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Atheism, Christians and Science

Evolution’s Insignificant Impact on Modern Medicine

Cellular landscape around a mitochondrion.In a previous article I shared the wonderful contributions of creationists to medicine. In fact, some of the greatest advances in medicine have come from those who love the Lord!  In many cases they were even trying to disprove evolution (or its predecessor, Aristotelian “spontaneous generation”).

I think because evolution is the prevailing theory of origins, and it seems that medicine has advanced in leaps and bounds over the last century, that many believe the knowledge of evolutionary principles has led to those advances. But that just isn’t true. Many of the greatest discoveries have happened IN SPITE of Darwinian evolution, or because scientists used elements of creationism/intelligent design in their work — that is, they looked at the world with the view that there was an intelligent design in nature. For example, as they studied the cell, they realized each one was like a factory with a complex design that could be studied.

One example of  a person who doubted the contribution of evolution to medicine would be Ernst Chain, who was awarded the 1945 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. He was the scientist who identified the structure of penicillin and isolated the active substance. He is considered to be one of the founders in the field of antibiotics. Concerning Darwin’s theory of evolution, Chain found it to be “a very feeble attempt” to explain the origin of species based on assumptions so flimsy that “it can hardly be called a theory.” (1)  He saw the reliance on chance mutations as a “hypothesis based on no evidence and irreconcilable with the facts.” (2)  He wrote:

“These classic evolutionary theories are a gross oversimplification of an immensely complex and intricate mass of facts, and it amazes me that they were swallowed so uncritically and readily, and for such a long time, by so many scientists without a murmur of protest.” (2)

Chain concluded that he “would rather believe in fairies than in such wild speculation” as Darwinism. (1) In 1938, Chain came across Alexander Fleming’s 1929 paper on penicillin, and showed it to his colleague Howard Florey. In their research, Chain isolated and purified penicillin. (3)

Philip S. Skell, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, also affirmed the lack of contributions to medicine from Darwinism when he wrote in the August 29, 2005, edition of The Scientist : 

  1.  “I recently asked more than seventy eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin’s theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No. I also examined the outstanding discoveries of the past century: the discovery of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; the development of new surgeries; and others. I even queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin’s theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.”

    –Philip S. Skell. August 29, 2005. “Why Do We Invoke Darwin?” The Scientist, Vol. 19, No. 16, p. 10.

    Finally, Sean B. Carroll, of the Medical Institute and Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, wrote in a 2001 edition of Nature:

    “A long-standing issue in evolutionary biology is whether the processes observable in extant populations and species (microevolution) are sufficient to account for the larger-scale changes evident over longer periods of life’s history (macroevolution). Outsiders to this rich literature may be surprised that there is no consensus on this issue.”

    – Sean B. Carroll. 8 February 2001. Nature, Vol. 409, p. 669.

    It seems to me that the pursuit of truth is what all of us (creationists and evolutionists) should be searching for. If truth (based on the evidence) can be found in the claims of science, then so be it, but if the evidence matches up with the claims of a religion, perhaps that religion may be the TRUTH.

    As I look at history, I see many scientific claims that have been completely discredited: scientific racism/polygenism, spontaneous generation, Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, phrenology, the flat earth, eugenics, the baby in the womb is a blob, the geocentric view of the solar system, Pluto(?), oatmeal is good, oatmeal is bad, and on and on . . .

    I also see that Christianity has stood the test of time. It countered scientific racism/polygenism (Acts 17:25). It inspired the greatest scientists such as Newton, Bacon, Boyle, Galileo, etc . . .  It inspired many in the medical field, such as Pasteur and Lister. Its followers would discredit hoaxes such as Piltdown Man and Nebraska Man. Believers oppose abortion and would never encourage eugenic experiments on anybody because Jesus told us to love one another.

    Evolution is false belief, and if we were to be honest, its greatest contribution to the world of medicine would be eugenics, the quest to improve the overall genetic make-up of the human race. Eugenicists selectively bred biologically “superior” people and forcibly eliminated genetic defects by sterilizing, aborting, or euthanizing “inferior” people. (C) Eugenics was developed by Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin. He studied and tried to implement evolutionary theory. Of course, while popular at the time, and taught at universities such as Harvard, eugenics was most famously implemented by Hitler and the Nazi regime.

1. Clark, R.W. 1985. The Life of Ernst Chain: Penicillin and Beyond. New York: St. Martin’s Press, p. 147.

2. Chain, E. 1970. Social Responsibility and the Scientist in Modern Western Society (Robert Waley Cohen memorial lecture). London: The Council of Christians and Jews, p. 25.

3.   –Jerry Bergman, Ph.D. April 2008. Ernst Chain: Antibiotics Pioneer. Acts&Facts, Vol. 37, No. 4, pp. 10-12

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About Diana Lesperance

I'm passionate about Jesus and I love to defend the gospel of grace and truth. I have a large and active family that keeps me busy and overwhelmed on a daily basis.

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Evolution’s Insignificant Impact on Modern Medicine

  1. Quote-mining aside, science doesn’t make claims, it tests them. It is in the business of debunking bad ideas. All of your so-called failures of science are actually triumphs, and many or most of them were not ideas that were ever supported by tests or data, no one ever claimed to experimentally prove the earth was flat or that spontaneous generation was accurate.

    As for hitler and eugenics I don’t know how anyone who knows anything about darwin’s theories can think that they would support systematic in-breeding. In reality the documents ordering books to be removed from the libraries in nazi germany for going against what the nazis believed explicitly included not just darwin’s writings, but specified that any writings that agreed with them were to be removed as well.

    http://www.library.arizona.edu/exhibits/burnedbooks/documents.htm

    What did darwin have to say about forced eugenics?

    “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed. The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected.”

    An overwhelming present evil that would mean deterioration of the noblest part of our nature. Yeah he was totally for it.

    By the way this is how that passage was quoted in the pro-intelligent design creationism movie “expelled:no intelligence allowed”:

    “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

    Note that it was edited in several places with no elipses or brackets to indicate it had been modified, and key phrases like “excepting in the case of man himself” which made clear he was not advocating eugenics were deliberately removed.

    I can keep going. It is not scientists who are engaging in revisionist history.

    Posted by agnophilo | September 13, 2013, 6:24 pm
  2. I couldn’t make the link between ‘a man who was a creationist has made medical advances’ and ‘creationism has made medical advances’ for your previous post (for much the same reason and I can’t make the link between ‘Newton was an alchemist’ and ‘alchemy has made contributions to physics’), and now I can’t make the connection between ‘creationists who have made medical advances not believing in evolution’ and ‘evolution bearing no impact on medicine’.
    Evolution is the thing that informs us that microbes adapt; that we have to update and adapt our antibiotics. You are, of course, welcome to use antibiotics for the 1700s if you want–but I can’t recommend it.
    Evolution is the underpinning explanation to genetic disorders, particularly hereditary ones.
    Evolutionary science showed the Piltdown man to be a hoax (you can’t show it with chemistry or physics; if you don’t accept evolutionary theory then you have no way of explaining how Piltdown man was a hoax–except for the confession, but that was pressured by the amounting evidence accumulated from… wait for it… evolutionary science).
    There is nothing incompatible about evolution and the complexity of the modern cell.
    The link between evolution and eugenics is the value system of bad people. Physics made the nuclear bomb possible, but that doesn’t discount physics; it brings into focus the heinous nature of many people.

    To move off of evolution and into broader science: geocentric models were Biblically inspired and heliocentric models were fought by the Church on account of not being Biblical; science uncovered the heliocentric model. Science also uncovered the round Earth theory (although that happened long before people thought; you can see the curvature of the Earth, the Romans knew it was round. Known world maps (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_world_maps) would suggest humans navigated the world by 500bc, we must have known it was round then).
    Pluto is a categorisation issue. Spontaneous generation is a pre-Enlightenment and pre-scientific idea. The health benefits of oatmeal are debatable based on your definition of health and how you weight each factor.

    Posted by Allallt | September 14, 2013, 7:46 am
    • Hi Allalt!

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that, while evolution is a theory about the way the world works, it isn’t useful as an influence in medical research. There are several scholarly discussions about this dilemma.

