ICR: Your Gut Bacteria Are Proof of God

That title isn’t misleading. Just take a look at this: Were Intestines Designed for Bacteria?

It was written by Brian Thomas — the same guy we wrote about here: ICR: The Mind of Brian Thomas — and it’s posted at the website of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the granddaddy of all creationist outfits, the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom.

You probably know that you have gut bacteria. Here’s something we wrote about it once: Olivia Judson: What’s In Your Guts? All of this seems new and strange to ICR. We won’t bore you with too many excerpts, just enough to lead you to the climax. Here’s how it begins, with some bold font added by us:

Scientists purposefully made mice sick to test how the creatures’ intestines — and the microbes they harbor — would react. They discovered details behind a remarkable relationship that, when working well, keeps both parties healthy.

[…]

Scientists publishing in Nature found that during illness, mouse intestines manufacture a special food for their bacteria. Without this sugary food source — called fucose — sick mice may lose their helpful microbes.

This is the article they’re talking about: Rapid fucosylation of intestinal epithelium sustains host–commensal symbiosis in sickness. You can’t read it without a subscription.

It’s a nice example of Symbiosis, although we sometimes wonder what a truly advanced alien species would think of the fact that we walk around with billions of bacteria living within us. They’d undoubtedly consider it a grotesque example of our recent emergence from the primitive cauldron of evolution.

We’ll skip almost everything ICR says in their attempt to describe the research, except this:

The researchers genetically engineered mice without the gene that makes fucose, and compared those creatures’ ability to recover from illness with that of normal mice. University of Chicago Medical Center news wrote, “Only mice with both intact gut microbiota and the ability to produce fucose recovered efficiently.” Mice that could not feed their friendly germs lost more weight and took longer to recover that weight after the illness passed.

Okay, but so what? Ah, you’re not considering the wonderful insights of creation science. Here’s what ICR says:

It makes sense for the host to keep its microbes happy and healthy — but how did mouse cells ever figure that out? … It looks like somebody was thinking ahead when they designed this remarkable system.

Wow — could it be? Here’s the stunning conclusion:

Mouse gets sick. Mouse makes fucose to feed friendly bacteria. Bacteria block pathogens from accessing mouse tissue. Mouse recovers fast. Bacteria help the mouse, and the mouse gives bacteria a place to stay. Could anything but intentional design reasonably explain this kind of elaborate cooperation?This amazing display of creation confirms that germs and intestines were made for each other.

If your reaction is anything like your Curmudgeon’s, you are stunned. Verily, the bacteria in your gut proclaim the glory of creation!

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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24 responses to “ICR: Your Gut Bacteria Are Proof of God

  1. Verily, the bacteria in your gut proclaim the glory of creation!

    I dunno, it actually makes the designer look more like Rube Goldberg!

  2. “It looks like somebody was thinking ahead when they designed this remarkable system.”
    Then it also looks like that somebody was not thinking ahead when He/She/It (blessed!) designed the bacteria that make the mice ill.

  3. The pointlessness of “creation science” or “intelligent design” gives me a headache even when they’re not putting weird spins on mutualism or commensalism. Why bother to even consider biotic systems from the level of organic molecules up when you believe that an all powerful supernatural being created life from nothing, frozen in timeless form? Why were the pathogens created to begin with? To give the gut bacteria something to do? If the creationists valued their time, they’d be better off considering the ethical and moral questions where religion might play a positive role. Not picking random reports on complex systems and repeatedly saying “See! It’s too complicated and elegant to have arisen without an architect!!”

  4. michaelfugate

    Did they quote a Bible verse for the day of creation when this miraculous event occurred?

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    Other creatures living inside our body, sounds like a perfect design to me!

  6. Seems like it would have been a lot easier to design in some genes for digesting cellulose.

  7. There are a number of difficulties which Intelligent Design makes for a believer.
    A) “Necessity is the mother of invention”. Design is resorted to only because the pre-design state was not satisfactory. If things were created “good” as Genesis 1 tells us, then there would be no sense to rework them.
    B) “Why resort to contrivance when power is omnipotent?” (Paley, p. 39) Design means working within limitations, allowing for the capabilities of the materials and methods. And design is not enough, it must be followed up by production. It seems that design is stuck in the days before the Industrial Revolution, when things were made by artisans. Think Demiurges.
    C) Design which is completed in time means that the Designer(s) are no longer active thereafter. This is consistent with Deism.
    D) Design in the world of life feeds competition. Eyes of predators enable then to hunt; eyes of prey enable them to escape. This points to a plurality of designers, and Polytheism.

  8. Does anyone know if Brian Thomas or any of the other thinkers at the ICR wonder why the creator (blessed by he/she/it) found it necessary to stick an order of magnitude more microbial cells than human cells in and on us. Oh, and how that relates to us allegedly being the purpose of all his/her/its creation work? Perhaps the creator (blessed be he/she/it) loves microcrobes inordinately, and made us as an afterthought to ferry the chaps around.

  9. Two questions for those more biblically literate than me:

    Where in the bible are bacteria and other microbes described, predicted, or otherwise mentioned?

