Six weeks ago, my urologist told me that I had prostate cancer. A week ago, I had surgery to remove my prostate. Today I am recovering from that surgery and marveling at the medical technology that has been brought to bear on my condition. I am cancer free. Who knew that they could do all of that?
Having been present with friends and church members at a fair number of surgeries and procedures, I had an idea of what was possible. Somehow the feeling is different when one is the recipient of the benefit of so much of the wisdom and art of modern medicine. The wonder of it all seems a bit larger.
Yet, I have not simply been the recipient of great medical care through this ordeal. I have also been ministered to through the prayers and acts of mercy of the people of God. The church has demonstrated well what it means to be the body of Christ. Who knew they could do all that? Of course, I had an idea, but again, somehow the feeling is different when one is the beneficiary of so much of the love and concern of God’s people.
I came home from the hospital feeling better than I expected and the first week was a daily reminder of the care and compassion of church members and friends. All I had to do was rest, watch television, surf the web and enjoy the meals that were arranged for each day.
Reading the newspaper during one of those recovery days, I was reminded that I live in a county where the biology used in our county high schools is being protested by some well meaning servant of the Lord because it is too scientific and not respectful enough of religion. It is the latest manifestation of the seemingly ageless conflict between science and religion. Yet, this time it is different for me. This time I am keenly aware of the efficacy of a medical system that rest on the foundations of an evolutionary understanding of biology.
The truth of the matter is that every advance in medicine in the last 50 years was made by someone who studied biology from a perspective that was not hostile to Darwinian influence. We live longer, fuller lives, because of their efforts and dedication. Some of the people who have made these advances are people of faith. They manage to do cutting edge scientific research and believe in God. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive. Believing in God and being a good scientist is a rich and meaningful way to live a life that is pleasing to God and beneficial to humanity.
For those who want to protest the teaching that goes on in our public schools with regard to science education, the more germane place to protest might be the local hospital. The hospitals, the doctor’s offices and the surgery centers are the places where all that science education ultimately gets put into practice. If those who cannot reconcile a religious understanding of God’s creative activity with Darwin’s theory of evolution wish to eliminate the latter’s influence on their lives, then they should demonstrate their resolve by refusing the care of those educated and trained in modern science. This mode of protest would be far better for the rest of us as it would not subject the science education of future doctors, scientists and researchers to the fundamentalist fears of overzealous religionists. Many churches have their own schools. Let them teach whatever they want to teach and call it science. However, do let good science be taught in our schools meant to serve the common good of us all.
For several years, I was the pastor of a church in a farming community. I have many fond memories of those people and the lessons they taught me. When I go grocery shopping, I think of them. I get especially nostalgic when I am in the peanut butter aisle. Some of those peanuts could have been grown by a former neighbor. Food comes from the grocery store in a way similar to medical care coming from the hospital. The hospital is the point of delivery, but what is offered there is the result hard, often innovative work in laboratory and classrooms. Classroom’s where in all likelihood the science was influenced by Darwin and his successors.
The experience of surgery was a new one for me. I am grateful for a good doctor and a fine medical staff. I am equally grateful for all the church members and friends who expressed the love of Christ to me in such amazing ways before, during and after my surgery. At the same time, I am thankful for those who work, study, learn and develop new procedures, medicines and technologies that I will never know, but have touched my life nonetheless. I wish religious people would not demonize them so. They do much good.