Disease loads – 2 people won’t do


Obligate pathogens and obligate parasites are an unpleasant part of reality.  They can only exist within (currently) living host entities.

A literal Adam and Eve (with no other humans in existence) must have been very sick dealing with hookworms, tapeworms, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, whooping cough, syphilis, pneumonia, malaria, dysentery, louse, polio, meningococcal, trichomoniasis, measles {refer note below for a correction}, viral hepatitis, smallpox and many others.  Plus lice – everywhere.  I’m not a doctor and don’t know where to go to get a full list of human specific obligate nasties.  The previous lot was just a few I found.

Just for simple example of an obligate pest head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) are an obligate parasites of humans.  This species exclusively live on humans and feed only on human blood.  There are no other known hosts apart from humans.  [1].    The problem for the literalist doesn’t stop there.  Another unpleasant beasty is crab lice (Pthirus pubis) which infect exclusively humans (and it can’t live long off the human body for long).  It most commonly resides in pubic hair.  [2]  These two animals are separate species.  According to Gen 1 literalists animals don’t change kind – new species don’t happen.  To be clear this means Adam had nits, on his head and another species down below in his nether regions from the beginning.

In addition to the lice, all of the diseases previously mentioned must have existed and been carried by Adam & Eve.  Presumably animals have the same issues, although the Genesis 1 literalist could claim a large population was created of each species which could carry the disease load (the problem emerges again in the human popular for global flood types).

For humans if Adam and Eve were alone, the problem is significant.  Were all these nasties created after the Fall?  This would contravene the statement that God finished the work and rested/ceased from creating.  If the literalist wants to maintain the obligate nasties were created later then the work wasn’t finished.  Furthermore the listed punishments on Adam and Eve don’t include the creation of additional sicknesses and bugs.

The problem is more complex again of course, such unhealthy items couldn’t be introduced all at once.  They would have to wait until there was a sufficiently large population to sustain both the obligate pathogens & parasites in a sustainable human population – meaning spasmodic creation of new nasties for the human population over many years (and starting again post Flood!).  For example it is estimated the critical community size to support measles is 250,000.[3]  This is flatly contradictory to any literal reading of Genesis 1-3.

{correction – a eagle eyed reviewer identified that research I missed from 2010 identified that the current human only measles strain evolved in circa 12-12th century.  This research was based on the evolutionary clock in the virus and tracking it back to a most recent common ancestor.  Ironic that evolutionary science is used by a literalist but these are interesting times.  The detail of how evolutionary science demonstrates a younger age for measles is at this site.  Thanks for the pick up}


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_louse

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_louse

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measles

9 thoughts on “Disease loads – 2 people won’t do

  1. Mark Taunton

    Lots of assumptions here, in particular that any form of obligate human parasite or infection we see today must always have existed in the human population.
    But (and here’s an irony!) science tells us that that is not true. For example, HIV is only known in humans; other animals have similar viruses, but not HIV itself. Yet it is believed by scientists who have investigated the issue that before about 100 years ago, HIV did not exist. Also, although you mention measles, it is believed to have originated less than 1000 years ago. No possibility of Adam and Eve having to carry it!


    1. COD Post author

      Thanks Mark I have amended the article noting the correction. Your assertion of unspecified assumptions is rather hard to respond to. However the framework of literalists insisting God did not create again plus new species do not arise means Adam and Eve had to carry the diseases in the two people only model. The irony of you correcting my error on measles (thankyou) using detailed evolutionary science which contradicts everything else you propose is remarkable.


