Benjamin Carson: star neurosurgeon sees God in science

Ben CarsonThe story and person of Benjamin Carson makes me so happy because he is just one more amazingly brilliant and talented individual in the field of science and medicine to blow a hole in the tired argument that Christians who believe in God the Creator and not evolution are just uneducated, fundamentalist religious whack-jobs who don’t know what they’re talking about.

Dr. Benjamin Carson is one of the world’s best neurosurgeons. He made history in 1987 when he accomplished what every neurosurgeon before him had failed to do: he successfully separated Siamese twins who were joined at the back of the head. Many other “firsts” followed this, and Dr. Carson continues to blaze a trail in the field of pediatric neurosurgery. He is currently a professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he has been chief of pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center for nearly a quarter of a century.
His outstanding achievements speak for themselves:

In 2001, Dr. Carson was named by CNN and TIME Magazine as one of the nation’s 20 foremost physicians and scientists. That same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of 89 “Living Legends” on the occasion of its 200th anniversary. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Spingarn Medal which is the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP. In February, 2008, Dr. Carson was presented with the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln Medal by President Bush at the White House. In June, 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the President, which is the highest civilian honor in the land. He has literally received hundreds of other awards during his distinguished career.

Dr. Carson has been a leader in scientific research his entire career. He has over 120 major scientific publications in peer reviewed journals, almost 40 books and book chapters, and grant awards of about one million dollars. With his clear intelligence in the fields of medicine and science, I think his opinion on the origin of life deserves to be heard.

Does evolutionary theory have any direct bearing on his daily work as a neurosurgeon? Only philosophically, I would say, but can you tell me one field of science where evolutionary theory actually makes a tangible, measurable difference in how that scientist works and contributes to society? It merely plays out in a theoretical or metaphysical or political way.

A lot of people believe in evolution because most scientists do (or at least it’s the common perception that most scientists do). I don’t know the statistics, but I suspect the number of scientists who do not believe in evolution is large and growing. I am not speaking of microevolution, but the general theory of Darwin that all life originated and evolved by gradual and chance advantageous mutations – which is entirely void of factual support.

Back to Benjamin Carson–I’m more than pleased to know that this distinguished man speaks openly and honestly about his faith in God and belief in a Creator and Designer. He looks to the facts and wonders at Darwin’s own assertion that within fifty to 100 years of his lifetime fossil remains would be found of the entire evolutionary tree, displaying an indisputable step-by-step evolution of life from amoeba to human. As Carson points out, this does not exist:

It’s just not there. But when you bring that up to the proponents of Darwinism, the best explanation they can come up with is “Well…uh…it’s lost!”…I find it requires too much faith for me to believe that explanation given all the fossils we have found without any fossilized evidence of the direct, step-by-step evolutionary progression from simple to complex organisms or from one species to another species. Shrugging and saying, “Well, it was mysteriously lost, and we’ll probably never find it,” doesn’t seem like a particularly satisfying, objective, or scientific response.

Dr. Carson is certainly a risk-taker in more ways than one. In fact, his latest best-selling book is called Take the Risk. In his surgical field, he continually pushes forward with innovation and new techniques. For example, with hemispherectomies (removal of half of the brain to prevent untreatable severe seizures), he significantly increased the safety of the procedure by coming up with better ways of controlling bleeding and infection, as well as developing a system of incrementally removing specific brain parts.

In his willingness to explain his creation views, he is also a risk taker. He addressed the National Science Teachers convention in Philadelphia and the very prestigious Academy of Achievement, which includes many Nobel scientists. Dr. Carson’s basic message was that “evolution and creationism both require faith. It’s just a matter of where you choose to place that faith.”

If you’d like to find out more about Benjamin Carson, there are some fantastic resources available. Just this past Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009, TNT aired Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. Superbly played by Cuba Gooding, you will be inspired to learn of Carson’s upbringing in extreme poverty in Detroit, raised by a single mother with a third grade education. Ben Carson’s story is also told in his autobiography, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. Visit the Carson Scholars Fund for information on Benjamin Carson’s education initiatives and scholarships.

