Stone-Age Doctors

When a young woman is sexually assaulted, her pain and suffering are just part of her evolutionary heritage. So says biologist Randy Thornhill. In the theory of evolution, "fitness" is not defined by strength. It's defined purely in terms of reproductive success: Whoever leaves the most offspring wins the struggle for survival. As a result, says Dr. Thornhill, anything that reduced the reproductive success of our evolutionary ancestors still makes us feel bad today. That's why, he claims, women raped while in their reproductive years tend to feel the most pain and trauma. Welcome to the bizarre world of what we might call Stone-Age medicine, a new movement to explain medical symptoms in terms of evolutionary adaptations. Not all of its theories are so strange. For example, evolutionary medicine urges us to pay more attention to the body's natural defenses. Do you take decongestants for a cold? Not necessarily a good idea, we're told. Coughing and sneezing have evolved as the body's way of getting rid of bacteria. Do you take aspirin to bring down a fever? You may be blocking a weapon in the body's arsenal against infection. And put away that Kaopectate: Diarrhea is an evolutionary adaptation to rid the intestines of pathogens. Some of these theories may be correct, but if so they make much better sense from a Christian perspective. We know that our bodies are the handiwork of an all-wise Creator; hence it makes sense that bodily reactions are not merely pathological—that things like fevers and coughs may be beneficial response mechanisms designed by God. After all, Christians expect our bodies to reflect God's wisdom. But evolutionary medicine goes far beyond respect for the human body. It's an attempt to ground ultimate explanations in nature alone. An article in the Quarterly Review of Biology says the purpose of Darwinian medicine is to answer the question Why? Why is our body structured the way it is? What are the ultimate causes of its responses? This is nothing but scientific imperialism. We're often told that science explains how things happen while religion explains why. But now science is tackling why-questions. Evolutionists are not content to ask how big horses develop from little horses or how fruit flies mutate. Their goal is to expand evolution into a total world view, forcing everything into a naturalistic framework—a framework that sees humans not as creatures of God but by-products of nature. But a naturalistic framework is not only false; it's also cruel and destructive. Imagine telling a victim of sexual assault that she's just a biological organism worried about her reproductive success in the struggle for survival. That would be literally inhuman. You may have thought evolution was an esoteric scientific theory concerned only with fossils and genes. But today it is encroaching on every area of life, and Christians had better know how to counter it. When medical science discovers the marvelous responses of the human body, it's not uncovering the result of an evolutionary process based on accident and mutation. It's revealing the handiwork of a wise and caring Creator.


Chuck Colson



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