September 5th 2018 at St Albans Cathedral
CITATION HONORARY DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF SCIENCE (DSc)
Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to read the citation for the presentation of the honorary award of Doctor of Science on Professor Felix Konotey-Ahulu.
Science is, in essence, a search for the truth. It is this search for truth that has driven Felix to make very significant discoveries in the area of sickle cell disease. As a scientist, he is not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom if it conflicts with his own discoveries. But this has landed him in hot water at times, not least when he was assigned no fewer than four bodyguards when he was the keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr Foundation’s award banquet in Philadelphia 1972!* His pointing out the vital distinction between sickle cell trait and sickle cell disease was going to have huge implications for insurance companies, and the organisers were more than a little concerned for his safety.
Felix’s research in the area of sickle cell disease has been groundbreaking. He is the only known scientist to have traced hereditary disease in his own family all the way back to 1670 AD. Having grown up in a family where sickle cell disease was present, his knowledge of the disease even before he went to medical school in the UK was significant. His parents had sickle cell trait, which resulted in his siblings having the disease, although he himself has neither.
Felix’s personal experience and observations therefore qualified him well to question conventional thinking about the causes of sickle cell trait, and seeing the pain and struggles of his siblings has greatly informed the way he views people with the condition. The sickle cell clinic in Ghana of which he was the
Director, at the Korle Bu Hospital, was the largest in the world. In addition, he established the Konotey-Ahulu Genetic Epidemiology Sickle Cell Foundation in 2011 to provide counselling for sufferers, as well as education and research.
The importance of asking questions is something Felix has always been very keen to pass on to his own students – encouraging them to learn ‘how to think’ rather than simply learning ‘what to think’ in order to pass exams. This ties in with his passion for medical ethics, particularly in the area of genetics. Indeed, one of his caveats is, ‘Medicine without ethics is dangerous!’
Although this honorary doctorate is being awarded for Felix’s involvement in the area of sickle cell disease, he has contributed significantly to other areas of work, including AIDS research, medical ethics and tonal linguistics. He has been very widely published, and a number of his articles have become the definitive studies in their field.
Felix has also authored two books. Of the first, What is AIDS?, Professor Maya Angelou said that it is ‘Compulsive reading. I could not put it down.’ His second, The Sickle Cell Disease Patient, has been described as ‘a commendable addition to the medical literature’.
The contribution of Felix has been publicly acknowledged many times, among which was inclusion in a list of ‘The 100 Greatest Africans of All Time’. In this list he keeps esteemed company, with names such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Kofi Annan. Among many other distinguished awards, he has received the Dr Martin Luther King Junior Foundation Award for outstanding research in sickle cell anaemia, and the African American Museum in Philadelphia Humanitarian Award in 2007, in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the people of Africa and to the world.
Felix says that he has a soft spot for St Albans, as his second job after qualifying as a doctor at London University’s Westminster Hospital School of Medicine was as house surgeon in 1960 to three eminent surgeons at St Albans City Hospital. He remembers this fondly as a most memorable period in his career. Twenty years later, the hospital was privileged to count Felix as a locum physician in medicine for the elderly in the 1980s. He is now resident in Hertfordshire.
And Felix has a very diverse range of other talents too. If you have a moment, do search the internet for the millennium hymn he wrote – it’s called ‘Time was Created’ and available on YouTube, and is well worth a listen!
Chancellor, in recognition of outstanding achievement I ask that you confer the honorary award of Doctor of Science upon Professor Felix Konotey-Ahulu.
*See British Medical Journal 2007, July 28 Volume 335, page 210
“Four bodyguards and the perils of unmasking scientific truths” by F I D Konotey-Ahulu http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7612/210
UH Hon. DSc Acceptance Speech Sept. 5 @ St Albans Cathedral
Lord Salisbury, Chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, Lord Ribeiro of Achimota and Ovington and Past President of the Royal College of Surgeons, Graduates, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen! Hearty Congratulations to those who studied Allied Health Professions including Midwifery and have emerged so successful. Very Well Done! I sincerely wish you well for your future endeavours.
