Viruses intentionally choose how they infect

(Randy) #61

I am not a Biologos person either, but you might find the thread on Lamoureux interesting–regarding theodicy and evolutionary psychology, he believes that there is an intrinsic evidence of God from order in nature. Myself, I am a Christian, but I disagree with him here (while I agree in many other areas). If we were without excuse just by observing nature, then we wouldn’t have to have apologetics.

I don’t know how God is involved. Once, in talking with an atheist/agnostic professor in undergrad, I proposed to my dad that I thought that there were enough miracles evident in creation that it proves the evidence of the spiritual. My dad, who was one of the most godly men I have ever met, said no–most of the time we can’t prove God exists from empirical data. Miracles are pretty hard to prove. I finally saw the truth of what he said. The professor also expressed surprise and respect for a response he didn’t expect.

So–here’s the struggle–you sound like a Christian brother; and don’t mistake me–even if I disagree with the intelligent design folks, we are still believers and brothers and sisters, and learn gobs from each other. We both look at the universe like the blind men on the elephant, seeing what we can (“it is like a snake, or a tree” based on whether we touch a trunk or leg). Thanks for being on the discourse and discussing. God bless.

PS–I love geography and grew up overseas–may I ask what region in Europe you are from? Thanks.

(Martin R) #62

no, i am not kidding… yes, i really think that bundles of molecules can have “intentions” when you are skilled enough to design it that way.

I am an engineer, viruses looks to me like pre-programmed molecular nano-machines … i agree with those secular scientists who claim that viruses are not living things…

The one who created viruses had an intention. No doubts.


Do you think oxygen and hydrogen intend to combine together to make water? Is water the product of intention?

(George Brooks) #64


It is vastly different to say God has intentions… versus the idea that a boulder he created has intentions.

I think you would be safer with the former concept than the latter, and with the proviso that science is in no position to determine conclusively either position.


Then those intentions weren’t very kind. Retroviruses cause a lot of harm to many species. HIV is a retrovirus, and I am sure you don’t need any education as to the harm this retrovirus has caused the human species.

Also, this is nothing but an aside to the larger question. If retroviruses do have intent, then their intent is to insert all over the place in a genome. Scientists have run experiments where they let these retroviruses insert into the host genome and then map the viral insertions within the genome. This is what the data looks like:

Mitchel et al., 2004

The bars are the 22 human chromosomes and the X chromosome. The colored lollipops are the mapped insertions for 3 retroviruses: HIV, MLV, and ASLV. As you can see, they insert all over the place. Some viruses do show preferences for certain portions of the genome, but these portions make up a large percentage of the overall genome. For example:

So HIV does show a preference, but that preference is to areas with active transcription which makes up 45% of the genome. So 80% of the time it inserts into a pool of about 1.5 billion bases, and 20% of the time it inserts into the other pool of 1.5 billion bases.

As you can see, the chances of a retrovirus inserting at the same base in two genomes is extremely slim. This is why independent insertions can not explain humans and chimps sharing 99+% of their 200,000+ ERVs at the same base in each of their genomes. The only explanation is common ancestry, the very same reason that you and your siblings and cousins share the same ERVs.

Why Aren't the Twin Locations of >100k+ ERV's (human vs. chimp) Discussed More?
(Martin R) #66

very very bad analogy… but you guys using this bad analogy again and again…

a virus = multiple parts work in concert for a purpose = it is called design = a virus was created by a designer = the designer had an intention …

it is the same again and again … you guys keep trying to disprove the design in nature again and again … but it is not longer funny… after 150 years of extensive research you were unable to prove how multiple parts working in concert for a purpose can self-assemble (without a designer’s intention) i am an engineer… show me how a virus self-assembled (evolved), not in theory …


Atoms have multiple parts: neutrons, protons, and electrons.

Those parts work in concert to produce molecules.

Viruses do self assemble from the proteins that are transcribed. Perhaps you should read up on how viruses work.

