It probably never occurred to you to wonder why insects exist. That’s because your mind is limited, and you don’t have the ability to see the Big Picture like the neo-Luddite, neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).
The Discoveroids’ latest post is Why There Have to Be “Pesky” Bugs. It’s by David Klinghoffer, whose creationist oeuvre we last described here, and upon whom the Discoveroids have bestowed the exalted title of “senior fellow” — i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist.
Klinghoffer begins his great intellectual journey by asking the following question, with bold font added by us and his links omitted:
[W]hy nature’s design — whether or not you think of God as the source of that design — includes some arthropods like spiders that many of us find less than cuddly, and what purpose there could be behind a variety of insects that are equally if not more bothersome. My own kids have asked questions along these lines — “Why do there have to be mosquitoes?” Whether in scientific or religious terms, I’ve lacked a compelling response. Until now, thanks to the National Science Foundation.
Then he discusses an NSF study indicating:
… that evening primroses grown in insecticide-treated plots quickly lost, through evolution, defensive traits that helped protect them from plant-eating moths. The protective traits lost included the production of insect-deterring chemicals and later blooms that gave evening primroses temporal distance from plant-eating larvae that peak early in the growing season.
These results indicate that once the plants no longer needed their anti-insect defenses, they lost those defenses. What’s more, they did so quickly — in only three or four generations.
In the absence of insects, the evening primroses apparently stopped investing energy in their anti-insect defenses, and so these defenses disappeared through natural selection.
Getting bored? So were we, but stay with us. Klinghoffer then applies his fine Discoveroid mind to this news and gives us his own understanding about the grand purpose of insects:
So the “evolution” for which there is now “hard evidence” amounts merely to the loss of a function. Take away the insects, and evening primroses lose their ability to deter insects. This is something we also knew already: evolution observed experimentally may include the degrading of function. It does not include the building up of complex new functionality. The latter appears to require direction from a source of intelligent design.
Klinghoffer uses this one study — it may be the only one he’s ever seen — as justification to repeat the old creationist canard that evolution doesn’t have the ability to add new functions. Only the magic designer — blessed be he! — can do that. Then he says:
Much more interesting is the observation that many of the properties we enjoy in plants — as food, in pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies — are qualities that plants have in the first place because they serve as defenses against insects: [alleged quote from the NSF omitted].
Where is Klinghoffer going with this? Hang on, it’s coming:
There’s a Darwinian explanation for this: Insects and plants’ anti-insect defenses evolved together, with all those wonderful properties that plants offer us being no more than the extremely lucky product of happenstance.
How untidy! Darwinism has no grand plan! Klinghoffer continues:
But ID’s explanation is more satisfying because it doesn’t rely on luck. In a view of nature informed by the theory of intelligent design, it seems reasonable to think that plants taste good and are useful in medical remedies because that is part of a vision of how things should be, a vision proceeding from a purposeful plan.
Oooooooooh! There’s no luck involved — it’s all part of a purposeful plan! Yes, that does seem reasonable — and it’s all so obvious! Here’s his conclusion:
Plants evidently need many those same properties as part of their strategy of self-defense against insects. This was true long before there were human being around to enjoy plants. So you see how insects, including some rather uncharismatic ones, play their indispensable role. This, I think, is how I would answer my kids. It makes sense to me, an adult, as well.
Now you know all there is to know about bugs. They were intelligently designed from the beginning for a purpose. If only the NSF had the good sense to listen to Klinghoffer!
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