  2. Mark Taunton

    It’s only a problem to me as you see it because of a false equivocation you make on the word “evolution”. You are conflating necessary natural micro-evolution with macro-evolution.
    Evolution on a small scale – micro-evolution, such as within a population of viruses over successive generations and (for viruses) in a short time, is a directly observed phenomenon, measurable and quantifiable in the laboratory as variations in the RNA (or for some viruses, DNA) sequence that defines any particular kind of virus. Importantly, viral sequences are relatively short – e.g. the measles virus has only about 16,000 RNA bases. These variations within virus RNA are comparable in scale – in the number of specific differences in the sequence – to the variations found within a single population of any one created kind, e.g. between different human beings. That is possible because typical DNA sequences, which correspond to the many different created kinds, including human beings, are far longer than typical viral RNA or DNA sequences. For example, human DNA in its haploid or minimal form has over 3,000,000,000 bases, and most cells in your body contain two separate – and slightly different – copies of it.
    But evolution in the large – macro-evolution, of completely different forms of living things over a far longer period of time, is purely a supposition, not an observed phenomenon. The differences both at the molecular level and in the phenotype (resultant form), between distinct kinds that are claimed to share a common ancestor by macro-evolution – such as chimps and humans – are of a far greater magnitude than those between different viruses that are identified as having a shared origin in the recent past.


    1. COD Post author

      Different species have been observed to emerge. Whether you want to say their closely or distant relatives is irrelevant. A new species breaks the assertions of the typical literal reading of everything after it’s kind = no new species.

      Second point, the article you pointed to proves measles is young based on the genetic clock. The genetic clock proves there were more than 2 humans alive 6,000 years ago. Frankly evolution doesn’t interest me that much. That there were more than two people is the critical issue, as the same theological issues arise regardless of how God created them. I do wonder at how you can point to the genetic clock for one thing and deny it for others.

      Third point – although evolutionary science you identified demonstrated my facts were wrong on one disease, it doesn’t kill the point of the post, just reduces the disease load down by one.


      1. Mark Taunton

        How do you justify your equating “kind” in scripture with “species” in biology? And even if it can be justified, there is a whole new question in relation to viruses. The application of taxonomic terminology – species, genus, family, order, &c – to viruses is only by broad general analogy. Viruses do not appear in the commonly encountered taxonomy of living things, because they are not (usually) considered to be “alive”. Their characteristics certainly vary, in a range of ways, but there can be no direct match of meaning of those taxonomic terms to that same terminology applied to (e.g.) animals, as the types of characteristics that vary in the two cases are not the same at all. Just because new (so-called) “species” of virus are believed to have arisen in recent times, that is no evidence that new “kinds” of animals have ever arisen by macro-evolution.

        A genetic clock in relation to virus (micro-)evolution can reasonably be calibrated with reference to actual viruses, or actual virus-derived genetic samples obtained from (live, or corpses of) animals that were alive at different times in recent history.

        However in regard to the claimed macro-evolutionary genetic clock, applied to (say) apes and humans, the situation is very different. Unless you can obtain DNA from the supposed most recent common ancestor of chimps and humans, usually said to have lived around 7 million years ago (and first you will have to find it, before extracting any DNA – though that is assumed to be impossible anyway with such old biological material), you have no basis on which to calibrate that genetic clock . The only “calibration” that ever happens at that scale necessarily assumes evolution is true (along with other details). So it can in no way be held to even show evidence for, far less actually prove, that macro-evolution really is true – that is simply circular reasoning.

        In other words, this is in fact another equivocation, this time on the term “genetic clock”.


        1. COD Post author

          It’s not equivocation. You raised the genetic clock to demonstrate measles are 1,000 years old. Re kinds = species please take your concerns (quite valid ones) to The Lampstand Magazine who have stated plainly that the bible teaches there can be no new species because of the meaning of kinds. Clearly incorrect and we agree in part on this but creationists are out there misrepresenting the bible. On the human genetic clock we do have ancient DNA going back tens of thousands of years so we can readily get the evidence of the clock’s timing. Its not good news for your argument though. There is a post on it somewhere.


  3. Dave Burke

    While it’s true that HIV is ~100 years old, the simian immunodeficiency virus from which it evolved is tens of thousands of years old, and humans have been exposed to it for much of that time. Thus, the relatively recent emergence of HIV is not a valid argument against the points being made in this blog post.


  4. Pingback: God wouldn’t let the carnal mind evolve in a world unchecked for thousands of years! | Christadelphians Origins Discussion

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