Regarding myself, ever since I got the letter of the Vice-Chancellor inviting me to receive an Honorary Doctor of Science Degree one word has been uppermost in my head – and that word is GRATITUDE. Allow me explain: Exactly one week after leaving Achimota School on completing my Cambridge School Certificate Exams in the Gold Coast (Ghana) my brother Jerry and I were struck by lightning on the football field. He was killed instantly. I was spared, with just a facial burn. Jerry was 17 years of age, I was 19. Why Jerry? And not me? I will never know the answer to that question, but one thing I do know, GOD Almighty has His hand on me. And my gratitude to HIM knows no bounds.
Three and half years after the lightning bolt I did the 12 days’ voyage by Boat (Elder Dempster Lines) to England to study Medicine. Can you believe that I was taught by the best of the best? At London University’s Westminster Hospital School of Medicine Clinicians of Royalty were my teachers notably Sir Richard Bayliss who became Physician of Her Majesty the Queen. Any bedside manners I possess I was taught by Sir Richard. You had better have bedside manners with the Head of the Commonwealth. My first job as a doctor was in London at Bethnal Green Hospital. Walking into Ward B3South I introduced myself to the nurse. “Hello, I am the new doctor, Felix”. Quick came the response “Hello. I am Sister Moss”. “So, what can I call you?” I asked hopefully. “You can call me Sister Moss” she replied. Actually, her name was Rosemary. I remember that Monday morning June 15 1959 as if it was yesterday because on Easter Monday 23rd April 1962 Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones married Felix and Rosemary Moss at Westminster Chapel. She is a staunch believer in The Lord Jesus Christ. We have 3 children, 11 grandchildren, and 2 great grand-children. Just Google “Felix and Rosemary” and you’ll see our 50th Wedding Anniversary 2012 clip. Darling I thank GOD for you! You are just as beautiful today as when I cast eyes on you 59 years 3 months ago. I don’t know how I could have achieved what I have done without you.
GRATITUDE: I stress this again as I end. I owe so much to more people than I have time to mention; people who made sacrifices for me like Professor Hermann Lehmann (Cambridge University), Professor Bela Ringelhann the Hungarian, Dr Kobla Gbedemah (Ghanaian Laboratory Expert) – men who have been long dead but whom I shall never forget. Also, Institutions that put their weight behind me like Ghana Cocoa Marketing Board, Ghana’s Managing Trustees of The VALCO Fund, and University of Cape Coast in Ghana.
Dear Graduates, when you see someone struggling in life and you reach down and lift them up, and you tell them “I will help carry your load”, you have an impact beyond anything you can imagine. One big thing I learnt coming to England in the early 1950s was that every privilege carried a responsibility. Never forget, Ladies and Gentlemen, that you have had privileges in life. Please, please, learn to help those less privileged than you. If I have achieved anything it is because I have been enabled by others to stand on the shoulders of giants. It has been a privilege to share this occasion with you. Lord Salisbury, I thank University of Hertfordshire for this honour done me. And I thank GOD Almighty in whose hands my very breath is for longevity.
Mentioning God 4 times in headlines June to December 2017 [1-4] the BMJ is clearly not scared of ridicule from the author of “The God Delusion” and “The Greatest Show on Earth: the evidence for evolution” Richard Dawkins [5 6]. Numerous publications demolish the “scientific” foundation of his militant atheism [7-22]. Reading Professor David Berlinski’s excellent book “THE DEVIL’S DELUSION: ATHEISM AND ITS SCIENTIFIC PRETENSIONS”  I discern a vast difference between his Princeton PhD-reasoning and Dawkins’s Oxford University DPhil-cogitations. Thankfully, Oxford University has at least 3 other DPhils who believe in the GOD Dawkins denies: Dr Jim Packer’s “KNOWING GOD” is gem of a Classic ; Professor John Lennox outshines Professor Richard Dawkins [25 26] in Public Debates, and Dawkins’s previous fellow atheist Professor Alister McGrath writes: “There are many who are deluded about God, and I used to be one of them” . His bestseller “THE DAWKINS DELUSION? Atheist fundamentalism and the denial of the divine”  states (page 64) “The God Delusion is a work of theatre, rather than scholarship -….” Alister McGrath and his wife Joanna Collicutt McGrath conclude their book with this question: “Might atheism be a delusion about God?” 
