There is much disagreement over evolution but one thing we can all agree on is that evolution is a highly influential theory. Like it or not, few scientific theories are as influential as evolution. Darwin’s theory injected its deeply flawed science into biology, but it did not stop there. One area where evolution’s damaging influence is important today is human health.
There is much to say about how evolution has influenced our thinking about health and our health care system. I will focus on two basic myths evolution has propagated which have done enormous damage: the random causation myth and the king gene myth.
You don’t need to be a scientist to know that random change is fundamental to evolution. From Darwin to today’s evolutionists, the key point in arguments for evolution is that this world was not designed. This age-old, Epicurean idea asserts that the world arose from unguided, random forces.
Evolution’s main mechanism is random change. You have heard of natural selection but it, as even Alfred Wallace agreed, is not a mechanism as such. It doesn’t cause or coax helpful biological change to occur. It merely kills off the weaker designs. Evolution is a theory of randomness.
Evolutionists did not understand just how such random change could be caused until genetics was better understood in the 20th century. Evolutionists needed to explain how biological change could occur randomly, yet be inherited once it occurred. Modern genetics provided the answer: the gene. Random mutations could alter genes and later be passed on to future generations.
This Version 2.0 of Darwin’s theory vaulted the gene to hero status as genes were viewed as the veritable blueprint of the body. The old proverb “You are what you eat,” became “You are what your genes say you are.”
Not surprisingly there were high expectations for the Human Genome Project, which would transcribe the human genome. Its initial results, produced in the year 2000, were announced with much fanfare, as scientists and politicians proclaimed great things to come. That early optimism, however, eventually faded as years later scientists would admit the problem was far more complex. Genes are important, but not that important. The idea that your genes determine your body has not held up well.
Evolution’s dual myths of random causation and the king gene have not been good for biology, and they also have done damage elsewhere. In the area of human health, our cultural uptake of evolutionary ideas contributed to the dangerously flawed notion that health is a random affair. True, genetic mutations are capable of producing all kinds of diseases, but the vast majority of health issues stem from, or can be alleviated by, lifestyle and workplace decisions. In a great many cases, you are not what your genes say you are, but what you eat and how you live. Diet, stress, exercise, and exposure to toxins play an enormous role in determining your health history.
That shouldn’t be a surprise. But too often it is completely missed or underemphasized, and an unfortunate example of this flawed evolutionary influence is our health care system and health insurance.
Our skyrocketing costs could be reduced by half or even an order of magnitude with proper education and personal decisions. Instead, our health is too often viewed as essentially the luck of the draw. For instance, billionaire Mark Cuban recently expressed this sentiment in advocating for healthcare as a legal right:
I believe that, given we all face the exact same genetic and wrong place, wrong time risks, coverage of most chronic and life-threatening illnesses or injuries should be a right.
In other words, everyone faces about the same healthcare risks. Our health is a crapshoot.
This is an astonishing demonstration of scientific ignorance. There is no doubt Cuban is very good at making money. But he fails to grasp the most basic aspects of human health. He can hardly be blamed, however, given how dominant this evolutionary myth has become. Evolution’s influence is enormous, and that is bad news for more than just biology.
Photo credit: © nyul — stock.adobe.com.
Cross-posted at Darwin’s God.