Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not.
I have second thoughts. Maybe God is malicious.
If one accepts the hypothesis of intelligent design, one might reasonably conclude there are malicious intelligent designs.
Darwin was conflicted on this issue. He seemed sympathetic to ID on the cosmological scale but definitely not on the biological scale. The letter I quote from is here:
He expresses some sympathy for cosmological scale ID
One cannot look at this Universe with all living productions & man without believing that all has been intelligently designed
[What a juicy quote — hehe]
From the perspective of the cosmos, Darwin felt there was some sense of intelligent design. We might call it cosmological scale ID. On the other hand he rejected ID for the small scale in biology.
yet when I look to each individual organism, I can see no evidence of this. For, I am not prepared to admit that God designed the feathers in the tail of the rock-pigeon to vary in a highly peculiar manner in order that man might select such variations & make a Fan-tail; & if this be not admitted (I know it would be admitted by many persons), then I cannot see design in the variations of structure in animals in a state of nature,—those variations which were useful to the animal being preserved & those useless or injurious being destroyed.
Darwin states what many people feel:
I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.
Darwin was referring to cruel scenes like this:
Was that cruelty by intelligent design? If one accepts ID in biology, I think the answer must be “YES”. However, Darwin finds the idea of malicious design hard to reconcile with an intelligent creator.
This very old argument from the existence of suffering against the existence of an intelligent first cause seems to me a strong one;
But why? There is no requirement that intelligent actions need be benevolent. Darwin took great pleasure in killing birds. Does Darwin’s cruelty against birds count as evidence against Darwin being an intelligent entity? Of course not.
Some of the parasites in nature seem awfully ingenious in their cruelty. So in addition to the examples Darwin himself mentioned, I found these:
Dermatobia Hominis – The Human Botfly
These buggers favor large mammals – including humans. A female botfly plants its eggs in a mosquito, which then bite and transport the eggs into a larger mammal. The larvae hatch from the eggs and then burrow out from under the mammal’s skin. They then fall to the ground, where they finish their pupa stage.
Cordyceps – The Zombie Fungus
This fungus comprises about 400 different species. It finds its way into insects and proceeds to slowly consume the insects’ brains. Once the brains are consumed, the fungus grows out of the insects’ heads to shower its spores down to the forest floor. Cordyceps often makes its victims climb high up in a tree or on a plant so the spores will have a better spread when they fall.
Dracunculiasis – Guinea Worm Disease
This parasite finds its way into humans and other mammals by swallowed water fleas. In a human stomach, the guinea worm larva tucks into a fleshy cavity and grows…and grows…and grows. Sometimes they reach 2-3 feet long. To get out, the worm creates a blister and burning sensation to entice a host to submerge the blister in water. If the host does so, the worm pokes its head out and squirts out a milky liquid, which carries thousands of larvae, into the water.
Nematomorpha – Horsehair Worm
Thankfully, this is another parasite that doesn’t bother humans, only insects. These parasites start off as larvae in water and get eaten by insects like grasshoppers. The worms then grow and mature. When a worm wants out of a host, it hijacks the host’s brain to make it commit suicide by plunging itself into water. The worm then exits.
Ampulex Compressa – The Emerald Jewel Wasp
You might feel bad for cockroaches after this one. The female wasp uses a stinger to first paralyze a cockroach’s body, then its brain. Her venom specifically targets and neutralizes the flight-or-fight response. Next, she leads the roach back to her burrow and lays her eggs. She then leaves, but first seals the burrow by placing pebbles at the entrance. The larvae hatch and eventually feed off the lobotomized roach.
Here is one for the advocates of Bio-Semiosis. This parasite sends false “Caterpillar” signals to birds to help the parasite breed:
Leucochloridium Paradoxum – Green-Banded Broodsac
These tiny worms wait around in fecal matter. Along comes a snail that unknowingly eats up the worm when it feeds off the excrement. Once in a snail, the worm actually reshapes the snail’s eyestalks to resemble big, juicy caterpillars. The worm controls the snail’s brain and forces it to expose itself. Along comes a bird or other critter that likes to eat caterpillars. Inside larger animals, the worm can now mature and lay more eggs.
Did the Designer create microbial parasites too? The Bubonic Plague, Malaria, Antrhax, AIDS , pandemic Influenza?
A TV show of relevance regarding both microbial and other parasites:
On some level, one might desperately want to believe the world of biology is NOT intelligently designed, because if there intelligent design in biology, it is hard to run away from the inference that the source of the design is an intelligence willing to inflict malice.
The Bible refers to Satan as “the god of this world” suggesting the world is locally under the operative control of a Satanic intelligence because of God’s wrath. Whether one believes in such things or not, a Satanic intelligence operating on this world does seem a descriptive metaphor for the world of biology as Darwin himself observed:
What a book a devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low, and horribly cruel work of nature!