Evolution and the origins of HIV

| 24 Comments

It can’t be said often enough that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” Moving from physical characteristics–color, bone shape, the form of bacterial cells–to genetic characteristics in order to classify organisms–and infer phylogenies–was a giant advance. That the molecular characteristics confirmed what was known using physical characteristics was a breakthrough, and allowed for more sophisticated analyses of organisms that don’t have bones or other easily-observable physical features that allow for simple classification into groups: microbes. I’ve previously pointed out the utility of phylogenetic analysis in tracking the spread of pathogens. A new study on the origin and evolution of HIV employs a similar approach in order to elucidate the history of the virus in Africa.

(Continued at Aetiology).

24 Comments

A fascinating article, Dr. Smith! Thank you for sharing it!

One question-what differentiates the various strains of HIV (M,N,O) from each other-is it the constituency of their viral coats?

So THAT is why Phillip E. Johnson has decided that HIV doesn’t cause AIDS. Evolution! How many more Eliza Janes will it take before science-deniers wisen up?

Doctors and other medical professionals may think evolution is superfluous to their profession, and may embrace “intelligent design” in greater numbers than biologists, but I think it’s only because they don’t even realize they are making evolutionary assumptions in the first place. Cases like this illustrate that seemingly trivial evolutionary assumptions are fundamental to most biological and medical research. In this case there is the implicit assumption that HIV did not spontaneously generate from thin air (because evolution operates on the assumption that living organisms, including viruses, come from pre-existing ones, with no miracles or intelligent designers required); there is the assumption that, since HIV is not closely related to other human viruses, it almost certainly came to humans from another animal (because living organisms, including viruses, are genetically similar to their closest evolutionary relatives due to their shared common ancestry); and there is the more explicit evolutionary assumption that it probably came from another primate, and probably one closely related to us, because a recent shared common ancestry makes us more genetically similar and thus susceptible to the same pathogens.

Uh, you mean HIV wasn’t whipped up in a secret U.S. bioweapons lab and then unleashed on Africa?

What?

What!?!?

V. pertinent topic. I have a list of questions and a final comment, Dr. Smith, anyone. 1). Are viruses closest to animal, mineral, or vegetable? 2). Are they invariably agents of disease and death? 3). Can they be properly said to be a life-form? 4). Is it possible they cause ageing by triggering defects during cell replacement in the body? 5). Have definitively virus fossil remains been identified? (The literature I read a decade ago was negative on this.) 6). How widespread are AIDS -type diseases in animals? Are they transmitted the same way as in humans? 7). “It can’t be said often enough that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’”. Would it be as true or even more accurate to say, “Nothing in microbiology and especially in viral science makes sense except in the light of virulent, runnaway mutation events”? 7). Apart from their remarkable properties relating to mutation, what property of viruses fits into the neo-darwinistic hypothesis? What part do they have with the Tree of Life, whether it be Darwin’s concept of the tree of life, any general biological reconstruction of a “tree of life”, or the biblical Tree of Life? Would they fit better on a “tree of death”?

The following quote from the Bible does not have time-connotation in relation to the microbiological events implicit in it, apart from specifying that mineral-mutating, evolving retrogression struck Mankind at a specific point in time. In other words, death and disease, with or without viruses, may have existed before Mankind. Adam became susceptible to them at a specific time. “Cursed is the ground [implicating minerals] for thy sake [because of your actions]; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it … thorns and thistles[implicating agents of entanglement and pain] shall it cause to bud [morph/mutate] to thee .… till thou return unto the ground .… .” Downright sobering. One might suppose that there is the “evolution” without which nothing in biology makes sense. Mineral-related mutation, and other types of mutation, gone mad, and out to get us and the higher forms of life.

*sigh*

1). Are viruses closest to animal, mineral, or vegetable? 2). Are they invariably agents of disease and death? 3). Can they be properly said to be a life-form? 4). Is it possible they cause ageing by triggering defects during cell replacement in the body? 5). Have definitively virus fossil remains been identified? (The literature I read a decade ago was negative on this.) 6). How widespread are AIDS -type diseases in animals? Are they transmitted the same way as in humans? 7). “It can’t be said often enough that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’”. Would it be as true or even more accurate to say, “Nothing in microbiology and especially in viral science makes sense except in the light of virulent, runnaway mutation events”? 7). Apart from their remarkable properties relating to mutation, what property of viruses fits into the neo-darwinistic hypothesis? What part do they have with the Tree of Life, whether it be Darwin’s concept of the tree of life, any general biological reconstruction of a “tree of life”, or the biblical Tree of Life? Would they fit better on a “tree of death”?

