I read a nice review article on viral evilution this weekend that really highlighted, for me, how clueless Creationists (especially Intelligent Design Creationists) are about evilution.

Antiviral resistance and impact on viral replication capacity: evolution of viruses under antiviral pressure occurs in three phases.

As we saw the last time IDiots tried to talk about HIV-1, Their Arguments Regarding Design focus on mutations rates– HIV needs to make X mutations to escape a drug, HIV needs to make Y mutations to become climb a fitness peak, etc.

What theyre talking about (what theyre clueless about) is a genetic barrier. Lets say you have three antiretrovirals that act on protease. HIV-1 only needs to change one amino acid to become resistant to Protease Inhibitor A. It needs to make two amino acid changes to become resistant to Protease Inhibitor B. It needs to make 50 amino acid changes to escape Protease Inhibitor C.

Of course, Protease Inhibitor C is the best option. As Ive already pointed out to teh IDiots, HIV-1 exists as a quasispecies, thus when you treat someone with antiretrovirals, there are already members of their viral population that are resistant. Its just a matter of keeping resistance and rebuilding viral fitness after that. Drugs A and B have low genetic barriers.

Thus, according to Creationists, if you treat a patient with a drug that requires 50 amino acid changes to become resistant, evolution around that drug is impossible, thus youve cured AIDS (also, proved Jesus, or something).

The problem with this kind of thinking is that its myopic.

1– Yes, changing 50 amino acids in protease might be one solution to the ‘problem’ of Drug C.

But there might be a shortcut.

Like, instead of making those 50 changes in protease, what if HIV-1 discovers it can deal with a crippled protease, if it alters the target of protease. Alters the cleavage site in gag. Forget changing protease at all, cause it found an easier answer in a different location that we didnt think about before. Which is exactly what HIV-1 does in real life, in real patients. You put up an insurmountable genetic barrier, and HIV-1 burrows under it.

2– This genetic barrier thing might be new to Creationists, but its not new to HIV-1 researchers. The second we had two different antivirals, we tried giving them both to patients– increasing the genetic barrier. Now we usually give them three different classes of drugs. Three different barriers. Weve also tried Mega HAART. No, that isnt a joke. Mega HAART is like regular HAART, with even more drugs. Raising the genetic barrier as high as we can with todays technology. We gave kids who had already failed antiviral therapy (three drugs) up to 7-8 more drugs. At once. HIV-1 had to figure out a way to become resistant to 10-11 drugs. Surely, an insurmountable genetic barrier!

Guess what.

Guess.

Youll never guess.

The kids werent cured.

They certainly did better– the new drugs slapped down their viral loads. But they were not cured. The drugs werent sterilizing. Because even though all those drugs made a huge genetic barrier for HIV-1 and were therefore sterilizing in a culture dish, that doesnt mean they will have the same effect in the human body. Drug 1 doesnt get to the brain– brain HIV-1 are safe from it there. Drug 2 doesnt get in the testes– testicle HIV-1 are safe there. Drug 3 doesnt like to cross this barrier or that, Drug 4 crosses that barrier but not this. Humans are a mess inside. HIV-1 capitalizes on that.

Creationists have long argued that they cant imagine X. Therefore, Jesus.

But the evolution of HIV-1, once again, demonstrates why what they are doing is very, very stupid. Technically, their ‘world view’ would be deadly in the real world, if they were ‘in charge’.

Therefore, Raptor Jesus.

Comments

  1. #1 charles soper
    August 18, 2009

    Thanks for your helpful debunking of shallow objections, even if your characterisations are stereotypical.

  2. #2 Jared
    August 18, 2009

    I had an argument today with someone convinced (strangely enough) that evolution and quantum physics prove Jesus…. It was kind of a Gish Gallop.

  3. #3 Moderately Unbalanced Squid
    August 18, 2009

    ERV, as always, you entertain and inform with wonderfully sarcastic style.

  4. #4 minimalist
    August 18, 2009

    Thanks for your helpful debunking of shallow objections, even if your characterisations are stereotypical.

    Well, when the day comes that creationist arguments are neither shallow nor stereotypical…

  5. #5 The Curmudgeon
    August 18, 2009

    I donno, Abbie. That ol’ Lake of Fire is gonna hurt.

  6. #6 Mobius
    August 18, 2009

    To think, the number of times a creationist has told me that modern medicine has no connections to the theory of evolution…none whatsoever.

    Yeah, right.

  7. #7 Optimus Primate
    August 18, 2009

    Brilliantly and succinctly put, Abbie.

    The one thing I’m left curious about is this:

    Drug 1 doesnt get to the brain– brain HIV-1 are safe from it there. Drug 2 doesnt get in the testes– testicle HIV-1 are safe there. Drug 3 doesnt like to cross this barrier or that, Drug 4 crosses that barrier but not this.

    Would you mind doing a post with a little more depth on this? Or if you’ve already covered this and I forgot it, post a link?
    :)

  8. #8 William Wallace
    August 18, 2009

    Great post on micro-evolution.

    Also, I already told you how to cure HIV. Create an environment in the host that favors an intelligently modified version of HIV, with said modified version having some additional weakness designed in, and introduce it to the host. Let the modified HIV take over, then kill it, using the designed in weakness.

    Intelligently designed survival (and destruction) of the fittest.

  9. #9 Dennis
    August 18, 2009

    How many amino acids would need to be mutated for HIV to be able to tapdance past condoms?

