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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Most doctors doubt Darwin:

It is refreshing to hear of doctors who doubt Darwin. In the general trample to canonize the old Brit toff as the greatest of secular saints, many doctors (60 percent actually) are asking, "What madness is this?"

This issue - demands that doctors support Darwinism - came up while I was writing By Design or by Chance?, when Texas student Micah Spradling had problems qualifying for med school because his prof insisted at that time (scroll down) that students profess faith in Darwinism; otherwise, they might make "poor clinical decisions".

As I reported,
Several area doctors took issue with Dini'sclaims and said that evolution has nothing to do with clinical decisions. ... How dare someone who has never treated a sick person purport to impose his feelings about evolution on someone who aspires to treat such people? (p. 136)

(I'm told the prof has since changed the rule to a more appropriate requirement that students demonstrate knowledge of same.)

Meanwhile, here are a couple of good reasons for doctors to doubt the Darwinist account of the human meat puppet:

- a popular argument for Darwinism has been that many human organs are vestigial - that is, useless clutter from previous evolution that should have been cleared away but wasn't - in other words, a sign of unintelligent design. The trouble is that research has shown that almost all existing organs have a known function. Here's the rub: The function is not always critical. If you lost the organ or its use, you might not die. But redundancy is valuable for functions that can be duplicated without causing confusion (for example, riddance of pathogens). Plus, you may not need a given organ at all times in your life. But that's different from claiming it is useless. Indeed, the history of claims that certain organs are vestigial has been so dismal that it would be wiser to conclude that no organs are vestigial.

- the very existence of the placebo effect (people get better when they think they are taking a powerful medication, even if it is just a sugar pill) damages the Darwinist belief that no human mind can be distinguished from the functions of the human brain. And few facts of medicine are better attested than the placebo effect. The forthcoming book The Spiritual Brain (Harper 2007), which I am co-authoring with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard will address this issue among others.

Most likely, the doctors who think that the human body was intelligently designed have concluded that from their lifetimes of practice, not from the frantic press releases from science academies.
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Origin of evolutionary psychology's view of man?: The hired hermits of ye olde British landscape parks?

A hack friend writes:

One of you asked the other day what were the terms for hiring hermits to staff the grotto, folly, or cell in yer landscape park in 18th-C Blimey. I am now in a position to answer that question, thanks to ye Shell Gardens Buke (ed. Peter Hunt, 1964), acquired in junque store yesterday at Port Credit, Ont. (a.k.a. South Mississauga).

The standard contract is seven years. Food & drink to be supplied by the house, but to be consumed discreetly. Hermit is forbidden to cut hair, beard, or nails during period of employment. Hermit must affect to be eating gnarled bones, glaring through matted hair, &c, on approach of visitors. No words to be spoken. Hut not to be left. On no account is hermit to slip down to ye village pub for a quick one. Payment reserved as large lump sum at end of contract. (This strongly favoured the employer, since many recruits freaked & ran away after a year or two. No mention of an hermits' union.)

Well, Frederick of Prussia hired Voltaire, but I think he got a better arrangement.

So, here we have it, the traditional "wild man" of Western European literature eventually morphs into the landscape park hermit attractin in the days of Wedgewood* china, and eventually into the Pleistocene cave man of evolutionary psychology. Plus ca change ...
*Darwin's wife Emma was a Wedgwood heiress.

If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove ?

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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