What to do during a full-country shutdown? Sit at home and stare at increasingly toxic Facebook and other social media, as I’m sorry to say I did for too long on Sunday?
Fortunately there’s an alternative to blithe reassurances and doomsday handwringing: Michael Behe! On a new episode of ID the Future with host Andrew McDiarmid, the Lehigh University biochemist and intelligent design advocate puts coronavirus in an objective scientific perspective. I found that oddly comforting, and I think you will, too. He explains what a virus is, what makes this one special, how viruses originated (no one knows), what he meant in a post at Evolution News about a “storm” in the virosphere, and more.
8 Percent Virus?
Meanwhile, as Andrew McDiarmid notes, evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin has a very fortuitously timed (for him) book out today, Some Assembly Required: Decoding 4 Billion Years of Life Using Ancient Fossils and DNA. The weekend Wall Street Journal filled its informally designated “In Praise of Evolution” spot this past Saturday with an excerpt. That caught Andrew’s attention, especially the claim by Shubin that “Almost 8% of the human genome is made up of viruses that once infected us but have been rendered inactive.” And “Our genome is a graveyard for ancient viruses. Disabled viral fragments lie throughout.” Are we 8 percent virus (when we’re not 98 percent chimpanzee)? Dr. Behe explains that it’s not quite that clear. Plus as Shubin acknowledges, many of those “disabled” bits actually play important roles in maintaining human health and function.
The picture of viruses is complex. It is, as I said, calming as well as illuminating to hear Mike Behe talk science. Don’t worry, this conversation has been meticulously treated with Clorox wipes for your convenience. Download the podcast or listen to it here!