Carson Scholars Fund
Benjamin Carson: The Pediatric Neurosurgeon with Gifted Hands
Ben Carson: The Faith of a Surgeon

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22 Responses to Benjamin Carson: star neurosurgeon sees God in science

  1. e-Mom says:

    I’m impressed with this doctor’s achievements! Wonderful to know he’s a believer too. :~D

  2. Mandi says:

    Wow – I had no idea! Thanks so much for sharing this interesting bio.
    I just recently got a chance to watch ‘Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed’ which was very well done IMHO. Have you seen it?

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I watched the movie on Saturday and was pleasantly surprised, so I decided to go online and find out more. Do you mind if I link to your article?

  4. Jen says:

    e-Mom, impressive is right; thanks for reading!

    Mandi, I was often thinking of “Expelled” as I researched this piece.

    Elizabeth, of course you may link. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. tipper says:

    A very talented-and inspiring man!

  6. mrs darling says:

    Where do you find this stuff. This is amazing!

  7. Jen says:

    Tipper, thank you. Mrs. Darling, this information is not found on American Idol. :-)

  8. I was going to ask you if you had watched Expelled as well. We are taking apart Genesis verse by verse at church this month, so I have been thinking about this too. It amazes me to hear these “intelligent” people oppose creation with such bizarre and unsubstantiated theories. I think it comes down to the fact that they refuse to acknowledge a Creator, and therefore have to look to find whatever evidence they can to support evolution. This debate makes me think of the abortion one too. We all know that unborn babies are living and feeling, not just fetuses, but those who want freedom of choice for women cannot admit that, or they would have to admit to the fact that abortion is murder. Sorry to go off on a hot topic here, but in my mind, there is a relation.

  9. Great post Jen! I just saw on CNN they did a survey that said that 39% of those surveyed believed in Darwin’s theory of evolution, and only 25% did not. They also went on to suggest that those who believed in evolution were more educated than those who did not. HOw insulting?! Especially since they have thrown God out of colleges and public schools altogether. America has chosen not to believe in God. But when ALL of the evidence is presented, his existence is almost undeniable to all but the most stubborn. Thanks for your great writing here. When are we going to get together for some tea and blog talk?

  10. Nancy Robinett says:

    Well, here’s what I think: what your article about Dr. Carson doesn’t say is how relevant evolutionary theories or their lack thereof are to his actual work. He is a physician, a practitioner of medicine. Evolutionary theories are not very relevant to his actual work.

    He is one of the 60% of Americans who don’t believe in evolution. Bill Maher put it well in comments on today (2/13/09): “Yes, people disagree (on evolutionary theories). Scientists don’t disagree on evolution. There’s a consensus among scientists…”

    So Dr. Carson’s disbelief of evolution is well within the mainstream of non-scientific Americans, but completely outside the mainstream of science. An accountant or a security guard or any other American who doesn’t work in a science field could just as easily be held up as an example of this belief. Dr. Carson is just more prominent and accomplished in his non-science field than these others — this doesn’t give him any special status for us to believe that his views on evolution are more credible than those of other non-scientific Americans.

  11. Chris says:

    In response to Nancy, an intelligent woman whom I respect… ;-)

    Let me start by saying that your argument is very typical. I cannot count how many times I have seen, in articles, forums and commentaries this method of reasoning. Last I saw, I was at a liberal news site where the reporter had done, what seemed to me, a decent investigation and short write up about separation of church and state (which, while we’re on the subject, we all know is not in the US Constitution, right? see the establishment clause and free exercise clause of the first amendment for what is there – Nancy I know you know this, being a lawyer and all ;-). A reader told the reporter, rather smugly, they were not qualified to have an opinion on the US Constitution because the writer’s degree was in humanities(MS) and not constitutional law. Of course, the commentator also had no degree in constitutional law and so had no way, by his own argument, to qualify the writer’s assertions. In the bigger picture, this way of thinking tells one to do no such thing as to think for oneself. Further, it is a disservice to critical thinking, investigative reasoning and the general fruits of civil debate, and in the end adds to one’s own bias and ignorance as we may never question the authorities who feed us ideas – only listen to them.

