Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Origin of Diseases

Question - "Hello Pastors, today in Biology class we were talking about Malaria. We discussed that the only way a person can become infected with Malaria is if they get bitten by a mosquito that has the disease, and the only way a mosquito is carrying the disease is if they bit an infected person; and I was wondering what came first and who created diseases? Thanks."

Answer - No, thank you! It has been over 35 years since I took High School Biology so it was about time I "brushed up" a little.

I'm not sure about everything your Teacher taught, but the dilemma you present in an accurate one. Where did the Malaria come from in the first place and how did the first person infected with it...well, get infected?

I checked out the science stuff...and here is what I was able to find. Malaria is actually a living organism that is a "parasite". The Malaria that infects humans is called p. falciparum or p. vivax depending on the strain. I believe the "p." classifies it as a parasite (but remember, I am a Bible teacher not a Biology teacher).

The way I understand it...parasites are living organisms that feed off of and live on or in other living organisms. Sometimes, even causing the death of the "host" that they are living off of.

 The "scientific" community tries to explain how the first person was infected with the Malaria parasite this way...
  • Supposedly, these Malaria parasites existed thousands of years before humans in some form or another.
  • They think that since a similar parasite can be found in the Ape family (Gorilla's, Monkeys, etc.) which is known as p. reichenowi , that at some point in time a mosquito sucked blood from an infected ape and transferred this parasite to a human and that parasite mutated into one of the two Malaria parasites known to infect humans.
  • This would make sense to most scientists since they believe that apes and humans share a common "ancestor" from way back millions of years ago.
Even if I were to accept this "theory", which as a Christian I do not, it still doesn't satisfactorily answer the question of where the first Malaria parasite came from does it?

Because I am a Bible teacher and a Christian, I will attempt to answer this question for you from a "biblical worldview".

You may also benefit from a previous answer that I gave to the question of the origin of Satan and Sin. (Pastor Joel is a great resource for this as well, as he has studied the whole Creation vs. Evolution debate in depth.)

Just as with all answers that deal with "origins", it is best to start at the beginning!

In the book of Genesis (which conveniently enough means "origin" or "in the beginning") we find the account of how God created everything out of nothing.  Genesis chapters 1 and 2 tell us the story of how God spoke everything that was created into creation or existence, in 6 days, including people.
Does that mean that God also created mosquitoes and parasites during that time? Yes, in one form or another when God created everything, He created everything (John 1:3). This doesn't mean that the mosquitoes or living organisms that we know of as parasites were created to be the "same" as what we deal with today, but that is where they came from.

Wait a minute! Are you saying that these things "evolved" over time? Well, yes and no. I'm not qualified to educate you on the difference between "micro" and "macro" evolution, but that would be a great question for Pastor Joe or Pastor Joel to answer!

What I am saying is this: According to the Bible, when God was done creating everything, He declared that everything He had created was "very good" or "perfect". Think about that. Everything God had made was perfect and without corruption, including plants, animals, bugs, all living organism's and people! No death, no disease, no worry, right?

So... what happened to this perfect creation?

Sin happened!

In Genesis 1:26-28, God gave the "pinnacle" of His creation (mankind) "dominion" or rule over the rest of what He had created on the Earth. He also gave us a choice. We could choose to love and obey Him and remain in this "paradise" forever or we could choose to reject and disobey Him and "sever" our connection with the Creator and Source of life!

God warned the first man (Adam) that if he rejected God (to disobey God is the same as to reject Him), then this thing called "death" would enter into the picture. To reject God is to reject life, and the only other option is death (Genesis 2:17; see also Deuteronomy 30:19).

In Genesis chapter 3 we find the account of how Satan (the adversary) tempted the first people (Adam and Eve) into choosing "self" over God, and in doing so, they sinned! When sin entered the picture, it corrupted everything, starting with the man and the woman. Their connection to God was severed and death and corruption was the result (Romans 5:12).

