Viruses have a bad reputation. They are ultra-tiny, well-designed machines that copy themselves in a process that sometimes causes disease in the organisms in which they reside. One class called retroviruses is equipped with machinery that splices its own viral code into the DNA of a host cell.

Retroviruses have been portrayed as genetic “leftovers” from an evolutionary past, but how did they really originate?

A report published in Science showed how one retrovirus was “born.” Researchers discovered that a retrovirus named XMRV was formed when two DNA sequences called “proviruses” were brought together through “recombination.”1 This occurs during gamete development when genetic material from the parent cells is rearranged into new combinations of genes in the offspring, resulting in more genetic variations.

The study authors wrote, “We conclude that XMRV was generated as a result of a unique recombination event.”1

Could other—or perhaps all—viruses have entered the world by recombining unique DNA sequences that were already present in animal genomes? Perhaps God made viruses during the creation week as integral parts of plants and animals….

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