About a week or so ago, my family and I noticed a squirrel behaving oddly. It seemed unable to stand up straight for long periods – as though its sense of balance were affected. It would fall over, and lie on its side while trying to eat seeds it found beneath our bird feeder. Here’s a YouTube video someone else made illustrating what it looks like:
A quick search online found a probable explanation: raccoon roundworm. If a squirrel eats food that has passed through the digestive tract of an infected raccoon, it may ingest the roundworm eggs. When they hatch, they will make their way to the brain (among other parts of the squirrel, such as the eyes) and cause brain damage (among other things). In the rare instance that a human being were to ingest raccoon roundworm eggs, the consequences are comparably devastating.
Young-earth creationists would presumably have us believe that God inflicted this punishment on squirrels (since they are typically affected, whereas humans rarely are) as punishment for humanity’s sin. Proponents of Intelligent Design might instead point out that there are features of the roundworm which are irreducibly complex and were created as they are now to optimize the organism’s ability to thrive – with all the consequences that has for other living things.
Both views have scientific problems that are well known (except, apparently, among the adherents of these views). But one can also offer criticism from a theological perspective. I don’t see why anyone finds these options religiously appealing. If it seems theologically problematic to account for why God would create through a process of evolution that produces pain and suffering of this sort, surely it is no less problematic, and arguably more, to attribute the existence of raccoon roundworm and other parasites like it directly to a supposedly benevolent Creator.
The Panda’s Thumb talks about the UK Education Secretary’s recent statement and its significance.
RJS continues blogging about evolution and entropy in conversation with Collins and Giberson’s book The Language of Science and Faith: Straight Answers to Genuine Questions. Internet Monk also posted a review (and I hope to in the not-too-distant future too!)
Arni Zechariassen wonders what would happen if we simply accepted the bills that advocating evaluating strengths and weaknesses – and focused instead on pointing out the weaknesses of young-earth creationism and intelligent design.
Doug Chaplin posted on the third episode in the series The Bible’s Buried Secrets, which focused on the Garden of Eden.