A Psychiatry Class, And the Origin of Species

I have the most amazing coursemates.

I mean, the medical school gives you a weird assortment of different personalities and interests: there's the eccentric classmate who's the next big thing in Nigerian fashion space, there's the crypto sharks, the writers, the Christians, and the atheists/agnostics/whatever-it-is-I-feel-like-being-called-today.

It's a lot, really, but it's family. And you just love family.

So one of those days during our Psychiatry rotation, we were waiting in the consulting room for a tutorial. It was a cramped up space, and yours truly had to share a seat with this other guy from class. I'll call him Darwin.

Somewhere between "How's the weather today?" and "Wouldn't you love to specialise in mental health?" the topic of the origin of species came up.

I got to discuss the origin of species with Darwin!

Well, not the ACTUAL Darwin, but a girl could manage.

The peculiar thing about not-the-actual-Darwin is, he seems to be an atheist-apologist if there's such a thing. While he doesn't exactly come out to say that there's no God and we all should go bleep ourselves, he sure does make a good argument for "If there's a God who created Adam, how do we explain evolution and the fossilised evidence to prove it?"

(Mind, he’s a good Protestant).

So while the-not-actual-Darwin went on a roll about the origin of species, and the Black Hole, and Richard Dawkins, I managed to get a word in -

Me: How do you then explain intelligent design?

Well, that kind of slowed the tempo of things.

I know a lot of people will define intelligent design in an infinite number of ways. I'm not some philosophy major or the late great anyone, but this is how I like to think of it.

There is a popular game that writers play. I think it's called "Complete the Sentance". Basically, what happens is that someone starts a story with a sentence and ends it halfway. The next person comes along and continues the story with the last word of the previous sentence, and so on until everyone gets tired. Or the story is too meaningless to read.

It's really fun.

You should try it with some friends.

Here’s a sample:

Disclaimer: Whatever group of persons came up with this story are in no way related to me. Thank you.

But seriously, it’s a mess!

I started off the first sentence, and the idea in my head was of a young lady who had just got jilted by her boyfriend at her best friend's engagement party. But, crazy friends happen sometimes…

So, back to intelligent design. The Complete The Sentence game is a shining example of what intelligent design is NOT.

What is it, then?

Basically, the idea of intelligent design is: that complex things - like life, or the universe, cannot just have happened by chance. That these things were deliberately designed and created by an intelligent Being.

Take the crazy story in the image above. No one would go publish an entire book from a game of Complete The Sentence. It would be made up of outlandish, frankly crazy-sounding ideas. Like when you try to translate the "lorem ipsum dolor…" placeholder text on a design template. Meaningless.

A writer would research, and brainstorm, and develop ideas and characters into a masterpiece. I mean, Shakespeare's Hamlet didn't just happen by chance. Neither did the first Swiss Watch. Or the Mona Lisa, for that matter.

So why do we believe that something vastly more complex than any of these masterpieces, something with an intricate and startling amount of neurons, blood vessels, bones and muscles, "just happened"?

I don't know, but I like to believe I didn't just appear here thanks to some random selection process and the evolutionary drive of the evolving ecosystem. I choose to believe that just like Leonardo da Vinci took his sweet time (12 whole years!) to paint the lips of the Mona Lisa, Someone, a benevolent, loving Creator, took His sweet time to design my neuronal pathways and chart the course of my blood vessels.

And if "Someone" invested all that time and effort in creating you, don't you think there had to be a reason for that?


Somewhere between trying to refute the claims of intelligent design and running from a burning socket, we agreed to postpone the discussion to a later date.

Who knows, you know? So stay tuned for Part 2- or not.



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