What Has Darwinism Ever Done?

Back in the early days of this humble blog, we wrote Discovery Institute: Toad-Tested Medicine! in response to a claim by the Discovery Institute’s Michael Egnor that the theory of evolution is useless in the practice of medicine. We said if that were true, it would make no sense to test medicine on monkeys instead of on creatures that were much easier to obtain and keep in the lab.

Like all fanatics, the Discoveroids never give up on an argument. This appears today at their creationist blog: Why Not Darwinian Medicine?, and it has no author’s by-line. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

On a classic episode of ID the Future [Ooooooooooooh! A Discoveroid podcast!], host Ray Bohlin interviews fellow biologist Jonathan Wells about the interaction of evolutionary theory and medicine.

Jonathan Wells? Wow — it’s been years since we’ve seen that name. He’s a Discoveroid fellow and the author of Icons of Evolution, a creationist classic. We wrote about him in Discovery Institute: The Genius of Jonathan Wells.

The Discoveroids’ post is very brief. Their next paragraph consists of three questions, which we assume their podcast will answer:

Has Darwinism furthered healthcare? What about our understanding of antibiotic resistance? And might learning about evolution become a requirement for medical students?

Well, dear reader? Has Darwinism furthered healthcare? As we suggested in our earlier post, it explains why we like to test medicines on animals that are closely related to us. As for whether Darwin’s theory helps physicians to set broken bones, probably not. Physicians have been doing that for millennia. But as long as we’re asking “Has Darwinism furthered …” questions, we have a few others to consider:

• Has Darwinism benefited chemistry?
• Has Darwinism benefited the computer industry?
• Has Darwinism furthered astronomy? Nuclear physics?

No need to go on. You get the idea. But while we’re at it, what in the world has creationism or the “theory” of intelligent design ever accomplished? Anyway, the Discoveroids’ post ends with this:

Download the podcast or listen to it here. [Link omitted.]

So there you are. Hey — it’s good to see Jonathan Wells back in action. He was always fun.

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24 responses to “What Has Darwinism Ever Done?

  1. There are so many possible responses. These are some of the snarky ones.
    1. What has the denial of evolution ever done for medicine? “Doc, I have this pain in my back.” “Well, because I know that you aren’t related to a monkey, that means that this orange pill will cure it. You’re lucky that I learned about doubting Darwin in medical school.”
    2. What has denial of evoiution ever done for understaniding resistence to drugs? Or for pest and weed control? Or for testing of medical treatments and nutition? Or for anything else?
    3. What has the 6000-year-old universe ever done for steam power? What has the super-fast micro-evolution after the Flood ever done for electricity and magnitism?
    4. What has the Bible told us about germs, viruses and microscopic parasites? About the Periodic Table of elements?
    5. What has the Pygathorean Theorem ever done for medicine? What has the round Earth ever done for medicine? Plate tectonics?

  2. Michael Fugate

    Since we know even less about gods than we do about humans, then claiming we were made in the image of God is of no use. Common ancestry on the other hand….

  3. “Has Darwinism benefited chemistry?”

    How about Frances Arnold, Nobel Prize 2018, “for the directed evolution of enzymes” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directed_evolution

  4. And it’s worth quoting: “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.”

    There are many important disciplines in chemistry today, such as molecular simulation, drug development, catalysis, polymer chemistry, semiconducting materials… that deal with the real science for which atomist scientists routinely claim credit [etc]

  5. Christine Marie Janis

    @Paul Braterman. Funny how molecular and population geneticists are almost invariably found in departments of Evolutionary Biology.

  6. Jon Wells, Encyclopedia of American Loons #409.

    Diagnosis: Appallingly inane crackpot, infuriatingly dense, and reprehensibly dishonest, Wells’s lack of insight and inability to even pretend to begin to understand anything before he starts criticizing it based on personal dislike, is of almost epic proportions. Yet he continues to be shockingly influential.

    However, thar’s gold in them thar loony toons! Jon is no longer a “professor” at some kreationist kollege in Florida, but is now a fully-funded jolly good fellow of the Disco Tute raking in a cool $100,000+ according to the recently published 990. Nice little retirement income. Shockingly well-paid, one might say!

  7. @Christine, indeed: Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution – Dobzhanski, American Biology Teacher, 1973

    Nothing in evolution makes sense except in the light of population genetics – Lynch, PNAS, 2007

  8. Michael Fugate

    I see Fox News had Family Research Council head Tony Perkins on to tell us why people shoot one another – guess what – it’s Darwinism! Did you know that before 1859, there was not one murder? Not only that not one crime! The first laws were passed in 1860; before that humans had no need of them. We were all theists and lived in edenic bliss!