  10. #10 Cain
    August 19, 2009

    WW, One concern I would have with your solution is that even if you started with a homogenous population of “intelligently designed” HIV it would quickly evolve in to a quasispecies. That’s just the reality of RNA replication. One variant would be immune to your built in weakness. The result of treatment would be the initial crash of the wild variety followed by a crash of the designed version, finally there would be the horrific resurgence of the designed version. The final version would necessarily be immune to our current treatments and immune to your treatment. It would be 1982 all over again….so…yes…your way would work, by killing the person in which the HIV lives.

  11. #11 rrt
    August 19, 2009

    Ah, but don’t you see? This just proves how wrong we evilutionists are from the start! HIV doesn’t evolve resistances…it was GIVEN resistances 6,000 years ago by a loving omnibenevolent god who so loved the world that he gave HIV resistance to every drug we would think of. Mmmm…feel the love…

  12. #12 dinkum
    August 19, 2009

    That’s great. Underpants Gnomes Virology, with the methodology slightly altered:
    1. ??
    2. [Having] Create[d] an environment in the host that favors an intelligently modified version of HIV blah blah.
    3. Profit!

  13. #13 BB12345
    August 20, 2009

    Wow ERV, your cleverzzz. Don’t you think the way the immune system evolves is brilliantly clever in the way it searches for a solution. Awesome! Check out here.

  14. #14 SimonG
    August 20, 2009

    Interesting as usual, if a bit depressing. It often looks like HIV is just too tough a problem.

  15. #15 Matthew
    August 20, 2009

    Thanks Abbie, more tasty, scrumptious science learningz

    MOAR! lol

  16. #16 Mike Caton
    August 21, 2009

    The best test of a theory is how it can be applied to improve human life. Thus I ask creationists: where’s your creationism-inspired medicine that’s improving and saving human life? Possible responses: either your theory is wrong, or you don’t care.

  17. #17 John Jr
    August 21, 2009

    Well, since creationists are those who believe that the basis of reality is truth, reason and intentionality, they tend to intentionally create theories of medicine, biology, evolution, physics and basically how things work. You see, from the idealistic presupposition that certain truths exist, and science being a tool to discover these, creationists (as history will tell you) tend to be on the side that WANTS humanity to understand better through philosophy and science. And through understanding comes improvement in the quality of life.

    Now, since materialists are of the opinion that reason can be reduced to nothing more than material particles and fields interacting between inputs, internal states, and outputs without any intrinsic meaning, what exactly would be a meaningful endeavour for them?

  18. #18 phantomreader42
    August 21, 2009

    Wow, John, you’re a truly shameless Liar For Jesus! Nothing you said was even close to the truth.

    What creationists ACTUALLY believe is that half a page of bronze-age mythology is the absolute and unquestoinable truth, no matter how many times it’s been proven false. They have no interest whatsoever in improving human understanding, in fact they’re vehemently opposed to the very idea of evidence or knowledge, from the myth they worship which declares learning the ultimate sin, to Martin Luther’s declaration that reason is the devil’s whore, to torturing and murdering people for daring to speak inconvenient truths, all the way to Ken Ham the piglet rapist’s temple to falsehood and horseshit. Creationists are anti-truth, anti-science, anti-knowledge, anti-humanity. Your cult has opposed progress at every turn for thousands of years, and still does so to this day. In short, John, you’re a lying sack of shit.

  19. #19 Cain
    August 21, 2009

    No Mike, the best and only test of a theory is whether or not its predictions conform to the data the universe provides. A theories impact on humanity doesn’t enter the equation.

    I was going to respond to John Jr too but instead I’ll just say ditto to everything phantomreader423 wrote.

  20. #20 JohnJr
    August 21, 2009

    Wow, phantom, you have a made up mind there… Tell me, am I a creationist? Why don’t you define creationist, because you seem to have lablelled a small group of people as creationists and then included me into your small little definition there and then continued to say I am a liar.

    So phantom, before you go on this tired old charade of telling how others are liars, why don’t you define “creationist” for us? Waiting…

  21. #21 cain
    August 21, 2009

    JohnJr, I assume when phantum used the term creationist he(she?) meant “One who accepts the literal interpretation of creation as written in the book of Genesis” That’s the definition of the word. If you mean something different then you are guilty of using words in unusual ways in a public discussion. That’s fine but if you’re going to do that you’re the one that needs to provide definitions.

  22. #22 phantomreader42
    August 21, 2009

    So, John, you take it upon yourself to lie in defense of creationists, build strawmen to glorify creationism, yet you claim you aren’t a creationist yourself? Then what possible motivation could you have for pulling this shit?

    YOU were the one who posted obvious falsehoods in a feeble attempt to make creationists look better. Why? Do you just enjoy lying for its own sake?

  23. #23 Anton Mates
    August 21, 2009

    JohnJr,

    You see, from the idealistic presupposition that certain truths exist, and science being a tool to discover these, creationists (as history will tell you) tend to be on the side that WANTS humanity to understand better through philosophy and science.

    Ben Stein: “Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.”

    Don Mcleroy: “I disagree with these experts. Somebody’s gotta stand up to experts.”

    One of John Freshwater’s students, on what he learned in Freshwater’s class: “Science can’t be trusted. Science can’t teach us anything.”

    Creationist pastor Ray Mummert, on the Dover controversy: “We’ve been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.”

    Oh, and the Creation Museum repeatedly opposes “Human Reason” to “God’s Word.”

    Yeah, these guys love science and philosophy and understanding.

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