Ben Carson has gotten into trouble for saying stupid things, but the man is not an idiot. He's a brain surgeon. The potential Republican presidential candidate is a renowned doctor who was director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins. His extreme religious and social conservatism - he rejects Darwin's theory of evolution - is not the product of ignorance. He's too gifted for any of us to say that. In fact, back in 2004 he performed an operation so complex and difficult it became famous. Dr. Carson separated conjoined twins attached at the head.
"The surgery would involve 11 intricate steps — each one ranging from one to five hours, each one more difficult than the previous step," according to the article about it in Johns Hopkins Magazine. The children shared an intricate web of blood vessels which needed to be carefully divided in a grueling procedure. It is a powerful testament to Carson's intellectual gifts and his determination to help people, and it's exactly why you shouldn't vote for him.
We now know - scientists from a variety of disciplines have gathered a mountain of evidence, and no responsible person can deny it - that life on earth has evolved over the course of billions of years. The processes that created our genetic variation involved countless random accidents, and only through an often cruel process of natural selection could order come from this. Nature is obviously, heartbreakingly indifferent to us and our to happiness. But we can use our incredible intelligence to improve our lives if we face our world squarely.
You know a perfect example of this sort of thing? Twins conjoined at the head.
Anyone who argues that a Supreme Being is up there designing every living thing perfectly and directing all the births and deaths, really, really needs to ignore stuff like twins conjoined at the head. That doesn't add up. It's either an awful error by a blind, motiveless system that depends on error for its dynamism, or it's the product of a malice that approaches Cthulhu levels. My intellectually honest, thoughtful Christian friends admit all this. Natural selection is at work, the world is baffingly cruel, and who knows why it happens? The problem of evil ultimately doesn't have a neat solution. They have faith. Fine. Fair enough.
But if you can spend as much time as Dr. Carson did using the tools of science to save two children from a sickeningly cruel flaw in their own bodies, and you can still say we were all designed perfectly - just a few thousand years ago in a flash of impossible brilliance by a Being who doesn't want us to question whether His scripture matches up with what we can learn about the universe - well, that's worse than ignorance.
That's denial. That's crazy, industrial-strength denial.
Dr. Carson has demonstrated talent and intelligence, and also the ability to look at two and two and actually see five. And that has important repercussions for how he will make science and education policy for this nation. Hell, I wouldn't trust him to enforce tax laws knowing what we know. I say this with respect for his professional accomplishments: He is not qualified to run the executive branch.
He'll definitely fit in with the rest of the GOP candidates however. I have great faith in that.
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