SEAN MCDOWELL BLOG
The Universe Diagnosed: Interview with Author Kris French, MDPosted May 19, 2017 by Sean McDowell
The Universe Diagnosed: Interview with Author Kris French, MD
Recently I had the opportunity to endorse a new book by Kris French, a medical doctor with an expertise in neuro-immunology. While he discusses many of the common arguments for God’s existence in The Universe Diagnosed, he does so uniquely from the perspective as a medic and in a way that is understandable to non-specialists. I think you will enjoy it! But first check out his answers to some of my tough questions about intelligent design, transgenderism, and more:
SEAN MCDOWELL: You have written a new book called Medical Apologetics: The Universe Diagnosed. As a medical doctor, how do you uniquely approach apologetics?
KRIS FRENCH: Most physicians have an upfront perspective on life and death and a realization that the decisions that we make impact people in an intimate way. We are trained to “first do no harm” and for good reason. But, why is it that we are to “first do no harm”? It is because humans have intrinsic value and worth whether the doctor is consciously aware of this reason or not.
Like the world of apologetics, neurologists rely upon evidence and observation to make sense of the way things are. Neurology has a mystery and fear about it since it is so complex. The study of the Divine is similar. But, like Spurgeon has stated, nothing so humbles the mind and expands it at the same time as the science of Christ.
MCDOWELL: How does your training in neuro-immunology influence how you think about the issue of human origins?
FRENCH: The immune system is beyond complex. It is the only other system in the body that can be described as having a “memory” (that’s how vaccines work). The immune system has its own language and communication not only within itself, but with other organ systems and even with other organisms such as the bacteria and parasites that grow in our intestines. This has become known as the gut microbiome. This is a completely separate environment and ecological system that is made up of more living organisms inside of each one of us than we have cells in our body by about 10 to 1. I call this the cooperative uniformity of creation and it is discussed in a chapter in my book about botulinum toxin and the gut microbiome. It goes beyond the concept of the theory of the interacting whole originated by Norris Clark. Furthermore, we know that the highest level of information can only come from an intelligent source. The immune system has a language and coding system that stores more information at a higher level than that stored in our DNA.
MCDOWELL: As a whole, do you find the medical field is open to the case for intelligent design? Why or why not?
FRENCH: In general, physicians tend to have or develop a perspective of human dignity and value that impacts the delivery of care. When doctors consider where this worth originates, it is not surprising that many attribute it to something supernatural or beyond the physical. Physicians find themselves in a moral and ethical setting that also has bearing on decision making for patients and their families. Physicians who treat patients are well aware of many medical phenomena that are not explained by the natural alone such as the placebo and nocebo effects as well as many terminal conditions that somehow resolve without explanation. So, I think that most physicians are open to the concept of intelligent design as the best explanation for how the human body originated with all of its complexity and in correlation with the origin of values and morals that we follow when treating patients. I believe that most doctors would agree that intelligent design is a more internally consistent explanation for these observations than evolution.
MCDOWELL: With recent discussions around transgenderism, some people are suggesting that science no longer holds the cultural authority it once held (i.e., feelings trump science). What are your thoughts about how our culture views the authority of science?
FRENCH: I believe that science has maintained its authority, but only when it seems to agree with people’s lifestyle and choices. When science goes against the way people choose to behave, then the scientific evidence must be wrong.
However, I don’t believe that science has completely taken a back seat to feelings. On the contrary, I think that many people try and use science to explain their choices and behaviors. For example, some research has shown changes in certain deep regions of the brain such as the corpus collosum and amygdala in homosexual and transgender individuals. But, we have to be careful in determining what is cause and what is effect. What does the science actually show? Is it showing that certain brain structure and function results in certain behaviors and identities or is it showing that the specific behavior results in the brain changes? As a neurologist, we see that behaviors change the brain (smoking, alcohol, good exercise, blood pressure control, etc.) and very rarely do any specific brain anatomy changes translate into any specific behavior (strokes do not typically change behavior although they can affect impulsivity and judgment to a degree in someone who is already prone to those problems). But, when the science is not completely clear, it seems to be hijacked and used to support behavior and lifestyle.
MCDOWELL: What makes your book different from similar apologetic or philosophy books? And who is it intended for?
FRENCH: Our brains store, process, and interpret information better when the information can be categorized, readily accessed for use, and compared easily against other information. There are no other books that systematize and weigh the evidence for the existence of God using medical diagnostic criteria. It is a completely new way of organizing the material so readers can get a strong grasp of this important topic. Whether the reader believes in the existence of God or not, this book is intended to raise questions and help answer some of them in an organized way.
Whether the reader is a professional philosopher, apologist, or completely new to the subject, there is something for everyone. Our minds appreciate structure and our brains need organizational methods to appropriately store and access concepts and everyday data. Likewise, there needs to be a method to access and then interpret the information for the best explanation of the way things are. This book hybridizes medical diagnostic criteria and epidemiology to systematize, structure, and weigh the evidence for or against God's existence in order to come to the best explanation for what we observe.
Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.