This question has been posed by an atheist evolutionist. This is his counter-argument to the believers who argue that such an intelligent design as can be seen in the universe makes us convinced of the existence of a designer! This question was inspired by an exponent of dysteleology which states that nothing in the creation of the universe has any purpose, whose progenitor was the German evolutionist Ernest Hekal and which has stealing the time for research of the prominent new-atheists, including Richard Dawkins. Their purpose is to “prove” that there is no design behind anything and all that the believers claim as design has emerged as accidents in the transition of an organism from imperfection to perfection. Their argument is that the pharynx through which the breathing air, which reaches human throat through nose, and food and water, which reach throat through mouth, initially pass is needless and dangerous. Since the air and food has to reach the pharynx before they go to larynx and oesophagus, sometime the food gets stuck in the larynx, causing choking. They instruct an “imaginary creator” that if He had arranged larynx and oesophagus as two separate tubes respectively from nose to lungs and from mouth to stomach without pharynx, He could have avoided accidents and death caused by choking. In other words, had God been as intelligent as I am, he would have created humans without pharynx. The conclusion is that the presence of pharynx in human neck proves that either God is not so intelligent as I am or there is no God. That is the scientific proof for there being no God.
I came to remember this argument when I saw the celebration of atheists in the social media regarding COVID-19. The whole world is involved in the thought, explorations and activities regarding how to save humans from the Covid affliction. The scientists are trying to do research on finding drugs and vaccines; political leaders are hectically discussing ways to keep the places under their rule disinfected; doctors and healthcare worlders are working hard to treat the infected patients and save them from death; health workers and social activists are working day and night giving instructions to keep the spread of disease under control and organising sensitisation programs; religious and political activists are busy distributing means and systems to arrest the spread of the disease; priests, religious scholars and missionaries are motivating believers to face the miseries with equanimity and courage by praying for them and asking to pray.
While all these are going on, the fact that tens and thousands of new patients are registered every day saddens us all. Whereas at 10.00 on the night before writing this article, the number of patients was 179,829; the number went up to 182,611 in the morning. Those who have humane feeling have a bleeding heart for those who have so far been dead on account of this disease. All believers are praying for them, for the infected and for the whole human beings in the world.
All human beings are really sad about the state of affairs in the world; except for a section of them. They are really carried away by this. Their happiness and celebrations are all over in the social media. They are happy about having got a big stick to beat their arch-rival, i.e., God. When religious scholars said that those who have symptoms of the disease were not supposed to come to the places of worship, they lit the firecrackers of their elation; they had a waltz of joy, when they heard the news that the umrah pilgrimage in Makkah was temporarily stopped. Their loud uproar is about the failure of God in front of a small virus! They argue that religious scholars and priests were so powerless that could not save their God! Once Umrah pilgrimage too is stopped, God will soon step out, without ever claiming his supremacy back!! Poor God ! What if there are no atheists to show Him their sympathy!!!
They are always like this! When there was flood in Kerala, everyone was on a rescue mission. All-the rich and poor, the businessmen and labourers, and those who are working in various political parties and the followers of various religions were on an endeavour to stand together and take this land of ours on to safety. But the atheists, who do the regular social service of pushing their pens and sharing their posts, were celebrating; they got carried away with their elation with their usual questions! Then they asked the question: How is there the flood, if there was indeed a god!!!
When I heard the question, how are there viruses, if there was indeed God?, I remembered the argument regarding the pharynx as a proof for their denial of God. All those who ask these questions are not simpletons. There are great scholars who write on scientific topics as well as Malayali troll makers who copy their arguments. Richard Dawkins who is self-styled as a biologist once heard the news of the death of a giraffe, reached the place, chopped its neck, ‘discovered’ that its recurring laryngeal nerve is loner than required, showed it as his exhibit to ‘prove’ that had there been a god, it should not have a long neck.
To the question as to whether there is human pharynx if there had been God, there is another question in reply: “It is possible now to surgically fit a human body with two separate tubes from one’s nose and mouth to lungs and stomach, though the procedure would be a complex one? Are they prepared to hand over their body to subject it to such an experiment by spending some money?”
Before answering this question with a “yes”, it would be better think of one’s face after the surgery. There would be an additional cavity in one’s face; a nose ever running. After the surgery, one will have a face with which one would be incapable of tasting or smelling or kissing one’s spouses in their lips.
