You probably learned in middle school science class that all living things (plants and animals) are made of microscopic cells. Viruses are not made of cells. They are simply wads of protein – often with some sort of protective coating. They are usually much smaller than bacteria and function as tiny, nearly invisible parasites. Viruses cannot thrive or reproduce outside of a living cell. They are not actually alive so they can’t be killed – only disassembled.
Viruses have a reputation for being causes of disease. While some bacteria also cause disease, some have been found to be beneficial to other living organisms – viruses are never beneficial.
Viruses have some of the elements of life such as genetic material and they can reproduce. But they cannot produce their own energy. They cannot grow or move on their own or even reproduce by themselves. In fact there are generally only two things any virus can do: 1. break into a living cell. 2. use that cell’s machinery to make numerous copies of itself. That activity kills the cell the virus broke into causing all of the newly made virus copies to be released into the surrounding area. Then each of the newly made viruses is, at that point, free to repeat the process. The result is what we call a viral infection.
Each kind of virus can only invade a specific kind of living cell. For example carrot viruses can only infect carrots. Chicken viruses can only infect chickens. However, they can change. Sometimes a chicken virus can change enough that it can also infect pigeons or dogs or humans.
Viruses are tiny, tiny things – hundreds of times smaller than a salt crystal. Viruses are not beneficial to living things, yet most of them are not directly harmful to human beings, but some of them really are. Some viruses can actually infect bacteria. That, in a sense, can be a good, useful thing if they happen to kill bacteria that are harmful to humans. But even those are not terribly trustworthy.
If one steps back from the electron microscope (the only tool we can use to actually ‘see’ viruses) a curiosity emerges. It looks exactly as though some entity attempted to create life, but couldn’t quite get the job done. It looks as though many of the parts were available, but an actual, real ‘life-force’ was missing and the only way to get the thing to function at all was for it to steal the life-force from some living thing that had it. That’s what viruses do — that’s all they do.
Who would do such a thing? Who might be inclined to try to create life – some mad scientist perhaps. But who would try to do it and find success in making something that never builds up – only destroys?
Your adversary prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (see 1 Pet 5:8)
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