Theodicy: the good viruses do (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, November 01, 2021, 18:01 (26 days ago) @ David Turell


"Viruses are wildly abundant. They infect all cellular life, from single-celled bacteria to elephants, and they are especially dense in the ocean, where they work as a gigantic recycling network, ripping apart 20 percent of the bacteria and other microbes there each day to release tons of carbon, which is then used by other microorganisms to grow.

"Across the globe, viruses don’t just infect cells, they leave behind genetic material. Viral DNA is transmitted not only from one viral particle to its progeny, but also to other viruses and other species. Because of this, viral genetic sequences have permanently taken up residence in the genomes of all organisms, including ours, and we rely on them. Viral DNA is required for the formation of the mammalian placenta; it is crucial in the growth of early embryos; and the human innate immune system is made up, in part, of ancient viral proteins. When a person is fighting COVID-19, they are doing it with the help of viruses that colonized our cells long ago.

"In fact, some scientists consider viruses to be the world’s leading source of genetic innovation. Viruses are not a missing branch of the tree of life; they are woven into every limb and leaf.

"Scientists may always dispute whether viruses are alive or not, but they can hopefully agree on the importance of viruses to life as we know it. “However you want to think about life,” says Villarreal, “viruses are going to be there.'"

Comment: Viruses have to be here and play a role. So do bacteria. And yes some roles are bad.

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