Wacky Michael Egnor is complaining that the data showing progress in treatment of some cancers should be credited to the culture of Christianity instead of science, and further claims that “The remarkable progress in the treatment of cancer in the past several decades had a lot to do with faith and prayer.”
Hmmm. Given that the data shows a change, a rise in cancer survival within the past few decades, was there some breakthrough in prayer efficacy 20 years ago? Thumbs in vs. thumbs out in the folded hands thing? Accent on the “A-” or on the “men!”? Sudden change from the old useless lazy god to a new and improved go-getter god? I suspect the correlations all show the effectiveness of entirely secular improvements in treatment, since the god-stuff hasn’t changed from it’s usual ineffectiveness at all.
Egnor makes much of the fact that churches built hospitals, and that the data came from a religiously funded organization. Christians aren’t that stupid; they can recognize a successful paradigm when they see it, and can jump on the bandwagon quite well. These hospitals founded by churches are using medicine, not faith, to do their healing. We’re sloshing about in the mud of religion, so you can’t credit the muck when something rises above the superstition to shine simply because everyone’s hands are filthy with dirt.
And this is just disgusting.
Science grew in a culture made fertile by Christian (and Jewish) faith and prayer. When science is explanted from Christian culture and is idolized — consider evolutionary psychology and eugenics — it becomes banal and even evil.
Faith and prayer do nothing. They do not make a culture fertile, as we can see by many examples all around the world of quite religious countries that are marked as much by failure as success. His two examples are insane. I disagree with much of evolutionary psychology, but can you think of any evil done by that academic exercise, in particular, anything comparable to the Albigensian Crusade, to name just one example? As for eugenics, that wasn’t good science to begin with, and it was endorsed by evangelical Christians. Their god seems to be no better at leading people into right action than no god at all.
All science is explanted from sectarian superstition, and large numbers of scientists are godless — yet rather than banality and evil, they seem to be very successful at discovering wonder and beauty. Egnor’s comments are but one step away from the same nonsense Ben Stein was peddling, that “science kills people”, and just as ill-founded and ridiculous.