Pictured is Dr Ignaz Semmelweis. He struggled against the scientific consensus of his day. The cost of ignoring his research findings was the loss of countless lives and much suffering.
Sadly consensus science has a poor record. In fact the task of science has nothing to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science on the contrary requires only one investigator who happens to be right.
Dr Ignaz Semmelweiss, a Hungarian surgeon, was one of those investigators who was right. He discovered that ‘childbed fever’ which typically caused a ten to thirty percent mortality level, could largely be abolished if doctors simply washed their hands in a chlorine solution before examining pregnant mothers.
The compelling evidence however failed to impress his superiors and he was eventually dismissed from the clinic even though the mortality rate for his patients was essentially zero. Semmelweis’s procedure went contrary to the whole theory of medical consensus existing in his day. He spent the last years of his life unsuccessfully trying to convince European doctors of his systems effectiveness. He ended his life in a mental hospital and his ideas forgotten until Dr Joseph Lister took up the battle this time successfully.
The story of Dr Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen is much the same. In 1795 he suggested that the fevers which were the number one killer of women following childbirth were an infectious process and he was able to prevent/cure them. The consensus said NO…. Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right/same conclusion. These are but two of many examples of scientists resistance to accepting the truth when it conflicts with accepted dogma.
Evolution is also an entrenched dogma despite the overwhelming evidence for amazing design of life and the universe. Since the discovery of the complexity of DNA (ENCODE PROJECT) and sub-microscopic cell machinery of irreducible complexity there is a growing number of eminent scientists embracing intelligent design. Why the establishment is so wedded to materialism and evolutionary naturalism is perhaps best explained by Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist and probably one of the world’s leaders in promoting evolutionary biology.
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment , a commitment to materialism. It’s not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations no matter how counter- intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute for we cannot allow a Divine foot in the door.”
Dr Scott Todd, an immunologist from Kansas State University said it more succinctly: “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic.”
Evolution sheds no light on the beginning of the Universe and life. It postulates matter, energy and time brought this beautiful orderly Cosmos into being, with its intricate life forms, its complex natural laws, its intangible moral qualities and the creative and reasoning powers of man. Even Aristotle and Plato knew this speaks of infinite intelligence and yet evolution insists blind chance can account for it all. At a foundational level we are involved in a battle of world views.
Christians know God, so the idea that matter and energy and blind chance can produce the Cosmos we inhabit is absurd.
Recommended reading: By Design, Dr Jonathan Sarfati, The Design Inference, Dr William Dembski, The Edge of Evolution, Dr Michael Behe and of course www.creation.com