TO WHOM IS THIS QUESTION DIRECTED? 
The “you” of Modern English is ambiguously singular and plural. I prefer “thou” and “ye” of yesteryears, and I split the question into “Dost thou acknowledge God’s existence?” and “Dost thou believe in God?” Answering “Yes!” to both I rest my confidence on 3 supra-scientific Facts: History, Miracle (properly defined), and Personal Experience.
Historical events that cannot be fathomed through Science are often either dismissed as myths (never happened) or explained away somehow. Professor Know-All’s comments in the BMJ on 4 historical events in Clinical Medicine that I called “supra-scientific” prove my point . The fourth event I described was when my robust younger brother announced on Friday 16th December one year that he had a week to live, and the following Wednesday 21st December as our mother was baking cakes for Christmas he said none of us would be eating cakes that Christmas and we laughed him to scorn; then playing football with him on Friday 23rd December we were both struck by lightning which killed him instantly, and left me with a facial burn . Not only did Jerry have “a week to live”, but also no one ate cakes at Christmas 1949 in Odumase-Krobo while Rev D A Konotey-Ahulu’s second son lay unburied on Christmas Day. Professor Know-All’s “scientific” verdict was “Your brother was accident prone!” .
Moses saw the burning bush that was not consumed and, advancing to investigate, heard “Moses, Moses! Draw not nigh hither: Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground”. He was petrified when the voice said “I AM THAT I AM …Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel ‘I AM hath sent me unto you’” . Truth of this historical event baffles atheists. That Moses went on to deliver his people from slavery in Egypt is sheer history .
When I date my cheques 20th January 2018 I am proclaiming that 20 Centuries ago The Lord Jesus Christ said in Jerusalem “Before Abraham was I AM” , the very name that Moses heard at the burning bush. I do not appeal to Science for help in validating the historicity of The Lord Jesus Christ who said 40 times in Apostle John’s Gospel that he was sent . His origins and deeds can only be described as miraculous.
WHAT IS A MIRACLE?
December 1958 to March 1959 was a bad winter for this African in London. Weeks before Final Exams in April 1959 to graduate as a doctor I was admitted with virus pneumonia to Westminster Hospital in Horseferry Road under Dr (later) Sir Richard Bayliss, Queen’s Physician. If I recovered there was no way I could pass the exam because my revision plans were ruined. Discharged in time to sit the Finals, I passed.
My friend Richard Alderson, brilliant English Teacher, and fellow member of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Westminster Chapel , later saw me and asked how I did. His immediate response when I said “I passed. It’s a miracle!” taught me the correct meaning of the word: “If you had the brain of a hedgehog that would be a miracle”. Exactly! True miracles are way beyond the merely supra-scientific. The hedgehog-brain-answering-exam-questions-on-placenta-praevia type of historical event that defies scientific explanation, is what some scientists deny ever happened. But Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Medawar published “The Limits of Science” . Lesser-brained scientists disagree, claiming (like Professor Know-All) to have answers for everything.
Well then, “Crucified, dead, and buried; the third day The Lord Jesus rose from the dead” is not Science so it is not History either? Does History not confirm mysterious truths which Science cannot fathom? [37 38]. I knew some Resurrection deniers who hated The Lord Jesus Christ. Their “OK, Jesus rose from the dead, so what?” revealed much. Were they God haters rather than just atheists? Are we really in a “Post-Truth World?” .