1 Huh? 2 No 3 Kinda 4 Probably not 5 No 6 Pretty widespread 7 No 8 What does that even mean?

The following quote from the Bible does not have time-connotation in relation to the microbiological events implicit in it, apart from specifying that mineral-mutating, evolving retrogression struck Mankind at a specific point in time. In other words, death and disease, with or without viruses, may have existed before Mankind. Adam became susceptible to them at a specific time. “Cursed is the ground [implicating minerals] for thy sake [because of your actions]; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it … thorns and thistles[implicating agents of entanglement and pain] shall it cause to bud [morph/mutate] to thee .… till thou return unto the ground .… .” Downright sobering.

BWA HA HA HA HA AHA HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Is this one of the things that, uh, gets, um, kudos at AIG?

BWA HA HA HA AH AHA HA HA AH AHA HA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I knew that there was link between chimps and HIV!

Mr Heywood - what earlier commentators might have said was that it would be a remarkable piece of scholarship if you could demonstrate that the various scribes who wrote what we now know as the Bible would have known about viruses as a cause of disease.

There’s a vast amount been published on biblical references to disease (just check out Medline for example) and there’s really no need to make things up that aren’t there.

That aside, there’s a lot of interesting research going on regarding the virus genome and virus evolution and while most of it is rather technical quite a lot is reasonably accessible to lay people like myself. Google mimivirus for example and see what comes up. Unfortunately you probably do need the technical bits to properly understand the arguments, but it’s still interesting as an example of how scientific understanding moves with the evidence. Read, enjoy.

1). Are viruses closest to animal, mineral, or vegetable? -Mineral. They are little more than bundles of molecules. They can’t even self-replicate. They can even be crystalized.

2). Are they invariably agents of disease and death? -Unknown. The only ones we pay attention to are the ones that cause disease. They are thought to play other roles, with the vast majority being harmless or even beneficial and thus ignored by the medical community, but I have not heard of a case where this has actually been seen in nature.

3). Can they be properly said to be a life-form? -Open to debate, but I mostly hear “no”. They are not capable of actually doing anything on their own, they simply force a cell to do the work for them. They are not capable of reproducing, carrying out any sort of chemical reaction, or having any sort of direct impact on their internal or external environemnt. These are generally considered necessary (albiet not necessarily sufficient) qualities in order for something to be considered a “life-form”

4). Is it possible they cause ageing by triggering defects during cell replacement in the body? -Possibly, but I have never heard of a virus that accelerates aging and individuals age even without viruses, so it is unlikely. It would confer no selective advantage to the virus, at best doing nothing and at worst (the more likely scenario) shortening the life span of the host and thus making it less likely for them to spread to other hosts. I am also not clear as to exactly what mechanism a virus could use to cause aging. What we term “aging” is really a combination of a wide variety of time-related issues, I would be extremely surprised if one virus could cause all those seemingly unrelated effects commonly associated with aging. One or two, yes, but not all of them.

5). Have definitively virus fossil remains been identified? (The literature I read a decade ago was negative on this.) -viruses are small, far smaller than the smallest cell. Even if virus fossils were everyone, which I doubt, we would probably not be able to find them because they are so small. Any easily recognizable fossil features would likely be too small to be fossilized. Although it is possible, I would be very surprised.

6). How widespread are AIDS -type diseases in animals? Are they transmitted the same way as in humans?

-AIDS-type? Do you mean immunodifficieny viruses or retroviruses? Retroviruses are relatively rare in animals, and I know little about immunodifficiency viruses outside of primates.

7). “It can’t be said often enough that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’”. Would it be as true or even more accurate to say, “Nothing in microbiology and especially in viral science makes sense except in the light of virulent, runnaway mutation events”?

-I assume by “virulent, runnaway mutation events” you mean viruses. It is not clear that is what they are. There are some who think viruses may have been a beneficial gene transfer system that got out of control. And although viruses have a huge impact on microbiology, it has not yet been demonstrated in any reliable way that they are an essential component. They may be, but we have done a very good job of figuring out microbiology with little help from viruses until relatively recently. The most important impact viruses have had is in reverse transcriptase, but this is simply an analysis tool.

