There are a couple of reasons I like to read questions asked by skeptics. First, it demonstrates how little studied many skeptics are about creation. Often, the questions are so absurdly easy to answer, it gives me an opportunity to point out to the skeptic that he needs to study creation more thoroughly before rejecting it. A second reason, however, is that it gives me inspiration for items to blog about.
Such is the case from a skeptic using the online name, Clever Name (not really very clever but that's the name he chose). Clever Name posted about a dozen questions concerning the Flood. Some of them are interesting and may be used in upcoming posts but he prompted another skeptic (going by the name rossum) to ask how diseases – like small pox, tape worms, and polio – survived the Flood. OK, “tape worm” is not really a disease but you get the point. This isn't a new criticism but one I've heard many times before. I merely haven't addressed it before now.
I've heard it suggested (via a straw man argument) that Noah and his family had to be the most sickly people that had ever lived because they had to carry among them all known human maladies and parasites. The Bible does not say how bacteria and viruses et al survived the Flood so any answer given by creationists are educated guesses. There are many plausible explanations - any one of which is possible (or a combination of all of them). I will offer a few possibilities but this is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of options.
CARRIED BY THE FAMILY
Noah and his family could possibly have had ailments that survived the Flood though this is the least plausible explanation. Most viruses do not infect human hosts for a year without being defeated by our immune system but some diseases are chronic. Since I'm not a doctor, I can't say if there are any viruses that hosts can “carry” for years without symptoms and still be contagious but, if so, some of Noah's family can be blamed if those maladies still plague us. Parasites, on the other hand, can definitely be carried for long periods by their hosts and still be passed along to others. Tapeworms, which were specifically mentioned by rossum, are such parasites.
Even if some diseases survived via Noah's family, this certainly cannot account for all of the diseases suffered by humans today. There must be other methods as well.
CARRIED BY ANIMALS
There were at least a few thousand animals on the Ark. There can be no doubt that many of them carried parasites like tics, fleas, and tapeworms. Many also likely carried viruses. Now, I already know that some critics out there will bring up the fact that many diseases that infect humans cannot be borne by animals. While that may be true of modern strains, it may not be true of their ancestors. Viruses that can now only survive in humans may have once been more robust and able to live in animals as well. Viruses, like animals, have adapted to their environments and become more specialized. The further back we go in time, the more general and robust species may have been.
The funny thing is that this must be a part of the evolutionary theory even if evolutionists don't see it as an option for creationists. If certain viruses can only live in humans now, how did the viruses survive millions of years ago before humans evolved? Obviously, the ancestors of these modern, human strains were borne by something other than humans. Evolutionists must concede that viruses that only infect humans now must once have survived in non-humans. If the evolutionists are honest, they should also admit this solution exists for the creationist as well.
CONTACT WITH INFECTED DEAD PEOPLE OR ANIMALS
Under the right conditions, things like bacteria and viruses can survive extended periods without a host. About one year ago, I wrote about the discovery of living bacteria that was supposedly 34,000 years old. Decades old viruses have also be recovered from a doomed, arctic expedition. For years after the Flood, humans may have come into contact with the carcasses of infected people or animals that had perished in the Deluge.
SOME DISEASES DIDN'T EXIST BEFORE THE FLOOD
Though I risk hearing a big “gotcha” from my opponents, I know that some germs that cause disease now, may not have been disease causing in the antediluvean world. Many things we now consider harmful may have once served a beneficial purpose but, because of the Curse, has mutated to become the malevolent agent it is now. Such a notion brings to mind the ultimate origin of pathogens in the first place. Surely, God would not have intended things like cancer to be part of the initial, “very good” creation. Where then did they come from? Perhaps God, in His foreknowledge, programed latent features into DNA that became expressed as part of His judgment. I don't know. However it may have happened, the same mechanism could be at work after the Flood. Mutations that cause deformities and maladies in other species, could also make helpful bacteria become harmful. This is the cursed world we live in.
IN CONCLUSION, there's no reason to believe that diseases are somehow an argument against the Flood. There are many ways these survived the Flood without resorting to the ridiculous idea that Noah and his sickly family carried them all.