The agony of zombie ants and arguments of incredulity

Creationists regularly run the argument that complex design rules out evolutionary creation (forgetting the creation part of the term!).  This argument essentially says ‘I can’t imagine/understand it therefore God couldn’t do it’.  The examples used are invariably cute/pretty ones, because this is an emotive creationist argument not a logical or factual one.  Zombie ants, whose bodies are taken over by a fungus while leaving their brain untouched, die a horrible death.  The complexity is remarkable, yet they are ignored by creationists.Carpenter ants are prone to being infected by a fungus O. unilateralis.  The fungus causes the ant to climb onto a leaf, bite hard into the leaf and anchor it’s body in place.  The fungus then multiplies inside the ant before growing a spike out through the ant’s head to spread itself and find new victims.  Nice.

zombie carpenter ant

New research has shown the fungus essentially takes over the ant’s body but not its brain.  Ultimately the ant’s carcase is full of fungus – which seems to manipulate the muscle fibre of the ant to get the unwilling victim to assist the fungus’ unpleasant life goals.  The brain remains fairly fungus free – until the gruesome end.

Consider that the process can take up to ten days.  The ant loses control of its body and suffers an unpleasant and none too quick death – with plenty of contemplative time to assess its fate.

This remarkable process is unlikely to feature in The Christadelphian Magazine or the Lampstand Magazine any time soon as a ‘marvel of creation proves Genesis is literal’ story.  This despite even more complexities like the fungus seemingly have a time sensitive mechanism for its ant controlling behaviours.  No, it’s always butterflies, migrating birds (nice ones) and fluffy animals which lead out the creationist arguments from incredulity.

Some Genesis 1-3 literalists will claim that death and suffering in the animal kingdom – of which the carpenter ant is just one of many – was a consequence of Adam & Eve’s sin.  Creationists reject theistic evolution etc because “the bible doesn’t say that”.  Yet they invent new consequences for Adam & Eve’s actions and add to the record of Genesis 3.  God punishes carpenter ants because the fruit was taken?  No.  In addition to adding to the record, the creationist dances around their own exposition.  God ceased creating on day 7, but then post the fall God created new nasty things (like the fungus) and re-engineered a host of other animals.  These inconsistencies escape the creation literalists.

A limited number of creationists will appeal to Rom 8, trying to claim that being made subject to vanity = being made mortal and/or being specifically created as an evil zombie killer fungus.  Many creationists in fairness reject this odd reading (as do we – see here).

One does wonder how Noah got 2 carpenter ants and the killer fungus on board the Ark and to call a long term truce as well…but that is another problem.

Still, all the beautiful amazing creatures God has created aside – there are also some fairly horrific examples of animals and parasites out there.  Plenty of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’.  All of it witnesses to God’s amazing power.  A lot of it calls into question the limited insistence of the Genesis literalist.

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