The COVID pandemic has taught us a lot. People need to be aware that COVID has been found in 32 different kinds of animals. A few domestic cases have had a strong effect on humans both economically and medically. Realize that this data is just the recorded cases, and the actual case numbers of COVID in animals may be far higher.
The most significant instances of COVID in animals have been in the American mink. The problem is that mink farms have large numbers of animals confined in small spaces, allowing the virus to spread quickly. The November 2022 issue of Scientific American reported 787 cases in minks. As a result, some mink farmers have had to destroy their entire stock to stop the disease from spreading. White-tailed deer are the second-highest wild animal group, with 467 reported cases of COVID.
Dogs and cats had the next highest numbers–353 cats and 225 dogs with reported COVID infections. There is great concern about these domestic animals since they are in constant contact with humans. Rounding out the domesticated animals that can carry and spread the virus are cows, hamsters, and ferrets.
The remaining cases in both the wild and in zoos include lions, tigers, gorillas, otters, beavers, lynxes, and hippopotamuses. These cases show that the virus is very active among mammals and will continue to spread unless animal vaccines are produced and used. Our domestication and use of wild animals means that new strains of COVID in animals will continue to arise. Humans can get the virus from animals as well as other humans, and we can also pass it back to animals.
Studying the origins of the diseaseand compiling a database of infected species will make it easier for scientists to learn how to protect against COVID and other virus infections. We humans are often our own worst enemies, but God has given us the wisdom and the tools we need to be good stewards of life on Earth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that three-quarters of “new or emerging infectious diseases” in humans originated in animals. Medical scientists call them zoonotic infections. Furthermore, six of every ten known infectious diseases can spread from animals to humans. Diseases that originated in animals include SARS, Zika, Ebola, West Nile, HIV, COVID, and Monkeypox. Some diseases, such as HIV, have jumped to humans because of sexual relationships between humans and animals.
As the human population grows, people have more contact with animals and use more animals for food. In addition, the pet trade has seen a massive increase, with a wider variety of animals being confined to homes and sharing everything from beds to meals with their human owners.
Those who blame God for the diseases that are such a serious problem should understand that God never intended for animals to replace humans as family members. A virus that may be of no consequence or even helpful to an animal can cause severe problems for humans. The Old Testament contains strict hygienic rules designed to minimize disease transmission when raising and using animals for food. The rules also forbid using blood as food and any sexual relationship with animals. (See Leviticus 17:12 and Deuteronomy 27:21.).
We may think the biblical instructions for using and managing animals were just for religious purposes. However, it is evident that God knew infectious diseases can spread from animals to humans, and He wanted to protect His people. This is one more example of the consequences of rejecting the Bible as a source of information on how we should live and what our priorities should be.
When you read the hygienic rules for the nation of Israel in the Bible, you might think they are restrictive and unnecessary. However, we now understand that some 60% of known infectious diseases in humans came from animals, and over 250 known diseases have come directly to humans from virus-carrying animals.
We also know that 850,000 viruses exist within the bodies of mammals and birds, and 10% of rodent species host pathogens that can infect people. Seventy-seven known viruses can come from primates to humans, and bats are well-equipped to carry viruses to humans. For example, the SARS-CoV-2 virus in bats probably initiated the COVID virus in humans. We are seeing significant increases in diseases carried by animals and spread by mosquitos, ticks, and a variety of parasites. The Lyme disease incidence rate has doubled in the past ten years, and scientists have identified two new tick-carried diseases. Dengue fever has increased 30-fold in recent years. In addition, researchers have identified white-tailed deer as carriers of the Omicron variant of the COVID virus.
Massive vaccination is never going to eradicate the agents of pandemics. However, careful understanding of the creation’s design and maintaining separation between humans and virus-carrying animals can make a huge difference.
The above data compiled by health policy columnist Dr. Richard Feldman shows the benefit of vaccines. Using available public health data, he researched the prevalence of those diseases before science developed vaccines against them. He then adjusted for population growth and projected what the numbers could be today without a vaccine. Then, he listed the recent number of reported cases. The chart above shows only some of his statistics. You can find his complete article at THIS LINK.
A basic Bible principle is that you can judge the validity of something by its fruit. Jesus said it clearly, “You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes out of thorns or figs out of thistles? Every good tree brings forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit” (Matthew 7:15-18). In this passage, Jesus was talking about false prophets, but the principle can apply to “false prophets” who tell people to avoid vaccines. God’s design of the human immune system and an understanding of diseases has resulted in “good fruit.” of vaccines that save lives.