      Piltdown Man is actually an example of the frustration of scientists concerning evolution. They are so desperate to find evidence for their belief that they are repeatedly willing to believe in hoaxes.

      Were the Neanderthals the missing links? No. Even though they were taught to be, as fact, for nearly a century.

      Was Piltdown Man the missing link? No. Even though it was treated as though it was for forty years.

      Was the Nebraska Man the missing link? No. Even though it was published as proof of evolution in many newspapers.

      Was Java Man the missing link? No. Even though it held that title for nearly thirty years.

      What about Peking Man? No. Another hoax.

      Homo habilus? No.

      Lucy? No.

      Ramapithecus? No.

      Scientists have never found a missing link.

      The point I’m making isn’t about evolution; it’s about what is produced by a given worldview. One worldview has produced countless blessings (Should I list them all? You’ve read my posts), while the other worldview has produced hoaxes and lies, which frankly, I would be embarrassed about if I was an evolutionist.

      Nice to hear from you again. 🙂

      Posted by Diana Lesperance | September 20, 2013, 11:26 pm
      • I’m glad you’re back, I enjoy reading your material. I hope you didn’t take a break for any unfortunate reasons.

        There is an issue with the term “missing link”; you haven’t identified the species you want to link. The Ardipithecine -> Australopithecine -> early Homos is reasonably well established by fossils records.

        But the reason I qualify that with “by fossil records” is because fossil records are being considered an increasingly indirect method given the power of genetic mapping. We can map species like we map a family tree.

        In paleo-studies, obviously DNA is not available. So fossil records are the best we have (and they are pretty convincing). But when it comes to looking at modern day species DNA is all we need.

        Galactic evolution, star evolution, Boyle’s gas laws, relativity and computer science are all absolutely redundant for medical science. Is there a deeper point you’re trying to make?

        Posted by Allallt | September 21, 2013, 11:53 am
  3. “Evolution is false belief”

    Wow, i really have no idea how to respond to such a statement, Diana. If we had never found a single fossil, we would still know evolution was true thanks to the genetic evidence, that’s how strong it is.

    1. Ubiquitous genes: Not only do all organisms on Earth use the exact same DNA codes, but also, in many cases, the same genes. You can replace the cytochrome C gene in yeast with the cytochrome C gene from humans, insects or birds and the yeast cells don’t know the difference.

    2. General patterns: Humans are more genetically similar to chimps than to to dogs, more similar to dogs than to fish, more similar to fish than to lobsters, etc. If each species were created independently, we would not see this pattern. On the other hand, the pattern is perfectly explained by common descent.

    3. Specific changes:
    a. We see the same exact mutations in the same exact places in the same genes of both humans and chimps. In many cases, the mutations destroy the functioning of that gene. There would be no reason to purposefully mutate the genes in this manner, and the odds of having the same exact nucleotide altered in the same way in two species would be astronomical. The best explanation for this observation is that the mutation occurred only once in the common ancestor of chimps and humans. All of that ancestor’s descendants carry the mutation.
    b. Sometimes viruses get permanently fused into an animal’s genome. The descendants of this animal will all have the exact same viral sequence in the exact same place in their genomes. The same viral sequences in the same places can be found in both chimps and humans despite the fact that these viral insertion events are completely random.

    Posted by john zande | September 15, 2013, 4:53 pm
  4. “As I look at history, I see many scientific claims that have been completely discredited: scientific racism/polygenism, spontaneous generation, Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, phrenology, the flat earth, eugenics, the baby in the womb is a blob, the geocentric view of the solar system, Pluto(?), oatmeal is good, oatmeal is bad, and on and on . . .”

    If anything, what you just stated are the triumphs of science. If science was unscientific, these false beliefs and hoaxes would still be deemed as true today. Furthermore, many of these ideas were unscientific to begin with (in other words, they were not derived from the scientific method): Flat Earth for one, which was never held as a scientific belief, or the awkwardly stated ‘baby in the womb is a blob’ (I’d appreciate if you showed me which scientists ever made this specific claim). Science is not inerrant. Science is not truth or belief. Science is the method through which we can verify whether a belief can be held to be true or not. There is no ‘final word’ in science, and even when scientists understand the underlying mechanics wrong, this does not in any way have a negative impact on ‘science in general’. One day it may be found that the theory of gravity was incorrect. This will not mean that gravity will cease to have a physical impact in the cosmos.

