Darwinian Medicine 2.0

I recently pointed out that Darwinian stories about the evolution of diseases were of no tangible use to medical science. Few physicians and medical scientists and educators with genuine experience with medical education, research, and practice, and who are not ideologically committed to the materialist-atheist metaphysics for which Darwinism is the creation myth, honestly believe that evolutionary biology is important to medicine. There are many important disciplines in medicine today, such as microbiology, epidemiology, molecular and population genetics, and mathematical biology, that deal with the real science for which evolutionary biologists routinely claim credit, and these genuine medical disciplines, unlike evolutionary biology, are very important to medicine. We’ve done very well for more than half a century without Darwinian medicine. Read More ›

Biomorality, Scientism, and “the Meddlesome Interference of an Arrogant Scientific Priestcraft”

Alfred Russel Wallace, who along with Charles Darwin discovered and advanced the theory of evolution, was, unlike Darwin, a deeply spiritual man who was convinced that materialistic natural selection did not fully explain the origin of man. Unlike so many of his philosophically materialistic scientific colleagues, Wallace was a fierce critic of eugenics and the arrogant scientism of his day. Wallace wrote: Segregation of the unfit is a mere excuse for establishing a medical tyranny. And we have had enough of this kind of tyranny already…the world does not want the eugenist to set it straight…Eugenics is simply the meddlesome interference of an arrogant scientific priestcraft. (1) Commenting on our modern scientific priestcraft, Steven Lenzer has a superb essay and Read More ›

Consciousness and Intelligent Design

David Chalmers has a thoughtful blog post about the growing importance of the problem of consciousness in the debate over intelligent design. Chalmers, a leading philosopher of the mind, is a particularly clear and honest thinker, and his elaboration of “the hard problem of consciousness” alone warrants much gratitude from those of us who are trying to formulate a vocabulary for the thoughtful discussion of the problem of consciousness. Chalmers is not a theist, but he believes that consciousness is a fundamental property in the universe, in the same way that matter and natural laws are properties in the universe. In that sense, he is a dualist. He does not, however, believe that the necessity for an immaterial explanation for Read More ›

Bayesian Selection. Trouble Brews.

All natural functional biological complexity arose through the mechanism of non-teleological heritable variation and natural selection. That’s the Neo-Darwinian synthesis, in a nut-shell, and it’s the cornerstone of biology. The Neo-Darwinian synthesis may be divided into two professions, so to speak, the union of which constitutes the orthodoxy. Jacques Monod called them “chance” and “necessity,” and it’s a useful shorthand. Monod’s “chance” means absence of design. Chance means random in the sense of lacking teleology. There is no purpose in the raw material of Darwinian evolution. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the “random heritable variation” generator doesn’t obey natural laws. It does, like everything else, but it has no foresight. It’s random like flipping a coin is random. The Read More ›

Who Would Connect “the Legacy of Darwin,” Medicine, and Eugenics?

P.Z. Myers and I finally agree on something! In a recent post, I described several actual Darwinian medicine “theories”: ‘Children Hate Vegetables Because of Ancestral Reproductive Advantage of Avoiding Toxins’ or ‘We Will Evolve Oiler Skin Because of Frequent Bathing’ or ‘X-Linked Color Blindness Evolved to Help Paleolithic Male Hunters See Camouflage.’ As I pointed out in my original post, these theories are real, and in fact represent the cutting edge of Darwinian medicine. Myers refers to these Darwinian medicine research projects as “silly”: No, none of those very silly talks were given. And he’s right. What he fails to note, however, is that these theories differ little in substance from the ephemeral corpus of Darwinian just-so stories. These silly Read More ›