Are Viruses An Example of Evolution In Real-Time Action?

Some defenders of evolution claim a virus is an example of evolution in action. I noticed it was one of the very first things brought up by a believer in Darwinism when I stated that if macro-evolution were true, it would not observable in real time. Unlike changes on a micro level we do see happening in real time within the species of it’s own kind. The micro level changes are certainly not a concept against creationism.

Now back to the topic, let’s take the latest well known virus, the H1N1 flu. Live Science got really excited and proclaimed, “Swine flu is evolution in action.” His reasoning was, if there is no change in the virus then evolution would be false.

A regular blogger in the blogger Huffington Post website stated…

“The swine flu is a virus that EVOLVED right in front of our eyes! It found a new way to survive. You would not need a new flu vaccine every winter if creationism was real. Heck, even when a new flu vaccine comes out, it’s already obsolete, because 2–3 more strains have already EVOLVED from the base flu strain the vaccine is based on.”

Contrary to what this blogger tries to imply, creationists do take viruses seriously, and do believe in the advancement of the medical field. Now his other implication, just mere changes doesn’t represent evolution, nor did the hype that somehow this virus would become a monster with the open border between Mexico (the source of the virus) and the United States.

So what sort of changes is Live Science really talking about? First of all, viruses do not create brand new information (which would be evolution) rather it steals from already existing DNA in order to survive. This is what happened to the swine flu virus.

“It appears the H1N1 swine flu may be a reassortment of the H (hemagglutinin) gene from typical North American pigs with the N (neuraminidase) and M (matrix) genes from European pigs,” Deems said.

Second of all, we see no new genetic information, just already-existing genetic information reshuffled which doesn’t enable the virus to create new encyclopaedic information and as a result, turns simple creatures into more complex living creatures. It’s not evolution in action!

Live Science does seem to be confused on what is living and what is non-living material. It tries to head off the criticism by saying…

“Viruses may be living or non-living, depending on the definition of life,” Deem explained. “”Viruses the host (pig or human) are definitely alive. So, this for sure is an example of evolution in the living system of the virus pig human.”

David Schaffer, a professor of chemical engineering and bioengineering at the University of California says otherwise…

“Viruses are not alive, in that they do not have the ability to replicate themselves independently, without infecting and relying upon a cell to do so,” Schaffer said. “That said, biological entities need not be alive in order to evolve.”

Despite what both had said, this ‘change’ is not enough to demonstrate a supposed evolutionary history of life on earth. And on a side note, Bacteria can change to become antibiotic resistant, by loosing some of it’s information rather than stealing it from another source.

2 thoughts on “Are Viruses An Example of Evolution In Real-Time Action?

  1. As I cannot say this any better, this is lifted straight from wikipedia:

    On macro- and microevolution:

    Within the Modern Synthesis school of thought, macroevolution is thought of as the compounded effects of microevolution. Thus, the distinction between micro- and macroevolution is not a fundamental one – the only difference between them is of time and scale. However, it should be noted that time is not a necessary distinguishing factor – macroevolution can happen without gradual compounding of small changes; whole-genome duplication can result in macroevolution occurring over a single generation – especially in plants. One of the most significant applications of this is found in the evolution of the vertebrates, which was mediated by duplications of the hox gene complex.

    The term “macroevolution” frequently arises within the context of the evolution/creation debate, usually brandished by creationists alleging a significant difference between the evolutionary changes observed in field and laboratory studies and the larger scale macroevolutionary changes that scientists believe to have taken thousands or millions of years to occur. They may accept that evolutionary change is possible within species (“microevolution”), but deny that one species can evolve into another (“macroevolution”).[1]

    These arguments are rejected by mainstream science, which holds that there is ample evidence that macroevolution has occurred in the past.[3][4] The consensus of the scientific community is that the alleged micro-macro division is an artificial construct made by creationists and does not accurately reflect the actual processes of evolution. Evolutionary theory (including macroevolutionary change) remains the dominant scientific paradigm for explaining the origins of Earth’s biodiversity. Its occurrence, while controversial with the public at large, is not disputed within the scientific community.

    While details of macroevolution are continuously studied by the scientific community, the overall theory behind macroevolution (i.e. common descent) has been overwhelmingly consistent with empirical data. Predictions of empirical data from the theory of common descent have been so consistent that biologists often refer to it as the “fact of evolution”.[5][6]

    Nicholas Matzke and Paul R. Gross have accused creationists of using “strategically elastic” definitions of micro- and macroevolution when discussing the topic.[1] The actual definition of macroevolution accepted by scientists is “any change at the species level or above” (phyla, group, etc.) and microevolution is “any change below the level of species.” Matzke and Gross state that many creationist critics define macroevolution as something that cannot be attained, as these critics describe any observed evolutionary change as “just microevolution”.[1]


    1. ^ a b c d Matzke, Nicholas J. and Paul R. Gross. 2006. Analyzing Critical Analysis: The Fallback Antievolutionist Strategy. In Eugenie Scott and Glenn Branch, Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools, Beacon Press, Boston ISNB:0807032786
    3. ^ a b c Macroevolution: Its definition, Philosophy and History
    4. ^ CB901: No Macroevolution
    5. ^ 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution: The Scientific Case for Common Descent, Douglas L. Theobald, TalkOrigins Archive, Vers. 2.83, 2004, 12 Jan, 2004.
    6. ^ Laurence Moran (1993). “Evolution is a Fact and a Theory”. TalkOrigins Archive. Retrieved on 2008-02-07.

  2. Michael: “Live Science got really excited and proclaimed, “Swine flu is evolution in action.” His reasoning was, if there is no change in the virus then evolution would be false.”

    You have misquoted the Live Science author. What he actually said was: “[i]f there’s no such thing as evolution, then there’s no such thing as a new strain of swine flu infecting people.”

    You seem utterly to fail to see the logical fallacy in your second sentence. For the mathematically challenged, let A=’there is no evolution i.e., change)’ Let B=’there is no change in the virus (i.e., no new strain.’ What the LS author asserted was “if A, then B.” What you assert, however, is “If B, then A.” The second assertion is the converse of the first, and does not logically follow from it. This elementary fallacy is known as affirming the consequent, or as the converse error.

    Why is it so easy to pick up these gaping lacunae in your arguments? It usually requires only a couple of minutes to spot something that destroys your conclusion. Do you really think no one will notice? Or are you speaking only to the zealots who are so blinded by faith that they have abandoned all reason? To paraphrase Dante’s Inferno, “Lasciate ogni scienza, voi ch’entrate.” (Sorry, the pun only works in Italian.)

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