Pathologist Preaches Benefits of Science in Songs of Praise

UCSD PERSPECTIVES Volume II, Number 3 (Spring 1999)

Not many years ago, Dr. Stephen Baird, a pathology professor at the UCSD School of Medicine, got the bright idea of combining his early religious upbringing with his detailed knowledge of the complexities of cellular interactions, and began composing songs to help his students learn.

With his guitar in hand, he would teach and entertain his classes with ditties that described molecular processes within cells to the tunes of such old-time favorites as “Rock of Ages,” “Onward Christian Soldiers,” and “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

“There’s a lot of stuff that these students have got to get into their heads in order to understand diseases,” Baird says, “and I attempted to relieve the tension by concocting this doggerel.”

So successful has this endeavor been, that Baird – who says he underwent a “religious conversion to rationalism” as a student at Stanford University – recently produced a CD of music and lyrics promoting a scientific view of the cosmos and poking gentle fun at religious fundamentalism.

One song touts the benefits of pencillin over prayer, others promote evolution and the big-band theory of creation, while others ridicule the sexual mores and pecuniary proclivities of some TV evangelists:
Electronic evangelists are just my style.
I go to their services once in a while.
Relaxed on my sofa with cold beer nearby,
I watch Jerry bring me the word from on high.

Baird will be performing live at 7 p.m. on the stage at Porter’s Pub on campus, March 30, and his CD, “Hallelujah! Evolution!” is available from PSB Records in Solana Beach and the UCSD bookstore.