The COVID virus is going to add another set of numbers. Because medical science understands some of the design in God’s creation, we have the benefit of vaccines. God can provide us with the tools to improve our lives, but He will not force us to use what He gives us. That is true of every teaching of Jesus, and it is true of COVID.
Every day there are stories about people who refuse to be vaccinated for COVID, indicating that they don’t trust science. Where does this distrust of science come from? Furthermore, what can we do about it?
Dr. Robert Jastrow explained a good indication of the source of the problem in his book God and the Astronomers. Jastrow said this about scientists: “Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind – supposedly a very objective mind – when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the articles of faith in our professions. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence. We become irritated, we pretend the conflict does not exist, or we paper it over with meaningless phrases.”
The most famous example of this was Albert Einstein, whose work showed there had to be a beginning to the creation. Einstein was an agnostic at that time and didn’t want to believe the cosmos had a beginning. So despite the evidence, he introduced a constant into his equations to allow his work to support his religious belief that the universe was eternal. In 1919 cosmologist Arthur Eddington pointed out the error, thus indicating that there was a beginning to the cosmos. Later, Einstein called it the “greatest blunder of my life.”
The problem is that not all scientists have the integrity that Einstein demonstrated. Many Nobel prize winners have made false claims in spite of clear evidence to the contrary. The bottom line is that doctors and scientists are humans, and they make mistakes and run into things they can’t explain, just like the rest of us. Sometimes even good science causes bad reactions. I know a family whose child had a severe reaction to a measles vaccination that left her in a vegetative state. Most of us know someone who has had an adverse reaction to a medication. These things combine to cause a distrust of science.
Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:20 to “avoid profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” Science is knowledge, and Paul isn’t telling Timothy to avoid knowledge. Instead, Paul is telling him to avoid “babblings.” The Greek word used there means “empty sounds.” Scientists may express their beliefs or feelings, but that is not science. Television has brought scientists into talk shows where they voice opinions on things outside of their field of training. Unfortunately, our news people are almost all biased in what they report and how they report it. For example, some channels are so aligned with a political party that 100% of their news reporting promotes that party.
We can read scientific reports and know, for example, the risks of a COVID vaccination. But, we can also consider the benefits are to us, our loved ones, and our community as well. If we are going to be good stewards of our lives and health, we must spend some time determining what is good and true and what is a dangerous scam. Distrust of science by rejecting a medical tool proven to preserve health and well-being because someone in the media makes a false claim is foolish. It only serves the agenda of those who oppose the Truth.
The Department of Veterans Affairs released studies of 87,000 people up to six months after they tested positive for COVID compared with five million people in their database who didn’t have the virus. Those with a history of COVID had a 59% increased risk of dying prematurely within half a year after contracting the disease. People with disease problems such as heart issues, diabetes, and kidney disease are subject to COVID aftereffects.
Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly. the head of the research and developmental service at the VA St. Louis Care system said, “We are starting to see a little bit beneath that iceberg, and it’s really alarming.” I have a personal interest in this because my son Tim remains in a nursing home after having a bout with COVID that left him with multiple problems from muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, which had both been under control before he contracted COVID. Now they are running wild and leaving him unable to stand, walk, or manage his own eating. Also, his speech is seriously compromised.
Those who maintain that COVID is an exaggerated problem are not looking at COVID aftereffects on people who have had existing conditions before contracting the virus. It would appear that, in time, other health issues will be found in the population. Anytime we allow animal viruses to get into humans, there is a high probability of severe health problems, and COVID has shown that in dramatic ways.
Because of the COVID pandemic, we have not been able to do our regular lectureship schedule. In place of that, we have provided an opportunity for congregations to have a lectureship electronically. We want to make that opportunity to study with John Clayton available to the readers of this column.
What we will do is mail a DVD of the first four lectures in our video series. You or your group can watch the four programs writing down questions and challenges to the material. Please send us your questions via email or postal mail, and John Clayton will respond to them. If you are satisfied with that material, return the DVD, and we mail you the next one. Your only cost is the return postage for the DVD.
If you are interested in this opportunity to study with John Clayton, please send us your name and address, and we will send the first DVD to you. Watching the Does God Exist? presentations in the comfort of your home is an excellent way to receive the information without risk from COVID or the inconvenience of driving to a lectureship site. Email your request to John Clayton at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a new educational opportunity provided by the DOES GOD EXIST? ministry.