By Ralph D. Winter
The recurrent pattern of attempts at discovery is disturbingly often a matter of looking for the wrong solution. A parallel would be looking for icebergs not intelligent submarines. Again and again medical authorities have confidently defined the causes of certain diseases as passive conditions rather than intelligently devised (and constantly revised) pathogens. For example, again and again it was “discovered” that stomach ulcers were caused by an infection, not stress. This happened in the 1880s, again in 1945, again in 1981 (in Australia) but the wrong solutions held sway unquestioned in this country for ten more years until the New York tabloid, the National Enquirer, ran a cover story on ulcers and infection describing the Australian breakthrough. Even so, after ten more years a survey of medical doctors in the state of Colorado revealed that less than 50% had yielded to the right solution.
A similar history is displayed in the case of tuberculosis, a major global killer. It was long thought that chilly and damp conditions were the cause. Eventually it became clear that the cause is a very clever pathogen that has recently been modified to become even more difficult to defeat.
But this pervasive and curious confusion about causes is not just a matter of past history. In February of 1999, Atlantic Monthly published a lengthy cover story confidently presenting the theory that heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers, and even schizophrenia are the result of infections, not the usual “passive” factors such as diets high in fat or salt or whatever. Evidently in Europe such perspectives have been more widely pursued.
Now, you would think that so prominent an exposure of an idea so enormously significant would have reverberated back in 1999 in newspapers and other periodicals. But there was nothing in the LA Times for another month, and then only about three inches that did not recognize even remotely the import of the theory. Three months later a fairly long article on the subject appeared in the LA Times, although it did not mention the Atlantic Monthly article nor any of the researchers to which it referred.
Then there was mainly silence—for three years. Finally, in May of 2002. Scientific American sported a cover story that calmly and boldly declared that the passive factors in heart disease and the normal explanation of the progressive build up of plaque in arteries is little related to our nation’s biggest killer. There is a totally different mechanism, which, it says, has been known for 20 years. It points out that gradual reduction of arterial channels would presumably produce gradual weakening in the person afflicted, and that heart attacks are characteristically most often sudden, and 50% of the time occur in people whose bodies do not display the usual symptoms. For the record, heart disease is not only the biggest killer but the most costly. At $1 billion per day the cost of dealing with people afflicted with heart disease could rebuild the New York towers every three days.
Note that this new perspective is a total upset of long-standing assumptions (similar to the idea that stress causes ulcers), namely that passive conditions of life, diet, exercise, salt intake, etc. produce heart attacks. Now we hear that the actual explanation is not within the arteries but from within the walls of the arteries, namely, inflammations producing sudden and unpredictable eruptions that instantly block an artery totally. These inflammations are, furthermore, now feared to be the result not of inanimate, passive conditions, but of intelligent pathogens. Not icebergs but intelligent submarines.
The same general story, but far more complicated, could be described for the sphere of cancer. Very gradually, with uphill opposition again, the recognition of viral causes has gained steam.
We can ask why is it so hard for intelligent evil to be recognized. We can also ask why it is that almost all attention to cancer is focused on treatments of the results of cancer and less than one tenth of one percent of the billions ploughed into cancer goes toward understanding the nature of cancer, and even there the theory of intelligent pathogens is slighted and even resisted.
Everything I have said sums up as the problem of the failure to recognize intelligent evil. It is by no means simply a philosophical or theological issue. By far the largest human effort in America today relates directly or indirectly to the presence of disease and of the distortion of Creative Intent in the area of human life. It is a major error to look in the wrong direction for the cause of a disease. It would seem to me to be an even more serious error not to notice the existence of intelligent evil at all, which the published materials of the Intelligent Design group uniformly ignore. Darwin did not do that. Instead, he invented the wacky theory of unaided evolution. But Darwin at least recognized the presence of evil if not intelligent evil, and even the need to protect the reputation of a benevolent God. In that sense he scored higher than what we see in the written materials of Intelligent Design.
This entry was excerpted from an essay Ralph Winter wrote in the Winter of 2003 entitled, "Where Darwin Scores Higher Than Intelligent Design." The full essay can be read here.