 All of creation was cursed because of mankind's choice to reject God. In His wrath against sin and death, God cursed the man, the woman, and the entire animal kingdom! Everything changed... including those microscopic living organisms.
  • Gen. 3:14 - The "serpent", and all domestic and wild animals were cursed. Even the way they related to mankind changed and would continue to change. (Lions didn't eat people, and mosquito's didn't suck blood in the Garden of Eden.)
  • Gen. 3:16 - The "natural" process for the multiplication of mankind was cursed and became  extremely painful for the woman. Her relationship with the man also became corrupted by sin and death.
  • Gen. 3:17-19 - The whole earth was cursed because of the man's sin and his "rule" over it was corrupted. The very ground was cursed because of our sin! Man would now have to fight against creation in order to live instead of ruling over it. And in the end only death awaited him no matter how hard he worked.
  • Gen. 3:22-24 - Mankind's access to the "tree of life" was cut off, and without life, death is the rule!

Romans 8:19-22 shows us the devastation caused by our sin: death and disease spreads to everything!

Romans 8:19-22 - "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."

Why was creation subjected to futility or corruption? Because corrupt people have no place in a perfect creation.

Also, creation was corrupted when we gave up our "dominion" over it and allowed Satan in. Now it was corrupted by the "dominion of darkness". Sin and death are the "disease". When Jesus said that Satan was a "murderer from the beginning", in John 8:44, this is exactly what He meant. (Also, look at James 1:15.)

Sin brings death. And death, whether it comes in the form of the "diseases" that we call Malaria, Cancer, ALS, etc., (or even the disease we call "old age"!) the origin of all diseases is the same: sin is corruption of God's perfect creation!

Whatever the Mosquito was supposed to do for or with mankind in the beginning, it has been corrupted and now sucks out our blood and leaves us pain and disease in its place. Whatever the "Malaria" bug was before the fall, it is now a corrupt parasite that does its best to bring death to the people it lives off of.

So, if death is "the" disease, then is there a cure? YES!

Jesus is the cure! 
  • John 10:10 - "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."
  • Romans 8:2 - "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death."
  • 1 John 3:8 - "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil."
  • Romans 5 - The whole chapter!
When Jesus called Himself "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" in John14:6 that is exactly what He meant. The truth is that Jesus is the only way for us to get back to true life. Jesus is the only way we can cure the disease's of sin and death. Jesus did what we could not. He lived a perfect, un-corrupted, sinless life, and then gave up that life as the payment or "atonement" for all of our sins. Jesus defeated sin and death on the cross and offers the "cure" to all who will repent of their sins and give their lives to Him; making Him their Lord and Savior!

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 - "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

When death ends, disease goes with it!

Life or Death is still our choice while we live. You have to make the choice before you die. See, there is a day coming when the One who defeated sin and death will return to once again make everything "perfect". In His kingdom there is no place for corruption. Check this out:

Everything and everyone that is still "corrupted" will end in eternal death (separated from God forever in hell):

  • Revelation 20:10 - "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."
  • Revelation 20:14-15 - "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

But those who have accepted the cure, whose names are written in Jesus' "book of life" will spend eternity with Him in the new "paradise":
  • Revelation 21:1 - "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea."
  • Revelation 2:7 - "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God."
  • Revelation 21:4 - "...and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."
  • Revelation 21:27 - "...and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."
  • Revelation 22:1-5 - "Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; 4 they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. 5 And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever."
(I strongly suggest you read all of Revelation to get the full picture of God's wrath against sin, death, and all who refuse the cure and the gift of life. Pay close attention to chapters 21 and 22 to get a glimpse of what eternal life will look like when there is no more disease.)

Bottom Line: Disease came into creation with death as a result of our sin. Death, disease, and corruption are the curses that come from rejecting God. Science can try to explain disease, cure disease, and prevent death, but in the end, they always fail, and always will! Even the healthiest among us are all terminal. Death is the great equalizer, and it will come for all of us.

Jesus is the only way to overcome disease and death, and to find true life. He's coming back and He will make all things new, set all things right, and do away with disease once and for all!

Ask your teacher what they want to do with that! As for me, I say, "Jesus, come!"
  • Revelation 22:17 - "The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost."
I hope this helped answer your question, either way it was kind of fun. Gotta go... just spotted a mosquito trying to get through my window screen... yuck!

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