Symptom number two [referring to attributes regimes that become increasingly theocratic], related to the first, involves the interplay of faith and science. What might be called the Roman disenlightenment has been well dissected in Charles Freeman’s The Closing of the Western Mind (2002). He dwells on how Rome’s fourth- and fifth-century Christian regimes closed famous libraries like the one in Alexandria, limited the availability of books, discarded the works of Aristotle and Ptolemy, and embraced the dismissal of Greek logicians set forth in the gospel of Paul [well, there is no gospel of Paul, but never mind]. To Freeman, the elevation of faith over logic stifled inquiry in the West- leaving the next advances to Arab mathematicians, doctors, and astronomers-and brought on intellectual stagnation.” It is hard,” he wrote, “to see how mathematics, science or associated disciplines that depended on empirical observations could have made any progress in this atmosphere.” From the last recorded astronomical observation in 475, “it would be over 1,000 years-with the publication of Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus in 1543-before these studies began to move ahead again.”
Keep that in mind while reading Orac’s discussion of creationists in medicine. It’s depressing that such an important and respected profession is overrun with shortsighted ignoramuses.
You can be an adequate doctor and be a creationist: you don’t need to understand evolution to follow your training and cut out a gall bladder or give an injection or diagnose a known disease. It just means that you will follow by rote the procedures of your predecessors. The practice will stay the same, but progress will stop. We will fall once again into the situation Phillips describes (although I suspect our successors will emerge from Farther Asia this time around.)
Orac talks about some of the reasons why it’s difficult to get doctors to be solidly and openly on the side of good science, but I think it’s essential for the prestige and future advancement of the medical profession that more of them think about correcting this failing in their training policies. Are they to be smart, flexible, adaptive, creative, and intellectual people striving to understand the workings of the human body, or is it enough to be a collection of technicians who know how to manipulate the tools of their trade? What makes a doctor different from a chiropractor if neither are to be rooted in good science?