Posted by: cjobrien | 31 January 2010

Medical Students Need To Understand Evolutionary Biology

Some important new research suggests that our medical professionals should be well trained in evolutionary biology if they wish to stay ahead of the curve for innovations in medical treatment and public health:

What does evolution — a field that often deals with changes over many generations — have to do with preventing and treating disease in our lifetime? A lot, some scientists say. If recent recommendations are implemented, future physicians may soon be tested on evolution in medical entrance and licensing exams, says an international group of doctors and researchers.

This is as it should be – medical students should completely understand evolutionary biology before they are allowed to treat other human beings. This will undoubtedly upset the intelligent design crowd, but these folks are more interested in advertising a fallacious viewpoint than understanding what good science is all about. I would be very nervous if my doctor espoused the same faulty arguments as intelligent design proponents – it would mean his or her primary motivations for a career in medicine were not about using all the tools available to help humankind.

Those who are quick to use flimsy arguments and cherry-picked data to reject real science when it conflicts with personal belief are not the kind of doctors who are not ultimately interested in the welfare of their patients. They do not have the ability to think “outside the box” when it comes to finding solutions for health issues. They are constrained by thought processes that automatically seek to discredit potentially helpful information because it cannot be reconciled with belief. For these individuals, belief will always trump the potential for innovative medical treatment. THAT is why they pose a threat to modern medicine.  I have no problem with a doctor who doesn’t feel evolutionary biology really doesn’t offer much at the moment on the basis of sound empirical evidence that can be tested – but doctors who are pro-creationist (YEC or intelligent design) maintain worldviews with potential implications for your personal health that are not related to science.

If I had a serious illness, I would hope my doctor would put personal beliefs aside and treat me with all the modern science that could be mustered…including evolutionary biology.



  1. At a basic level, a doctor needs to understand that bacteria evolves over a comparatively short time. And this must lead to aquiring an understanding of evolutionary science as a whole. Makes perfect sense.

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