Apologies for cannibalising my own Twitter and Facebook content, but this could just change your life.
Evolution by natural selection. Known as ‘Darwinism’ to those who like inappropriate naming conventions, it’s an uncontroversial theory with a Jupiter-sized body of evidence behind it, accepted by almost the entirety of the subset of the population who are, shall we say, ‘not crazy’. Its basic mechanisms are well understood, even by those with no professional scientific background whatsoever, and it stands as one of the single greatest advances in human understanding about the world at least since whoever-it-was discovered how to make cheese.
Or… is it?!
I thought I knew. I thought I’d heard all of the lame-beyond-lame arguments against it: you know, from the people who gleefully announce that there are GAPS IN THE FOSSIL RECORD!!111, as if the ‘fossil record’ was an audit of expenses meticulously prepared by an expensive consultancy firm rather than ‘the sum total of all the stuff we’ve found in the ground and various peat bogs’. But this was before I’d heard Ben Stein.
Ben Stein, for those whose lives have not already been immeasurably enriched by knowledge of the man, started out in life as a speechwriter for Richard Nixon. Indeed, he retains a touching loyalty to his early boss, asking the American Spectator in 2005 “can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible?” and – presumably having been reminded of one of the single most toxic scandals to wreck public confidence in its elected representatives – going on to suggest that “he lied to protect his subordinates who were covering up a ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose. He lied so he could stay in office and keep his agenda of peace going. That was his crime. He was a peacemaker and he wanted to make a world where there was a generation of peace. And he succeeded”.
(The eagle eyed amongst you might note that the purpose of the Watergate burglary might – just perhaps! – have been related to the occupants of the building being the Democrats, the party against which Nixon was about to contest a presidential election. It might also have crossed your mind that Nixon’s ‘success’ in creating ‘a world where there was a generation of peace’ is rather unhelpfully challenged by the rather substantial amount of conflict that then took place, some of which is detailed by Ben Stein in that very same article. But no matter. Sarcasm is sometimes a convenient linguistic tool to ‘disguise’ contempt.)
Stein’s grasp of history is rivalled by his penchant for wise economic advice. In August 2007, appearing on the venerable Fox News, Stein opined the following:
Ben Stein: […] subprime is tiny. Subprime is a tiny, tiny blip.
Peter Schiff: It’s not tiny. And again, it’s not just subprime. It’s entire mortgage market.
Ben Stein: You’re simply wrong about that.
Peter Schiff: No, I’m not.
Ben Stein: Defaults for the whole mortgage market are tiny.
The time was right, apparently, for a great ‘buying opportunity, especially for the financials’. Especially for the financials! This is clearly a man whose good judgement knows few, if any, bounds (even, perhaps, if they are the bounds of ‘rationality’).
But it is Ben Stein’s contribution to the world of biological science that I would like to return to, because his great mind has identified a flaw of such magnitude in the theory of evolution by natural selection that the whole thing is blown clear out of its boggy peat-heavy water. How this has been missed by scientists for generations is a mystery we may never be able to solve. Without further ado, here it is:
“…but darwinism explains so little. It doesn’t explain how life began, it doesn’t explain how gravity works to keep the planets in their orbits, it doesn’t explain how thermodynamics works, it doesn’t explain how physics or the laws of motion work…”
(Watch from about 3.40 in.)
I must concede. Darwinism doesn’t explain any of those things. In fact, thinking it over, I think Stein was just describing the tip of the iceberg. There’s actually a veritable cornucopia of things that Darwinism just leaves completely unanswered! For the education of the ignorant, I have played my part by preparing a small illustration of some of what I now think are the most egregious holes in the theory, but please do feel free to suggest some more.
Perhaps over time we can build up enough for a whole wallchart.
(P.S. This video is hilarious.)
I think you have answered your own inference of the arguments against Darwinism, perfectly. Your trivialisation of the Arguments, theological or otherwise, to the theory of evolution, highlight the straws to which others clutch at in attempting to dismiss natural selection.
Darwin, a brilliant scientist, could be excused from explaining the big bang theory, quantum physics and the intricacies of structural engineering, his time was somewhat limited and taken up explaining the origin of species, not an insignificant feat.
Wow, this is the dumbest thing I’ve heard Stein say yet. And that’s saying something.
Oh, and this post was funny as hell. Keep up the good work.
This made me laugh so hard I almost spat out my meatball.
If this is the argument he’s using, couldn’t it also be used against Christianity. Pretty sure there’s nothing in the New Testament that says, "and then the Lord created thermodynamics"… In other news, my English Poetry textbook doesn’t explain astrophysics or how Jordan’s boobs stay up!