“GOD is a SPIRIT, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”  – words of The Lord Jesus Christ once quite meaningless to me. Science had/has no definition for “spiritual things” [41-43]. But on Friday 24 October 1952, alone in my university rooms in Ghana reading other words of The Lord Jesus  HE miraculously revealed Himself to me. There’s no scientific explanation for what happened that night. Subdued and tearful, I went next-door to tell fellow student James Mustaffah: “Felix will never be the same again!” . I was never the same again. Similar experiences described in Eric Metaxas’s remarkable biographies of Bonhoeffer, Wilberforce, and Luther [46-48] demonstrate this divine intertwining of History, Miracle, and Personal Experience. For me to understand spiritual things now is a Miracle. O Thank GOD!
Competing Interest: Believer in The Lord Jesus Christ [Nuntsɔ Yesu Kristo]
Felix I D Konotey-Ahulu FGA MB BS MD(Lond) DSc(UCC) FRCP(Lond) FRCP(Glasg) DTMH(L’pool) FGCP FWACP FTWAS ORDER OF THE VOLTA (OFFICER) Kwegyir Aggrey Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics University of Cape Coast, Ghana; Former Consultant Physician Genetic Counsellor in Sickle Cell and Other Haemoglobinopathies Korle Bu Teaching Hospital & Director Ghana Institute of Clinical Genetics, and 9 Harley Street, Phoenix Hospital Group, London W1G 9AL. Website: www.sicklecell.md
1 Saripanidis Savros. Do you believe in God? 24 August 2017 BMJ Rapid Response http://www.bmj.com/content/359/bmj.j4669/rapid-responses Re¨Kevin Barraclough Do you believe in God? 319:doi 10.1136/bmj.319.7214.929a
2 Burridge Stan. Three forms of identification and a letter from God.
BMJ 25 Oct 2017. 359: j4669. doi: 10.1136/bmj.j4669 pmid: 29070597.
3 Donne J. Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness | BMJ Supportive & Palliative spcare.bmj.com/content/bmjspcare/7/3/273.full.pdf June 27 2017.
John Donne’s sonnet ‘Death be not proud’ is a favourite reading at funerals; but his ‘Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness’ is one of the great poems in the language.
4 Keown Daniel. What God forgot to tell surgeons: the science of acupuncture Review http://aim.bmj.com/content/acupmed/31/3/345.full.pdf by Anne-Marie Marlow. Downloaded on December 8, 2017.
5 Dawkins Richard. The God Delusion. London – Transworld Publications 2007.
6 Dawkins Richard. The Greatest Show on Earth. Free Press, New York, 2009
7 Sarfati Jonathan. The Greatest Hoax On Earth? Refuting Dawkins On Evolution. Creation Book Publishers. Atlanta Georgia, USA 2010. ISBN 978-0-949906-73-1 [333 pages]
8 Evolution’s Achilles Heels – 9 PhD Scientists explain evolution’s fatal flaws – in areas claimed to be its greatest strengths. Foreword by Carl Wieland. Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, Georgia USA 2014. ISBN 978-1-921643-82-8 [272 pp]
9 Sarfati Jonathan. Refuting Evolution. Amazon.com: Books 9780949906731 htpps://www.amazon.com/Refuting.Evolution-Jonathan-Sarfati/dp/0949906735
https://creation.com/refuting-evolution-index [A handbook for students, parents, and teachers countering the latest arguments for evolution]
10 Sarfati Jonathan. Refuting Evolution 2. A sequel that comprehensively counters arguments that support evolution (as presented in TV Documentaries and Scientific American) www.amazon.co.uk/refuting+evolution+2 2004 ISBN: 0-949906-27-1 [235 pages]
11 Penner JG. Evolution Challenged by Language and Speech. Minerva Press, London W1R 7YB. 2000 ISBN 0 75411 092 3. [403 pages]
12 Gitt Werner. In the beginning was Information – A Scientist Explains the Incredible Design in Nature. Master Books (New Leaf Publishing Group) AR 72638 USA ISBN-13: 978-0-89051-461-0 & 10: 089051-461-5 (264 pages).
13 Gitt Werner. Did God use Evolution? Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung e.V. Postfach 11 01 35.33661 Bielefeld Germany 2nd Edition 2001. [160 pages]
14 Sanford J C. Genetic Entropy. FMS Publications (FMS Foundation) USA, Fourth Edition 2014. ISBN 978-0-9816316-0-8 [271 pages]
15 Wieland Carl. One Human Family. The Bible, Science, Race & Culture. Creation Book Publishers, Atlanta, Georgia, USA 2011 www.onehumanfamily.us [378 pages]
16 Andrews Edgar. Who Made GOD? Searching for a Theory of Everything. EP Books, Pistyll Hall, Pistyll, Holywell, CH8 7SH www.epbooks.org 2009 (324 pp).
17 Rendle Short John. Green Eye of the storm. Controversy between Science and Christianity in the lives of Arthur Rendle-Short (1880-1953); Philip Henry Gosse (1810-1888); George John Romanes (1848-1894). The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh/Pennsylvania 1998. ISBN 0 85151 7277 [294 pages]
18 Hoyle Fred. The Intelligent Universe. Michael Joseph, London, 1985, page 25 “Why has the Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection managed for upwards of a century, to fasten itself like a superstition on so-called enlightened opinion? Why is the story still defended so vigorously?” [This from a Cambridge University Professor, & a Fellow of UK’s prestigious Royal Society FRS]
19 Sarfati Jonathan. By Design – Evidence for Nature’s Intelligent Designer – The God of the Bible. Creation Book Publishers 2008 Atlanta Georgia, USA www.creationbookpublishers.com [260 pages]
20 Konotey-Ahulu FID. The God Delusion title devalues sensible discourse. BMJ Rapid Response www.bmj.com/content/335/7629/1099.1/rr-0 October 19 2016.
21 Blanchard John. Does GOD believe in Atheists? Evangelical Press 2001, USA P O Box 84, Auburn, MA 01501, USA ISBN 0 85234 460 0 [656 pages]
22 Blanchard John. Is GOD past His Sell-By Date? Evangelical Press 2007. P O Box 825, Webster, NY 14580 & Faverdale North Industrial Estate, Darlington, DL3 0PH, England. [268 pages]
23 Berlinski David. The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions. Basic Books (Perseus Books Group) 2009; 387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-8810. ISBN: 978-0-465-01937-3
24 Packer JI. KNOWING GOD. Hodder and Stoughton. London 1973 [256 pp].
25 Has Science Buried God? Dr. Richard Dawkins vs. Dr. John Lennox …
983thesnake.com/has-science-buried-god-dr-richard-dawkins-vs-dr-john-lennox-the-…18 Nov 2015 – In this fascinating debate, Dr. Richard Dawkins and Dr. John Lennox discuss the question of whether science has buried God.
26 The God Delusion Debate: Richard Dawkins and John Lennox …
www.trentarwine.com › Atheism › Debates19 Jan 2017 – In Birmingham, Alabama, Professor Richard Dawkins and his Oxford University colleague, Professor John Lennox, engaged in a lively debate over what is arguably the most critical question of our time: the existence of God. The debate centred on Dawkins’ views as expressed in his “The God Delusion”.
27 McGrath Alister with McGrath JC. The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the denial of the divine. SPCK, 36 Causton Street, London SW1P 4ST. 2007 ISBN 978-0-281-05927-0.
28 Konotey-Ahulu FID. The supra-scientific in clinical medicine: a challenge to Professor Know-All. doi:10.1136/bmj.323.7327.1452 Brit Med J 2001; 323(7327): 1452-1453 (22-29 Dec) http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/323/7327/1452.pdf
29 Konotey-Ahulu FID. Case of lightning burns. BMJ 1963; 1: 1547. June 8. Doi:10.1136/bmj.1.5344.1547 http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/1/5344/1547.apdf
30 Konotey-Ahulu FID. Superstition and phenomena in Africa. Personal View. BMJ 1969; 2:48 http://www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/3/5664/235.pdf April 15 doi:10.1136/bmj.2.5648.48
