we know it.