Alas, these days even in the funny pages it’s impossible to get away from politics. How about the Dec. 18 Doonesbury, where a doctor asks a self-described creationist patient if he should “treat the TB bug as it was before antibiotics, or as the multiple-drug-resistant strain it has since evolved into.”
Ha, ha. Good one, Garry Trudeau. Everyone in the blue states knows those foolish “intelligent design” people are so sadly behind the curve. But the problem with the debate over evolution is that we’ve evolved beyond it. Or, to be more correct, we no longer live in evolutionary times. These are revolutionary times.
Think of it this way: The theory of evolution does a good job explaining what happens in the middle. Indeed, germs like the TB bacteria featured in the Doonesbury strip are evolving. So are humans. It’s pretty clear we’re getting taller, faster and, ironically, fatter (although the last trait may be caused by something other than evolution).
But evolution can never explain what happened at the very beginning of time. No science can, since no one was there to observe it. We have theories (the Big Bang) and we have faith (the Bible). Take your pick, or create your own hybrid. There’s no provable right or wrong answer.
Evolution also fails to predict the end of time, which, in some ways, is where we are now. Consider a recent report in the British medical journal The Lancet, which explains that parents in India are choosing to have boys instead of girls. “We conservatively estimate that prenatal sex determination and selective abortion accounts for 0.5 million missing girls yearly,” author Dr. Prabhat Jha told the Toronto Globe and Mail. Meanwhile in China’s Huaiyuan County, Newsweek reports there are now an estimated 120 boys born for every 100 girls.
Those aren’t evolutionary numbers. Evolution works slowly, and across the millennia evolution decided the proper balance for the human race, for whatever reason, is to have slightly more women than men.
It’s we humans who’ve triggered a revolution by deciding, for whatever reasons, we’d rather have boys than girls. The effects of those choices will be felt over the next 25 years, and we have no idea what those effects will be. But there’s no doubt the human race will look much different in years to come, not because of evolution, but because of this revolution.
Want an example that’s closer to home?
In his book “Radical Evolution,” Joel Garreau writes that genetic engineering may soon allow us to create “enhanced” humans. We’re certainly going to be changing how life is created. As an example, he says, “At the University of Pennsylvania, male mouse cells are being transformed into egg cells. If this science works in humans, it opens the way for two gay males to make a baby, each contributing 50 percent of his genetic material -- and blurring the standard model of parenthood.”
Imagine that -- two gay men having a child drawn directly from their own DNA. Darwin never predicted that.
It’s important to understand where you’ve come from if you want to understand where you’re going. That’s why so many of us believe science must determine what caused diseases such as AIDS and disorders such as autism. Until we know what caused these things, it will be almost impossible to cure them. But once we know the cause, the cure may become obvious.
However, we’ll never resolve the arguments over exactly what happened when the universe was being formed, or how exactly life entered the picture. Honest evolutionists admit their theory doesn’t answer some critical questions, while creationists who insist there’s no such thing as evolution are also wrong. So it’s pointless to fight these battles over and over again. Instead of arguing over the past, both sides should look to the future. That’s where the important breakthroughs are going to happen, the breakthroughs that will challenge faith and render evolution obsolete.
Last month we learned that South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk was lying when he claimed to have cloned a human, but other researchers are certainly trying to do so. The possible consequences should frighten everyone.
Science and faith must find ways to work together to guide humanity into an ethical and moral future. That won’t be easy, but the alternative is that we may wake up one morning and find ourselves in a post-evolutionary world nobody recognizes. And there won’t be anything funny about that.