7). Apart from their remarkable properties relating to mutation, what property of viruses fits into the neo-darwinistic hypothesis? What part do they have with the Tree of Life, whether it be Darwin’s concept of the tree of life, any general biological reconstruction of a “tree of life”, or the biblical Tree of Life? Would they fit better on a “tree of death”?

-There is no “tree of death”. Where viruses fit phylogenically is a matter of great debate. Many think that viruses split of from their hosts, or relatives of their hosts, directly, meaning many of our viruses would have more in common with us than they would with many viruses of birds, for instance. They might be a beneficial gene transfer system that went haywire, or evolutionarily-generated genetic parasites that developed the ability to move to knew cells. Of course something like influenza is found in a wide variety of organisms, would this be due to convergent evolution or a single virus that spread and then specialized? Although it may be known for influenza, I am not that familiar with the details of its phylogeny, it is certainly a question for some viruses.

On the other extreme, some people think that viruses predate cellular life entirely, and that they ultimately developed into pathogens when cellular life evolved and began to outcompete them. Under this hypothesis the viruses today are mere shells, pardon the pun, of what they once were, having degenerated because their free-living ancestors could not compete with the more versatile cells. If this is the case this would put their status as non-life-forms more into question, but this hypothesis appears pretty far from the mainstream. But that doesn’t make it wrong, it is testable and additional information needed to test it is currently being sought.

These ideas are also not mutually exclusive, it is possible that we are incorrectly lumping two or more completely different biological groups into one due to them evolving convergently and thus appearing very similar dispite have wildly different ancestries (it wouldn’t be the first time we had done this).

Uh, you mean HIV wasn’t whipped up in a secret U.S. bioweapons lab and then unleashed on Africa?

Bioweapon, no, but there is sad irony that some evidence points to early smallpox vaccination programs in east Africa as being the possible engine that fueled the original breakout.

Smallpox vaccinations of the time used a needle dipped into a vaccine, and that needle would then be jabbed lightly into the skin of the person being vaccinated about a dozen times.

Since the needles and vaccine vials would be used many times, a good bit of care was necessary to avoid cross-contamination (a problem with multiple dose vaccine vials to this day, even in the cleanest of settings).

Comparisons of AIDS patterns in the 80’s and vaccinations in the 50’s has led to speculation that poorly trained health care workers may have inadvertently spread enough of the virus around during mass inoculations to give it the critical mass to break out.

This would solve one of the great mysteries of AIDS, namely, how did it get a good foothold in the first place, since it’s actually quite a difficult disease to transmit through an average community.

Todd wrote:

1). Are viruses closest to animal, mineral, or vegetable? -Mineral. They are little more than bundles of molecules. They can’t even self-replicate. They can even be crystalized.

3). Can they be properly said to be a life-form? -Open to debate, but I mostly hear “no”. They are not capable of actually doing anything on their own, they simply force a cell to do the work for them. They are not capable of reproducing, carrying out any sort of chemical reaction, or having any sort of direct impact on their internal or external environemnt. These are generally considered necessary (albiet not necessarily sufficient) qualities in order for something to be considered a “life-form”

_________________

Viruses contain nucleic acids and they evolve. They may be a “bundle of molecules”, but so are we. They are reproductive parasites. Like many parasites they may have become progressively simplified.

“They are not capable of actually doing anything on their own, they simply force a cell to do the work for them. They are not capable of reproducing, carrying out any sort of chemical reaction, or having any sort of direct impact on their internal or external environemnt.” Forcing a cell to do work seems like the virus is doing something. As for carrying out a chemical reaction, they replicate and synthesize proteins, both with the necessary assistance of the host. Finally, they certainly have a ‘direct’ impact on their environment - ever had a cold? This impact, by the way evolves. Viruses that produce a specific impact on the host (think ‘sneeze’) spread more easily.

Viruses are alive. They evolved in some manner from the same set of ancestors as we did. They, like all living things, are our cousins, albeit very distant cousins.

