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The Mosquito: Intelligent Design?

by WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~

Intelligent design fans like to point to humans, the banana, the giraffe, and other assorted life forms to show the brilliance of god’s wondrous, benign design talents. But, as usual, they never think quite deeply enough to see the flaws in their “theory.” With just a little more thought they would see that if god designed all the plants and animals, then he also designed a whole host of man’s mortal enemies like harmful bacteria, viruses, and many other decidedly un-benign creatures. And what does all this say about the character and intentions of god-the-designer?
A Mosquito feeding on blood
A Mosquito feeding on blood (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From this angle, God’s crowning design achievement has to be the mosquito, probably the most dangerous creature on earth to man. The mosquito, in fact, appears perfectly designed to inflict misery on man. Its eggs can hatch in just two days in a few ounces of water, and its tiny size and virtually inaudible buzz make it stealthy in the extreme. And mosquito eggs are extremely hardy; if not laid in standing water, they will remain unhatched for weeks or months until they are covered with water.

Most mosquitoes attack birds and mammals, though some feed on the blood of reptiles and amphibians. Only female mosquitoes bite, because a blood meal is usually required for egg laying.

Once it finds you, the mosquito lands, inserts its proboscis and probes for blood vessels. When it finds one, it injects saliva into the wound. The saliva contains an anticoagulant that ensures a steady, smooth flow of blood. However, and here’s the rub, the mosquito’s saliva may also contain pathogens such as malaria parasites or encephalitis virus. This is how mosquitoes transmit disease.

Mosquitoes, via the diseases they spread, have been responsible for killing more people than all the wars in history, and human defenses to this point have been woefully inadequate. In recent years mosquitoes have infected about 200 million people a year with malaria, killing 2 to 3 million.

Dengue is another serious disease spread by mosquitos. It infects 50 to 500 million people per year, leading to half a million hospitalizations, and approximately 25,000 deaths. More damning for the “designer” perhaps is the fact that the more serious form of dengue is more common in babies and young children. Tens of millions more people are killed or debilitated by other mosquito-borne diseases such as filariasis, yellow fever, and encephalitis.

So, according to intelligent design believers, god designed the mosquito to be a very small, super stealthy blood sucker. That it’s a carrier of numerous deadly diseases can’t really be an oversight, can it? We’re talking about god the “perfect” being here, the “perfect” designer, after all.

Now, design involves purpose, doesn’t it? Clearly, nobody designs anything without some purpose in mind. In fact, it’s the purpose which drives the design. So what does this tell us about god the designer? The mosquito certainly appears to have been designed to wreak havoc among humans and many other animals. The lowly though exquisitely “designed” mosquito spreads pain, misery, and very often death among many millions of humans every year.

If the intelligent design folks were science savvy, they would have discovered this nasty side of god-the-designer early on and shelved the whole idea. Most people with a hypothesis will continue to look for examples which confirm the hypothesis; say, the hypothesis of a loving god designer. But, the scientist knows that a whole boatload of confirming evidence can be blown out of the water by just one example of disconfirming evidence. And, again I ask, what does the mosquito say about the hypothesis of god’s love for man?

I challenge any intelligent design believer to explain to me why I shouldn’t deduce from the facts above that the mosquito’s designer is a malevolent being intent on sowing misery and death among humans. The alternative, of course, is evolution, and that seems to me the only way out of this predicament. So, is god a malevolent being who intends to sow misery and painful death among innocent, unsuspecting humans, or was Darwin right all along?