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Wallaby_1I have an ongoing debate here at work with an coworker who never tires of looking for reasons to support materialistic atheism evolution – yesterday, he brought up the topic of viruses, and how they obviously are a mechanism that moves evolution forward.  Of course, like natural selection and adaptation, the functions of viruses can easily be explained within a Creationist framework – in fact, as the two articles below argue, viruses and transposable elements (TEs) are not selfish genes that inadvertently move genetics forward, but part of the normal repair and functioning of life – i.e. they were designed as part of a wholistic, self-repairing and self-replicating system.

Viruses are Good?

In Did God make pathogenic viruses?, the author argues that viruses are part of the original design of life.

It is concluded that viruses are non-living entities, similar to seeds and spores whose functions include carrying genes from one plant or animal to another. Viruses are a part of a system that helps to produce the variety that is critical for life and, importantly, they carry resistance to disease from one organism to another. Most viruses live in their host without causing problems. Pathogenesis is evidence of something gone wrong, a mutation or the accidental movement of genes, and not evidence of a system deliberately designed to cause human disease and suffering.

Again, I have to stress, just because the mechanism of viruses can transfer genetic material between species does not mean that this mechanism made macro-evolution work – like natural selection, this behavior is more likely to preserve a species by keeping it’s original genome intact, and any variation from that almost universally leads to pathology, not some new advantage.  Mutations are nearly universally deletrious, not some miracle that leads to greater health and complexity.

Transposable Elements are Not Opportunistic, Junk DNA

In Jumping Wallaby Genes and Post-Flood Speciation, the author discusses current research that indicates that TEs are used in adaptation of a species, allowing it to change enough to lead to further species within that kind.  Note that speciation is not macro-evolution – it is merely variation or adaptation within a kind – to make the jump to macro-evolution requires a step of faith for which there is no evidence.

Based on evolutionary presupposition, jumping genes were initially believed to be simply ‘selfish’ DNA with the sole function of self-perpetuation, and with no apparent use to the host (junk!). But lately, molecular biologists have been unveiling crucial functions for these elements. For example, retroelements have been found to play an important role in regulating gene expression (switching genes on and off) and in the repair of chromosomes. In addition, an Australian research group has now proposed that retroelements are involved in mammalian speciation.