The ability to undergo evolutionary changes doesn’t make them living things. A virus doesn’t metabolize anything, a virus doesn’t reproduce (instead it self-destructs, and the cell it happens to be stuck on builds new viruses, which is rather like saying robots reproduce because people make more of them when they break). A set of proteins can undergo evolutionary changes like a virus can. That doesn’t make prions living things. The appeal to the virus’s “ability” to force cells into action is rather like saying that mercury has the ability to force DNA to break up. Mercury also has an effect on the environment, by causing cancers like a cold virus causes colds. Mercury combines with certain chemicals in the body, does this mean Mercury is metabolizing and carrying out the chemical reactions necessary for life? I wouldn’t call them parasites so much as particularly bossy bits of debris. There are several version of the “Essential characteristics of life” checklist, some of which even preclude viruses by making the possession of cells a requirement. Assuming we ignore that particular idea, viruses fall short on their inability to reproduce and their apparent lack of metabolism. Most of the lists generally include those two requirements. I haven’t heard of a virus that can metabolize substances, but no virus can “reproduce.” Instead, I think it would be better to say that the leftover bits are used by an outside agent to “replicate” the original as closely as possible. The virus itself doesn’t do anything other than explode, from that point on the cell does the rest.

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Heywood Wrote:

1). Are viruses closest to animal, mineral, or vegetable?

None of the above. Why would they need to be closest to any of these? More outmoded typological thinking.

2). Are they invariably agents of disease and death?

No, of course not. There are many viruses that replicate without causing illness or death. In fact, there is a good deal of evidence that some of them have been important in creating genetic change that has advanced the evolution of the immune system, for one. In other words, some viruses have not only not been “agents of death,” but in fact uniquely important for the preservation and enhancement of life.

3). Can they be properly said to be a life-form?

That depends on the definition of “life” applied. What is important to note is that they can only replicate by hijacking the genetic material of organisms that clearly are alive. Viruses thus may represent a transitional form between self-replicating nucleic material and life.

4). Is it possible they cause ageing by triggering defects during cell replacement in the body?

Sure, it’s possible. It’s also possible that free radicals, thymine dimerization due to UV exposure, and telomere shortening have a similar effect. It would depend on how the virus replicates itself, for one thing.

5). Have definitively virus fossil remains been identified? (The literature I read a decade ago was negative on this.)

Yes. The genetic material of many viruses is “fossilized” inside the genomes of many a prokaryote and eukaryote. Transposons, for one, are likely artifacts of viruses.

6). How widespread are AIDS -type diseases in animals? Are they transmitted the same way as in humans?

What is an “AIDS-type” disease? Other retroviruses? Yes. Diseases that cause immune deficiencies in animals? Yes. You’ll have to define an “AIDS-type” disease before this question can be answered.

7). “It can’t be said often enough that ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’”. Would it be as true or even more accurate to say, “Nothing in microbiology and especially in viral science makes sense except in the light of virulent, runnaway mutation events”?

No, that’s a ridiculous and leading question, and one that could only be asked by someone with a complete ignorance of what mutations are, most likely in the service of some other agenda. Hey, waddya know…

What, exactly, are “runnaway mutation events?” Mutations are discreet events; a mutation is a change in the genetic code in a germ line that in turn changes the way in which peptides are incorporated into proteins. They can’t be “runnaway events” anymore than dropping a bowling ball on your foot can be a “runnaway event” of gravity. You assertion is just plain silly.

7). Apart from their remarkable properties relating to mutation, what property of viruses fits into the neo-darwinistic hypothesis? What part do they have with the Tree of Life, whether it be Darwin’s concept of the tree of life, any general biological reconstruction of a “tree of life”, or the biblical Tree of Life? Would they fit better on a “tree of death”?

Again, more babble from Heywood. Tree of death? Gee, have you been reading Kenneth Grant’s re-interpretation of the Qabbalistic qlippoth? Could our Philip be a closet occultist? This whole thing certainly does smack of the same variety of ooga-booga.

As far as what part viruses have in the “tree of life,” by which I will generously assume that you mean phylogenetics, I again refer to the existance of transposons, satellite DNA, and any number of other well-documented phenomena of the genome that you would certainly understand if you had any knowledge of the material which you take it upon yourself to question. Really, if you want to participate in discussions about these topics, it would be a good idea to have some knowledge of them first rather than blurting out questions that don’t offer anything definitive to answer more than half the time.

The following quote from the Bible does not have time-connotation in relation to the microbiological events implicit in it, apart from specifying that mineral-mutating, evolving retrogression struck Mankind at a specific point in time.

Minerals can’t mutate. What the heck are you talking about? Only things that have some mechanism for tranlating genetic information into polypeptides can mutate. Get with the program!

