It’s a question about naturalism impact on the medical field that I asked in yahoo once. It was part of the research I was doing for this post. I framed the question around the topic of human viruses and vaccines. And I got some interesting responses one of which was very hostile towards me claimed…
“If you think that microbes evolve unpredictably, then you’ve never taken a single decent course in evolution. Every year flu viruses are tracked, predictions are made based on their evolution, and vaccines are produced based on those predictions.
“Last I checked, they haven’t been wrong in a while…Genetic engineers use evolutionary principles to make new antibiotics, to design new drugs, and much more. Diagnostics uses evolution in identifying new pathogens and characterizing them quickly based on phylogeny. Evolution permeates through every discipline of biology, and is even used in physical sciences.”
This is a typical of example of someone at war with an issue and the person presenting the issue. As a result, he was trying to “smote” me with his explanation which is full of many holes. Does any really believe the predictions of a flu virus strains are perfect and it’s been awhile since they been wrong? Does anyone believe if you get a flu shot, that means you are protected from all strains or variants of the flu?
The answer is without question, no in fact if this person was a doctor he would be eventually sued for malpractice making such a claim as a result of some people still getting the flu even when they had the shot.
I do believe microbes can and do evolve unpredictably. While it’s true some strains can be predicted others are not. Mutations can change using less information, or pre-existing information from other sources. There is no way, scientist could predict all these patterns perfectly!
Not only that, what does evolutionary biology really have to do with the predictions of the viruses? Even this computer game of folding proteins is having more of an impact to help understand biochemistry, and I must point out, nothing of this game deals with evolution…
Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor also makes an outstanding point on this issue, he states…
“Evolutionary explanations are merely stories appended to the proximate (scientific) explanations. They contribute nothing to the scientific understanding of the disease beyond the contribution of the proximate explanations.”
“Evolutionary stories are ad-hoc and generally untestable guesses, and offer no meaningful framework for science. The proximate explanations (anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, microbiology, etc.) are the framework for science.
“Strategies for disease treatment and prevention depend on data from the relevant medical sciences, not on speculative stories about origins.”
Many Medical schools do not even teach evolution for medical practice. Some may say evolution is more like a history lesson than advancing science in medicine. So is evolution relevant for medical research? The answer is obviously, no!