A Creationist Moment

One argument from theists that always grates on my ears is that of the “perfection of creation.”  “Just look around” they say, “Everything is beautiful and perfect, it must have been created by a loving god for us.”  Which is a nice sentiment, and there is much beauty and order in the world, but there is much more as well.  Here is an example.

Everyone likes zebras, right?  And this creation moment tells us that zebras are in fact white with black stripes.  Well actually they are reading from real science reports that say that.   And further, wasn’t it wonderful of the creator to give those cute zebras stripes to avoid the bites of the nasty flies, especially tsetse flies.  Thank you creator!  All praise the creator!

But wait a second, what about those tsetse flies?  Weren’t they also created in this scenario?

The tsetse fly is famous for carrying sleeping sickness, which in 2010 killed some 9,000 people.  This is quite an improvement over 20 years earlier when 30,000 were killed by the disease.  Why didn’t the creator make us with stripes?  The disease also affects livestock, with some breeds of cattle being resistant, but others susceptible to the disease.  Why did the creator not make all cattle resistant to the disease?

Scientists have sequenced the DNA of the tsetse fly, but I don’t think you will be hearing a creation moment on this.

The genome of the fly reveals that it can only digest blood, it has no enzymes to digest sugar or any other food source.  In other words it was “created” as an obligate vampire.  Blood and blood alone!  But even for flies, blood lacks some vital nutrients, but don’t worry, the creator has provided.  According to National Geographic, “The fly makes up for nutritional deficiencies by playing host to a variety of symbiotic bacteria that synthesize some of the vitamins its blood-only diet lacks.”  Thank you creator for making the bacteria that allow the tsetse fly to live!  And kill thousands of people each year.  And the livestock they depend on.

In an surreal bit of evolution, the fly, which depends on mammalian blood has an oddly mammalian life cycle, scientists say.  Unlike mosquitoes which lay hundreds or thousands of eggs, most of which never develop to bite anything, tsetse flies nurture one young at a time, even feeding their young milk!

“Tsetse biology is just freaky,” said Leslie B. Vosshall, an insect neurobiologist at Rockefeller University. “This is an insect that breast-feeds its children.”

This from the New York Times:

While most flies lay hundreds of eggs in rotting fruit or carcasses, a tsetse mother gives birth to a single larva that weighs as much as she does.

Inside her uterus, it nurses on a milk gland, drinking proteins that do what different but similar proteins in human breast milk do, including blending fats with water, passing on hormones and making iron digestible.

“It’s an example of convergent evolution,” said Geoffrey Attardo, another Yale team leader and a co-author of the study, which was published Thursday by Science along with 11 companion papers in several PLOS journals.

At birth, the larva, resembling a squirming sack of milk, wriggles beneath the soil and spends up to a month there before hatching as a hungry adult.

“Other insects produce many progeny and hope a few survive,” Dr. Aksoy said. “With tsetse, the hatch rate is nearly 100 percent.”

You would think creationists would be jumping all over this.  The fly that feeds on mammals lives like a mammal.  Only an intelligent designer would have come up with that one!

Well, actually, I presume that you won’t be hearing about the tsetse fly in a creation moment anytime soon.  I will be pandas and otters and giraffes and other cute animals that make you think the creator is all warm and fuzzy.

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