  9. @Cristine Marie Janis
    Vertebrate paleontologists – how often are they teaching Human Anatomy in medical schools?
    @Michael Fugate
    I recall that there was a survey among the main world economies. The USA was next-to-last in acceptance of evolutionary biology. Last place was Turkey.

  10. What has astronomy ever done for humans? Theoretical physics? Palaeontology? Why do we have museums?
    Answer: Because humans are curious and want to know how the universe works.

  11. The argument goes like this:
    It was sitting in my easy chair, and the thought occurred to me: I wonder how evolution can answer X. I don’t have to do any work to find out, because I can’t think of an evolutionary answer on the spur of the moment. Not that I have much of an idea about how evolution answers questions.
    I don’t have any idea how anything else can answer X. In particular, I didn’t bother to think how ID orYEC could answer X. And if you’d ask me, maybe X isn’t true.
    And, maybe it doesn’t make any difference whether evolution can answer X.
    But I know that if I ask “how can evolution answer X”, the evolutionists will have to respond.
    That’s useful fun.

  12. Well Michael if the gawds are true then we know all we need to know about gawds….they are totally incompetent and idiot designers cuz my defective genes, arthritis, and getting old are totally BAD design. And any christANUL who claims we are fallen, is just projecting his self-hate.

  13. Yes, I know that knowledge about evolution is helpful for medicine.
    But, as long as they bring up the topic of medicine:
    What help would Intelligent Design, whatever it might mean, give to medicine? If you have a backache, what treatment would be indicated, if your body were intelligently designed?
    Would it help the eradication of malaria, if we treated the Plasmodium as intelligently designed?
    Would advocates give up on ID if they had to admit that there is no medical benefit to believing in ID?

  14. Michael Fugate

    Also claiming we were made in the image of God may tell us something about God, but it doesn’t tell us anything about how we were made.

  15. Stephen Kennedy

    As an MD I can say that one of the requirements for enrollment at American Medical Schools is that a full year of General Biology during the undergraduate years. It is expected that a student who has accomplished a year of college level General Biology will have been taught the TOE before entering medical school. Where I went to medical school, in Philadelphia, this was generally the case and I never met an open creationist in medical school.

    Other parts of the country are somewhat different, particularly the South and Midwest. I interviewed for a residency at a hospital in Oklahoma and knew instantly that I did not want to go there as the doctors there were obvious creationists. I think that in many colleges in these regions of the country, the TOE is generally ignored by colleges and when its graduates go to medical schools in Alabama and Arkansas their lack of knowledge about the TOE is not held against them.

    Of all the people in the US with college degrees, along with engineers, medical doctors are the most likely to be taken in by pseudosciences like creationism. Even in California, while doctors are not hostile to the TOE, they tend not to apply it in their practices. I have seen a number of bad outcomes in medicine that could have been avoided if the physicians both knew and applied the TOE in diagnosing and treating the unfortunate patients.

  16. @StephenK: “It is expected that a student who has accomplished a year of college level General Biology will have been taught the TOE before entering medical school.”
    Yikes! Discrimination of creationists! Having been taught creacrap should also be sufficient!
    (Really, I once met a version of this argument)

  17. What about not just ignorance of, or
    mere lack of acceptance of, evolution? Is there any case in which belief in Intelligent Design has affected medicine?
    Of course, there have been cases where people have refused treatment because one should only rely on the Lord.

  18. @Stephen Kennedy: “I have seen a number of bad outcomes in medicine that could have been avoided if the physicians both knew and applied the TOE in diagnosing and treating the unfortunate patients.”

    Can you describe these situations? It would be very useful in my own writing

  19. Do people like M. Egnor and J. Wells have heard of “evolutionary oncology”?

    Because evolution gives a new understanding of cancers etiology and new ideas about how to fight cancers efficiently. For example, see “How cancer shapes evolution, and how evolution shapes cancer” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3660034/; abstract:
    “Evolutionary theories are critical for understanding cancer development at the level of species as well as at the level of cells and tissues, and for developing effective therapies.”

    Evolution has done a lot for science and continue to contribute to productive research. The IDists’ rancor will not change anything to that.

  20. Darwinism *has* helped in computer science by providing genetic optimization algorithms.

    https://www.mathworks.com/help/gads/what-is-the-genetic-algorithm.html

  21. @Michael Fugate: I’ve always thought that claiming we’re made in some god’s image is pretty insulting to the god, whoever he, she, it may be. But perhaps it’s just a reflection of overwhelming narcissism by IDers.