Fish in a barrel

In one episode of Futurama, Fry traps a giant brain in a book he wrote “a crummy world of plot holes and spelling errors.” That’s what it feels like to read the antics of Dembski and the gang. The latest offense to reason comes from DaveScot (predictably). Upon reading this:

First, the germ-free animals lived almost twice as long as their conventionally maintained counterparts, and second, the major causes of death were different in the two groups. Infection often caused death in conventional animals, but intestinal atonia frequently killed germ-free animals.

DS immediately thought of creationism:

The animals raised germ-free could not have evolved in the natural world without exposure to bacteria but they could have been designed for GF life. The fact that they live twice as long in a GF environment when eating a diet that is nutritionally complete except for being sterile seems to be favorable evidence that animals were created in and for a germ-free world.

The first clue that “animals raised germ-free could not have evolved in the natural world” should have come when he read that they were not born vaginally, but by Caesarean section, and then raised in a germ-free bubble with specially sterilized food. That is, germ-freedom is fundamentally not a natural state.

But what’s really disturbing is that DS seems not to realize that animals raised germ-free could not die of infection! Of course they live longer than animals raised conventionally, you’ve removed the major cause of mortality. There are two simple experiments one could do to figure out whether germ-freedom actually extends life. The first would be to place a conventionally born and raised animal into a germ-free setting, so that the only bacteria it encounters are its native flora, the other would be to expose germ-free animals to the real world, and see how long they survive. The answer is simple, not long. Without their native flora of microbes, those germ-free animals would rapidly succumb to infections.

Meanwhile, the suggestion that “animals were created in and for a germ-free world” is nonsensical. It leads instantly to serious questions about where germs came from if that’s the case, and also is squarely afoul of the evidence.

Every cell in your body is infected with a very special type of germ. Every plant cell (or almost each of them) is infected with two special kinds of germs. The chloroplasts that produce all the biological energy we consume, and the mitochondria that process all the energy that a cell uses, are ancient bacteria that infected or got engulfed by an early-unicellular life form. Within the safety of that early eukaryotic cell, those little germs found a safe home, taking the resources they needed to sustain their semi-independent lifestyle while the main cell got its ATP or glucose. Every eukaryotic cell, which includes every plant cell and every animal cell, has descendants of those germs. Without them, we’d all be dead, poisoned by the oxygen in the air (oxygen that exists there thanks to those germs).


  1. #1 Noturus
    March 27, 2007

    Domestic animals live longer than their wild counterparts – Eureka! proof that God created them for us to keep as pets/munch on. Or how about People with adequate medical care live much longer than those without it. Proof that God intended us to live in hospitals!

  2. #2 BruceA
    March 27, 2007

    Wow. Even if animals really were “created in and for a germ-free world,” it would certainly not be evidence of intelligent design. What kind of designer would create animals for a germ-free world and then place them in this world instead?

  3. #3 Mick
    March 27, 2007

    Does this mean god hates germs?

  4. #4 J-Dog
    March 27, 2007

    Mick wrote: Does this mean god hates germs?

    No, but I think it means he hates DaveScot – always forcing poor Dave to make a monumental fool out of himself just so we can laugh at him.

  5. #5 Dan S.
    March 28, 2007

    What kind of designer would create animals for a germ-free world and then place them in this world instead?

    The kind who, if human, would be employed by the Bush Administration. Heckuva job, Go – I mean, Designer!

    Really, that would explain a lot, when you think about it.

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