    Bill Maher, a comedian and adamant atheist, is he a scientist? No, and so by your own argument I can completely disregard his input and comments. At the same time, Ben Carson has extensively studied and mastered biology, chemistry, human anatomy and more from the brightest minds in medical science; however in your perspective that’s not enough to qualify him as a true scientist. Even so, by using your own method of reasoning, which argues we are just supposed to listen to “experts,” then it’s clearly Ben Carson over Bill Maher. In the end, we just end up trying to establish who is “more of an expert.” In this case the answer is clear, but it’s just a dangerous endless cycle that hinges on who is called the ultimate expert – a frightening position for anyone but God.

    One may go on to argue that, well Bill Maher is talking about facts from “real scientists,” you know experts in the field of evolution. Could it be possible that Bill Maher has listened to more “real” evolutionary scientists in his lifetime than Ben Carson? Please. Ben Carson has undoubtedly logged, by thousands fold, more hours listening to lectures, studying books, reading peer reviews and just generally living his life in the field of medicine at the nation’s top universities, hospitals and academic circles. How could Bill Maher’s comedy, film/TV background out-qualify Ben Carson on statements of evolutionary thought? Again, this does not mean Ben Carson is the “ultimate expert” but I do take his thoughts with a good deal of respect and am not afraid to analyze them as possibilities inside my own frameworks.

    I call this method of silencing skeptics the “never mind thinking, the experts say so” argument. It is a typical academic mode of operation wherein only “true experts” are qualified to think. The problem is that the academics define who is an “expert” and expect everyone to just mindlessly follow these demigods. Of course the similar to me effect is in full force when said academics qualify these “experts” (see Expelled: The Movie). They want us to shut-up, close our minds and be assimilated to godless thought. Should dare someone speak in opposition they are labeled a “non-expert” (again see Expelled: The Movie), or in the case of your argument not “sciency” enough… :) In the end they try to disqualify them from academic circles, so they can silence any dissent. This is called mind control.

    Secondly, can Bill Maher back up his claim? Show me the signed petition of every scientist in the world stating there is consensus on Darwinism as true and accurate in every respect. When we shut our minds to reason and critique we become dangerous little puppets. Last time I checked there are thousands of PhD’d scientists from top universities and institutions around the world who have books, videos and research papers critical to evolutionary theory. In my own layman studies I have listened to lectures, read books and seen videos from PhDs from Stanford, NASA, Brown, Cornell and other top institutions, and that’s only off the top of my head and in my limited experience. You simply cannot tell me that “every scientist” thinks the same on this matter and get me to stop investigating, which is what people like Bill Maher, Al Gore and Richard Dawkins would really like – just take the blue pill, Neo. Maybe it’s the ignorance of those like Bill Maher who have shut their minds to any critical thinking of their own beliefs who are truly “uneducated.”

    In the end, evolution lacks a lot of evidence, many are skeptical of that fact and are investigating alternative theories. Is this so wrong as to label people ignorant? Just because they are proposing alternative ideas? Is that just so amazingly dangerous? Is the wall of evidence for evolution so enormous that one cannot question it in any way? One need only look to the fossil record and/or laws of probability to answer that question. Sadly, most of those who side with the likes of someone like Bill Maher have never even watched a single Discovery Institute video, I recommend Unlocking The Mystery of Lifebuy it here. Nor have they, in most situations, read a book like Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box. At the same time, the so called ignorants have been awash in evolutionary indoctrination of every kind their entire lives through media, education and secular culture. Take the red pill, Neo.

  12. Jen says:

    Hi Nancy, glad to hear from you. My question is, in what field of science is evolutionary theory truly relevant and useful to life and progress?