    On which day of creation week were bacteria and other microbes created?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  10. Of course they are forced to ignore the fact that species of mice that didn’t have a similar symbiotic relationship would likely be less prevalent than species that did. But they would be bordering on opening that Pandora’s box that we call evolution.

    TomS’s item B quote is right at the heart of the differences between traditional theology and the evangelical children’s blocks nonsense we see from creationists.

  11. I did searches of the NIV Bible at the Bible Gateway website for bacteria, microbes, viruses, and germs. Being a heretical sinner, I could find none of those terms or their cognates.

  12. Waldteufel – you just have to go to the source – ICR!!

    “Upon further reflection on the origin of microbes, I realized that not all microbes could be classified as “seed-bearing” life, like plants, cyanobacteria, or photosynthetic bacteria. This led me to the conclusion that the Creator probably created animal-like (nonphotosynthetic) microbes on Days Five and Six. In this model, God created individual microbes in discrete packages on several days (i.e., the plant-like microbes on Day Three, the animal-like microbes with the animals, etc., on Days Five and Six). Each bacteria, fungi, and protozoan “kind” was made individually on Days Three, Five, and Six, just like plants, animals, and humans.”

  13. And, there is the definitive conference – The Bible and Microbiology.
    http://fae.adventist.org/essays/31Bcc_183-210.htm

  14. I must say, this ICR post is particularly fucosyl. It’s totally fucosylated.

    Abeastwood, you’re right. If humans, like mice, have a gene to produce fucose, thereby to feed our gut bacteria, it’s clear that God designed us to be vectors for the transport of bacteria. After all, creationists say that function proves purpose, and if our function is to carry around E. coli, then that must be God’s purpose.

  15. @Douglas E
    Thanks for the information.

    However, there are certain difficulties.

    As far as animals created on days 5 and 6. Day 5 is for aquatic animals and flying animals. Day 6 is for terrestrial animals (and humans). Many microbes (supposedly) live exclusively inside other living things, never in the sea or flying or progressing on the ground. There is no mention of such things being created. On the rules of being strictly literal, we cannot assume that they were created during creation week. It is just as plausible that they arose by spontaneous generation, or who knows the ways of the Lord, to say when or how. If He wanted us to know, He would have told us.

    But then …

    The Bible never mentions microbes. But, on the other hand, they are not observable by the naked eye, but only by “scientific” apparatus which claims to see things that we cannot directly observe, thus they are in the category of remote science (which includes other kinds of remote “science” such as “historical science”). It may be safest to say that without explicit testimony by God, or by direct observation, we have no reason to believe that they exist.

    And this brings us to man, who was created on day 6. It is quite conspicuous by its absence that man was not created according to his kind. The Hebrew word min is never mentioned applying to man, nowhere in the Bible.

  16. TomS – I think that you have overlooked all of the verses in Hezekiah that speak directly of the creation of things unseen by ordinary humans. In fact one of Hezekiah’s concubines was Escherichia.

  17. I’m sure creationists, if pressed, would say either that microbes were created on day six of creation, except for those which live exclusively inside aquatic creatures–or that they didn’t exist at all until after the Fall, when all kinds of nifty alterations to the natural order were decreed by God to punish wayward humankind (culminating in the alteration of the laws of optics after Noah’s flood so that rainbows became possible.

    Why anyone believes this organic fertilizer is a mystery.

  18. O.K., so the bible doesn’t mention microbes, but it also doesn’t mention galaxies, binary stars, quasars, atoms, stellar fusion, antibiotics, electricity, magnetism, nuclear fission, penguins, seals, or much of anything of note or interest to anyone who isn’t an Iron or Bronze Age illiterate herdsman. Or Hambo and his coterie of kooks.

  19. Douglas E, bravo for your reference to the book of Hezekiah. Since most readers of this site are more familiar with the Bible than the average nominal believer, it is probably unnecessary to say there is no such book. However, it reminds me of a trick I played when joshing around with a fellow work-study student at a religious college.

    I made up some biblical-sounding quote–credible, but not brilliant like your mention of the concubine Escherichia–and claimed that it came from the 53rd chapter of Hezekiah. She looked startled and corrected me: “Hezekiah doesn’t have but forty-eight chapters.”

    I challenged her to look it up, and only after she couldn’t find it in her Bible did she realize she was thinking of Ezekiel, which she had been studying in one of her classes.

  20. Thank you Retired Prof. (I also happen to be a RP). I like your story about the work-study student – we could probably go on for a while about using Hezekiah as a hook to catch a few suckers!

  21. While Hezekiah is a genuine Biblical figure, although without an eponymous book, the name “Jebediah” is a wholly spurious name. I just took a while looking on the net for a reliable source for the true origins of the name, without success. It seems to be a humorous back-formation of a formal form for “Jeb”, which was itself an acronym for the given names of the Confederate general Jeb Stuart. And there seems to be little recognition of the joke.

  22. Douglas E says: “we could probably go on for a while about using Hezekiah as a hook to catch a few suckers!”

    I suspect it wouldn’t be a problem to snag a number of fools with a reference to the book of Noah.

  23. See the Wikipedia article on the “Book of Noah”.

  24. If we try to apply too much common sense to these kinds of designed ahead of time systems the terrorists win.