Darwin Wannabees and Stone Soup

Posted: May 17, 2011 by pastorerichann in Apologetics, Philosophy, Social Issues, Theology
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The following is an excellent article by one of my favorite authors. I thought I’d re-post it here for others to read (which is by permission from “To the Source”)

Cosmologists Race for Darwin Status

The highest honor bequeathed to a scientist by history is to have his name simply identified with the science, so that the name and the science are synonymous. Such is the case with Charles Darwin. The belief is that this man conquered the field of biology, cracked the code, explained everything worth explaining, and there is nothing much left to do but a little mopping up.

It seems that there is a race on now in regard to the origin and structure of the entire universe, a race among cosmologists for Darwin status in their science, a race to provide the simplest of explanations of why everything exists at all without invoking God.
May 17, 2011 by Dr. Benjamin Wiker

Darwinism and Darwinian are, for many, the noun and adjective interchangeable with evolution and evolutionary. Before Darwin there was darkness in regard to biology. After Darwin, all was light. Biology is therefore demarcated between B.D. and A. D., Before Darwin and After Darwin. Darwin and Darwin alone explained the origin of biological species, and everything else about them – from the color and constitution of their hair, scales, hide, or feathers, to the shape of their feet, fins, hooves, or beaks, from their peculiar hunting habits to their particular mating habits – can be explained entirely by Darwin’s simple formula.

That formula is so terribly, awfully simple. The various offspring of whatever living creature you can name all vary. Some of the variations are beneficial. These variations help the lucky creatures to survive, and hence pass on to their own offspring the beneficial traits. Add up the slight changes over time, and you can explain anything and everything – all without God.

That is what gave Darwin his almost unparalleled status in science. He’s the hero that gave us a Godless biology. He did so with the simplest of explanations that seemed, in one fell swoop, to have swept away any need for a religious explanation for the wonders of life.

Now I should make quite clear at this point that I am convinced that this simple story is false. It is false, not in the way the 2 + 2 = 5 is false, but in the way that Stone Soup is false.

You remember that wonderful folk tale where three hungry soldiers come upon a town and find that the people are hiding all their food from them and pretending to be so poor they cannot spare even a dried bean. The soldiers scheme, and tell the townspeople that they will help them by making some Stone Soup – a thick, satisfying soup made from only two ingredients, a stone and some water. They then dupe the townsfolk into adding onions, celery, potatoes, spices, carrots, and beef, and also bringing along fresh bread, jam, and beer. After the great feast, the foolish townsfolk exclaim, “Amazing men, those soldiers! They made soup fit for a king with only a stone and some water!”

“Amazing man, that Darwin! He explained all that biological complexity with just random variation and natural selection!”

Stone Soup. Now I don’t wish to deny that there really was water and stone in the soup, just as random variation and natural selection are undoubtedly part of a cogent explanation of biological complexity. But the problem in both stories is that two small ingredients are taken to be entirely sufficient to explain the whole, rich, bubbling feast, while the rest of what actually needs to be added to make it all work is, oddly and foolishly, ignored.

By the time we add in what it takes to make random variation and natural selection work even for the smallest of changes – a finely-tuned universe uniquely fit for life, the biocentric nature of the laws of nature and the elements themselves, the extraordinary fitness of earth for life, the existence of an astoundingly complex living cell in which functional DNA can exist and have an effect, the top-down functionally integrated complexity of the living creature in whom variations can be either beneficial or harmful, and so on – then we’ve got something that goes far beyond Darwin’s Stone Soup explanation of biological diversity and change. In fact, we’ve got something that demands a divine designer, an intelligent cause.

Unfortunately, most people still accept Darwin’s Stone Soup explanation. Thus, his exalted status remains almost entirely unchallenged. And that, of course, is why other scientists long to become the Darwin of their discipline.

Nowhere is this more clear than in cosmology. Cosmology is the study of the universe, its origin and structure. It encompasses several sciences, from astronomy and physics, to chemistry and even the rudiments of biology. Cosmologists are after the biggest prize – the simple explanation of everything.

They long to do for the universe what Darwin did for biology: give a simple explanation that, in one ingenious fell theoretical swoop, explains everything about the universe. They want to be the noun and adjective that is synonymous with the science that finally solves every mystery, all without God.

Given the stakes, it is no surprise that cosmologists (such as Stephen Hawking, Steven Weinberg, Alan Guth, Max Tegmark et al) are in a race to “solve” the greatest question, “Why are we here?”, and thereby make the greatest name for themselves. What honor could be greater than, by dethroning God, to become the equivalent of the all-knowing God, the mortal that finally figured out how the universe works?

Nor should it shock us that, in this great race to become the Darwin of everything, Darwinian reasoning has taken such prominence. After all, if it worked once, well then, let’s try it on a bigger scale.

So it is that one of the most popular ways to explain the universe while explaining away God is Multiverse Theory. With Multiverse Theory you don’t really have to explain anything about the wonderful intricacy of our universe. You simply need to assume that our universe is one of the lucky ones. The parameters, laws, and fundamental constants of the universe can vary over an enormous range, just as we can have genetic variation over an enormous range in biology. Some cosmological variations lead to dud universes, some lead to a good universe like ours. The fit survive, the unfit don’t. According to the wildest of cosmologists like Max Tegmark, every possible universe actually exists, including one where Hitler did take over the world, and one where Alice’s adventures in wonderland actually occurred.

I will not focus on the details of any one of these fantastic Multiverse Theories. I would rather turn our attention to the strangeness of the race for Darwin status itself. What fuels this fire? Is it really the desire to know? Or is it the desire for honor, especially honor of a particular kind, the honor of being the man who finally slew God, who put Him out of the biggest of pictures once and for all?

I cannot read hearts, but my suspicion is that it is both these things, and something more. These Darwin wannabes are indeed fired by the desire to know, but given the kinds of explanations they allow (and the kinds they don’t), it is also clear that they want to know, once and for all, that God doesn’t exist.

That, they imagine, would allow humanity to breathe a great sigh of relief, and make them the greatest of benefactors to all future peoples. We could then get on with our short lives here on earth, making the best of it, enjoying what pleasures we can, avoiding what pains can be fended off or anesthetized, and then, after our time is done, blinking out of existence without the anxiety of facing a stern Judge who searches the depths of our souls.

As atheist and devout Darwinian Richard Lewontin once candidly admitted, “we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”

Benjamin Wiker
Author and speaker Benjamin Wiker holds a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics from Vanderbilt University, and has taught at Marquette University, St. Mary’s University (MN), Thomas Aquinas College (CA), and Franciscan University (OH).

He is a Senior Fellow of the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College, a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute, and a Senior Fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

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