    Chris, get your own blog. Just kidding, I appreciate your very long and thoughtful comment and will have to repost that at some point as a regular post. I get your point–in some ways, it’s like if you remotely smell like a Christian thinker, you are immediately dismissed no matter the value of your critical thoughts. I would venture to guess that if Ben Carson were an atheist evolutionist, he would suddenly be qualified to speak on evolutionary theory.

  13. Nancy Robinett says:

    Hi: I appreciate Chris’ thoughtful comments also. I suppose that if you believe that evolution doesn’t or didn’t happen then you would also believe that evolutionary theories aren’t relevant or useful to any field of endeavor. I’m not a scientist at all — the closest I get is reading science studies popularized for the common person, like National Geographic or Scientific American. But I do respect that scientists use evolutionary theories as the bases for various studies and endeavors, and I don’t feel the need to actively disbelief those theories. Does an evolutionist have to be an athiest?

  14. Chris says:

    Nancy, thanks for taking my post with grace :-) To your question of whether belief in evolution equals atheism, I would give a resounding no. Of course, Christ’s work on the cross comes with no strings, as Martin Luther and the rest of the reformation movement made so clear through the concept of Sola Gratia. Luckily my own and everyone else’s imperfect thoughts, ideologies and perspectives will align with understanding to God once we are in His presence, assuming we have humbled ourselves to His will and asked His forgiveness – we are all imperfect in our actions and our understanding, that’s why we need a savior.

    Within the church, at least the organized church, I would guess that the thinking is about 50/50 – with Christian evolutionists likely being the majority. I have scores of friends who feel otherwise. There are plenty of Christian evolutionists and they have their theories on reconciling scripture with evolution: the Gap Theory, Genesis’ use of Hebraic Poetry and Theistic Evolution to name a few. There are also many, many well known “old-earth” believers who are very well respected in their fields, Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project is one off the top of my head.

    In the end grace rules. However, grace, as Paul continually argues, does not mean we just throw caution and reason to the wind. We are called to think – even if we do not end up at perfect consensus, the one who seeks will find. Ultimately, only God is able to judge and know man’s heart. He will divide accurately and He will do so based on our own understanding (see Luke 12 47-48). That is to say if evolution is indeed not true, it won’t be that one who believed its tenants but the one who uses those tenants as fuel for defiance towards God’s will who will be in danger.

    Let me close by saying that my personal conviction is that there are severe cultural and spiritual consequences to adapting evolutionary thinking, but that if one chooses to do so it is their choice. My issue is that there is now a very large push in public policy to mandate the view and to punish those who dissent, that scares me.

  15. Al Cibiades says:

    Dr. Carson is certainly a fine surgeon, but he isn’t a basic scientist, nor his opinion on evolutionary biology carry any weight. Nor does Bill Maher, who is a comedian. There are, however, thousands of dedicated scientists who understand what science is and understand that the theory of evolution is a well supported, voluminously documented, tested, verified and retested conceptual model of speciation (the emergence of new species) completely consistent with the facts. In other words it is a scientific theory (the valid use of the word theory in this context, not the usual one meaning a guess. ID and creationism aren’t science and have no facts whatever to support them. Evolution has been able to predict phenomena, a major test of a scientific theory.

    For Chris’s information, Mr. Behe’s theories which you mentioned have been discredited by true scientists, and the notion the irreducible complexity somehow refutes the theory of evolution has also been debunked.

    What confuses so many about science is that, unlike religion, it is not, nor does it claim to be a complete story or world view. It is the pursuit of knowledge, fact, and the organization of that knowledge into explanatory models. It has been hugely useful in improving our lives. It is the most reliable source of fact. It is not a religion not should it be confused with it.

    Fundamentalism is an intellectual corruption which confuses faith with fact. It has poor consequences especially when it deceives its adherents into thinking they have absolute truth.

