While researching some points for my article on intelligent design, I stumbled onto a poignant and pointed article written by Leslie Brunetta, a New Hampshire science author who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She wrote the interesting (and very readable) book entitled, “Spider Silk: Evolution and 400 Million Years of Spinning, Waiting, Snagging, and Mating.”
Her thesis is that these anti-evolution bills in various state legislatures are a danger to her health, and by inference, the health of all Americans.
Essentially, she states that in the 1960’s, breast cancer was basically a death sentence, whereas today, the 5 year survivability for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer is over 80%. Partially, the rate has risen because of better and earlier diagnosis, but mainly it is a result of highly effective treatments.
What does evolution have to do with this? Plenty. At even the most basic level, the discovery of DNA, which is essential to understanding any of the 200 different cancers, was driven by the need to uncover the basis of genetics and heritability of genes. Would we have discovered the DNA molecule if we weren’t driven by the desire to understand the foundation of evolution? Probably not.
Furthermore, Ms. Brunetta posits that everything from understanding the differences between cancer and normal genes to family history all depends upon a scientific foundation of evolution. She states that now we have genetic tests (arising from our knowledge of evolution) that can help determine which treatments are best for certain types of breast cancer, allowing some patients to forego chemotherapy.
What if we didn’t understand evolution? We wouldn’t understand that viruses evolve quickly in a population, so we have to adjust vaccination antigens. We wouldn’t understand how bacteria evolve in response to antibiotics. We wouldn’t understand the range of genetic diseases that afflict individuals. I could write for hours on everything in medicine (and just medicine) that depends on an appreciation, and acceptance, of the theory of evolution. I wonder what the creationists would say if we were to refuse them all procedures and techniques that use evolution (well, I know what the answer would be, that a supernatural being guided the research or something similar). Of course, the Hippocratic Oath would prevent physicians from implementing this policy.
I’ve contended that the anti-science (anti-evolution) push on the right wing is bad for the security and economy of the country. Let me add in healthcare to the consequences of this desire to push religious teaching in public schools.
Addendum: Ms Brunetta points out something about Charles Darwin that is always forgotten but is critical. He theorized evolution and natural selection with no knowledge of genetics and DNA (the cause of genetic drift). Amazing leap of intuition on his part.