Be a Skeptic Part B: Genes, Bones, and Emperors
做個懷疑者(下): 基因、骨頭和皇帝
翻譯:Hongyan Zhu

…Continued from Part A: Dogmas Come and Go

……續上篇:信條恆變

Soon after I started my residency training in pediatrics, a disease called sickle cell anemia was touted as the greatest example
of human macro-evolution. You can see my description in Uncle Reggie stories, “Sickle Cell”. Sickle-cell mutation was declared dogmatically as the major evolutionary “proof,” as an “advantageous” mutation, because of its theoretic protection from malaria. My original skepticism of this concept was that the “protection” was based on “guilt by association”, not by direct proof. And, now the concept is collapsing, since our country is spending millions of dollars trying to eradicate this genetic mutation, which to me, must prove that, by definition, it is not advantageous. This is a great development, and gives hope to many affected children. I have painful memories of managing many sickle cell children who experienced, repetitively, severe bone and chest pains from this potentially fatal disease. Clearly not an advantageous major mutation: I suspect that lab based philosophers had little idea of the real-life misery that their favorite mutation wrought on mankind, especially those of African origin. Be really skeptical when academicians are so dogmatic about anything.

在我的兒科住院醫生訓練剛開始不久,一種叫鐮狀紅血球貧血症的疾病被吹捧為人類宏觀演化最偉大的例證。你能在曾叔叔故事:“鐮狀紅血球”中看到我的描述。鐮狀紅血球突變被當成信條般宣稱為重大的進化“證據”,被形容為“有益的”突變,因為理論上它保護身體免於得瘧疾。我對於這個觀點所提出的懷疑是,這種“保護”是基於“關聯的謬誤”,而不是直接的證據。現在這個觀點要坍塌了,因為美國正花費數以百萬計美元試圖根除這種基因突變,於我而言,這顯然證明了這個突變不是有益的。這個醫療發展好得很,給許多受影響的小孩帶來希望。我痛苦地記得我治療過很多有鐮狀紅血球的孩子,他們重複經歷着由這種可能致命的疾病帶來的嚴重骨骼和胸部疼痛。很明顯這並不是一種有益的重大突變。我推測那些以實驗為本的哲學家並不知道,他們最喜愛的突變在現實生活中帶給人類(尤其是那些有非洲血統的)何等的痛苦。當學術界對任何事情都奉為教條,我們真的要保持懷疑的態度。

In another Uncle Reggie story, I talked about the Shanghai cell, and how one cell is more complicated than all of Shanghai. But during my residency days there were all these fantastic stories about how man could “finally” create life, so-called spontaneously, in a test tube, and everyone was ecstatic about a few amino acids that seemed to emerge. The hoopla was something like this, “we’ve done it, we don’t need an Almighty Creator, we can do it ourselves, and surely, ’nature’ can just accidentally do it!” However amino acids did not make life, no matter how dogmatic one tried to be about it. And, anyway if there is such a day when man can be so very smart that he can, “create” life, that still means that he used creative intelligence, and skilled hands to “create.” It still means that there is no so-called “spontaneous,” random, chance, accident-precipitated, “life.” Regardless of how dogmatic this is expressed. And where did even the “simplest of cells,” that is more complicated than London, New York, or indeed Shanghai come from? Each and every metropolis-like cell is a far, far, cry from any pile of dangling amino acids. Be skeptical.

在另一篇曾叔叔故事里,我談到“上海細胞”,解釋了一個細胞如何比整個上海更加複雜。但是在我擔任住院醫生期間,傳來了一些荒誕的故事,關於人類“終於”在試管中創造出所謂自發生命,人人都對幾個似有若無的氨基酸欣喜若狂。他們如此大肆宣揚:“我們做到了,我們不需要全能的造物主,我們自己就能做到。‘自然界’肯定也能夠碰巧做到!”但是,氨基酸不能製造生命,不管有些人如何把這個想法奉為教條。即使如果有那麼一天,人類那麼聰明能夠“創造”生命,那就是指他運用富有創意的智力和熟練的手去“創造”。無論你表達得如何像教條一樣,這仍然意味着沒有所謂“自發的”、隨機、偶然、碰巧而成的“生命”。那麼,那個比倫敦、紐約或上海更加複雜的“最簡單的細胞”從何而來?每一個都像大都市一樣的細胞,與一堆毫無結構可言的氨基酸相比,差太遠了。要常存懷疑之心。

There are all these comments in biology and in medical textbooks, dogmatically declared, that macro-evolution involves trials and errors,
and chance, so it is inherently so wasteful, and there all these “vestigial things,” such as organs left behind in the process, with no apparent redeeming value. See my Uncle Reggie stories again, to show that there really are no vestigial organs left to talk about. The only vestiges have been the theories, which have become even less than vestiges! Another dogma crash.

在生物學和醫學教科書中都有一些評論,教條式地宣稱,宏觀演化牽涉到反覆的試驗與錯誤,以及偶然,所以本來就是會如此浪費,會有這些“殘留物”,例如在進化過程中剩下來的、看來不值得保留的器官。請再次讀我的曾叔叔故事,你就會明白其實已經沒有殘留器官剩下來可以談論了。只有那些理論才是殘留的,後來更加連殘留都沒有!另一個教條崩潰了。

A variation of this vestigial organ concept, is the more modern socalled junk DNA, purported to be “vestigial left-overs” from previous
evolutionary attempts at making DNA. At one time, junk DNA was declared dogmatically to be nearly 90% of the DNA, but the percent
has drastically and steadily dropped, as there are more and more realizations that they are there for great purposes, sometimes even as
the “orchestra conductors” of other DNAs, so technically they could be even more important, if you wish, than “the other” DNA. Someday, I like to predict, no junk DNA “vestige” will remain, as our understanding improves. As Ethel Waters, the ultrafamous singer once said, poignantly, “God don’t make no junk.” Another dogma crashing.