In other words, death and disease, with or without viruses, may have existed before Mankind.

Uhhhhhh, yeah… what’s with the “may”? Of course death and disease existed before mankind. Otherwise we’d be out fishing for trilobites.

Adam became susceptible to them at a specific time. “Cursed is the ground [implicating minerals] for thy sake [because of your actions]; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it … thorns and thistles[implicating agents of entanglement and pain] shall it cause to bud [morph/mutate] to thee .… till thou return unto the ground .… .”

And again, babble. It’s just a story, Phil. Deal with that and you’ll have made some progress toward escaping the Middle Ages. This is utterly twisted reasoning. Unless, of course, you can tell us the Ancient Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic word for “virus,” because clearly something that had been known by the authors of Genesis could have been described in clear terms if they knew anything about it rather than having to wait around for someone to go through a bunch of semantic gymnastics to describe it.

Downright sobering. One might suppose that there is the “evolution” without which nothing in biology makes sense. Mineral-related mutation, and other types of mutation, gone mad, and out to get us and the higher forms of life.

I think the only mineral-related mutation here might have something to do with a high lead content in your drinking water.

GT(N)T Wrote:

They may be a “bundle of molecules”, but so are we.

No, there is a distinct difference. We are bundles of constantly reacting molecules. When the chemical reactions in our body stop, that is what we term “death”. The molecules a virus contain do not react. They just sit there. They cannot react as long as they are in the virus. They only begin to undergo chemical reactions when they leave the virus and enter a living cell. Any “living thing” that has the rate of chemical reaction of a virus would be called “dead”.

GT(N)T Wrote:

They are reproductive parasites. Like many parasites they may have become progressively simplified.

That does not make them alive. Prions are reproductive parasties, but I doubt anyone would claim a single protein could be considered alive. Nor would I think anyone could consider a single molecule of non-coding RNA (doesn’t make any proteins) to be “alive”, yet there is a reproductive pathogen called a “viroid” that is just that. Viral complexity is far, far below even the simplest cell, far below even the simplest hypothetical original cell (even the hypothetical original cell was at least capable of doing some form of chemical reaction on its own, viruses can’t).

GT(N)T Wrote:

Forcing a cell to do work seems like the virus is doing something.

No. They are capable of doing nothing on their own. Anything a virus needs done a cell must do for it.

GT(N)T Wrote:

As for carrying out a chemical reaction, they replicate and synthesize proteins, both with the necessary assistance of the host.

No, they don’t. Their host replicates them and synthesizes their proteins. They don’t actually do any of it, the cell is the one that does all that.

GT(N)T Wrote:

Finally, they certainly have a ‘direct’ impact on their environment - ever had a cold?

That is not the virus’s impact. The virus simply forces the cell to have an impact on the environment. It does have an impact on the environment, but unlike cells and other living things that are capable of directly influencing the environment through their own actions (even parasites can do this), viruses can only have an indirect impact by forcing something else to alter the environment for them. They cannot actually alter the environment on their own.

GT(N)T Wrote:

Viruses that produce a specific impact on the host (think ‘sneeze’) spread more easily.

Viruses do not make you sneeze. Viruses force cells to replicate them, which causes cellular damage, which irritates the mucous membrans in the nose, which causes you to sneeze. The virus does not cause you to sneeze, the virus forces cells to cause you to sneeze. The effect on the environment is indirect, it must act through a host cell. It cannot do anything on its own. On the other hand even bacterial parasites like V. cholerae or E. coli are capable of synthesizing their own toxins without the aid of their host. They directly alter the chemical content of the environment in which they find themselves. Any and all cells are capable of having some sort of influence on the environment through their own actions. Viruses are not capable of any action of their own, they can only have a cell do actions for them. A virus cannot carry out chemical reactions on its own, it can only force cells to do them for it. Ultimately that is the major difference between viruses and living things. Any living thing, even the simplest parasite or simplest free-living organism, is capable of doing something on its own, even the simplest chemical reactions.

Viruses are not, they cannot do anything whatsoever on their own. They are not capable of carrying out any chemical reactions. Everything must be done for them by the host. Nothing we define as life has that requirement. Everything we generally term as “alive” has the ability to do something, anything on its own. Nothing we define as alive (besides viruses for some people), are absolutely depedendent on their hosts for absolutely even the simplest chemical reaction. This would put them more in the lines of prions or viroids, things I do not think anyone would consider “alive” (certainly not prions, I have not heard as much about viroids since I do not think there are any known viroids that infect people).

