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Viruses are quite nasty germs. Whereas bacteria serve many useful purposes and we need them, I wonder what the purpose of viruses in God's creation could be. Does Young Earth Creationism address what role viruses have in the world?

I'd like to hear the YEC view on the following points:

  1. Where did viruses come from?
  2. What is their purpose?
  3. Were viruses created? If so, by whom?
  4. Does the Bible say anything applicable?

If the Old Earth Creationist view is significantly different, please notify me. I expect them to be similar, but might ask another question focused on OEC if relevant.

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The notion that all viruses are bad is worth challenging. In 2008 paediatrician Dr Lawrence D. Rosen, MD published a blog post entitled Viruses and Health: Not all bad? which looked at two interesting cases and concluded:

In both of these cases, it appears that viral infections may indeed confer some sort of protection or health benefit to the host. Is this true in all circumstances? Of course not. But the converse - that these viruses are always a health threat in all people, is equally unlikely. It behooves us to be very, very careful when considering eradicating viruses from our bodies, particularly when the cure is potentially worse than the infection.

In addition, cancer research scientists are now looking at using (modified) viruses in order to combat this disease.ScienceDirect | Montana State University

Viruses are not mentioned in the Bible and whether they are technically living things is subject to continued discussion. In terms of their origin, the regressive and cellular hypotheses therefore don't entirely conflict with the Christian view; however the predominant view among creationists is that viruses are part of the original creation. Along with the rest of Creation, viruses were subject to The Fall, corrupting their original intended nature. The examples above show that viruses may be (or may have been) beneficial to health. In addition there is a theory called the Horizontal Gene Transfer (or horizontal gene flow) which may explain to some degree a purpose for viruses:

that genes picked up from somewhere in the environment rather than inherited from parents may help to explain rapid adaptation and the interesting pattern of DNA in animals.Answers in Genesis: Why Did God Make Viruses?

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  • The "health benefits" in that blog post are both being less subject to some other disease. I thought that pre-Fall, there was no disease. So this doesn't give much insight into original intended nature, does it?
    – Rex Kerr
    Oct 31 '11 at 11:21
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    @Waggers - I agree in principle, but the examples weren't of something that would be useful in an unfallen context. Infection by herpes makes you less likely to die of plague? Interesting...but it leaves the "original intended nature" conjecture unsupported (unless the original intended nature was that they would play a role after the fall).
    – Rex Kerr
    Oct 31 '11 at 11:52
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    Okay, but horizontal gene transfer among multicellular organisms is so rare that it wasn't even detected until a few years ago. One can postulate, without evidence, huge numbers of changes that could eventually make things sound plausible (e.g. viruses that can repeatedly infect germline tissues across a wide range of species and cause no sterility and (on and on and on)). If this is the best answer out there--and for all I know it could be--it's worth noting that it's very speculative (to be charitable).
    – Rex Kerr
    Oct 31 '11 at 14:24
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    @Waggers I revised the question after getting some comments and discussing it in chat. Perhaps you want to adapt the answer accordingly. Oct 31 '11 at 15:06
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    Is this the YEC view of viruses or your own? Do you have any sources demonstrating the former? What does challenging whether all viruses are bad have to do with the YEC position?
    – user72
    Oct 31 '11 at 18:55

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