  16. Kathleen Watterson says:

    I just watched the movie twice. What an amazing story. What a gifted physician and truly a wonderful human being. I was so impressed by his wonderful mother.


  17. Kishor Sundergiyan says:

    Dr Carson,you are a living legend.l never took neurology so serious, before my sister went for a brain op, and l watched your movie.To your Mama,shez Great and thatz the way parentz should be like.

  18. Val says:

    I have read all his books and he’s a great man. That’s what God does to your life when you totally offer your life to Him. He had a great mum and it’s my prayer that i be that type of a mum to my children.

  19. ukpere says:

    Dr carson are truly a living legend,you were sent on a mission by God,which i think you have accomplished.
    keep up the good works

  20. Christopher H says:

    Ben Carson is deluded. He may be a great neurosurgeon but he is deluded by his religious beliefs.
    That’s what religion does to people because it has such a powerful effect on the emotions. Reason and objective thinking go out the window once religion becomes the central point of people’s lives.
    I’d never heard of Ben Carson before but heard him on the local radio this morning doing a little Easter radio segment. He had a dig at evolution and how science can’t answer the mysteries of the universe etc. The usual sort of thing I come across all the time from your basic christian apologist but I was amazed at how fundamentally ignorant he was of the process of evolution given his standing in his chosen medical profession.
    He seemed to think evolution happens by pure chance. This of course is absolute rubbish, natural selection acts in a very non random way and only selects those genes best suited for an organism’s survival in a particular environment.
    No evolutionary scientist would suggest that a complex organism such as a mammal for instance developed totally by pure chance.
    The theory of evolution is as well established and accepted in the scientific community as the heliocentric theory of the solar system (the earth revolves around the sun, not the other way round).
    No one has ever been in a position to actually see the earth revolve around the sun but still believe it to be true.
    As for your earlier contributor, Chris, questioning whether there is a consensus among scientists around the world regarding evolution,I have a question for him. Name one biologist in the whole world who is NOT a christian (or other religion)and is NOT a crackpot who completely denies the theory of evolution?

  21. Ernest Goethe says:

    I must say that, first, Dr. Carson has been an inspiration for not only myself but, also my future wife. His dedication to neurological science and medicine (together would basically form neurosurgery) has encouraged me to continue on my journey to become a Neurosurgeon. I am completely thankful for what Dr. Carson has shared with the science community and the biology community. Through his inspiring biography, I made my way to the neurological program in my medical school and, I am currently on my way to soon start my residency. I’ve always had a knack for doing things others could not do, in this case, becoming a Neurosurgeon. I strongly believe the neurosurgery program at Harvard University will prove to truly be my calling.

    Secondly, I would like to say something to the people who put others down based on their personal beliefs. Please, stop being so closed and stubborn. As much as I would enjoy going on and informing you of the many religious scientist and non-atheist scientist who have made astoundingcontributions to science and it’s ever changing and expanding community. Furthermore, Those who believe brain surgery is an easy task, go ahead, and try a neurological operation. Lastly, a psychologist is no more of a scientist than a lawyer. It seems many people resort to psychology to find answers to human behavior when many neuroscientist are becoming firm in religious beliefs. I apologize in advance for giving a few vague statements and talking up a storm.

  22. Ernest Goethe says:

    Also, in response to “Christopher H” who is obviously showing his idolization of the late Christopher Hitchens, one who only debates with brigades of believers who do not know how to debate, i say that you should search for your own path. Mr. Hitchens was a rather intelligent man but, his arguments are unbearably refutable. He’s a journalist. Not a true scientist. Richard Dawkins has not one clue of what he is talking about, especially when it comes to understanding the bible, doing actual research, and talking about true facts. His debates, like Chris Hitchens, are utterly one sided. Not because he is good and makes intellectual points, but, only because, his opponents are horrible debtors. Both resorts to low blows, bending religious scripture, and resorting to outdated or wrong statistics. I suggest that you find someone else to adore. Maybe you should do more than watch one sided debates.

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