這種殘留器官概念的一個變奏,就是更現代的所謂垃圾DNA,據稱是從以前進化時嘗試製造 DNA 而剩下來的“殘留物”。起初有一段時間,他們教條式地宣布垃圾 DNA 佔總數的近 90%,但是這個百分比持續急劇下降,因為人們越來越意識到它們的存在有偉大的目的,有時甚至是擔任其他 DNA 的“交響樂團指揮”,所以你可以說,在技術上它們可能甚至比“其他”DNA 更加重要。我要預測,隨着我們的知識進步,終有一天將再也沒有垃圾 DNA“殘留物”的想法。正如超級著名的歌手埃塞爾 ‧ 沃特斯的辛酸感言:“上主不會製造垃圾。”又一個教條崩潰了。

In trying to explain the complexity of his subject, a noted paleontologist, in a surprisingly candid commentary, stated that the “field of fossil rock study” was developing so fast, that, “in this field, you can turn over a rock in Africa, and re-write history.” My cynical conclusion is that, if a scientific field can be changed so dramatically with just a new finding under a rock, it is likely immensely unstable and therefore by definition, unreliable. Meaning that today our dogmatic theories may reign in the field, but tomorrow it will be gone. Meaning that we cannot “believe” the theory today, since, who knows, it seems likely to be gone tomorrow. The changing theory is not reflecting how complicated a system it is, but likely how questionable our approach, or concepts, might be. In contrast, in fields of other sciences such as medical science, we investigate thousands of findings, subject them to open analysis, and incrementally add to the knowledge base, and there isn’t this instant discarding of past findings and concepts with each new finding, under a rock. You might begin to see why, frankly, I’m very cynical about all of this.

一位著名的古生物學家為了解釋他的研究課題有多複雜,在一篇坦率得令人驚訝的評論中指出,“化石岩研究範疇”發展得如此之快,以至於“在這個範疇里,你在非洲翻轉一塊岩石,就可以重寫歷史”。我充滿猜忌的結論是:如果某個科學範疇只因一塊岩石下的一個新發現就可以發生劇變,那麼它很可能極之不穩定,因此顯然就是不可靠。這意味着今天我們的教條式理論在這個範疇稱王稱霸,但是明天它可能就消失了。又意味着我們不能“相信”今天的理論,因為它似乎很可能明天就消失,誰知道呢。不斷變化的理論並非反映那個系統多麼複雜,而是反映我們的方法或概念可能大有問題。相比之下,在諸如醫學科學的其他科學範疇里,我們審查成千上萬的發現,讓它們接受公開的分析,並逐步加添到知識庫中;我們不會每次在岩石下有新發現就立即扔掉過去的成果和觀念。坦白說,我對這一切非常猜忌,你可能也開始明白為什麼。

Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved story, translated into more than 100 languages, tells of the great Emperor who wants the most beautiful
clothes possible. The cunning tailors play on his vanity, and that of the adoring crowds who fear pointing out the obvious. During the great parade, it is only the innocent child with “nothing to lose” who points out the basic problem. He is the ultimate skeptic and even cynic, who suddenly exposes the transparent truth.

安徒生的一個深受愛戴的故事,被翻譯成超過 100 種語言,講述偉大的皇帝想要全世界最美麗的衣服。狡猾的裁縫玩弄着皇帝的虛榮心,又知道敬愛他的群眾不敢指出那顯而易見的事實。在那場大型巡遊中,只有天真的孩子“無所顧忌”,指出了問題所在。那孩子是終極的懷疑者,甚至是猜忌者,突然揭穿了那透明的真相。

One by one, dogmas crash and crash. Exposures begin, step by step. My advice to scientists, doctors, scholars and students, is to remain
skeptical and even cynical. The Spontaneous Macro-Evolution Emperor has fewer and fewer clothes, maybe even no clothes. Keep asking questions, like the innocent child in the story, and keep challenging the system. Frankly, you can, and should do that with faith issues also. It’s okay to challenge Christian history, principles and conduct, because that’s how we can all learn. Even challenge the Scriptures to find out the truth. And no one will threaten you for making the challenge. The history of Christianity is full of attacks by skeptics and cynics over several thousand years. But the amazing thing is that history tells us that these attacks by skeptics and cynics, have often resulted dramatically in changed lives in the challengers themselves. Their skepticism often is finally answered, and they often become, surprisingly, strong defenders of the faith they once challenged. Be a skeptic and cynic, I urge you, and challenge you.

信條一步接一步被揭穿,一個接一個崩潰。我對科學家、醫生、學者和學生的建議是保持懷疑甚至猜忌的態度。這位名為“自發的宏觀演化”的皇帝所穿的衣服越來越少,甚至可能一絲不掛了。我們要像故事中天真的孩子一樣,不斷提問,不斷挑戰系統。坦白說,對待信仰的議題,你也可以、也應該這樣做。你可以挑戰基督信仰的歷史、原則和行為,甚至挑戰聖經經文、找出真相,因為我們全都是這樣學習的。沒有人會因為你作出挑戰而威嚇你。數千年來,基督信仰的歷史中充滿了懷疑者和猜忌者的攻擊。但令人驚奇的是,歷史告訴我們,懷疑者和猜忌者的這些攻擊和挑戰,通常會導致他們自己的生命發生巨大的改變。他們的懷疑通常到最終都得到解答,而且他們通常會變成強大的守護者,去捍衛他們曾經挑戰過的那信仰,意想不到吧。我敦促你,並挑戰你,做個懷疑者、猜忌者。