(Martin R) #68

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I am an engineer… so show me how T4 bacteriophage self-assembled… show me, no more theories… 150 years gone, so please no more theories… show me… go to your lab and show me…

(Martin R) #69

see my post below - show me how the first T4 bacteriophage self-assembled …

(Martin R) #70

yes, people too self-assemble from proteins … please don’t play games with me… you know what i meant…

(Martin R) #71

atoms were designed too…

(Martin R) #72

i agree, but, the viruses are here, and the design is undeniable…

In regards to ERVs random insertions… i agree… i don’t believe that ERVs have been inserted independently across species … moreover, you have to count in other primates as well… when i got this right, ERVs insertions, it is not only humans and chimps, we share ERVs with other primates too … is that correct?

(A.M. Wolfe) #73

Hi again Martin,

Hopefully you’ll find this friendlier and more helpful.

You said English wasn’t your first language, so I want to help clarify something. I do most of my professional work in other languages so I have a lot of empathy for this.

In English when you say that something “has” “intention” to do something, that intention has to be its own intention, not a third party’s intention.

You keep saying, “Yes, but the virus’s designer had an intention.” That’s not the same thing in English as saying that the virus has intent or intention. If you say “the virus has intention,” it cannot mean “the virus has [evidence of] intention” or “the virus contains [the] intention [of others].”

No, in English to talk about a third party’s intention, the most natural thing is to say that a virus “is intended” to do something, using the passive voice. This locates the agency outside the virus itself, making the virus a passive participant in the process.

If you aim to prove this, you’ll probably meet a lot less hostile resistance in discussions here, though most participants here will probably still disagree with you. I think this simple linguistic issue is one of the reasons we keep dancing in circles here.



Do you think an intelligent being puts each viral particle together inside of a cell?

If you are interested, there are many papers on viral self assembly. A Google search will turn up tons of hits. Here is one of them:


I deny it. Guess it isn’t undeniable.

I would describe them as “recognizable shared ERVs”. Retroviruses infect many different vertebrate species, not just primates. Currently, there is a retrovirus that is spreading between koala bears that is producing new ERVs in that population.

The longer an ERV is in a genome the more mutations it accumulates and the more it can recombine with sequences around it. After many years it may not be easily recongized as an ERV. On top of that, genomes go through all sorts of recombination events so it can be difficult to find portions of the genome that are orthologous between distantly related species.


I don’t recall anyone “trying to disprove the design in nature.” From an EC view, design in nature is “plainly visible” through eyes of faith but is outside the domain of science as it lacks empirical, testable hypotheses. In other words, science cannot be used to prove or disprove design. I commend you for your enthusiasm in wanting to harmonize science and faith. Your perspective is valued and there are several here that I’m sure would be glad to participate in a respectful debate.

(Martin R) #77

so how it is possible, that we can clearly recognize 200,000 ERVs in chimp’s / human’s genome ?
or what did you mean with “after many years”… how many?

(Martin R) #78

i apologize for my bad English… this is a misunderstanding.

I meant, how the first virus emerged? i am aware of the escape theory, but again, just another theory… you are unable to prove it in the lab. All what you got are theories…

I understand how a virus self-assembles after it infected a cell … i know that viruses use cell’s molecular machinery to replicate.

But again, this is not what i meant… i was asking about the origin of viruses…

Recently i came across a pandoravirus article … scientists talk about 4th domain of life, i assume, because the escape theory does not fit … “Perhaps most striking, 93 percent of pandoraviruses’ 2,500 genes cannot be traced back to any known lineage in nature. In other words, they are completely alien to us.”

I am not an expert, but to explain the origin of cellular life is one thing, but to explain the origin of pandoravirus will be at least so difficult… these 2 things have nothing in common… am i right? So basically, you have to explain the origin of life twice…


They are more recent insertions that haven’t accumulated a lot of mutations. If memory serves, they use algorithms that look for certain repeats of DNA which are present in viral genomes, especially in the long tandem repeats (LTR’s) that serve as the promoters for the viral genome. If there are enough mutations in those regions then they will no longer detect it.


Do you have the same evidence for the design argument?

If we don’t know the ultimate origin of viruses, then we just don’t know. “I don’t know” is not a synonym for “it was designed”.