GT(N)T Wrote:

Viruses are alive. They evolved in some manner from the same set of ancestors as we did. They, like all living things, are our cousins, albeit very distant cousins.

As I said, there is a great deal of debate on that. Many scientists think viruses evolved from us (or our relatives or ancestors), that they are just rogue bits of our own DNA that got loose and are causing us trouble.

Otherwise we’d be out fishing for trilobites…

Mmmm, Triolbyte chowder, Just like great great grandma Eve used to make.

Eden style. (like Manhattan style, but crunchier).

Takes me back…

Stevatoni Wrote:

Mmmm, Triolbyte

What’s that, some sort of new-fangled unit of computer memory?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

I’ve been away. I wasn’t fishing for trilo’s. It’s a privelege to have a page visited by a scientist. The possibility of different classes of organisms perhaps having differences in their attendant viruses is enlightening. What you say rings true.

Much of the argument about whether viruses are alive is reminiscent of the Creationist argument that there are fundamental breaks in the continuity of life. They (the more honest Creationists) say that God created the several ‘kinds’ independently. They say that man is unrelated to ‘lower’ organisms. Creationists would certainly agree that viruses are not alive.

Viruses possess nucleic acids. Viruses evolve. Those two traits are how I define life. If you have a different definition you will reach a different conclusion.

By the way, I don’t mean to suggest that you are a Creationist. Your explanation requires no supernatural cause. We’re arguing about definitions not religion.

Heywood Wrote:

The possibility of different classes of organisms perhaps having differences in their attendant viruses is enlightening. What you say rings true.

I’m surprised you haven’t heard about this before. It’s a very well-documented phenomenon and an important demonstration of evolution in action at the molecular level.

The important thing is not that different “classes” of organisms have different attendant viruses. What is important is that we can find bits of viral DNA from viruses that normally infect only animals that aren’t human contained in our own genome. This is oversimplifying quite a bit, but as you hadn’t heard of this before, it wouldn’t make much sense to get into granular (as granular as I can, anyhow; others here know far more about it than I do) detail.

When a virus gets into our genome, we replicate its DNA along with our own. Some of the DNA that we inherit from our parents thus isn’t human DNA at all, insofar as it didn’t arise within our own genome. The interesting bit is that we can find these viral genomes in some, but not all, other primates, depending on when we and they split from a common ancestor. If the common ancestor had this viral DNA in its genome, so will its descendants. Thus, we can find apes and humans with common viral DNA that we both inherited from a common ancestor. We can find viral DNA common to other mammals and all primates because their common ancestor got infected. This DNA can serve as a kind of clock that demonstrates how distant two taxa are from one another and give us a pretty good idea of how long ago they split. The more organisms whose genomes we map, the more we find these molecular tags and the better our picture of the course of evolutionary history. The information coming from this field is conclusive enough to cause some basic shifts in phylogeny, but none of it has been anything other than supporting evidence for evolution. Its fine-tuning, and nothing that suggests that the model is anything less than very solid and becoming moreso all the time.

It’s also the kind of thing that leads me to the conclusion that those who deny evolutionary biology are either being dishonest or not playing with quite a full deck. When they talk about “controversy,” its a controversy that they are themselves trying to manufacture. There is no controversy amongst serious scientists that evolution has, and still is, occurring. Whenever a new discovery, such as the MANY that are coming out of molecular bio currently, causes a revision that makes the model more accurate, Dembski and his sorry foot soldiers trumpet it as evidence that the model has been shown to be less accurate. It’s intellectual dishonesty of the most base nature, and you would do very well not to propagate it by making assumptions and proclamations about matters that you obviously don’t have the evidence about.

Much of the argument about whether viruses are alive ..(snip).. Creationists would certainly agree that viruses are not alive.

The other great creationist bugaboo is the old argument about “How do you go from some molecules to (poof) the first microbe?”

While viruses don’t exactly fit that bill (since they still need a host to reproduce and hosts didn’t yet exist) they do inconveniently demonstrate that there are complex structures out there that, given the right conditions, can self replicate and - unlike simple chemical reactions - evolve.

And they don’t need to be alive to do it.

I’m surprised you haven’t heard about this before.

I’m not. (shrug)

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This page contains a single entry by Tara Smith published on June 1, 2006 3:30 AM.

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