Pharynx is a human organ in which two metabolic activities equal to that of an ape, two senses different from it and one peculiarity of a man are all conjoined in a complex way. Metabolic activities are breathing and the intake of food and water. The physiological structure for these metabolic acts in humans are almost equal to that of humans. Though apes have nose which feels smell and tongue which feels taste, they do not feel it in the same way that humans do. Nose, tongue and lips play some sexual roles. It is the speech which is the only human specificity of pharynx. Only man has the peculiarity of speech. The pharynx is designed in humans, taking all these factors into consideration.
But for pharynx where our nose and throat are conjoined, man would not have been able to speak and create languages. It is the co-ordinated acts of nose and mouth which lead to the formation of letters and words in the mouth. Pharynx conjoins these two organs to make human speech. Though we smell mainly through our nose, it is because of pharynx that we can breathe through our mouth in exigency. If we do not have pharynx, we will be asphyxiated when we do hard physical labour, swim and before we take a dip, closing our nostrils. If we can breathe only through our noses, we will be in need of a large one. And a large-nosed man will have to carry a handle filter to keep away bees and insects. And as the vapours in the breathing air cannot pass through the throat, we will have to walk with a running nose. The reason why we can taste our food is that smell and taste are mingled in our pharynx. But for pharynx, the food we take in would have been devoid of taste, just as it is when we have common cold. But for pharynx, we would have been in need of another organ which opens only to speak, as well as other systems to defend pathogens which can go inside through that organ…There would be so many problems like these.
Then, let the questioner tell: do we really in need of a surgery to remove pharynx while fitting separate canals from the nose and mouth to lungs and stomach? Those for whom belligerent atheism has not grown into a neurosis will say an assertive ‘No’ to this question.
As for viruses, they are biological molecules of which we cannot say that they have life or cannot that they do not have it, either. According to biologists, these microorganisms are most in number in the biological world, which, standing alone, do not show any sign of life and, which, when they reach inside the organic cell, reproduce. The world had not been aware of viruses till 1892, when Russian scientist Dimitri Ivanowski came to understand the micro organisms that cause the diseases in tobacco leaves. They are much smaller than bacteria, the unicellular creatures. Whereas bacteria have the length of 1000 nano meter, the length of viruses is 20 to 400 nano meters. If we say that there is 40 million bacteria in a gram of sand, we can guess how small both bacteria and virus are in their size.
The question as why viruses and bacteria were created come from ignorance about them. We are familiar with them simply as pathogens. But nothing is father from truth. There are more bacteria and microorganisms in human body than even cells. The cells in human body are 3.72 million. Studies variously say that there are three times as many micro-organisms or 1.3 times as many of them. Whatever be their numerical strength, these millions of microorganisms play some crucial roles in human body. They have some important roles to play in our digestion, immunity and breathing process. These microorganisms do many more things than our cells are capable of doing: dissolution of carbohydrates and poisonous matters, helping in the absorption of fatty acids and defending some dangerous pathogens which the white blood cells cannot defend. All these happen on account of symbiosis between the microorganisms and our body. When this symbiosis is impaired, the same microorganisms turn out to be destructive.
It is our immunity system that prevents the symbiosis between our cells and microorganisms from being impaired. It is the external viruses that play the role of developing our immunity system stage by stage. The immunity is strengthened through virus attacks during our infancy. There are certain viruses called bacteria phages that destroy dangerous bacteria. While the scientists are perturbed by the problem that the pathogenic bacteria are able to gradually attain the power to resist antibiotics which humans have developed to destroy them, they find the bacteria phages as a solution. Researches in that direction have picked up steam in the world of science. The world of science has realised that viruses are not just pathogens. The study in 2015 published by the Journal of Virology brought out by American Society of Virology substantiates this argument. The PhD study titled “Move over bacteria! Viruses make their mark as mutualistic microbial symbionts” was prepared by Marilyn Roossinck, Professor of Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology, of Pennsylvania University. The study makes its clear that the viruses which we consider merely as pathogens play the role of making earth and water liveable, of preserving the food-producing plants and of maintaining immunity of human body. Those who want to read the study, visit the website https://jvi.asm.org/.
The world has realised that the viruses that are the micro creatures of the Merciful God on the earth play a beneficiary role in the world. For believers, new studies in the field of virology will be the commentary of the Quranic verse, “My Mercy Encompasses all things” (Quran 7:156) (Mercy of Allah is inherent in all things which we experience as either good or bad). Yes, all small and big phenomena in the universe are expressions of God’s Mercy, Invincibility and Supremacy, whether we understand it or not.