Sunday, April 20, 2008

Smarter than my doctor?

No, I don't necessarily think I'm smarter than my doctor. I do, however, know that I understand the processes involved in evolution more fully than he does. I went in for an annual physical on Friday. It was all the usual physical stuff for the most part, "How are you feeling? Taking any meds? Drop your pants, turn your head and cough. Blah, blah, blah." The notable part happened when he noticed that I was reading book on evolution (The Ancestor's Tale, Richard Dawkins). After hearing that it was an evolution book, he sat there for a few seconds quietly and then pointed to his watch. He said, "You see this watch? I just found it. It washed up on shore after just randomly assembling itself in the ocean and then I found it." This particular argument against evolution is the "Irreducible Complexity" argument and it has been well refuted by the scientific community.

I was speechless. What was I supposed to say to this guy who has so obviously ignored the fundamentals of evolutionary theory? I mean, he's my family doctor and was minutes away from checking me for testicular cancer? This is not the most comfortable time to start an argument. It's difficult to maintain that feeling of dominance when you know he's about to tell you to drop your pants and you're going to listen. More importantly, why doesn't he know? He's a well respected MD who consistently prescribes the most scientifically sound treatments appropriate to his patients' ailments. How is there such a disconnect between his professional life and his acceptance of evolution?

I think there are really two things going on here. The first is the obvious one. His religious beliefs were established long before any other thought processes were able to take hold in his brain. He's an intelligent guy but instead of looking at life through the eyes of a skeptic as he does medicine, he uses his intelligence to win his side of the argument (his side being the intelligent design side). In reality he's not winning an argument with anyone but himself, but that's all it takes.

The second thing occurring is that evolution and development is not his specialty, medicine is. What scares me is that these two disciplines are not far apart and still he is unable to make the connection. How then, can we expect politicians, teachers, school board members and the like to make the appropriate decisions regarding the teaching of intelligent design? Why should anyone other than scientists be able to determine what should be taught in science classrooms? If you think I'm beating a dead horse, take a look at what's going on with Florida's science standards. The world is laughing at us, especially at well educated yet still ignorant people like my doctor.

No comments: