Stanford Medicine: "The Evolutionary War"


"The Evolutionary War" is the theme of the summer 2006 issue of Stanford Medicine. Unsurprisingly, the magazine emphasizes evolution and medicine. "Darwin in Medical School" discusses the efforts, led by Randolph Nesse of the University of Michigan, to incorporate evolution in medical school curricula. "Evolution offers a broad framework on which you can organize and understand all kinds of facts and principles," Nesse comments. "It ties together medical education instead of leaving it hanging as 50,000 discrete facts. "As good as it gets?" discusses attempts to control human evolution, from the "laughable and alarming" eugenics movement of the 1920s to the uncertain and controversial prospects of germline modification.

Religious issues are addressed, too: William Newsome, a professor of neurobiology at Stanford, explains how he, as a serious Christian and respected scientist, balances science and faith; the Reverend Scotty McLennan, a chaplain at Stanford, praises the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover and objects to "intelligent design' as "actually sacrilegious or irreverent or demeaning of creation"; and former president and Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter discusses religious fundamentalism, evolution, and the threat of theocracy with Stanford Medicine's editor Paul Costello, who himself urged [Link broken] the medical community to become involved in defending evolution in a December 2005 op-ed in Virtual Mentor, the on-line ethics journal of the American Medical Association.

The cover story, "Darwin lives: Scientists battle the forces of intelligent design," reviews the current spate of antievolution activity and focuses on scientists who have publicly defended the teaching of evolution in the public schools, including Greg Clark, Herb Kroemer, Phil Plait, and Marshall Berman (who "may be the ideal role model for activists scientists everywhere"). "You could say that scientists are finally getting religion," NCSE's executive director Eugenie C. Scott is quoted as joking. Scott herself was the subject of a humorous essay by Joel Stein: "This is a woman who is spending her life informing people about scientific discoveries made 147 years ago ... It's as if she spends her time trying to convince people that multiplication totally works."