Education, Medicine, Evolution and The Times

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Mark Henderson, the science correspondent of The Times of London, UK has published a provocative article entitled “Junk medicine: creationism.” His article is an extraordinary mixture of half-science and pseudo-science.

Henderson expresses relief “that our [meaning: British] schools have not had to fight off a lobby [as in the USA] seeking to deny the facts of evolution.” The so-called “facts” that he then expounds are not really facts at all, and many of his observations do not even relate to molecules-to-man evolution.

By the way, a main reason why creation in schools is less of an issue in the UK than America is because UK law (sensibly) does not ban critical examination of Darwinism. The Science National Curriculum in England states that “Pupils should be taught … how scientific controversies can arise from different ways of interpreting empirical evidence [for example, Darwin’s theory of evolution]”.1,2

In the National Curriculum documents, examples in square brackets like the one above (while not mandatory) are considered “fair game,” both in the classroom and in assessment.

While evolution is to be taught in state schools, we believe it is wise for teachers to encourage their pupils to examine Darwinism critically.

While evolution is to be taught in state schools, we believe it is wise for teachers to encourage their pupils to examine Darwinism critically. Henderson, while claiming to endorse “critical thinking,” actually shows what he really thinks about the scientific method when he stated that such a critical attitude to evolution “must be resisted.” My seventeen years of teaching science in state comprehensive schools3 were motivated by encouraging children to think scientifically and critically. The uncritical acceptance of unproven (indeed, unprovable) evolution is contrary to scientific methodology and good science teaching.

The National Curriculum also states that “Pupils should be taught … ways in which scientific work may be affected by the contexts in which it takes place [for example, social, historical, moral and spiritual]” (emphasis added).4 Henderson claims that there are “city academies adding God to science lessons”—presumably a reference to the controversy surrounding a talk given by AiG–USA’s Ken Ham at Emmanuel College, Gateshead a few years ago (see Ken Ham stirs up England). Such schools (and Henderson apparently found many of them) would be fulfilling the terms of the National Curriculum.

Evolutionist advocates like Henderson would benefit from a few National Curriculum science lessons themselves when they turn their attention towards the so-called creationist problems with modern medicine. Henderson, for example, claims that “it is impossible to understand biology, and therefore medicine, without a good grasp of evolution.” What do others say, including evolutionist Philip Skell, Emeritus Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the USA? Dr Skell: “I … queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin's theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.”5

In addition, this Answers in Genesis website contains many detailed articles refuting the supposed evidences cited by Henderson. For example, there is the supposed example of organisms developing an antibiotic resistance that is cited by Henderson as evidence for evolution. However, as we have often pointed out, Darwinism—in the “molecules-to-man” scenario—requires an increase in genetic information at each mutation, which has never been observed to have happened. [See, for example, Dr Tommy Mitchell’s web article Evolution and Medicine.]

The antibiotic resistance of the MRSA bacteria (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, sometimes known as the “Superbug”) is due to mutations, which destroy some genetic information thereby allowing MRSA to resist antibiotics. There is no increase in information. While Darwinists assume that natural selection is the engine of evolution, in practice evolution would only proceed by natural selection plus information-increasing mutations. True Mendelian natural selection is entirely consistent with a creationist way of interpreting empirical evidence of changes in species.

I would submit that it is somewhat disingenuous that Henderson appeals to the old chestnuts of sickle-cell anaemia and cancer being part of the process driving evolution. (Of course, his views do not provide any comfort to sufferers of those diseases.) Once again, however, he is in error—as neither disease causes increase in genetic information, so takes us no further along a Darwinian “goo-to-you” path.

The treatment of these and other medical conditions owes nothing to Darwinian evolution. On the contrary, research into many medical areas has actually been hindered by evolutionary beliefs. Witness, for example, the unnecessary removal of so many organs, carried out often on the belief that such organs were “vestigial” (remnants supposedly useless after millions of years of evolution). For many years, the thymus gland was held to be a leftover of evolution. Many children had the gland irradiated. We now understand that the thymus gland is important in the development of the immune system.

The labelling of an organ as vestigial does not mean it has no use—it merely means we haven’t discovered the use yet. Evolutionary dogma indeed has caused much needless suffering in this area of medicine.

Dr David Menton, former Associate Professor Emeritus in Anatomy at Washington University School of Medicine and now an AiG–USA speaker and writer, says this:

If evolution were thrown out of consideration, it would have no negative impact [in medicine]—it plays no necessary role in either the teaching or practice of medicine.

This is not to imply it’s not believed by most or that it doesn’t come up. It does come up from time to time, but from the lectures I’ve attended, when it does come up, it’s mentioned in passing as almost a confession of faith. It doesn’t contribute materially to the topic.

The professors can’t spend too much time on evolution, as they have too much real medical knowledge to get across to the students. Spending a lot of time on evolutionary speculations just wastes time. If you remove evolution, there’s nothing in the whole realm of empirical science that you can’t pursue.6

We should be glad that the National Curricula in England and Wales embody a more enlightened view of the criticism of Darwinism than curricula in America. If Henderson’s beliefs were more fully embraced by the medical community at large, his unscientific and anti-educational views would set medicine back by years. Thankfully, though, only 48% of the UK public believe evolution, according to the BBC survey quoted by Henderson. At least these British citizens are not completely taken in by Darwinian pseudo-science.


  1. Science: The National Curriculum for England, QCA, p. 46, 1999.
  2. Note that there are similar comments in the document Science in the National Curriculum in Wales, ACCAC, 2000.
  3. State comprehensive schools would be referred to as public schools in the USA, though the term public school actually refers to a private school in the UK.
  4. Op. cit., p 46.
  5. Skell, P., Why do we invoke Darwin? The Scientist? 19(16):10, 29 August 2005.
  6. Menton, D., quoted in Ham, K., A Philly Story.


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