    Posted by Amadeus_yid | March 4, 2015, 9:05 am
    • The word science means “knowledge.” Jesus said “thy word is truth.” Knowledge and truth do not have to be at variance with one another. In fact, the greatest achievements of humanity are accomplished when truth and knowledge are joined together. That’s why so many of the greatest blessings to the human race have come through western civilization by those who loved Jesus, and stood on the truth of the Word of God.

      So often, people have abandoned the truth of the scriptures in exchange for the truth of science. This is when some of the worst abuses of humanity have occurred.

      For example, most of the racial theories of the 19th and 20th centuries were based on scientific theories such as polygenism, phrenology, eugenics, and Darwinism. These were theories that rejected the scriptures as a source of knowledge. Those who opposed them most vehemently were Christians who proclaimed the scientific theories couldn’t be true because they conflicted with the truth of the scriptures. History has shown they were right.

      One example of this was the work of Louis Pasteur and Joseph Lister. The prevailing theory was “spontaneous generation,” but Lister and Pasteur both opposed the theory on the basis that something couldn’t come from nothing. Instead, they claimed, everything was created by God. Therefore, bandages, cleansers, and goosenecked bottles produced cleanliness, keeping out bacteria that caused spoilage and infection.

      Darwinism didn’t bless humanity. It birthed social Darwinism and eugenics. Empire, the white man’s burden, and the abuse of the darker races (who weren’t as evolved as the white race) were all fruits of Herbert Spencer’s take on Darwinism.

      Eugenics was an attempt at racial hygiene. It was used to further certain races and types of people through sterilization and genetic manipulation. The Nazis used eugenics to further their master race of Aryans.

      If you’d like to know who opposed polygenism, read the speeches of Frederick Douglass. William Wilberforce and the Clapham Sect were finally able to successfully abolish slavery in the British Empire by standing on Acts 17:26. (abu un sanguire–of one blood). The Confessing Church opposed Hitler and the Nazis and declared that the reason was that they couldn’t accept another truth besides the scriptures.

      Did you know the whole world was in darkness before Jesus came? The whole world was in a state of cruelty, tyranny, slavery, cannibalism, and warfare. As the Word of God spread, the world became kinder, more charitable, and more free. Blood sport died off, hospitals were created, the sick and poor were cared for, infanticide, cannibalism, and fear of pagan gods decreased.

      Christianity blessed the world. There may not be a final word on truth in science, but there is a final word on truth in the scriptures, and I find it very interesting that whenever biblical truth was opposed–humanity suffered.

      Posted by Diana Lesperance | April 19, 2015, 5:02 pm

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Books

Why am I WAITING for “Shalom?”

"They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven . . ."
(1 Thessalonians 1:9b-10a)

The word "shalom" in the Hebrew has many meanings which indicate restoration, renewal, friendship, peace, safety and so on. At one time, God placed his creation in a perfect garden--a place of safety, security, provision and peace--and we disobeyed God, losing 1) our relationship with God and 2) paradise.

Since that time, we've attempted to bring back both of these losses in our own way. Religion is our attempt to gain back our relationship with God, and politics is our attempt to gain back paradise.

The solution to both of these losses is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet the world refuses to believe the good news! Instead they try to attain the restoration--the shalom--in their own way through their own effort.

I believe that the kingdom of God is restored in the hearts of men as they receive Christ's finished work, but the kingdom of God doesn't come physically to earth until Christ comes.

Any effort to bring about the promise ahead of time in our own strength is akin to Abraham going to Hagar for fulfillment of the promise instead of waiting with Sarah for the birth of the promised child through whom the nations of the earth would be blessed.

The evangelical church is rushing en masse to bring about shalom through their own effort, power, and influence. Men like Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Jim Wallis, and Donald Miller are losing their faith in the promise of Christ that he would prepare a place for them and they're attempting to restore paradise now.

I want to let it be known that I'm WAITING for shalom. I won't be a part of their dream. They are moving ahead of God rather than waiting on God and they will create another Ishmael as a result.

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