31 Holy Bible: Exodus chapter 3 verses 1-10. [Moses commissioned to go and lead Israelites out of Egypt].
32 Holy Bible: The Passover. Exodus chapter 12 verses 1 to 51. [Verse 51 “And it came to pass, …, that The LORD brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies” [A supra-scientific historical event]
33 LORD JESUS CHRIST. “Most assuredly, I say unto you, before Abraham was I AM”. St John chapter 8 verse 58.
34 Konotey-Ahulu FID. MILLENNIUM Hymn – TIME WAS CREATED (Verse 3 of the 7 verses emphasises 40 times The LORD JESUS said in St John’s Gospel He was sent into the world and why – http://bit.ly/cRrZ0s (0 is zero, not o) 2000
Video with music http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hconD91uNs
35 Murray Iain. Life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones 1899-1980. Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh [See Reference 24 of http://bit.ly/2igdDg2 for more details on him]
36 Medawar Peter. The Limits of Science. Oxford University Press. 1985.
37 Konotey-Ahulu FID. History versus Limits of Science: Is Solomonic Genius a Y Chromosome Phenomenon? J Genet Disorders Genetic Reports 2014; 3: 2 http://bit.ly/1wyq5H5
38 Konotey-Ahulu FID. “Private Thoughts: There is no evidence that I was born on a Saturday. Postgraduate Medical Journal of Ghana 1: 32-33” [which often proved the superiority of history over science in arriving at truth] 2012.
39 Konotey-Ahulu FID. Evidence in a post-truth world: Scientists’ Misinformation and Disinformation http://bit.ly/2igdDg2 Response to Dr Margaret McCartney’s “seams of multiple misinformation” pervading the scientific world – “Evidence in a post-truth world”. BMJ 2016; 355: 16363, November 28, 2016.
40 LORD JESUS CHRIST. To the Samaritan woman at the well: “GOD is a Spirit; and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. St John’s Gospel chapter 4 verse 24.
41 Lloyd-Jones DM. Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure (Amazon’s Book Store www.amazon.co.uk>Spiritual-De ISBN 9780802813879 [One of top 100 Millennium Books]
42 Konotey-Ahulu FID. The spiritual and the psychological in Clinical Medicine. (Personal View) BMJ 1977; 1: 1595 www.bmj.com/cgi/reprint/1/6076/1595.pdf doi:10,1136/6076/1595 June 15 “There is a vast area of man’s experience called the spiritual realm which neither Freudian psychoanalysis nor the scientific method can fathom…Approaches to scientific truth and spiritual truth are different. One scientist will read Dr Lloyd-Jones’ ‘Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure’ (Reference 41 above) with much profit while another, with the same qualifications, will find it unintelligible”
43 Lloyd-Jones DM. Conversions Psychological and Spiritual. (Critique of Dr William Sargant’s “Battle for the Mind”) https://www.amazon.co.uk>uk 9780851100098 December 1 1959.
44 LORD JESUS CHRIST. For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. St Matthew’s Gospel chapter 9 verse 13. [Reading of which at about 8 pm 24th October 1952 alone in my university rooms in Legon, Ghana, seemed to switch on spiritual eyes that changed me for good]
45 Barker Peter, Boadi-Siaw Samuel. Changed by the WORD – The Story of Scripture Union in Ghana. Scripture Union Ghana, P O Box AN 7388, Accra-North, Ghana. ISBN 9964-87-800-1 “Felix will never be the same again” – p. 18.
46 Metaxas Eric. BONHOEFFER – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Thomas Nelson USA, August 2011 (626 pages).
47 Metaxas Eric. AMAZING GRACE. Biography of William Wilberforce. Authentic Media, USA, October 2013 (344 pages).
48 Metaxas Eric. MARTIN LUTHER: The Man Who Rediscovered GOD and Changed the World. Viking Press, USA, October 2017 (416 pages).
Competing interests: Competing Interest: Believer in The Lord Jesus Christ [Nuntsɔ Yesu Kristo]