Springing the trap
The modern drift away from Darwinism
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Michael Behe’s A Mousetrap for Darwin (Discovery Institute, 2020) shows that science is a contact sport. Behe’s title refers to his metaphor for explaining why Darwinism is an inadequate explanation for complexity. A mousetrap cannot improve its importance by adding on one piece, then another: It doesn’t work unless it has all its parts.
Behe became famous (or infamous) in 1996 with his Darwin’s Black Box, which showed how little Darwin knew about cells. Since then the Lehigh University professor has been under attack, and his new book shows his responses to abuse from Richard Dawkins and others. The state of the battle now? Behe writes, “It may surprise people who get their information about the state of science from gee-whiz puff pieces in the mainstream media, but, although strong partisans still hold out, the eclipse of Darwinism in the scientific community is well-advanced.”
The crucial change is this: “What scientists of earlier times took to be a primitive abacus has turned out to be a futuristic supercomputer. What biologists of Darwin’s day thought was a ‘simple little lump of albuminous combination of carbon’ (the cell)—pretty much just a microscopic piece of Jell-O—has turned out to be a fully automated, nanoscale factory, sophisticated beyond human imagining.”
As I’ve read more about God’s creativity in this, I’ve been more and more amazed. Behe writes, “Machines in cells act as taxis and trucks, shuttling passengers and supplies across vast distances (relative to the size of the molecules), along cellular highways marked by traffic signs, both also made of molecules. Cellular computer programs of bewildering sophistication control the assembly of the machinery. Elegant genetic regulatory networks express the information in DNA to produce the right molecules at the right times in the right places, building the intricate bodies of animals.”
Behe asks, “How could Darwin’s clunky mechanism—one tiny, random change at a time, each followed by a long, fitful, and uncertain period of natural selection, with no ability to anticipate future needs—account for the molecular marvels that modern biology had uncovered? Increasingly the answer became, it couldn’t. The more science advanced and the more elegance and complexity was uncovered, the more biologists drifted away from Darwinism.”
Two worldviews—Darwin’s and the Bible’s—now compete. Margaret MacMillan’s War: How Conflict Shaped Us (Random House, 2020) examines a key part of human history from a Darwinian perspective. She asks whether “humans are genetically programmed to fight each other. … We cannot deny, I think, the inheritance evolution has left us.” But she holds out hope: Maybe we’re more like peaceful bonobos than their vicious chimpanzee cousins. Or maybe, “with new and terrifying weapons, the growing importance of artificial intelligence, automated killing machines and cyberwar, we face the prospect of the end of humanity itself.”
Michael Goheen and Craig Bartholomew, in The True Story of the Whole World (Brazos Press, 2020), show how the Bible contradicts ancient religions: For example, the sun is not an object to be worshipped, but an “object placed in the heavens for the simple purpose of providing light and heat.” They portray sin as a quest for autonomy: All of history proclaims the consequences of that wrongful quest.
Alexandra Natapoff’s Punishment Without Crime (Basic, 2018) has a long but accurate subtitle: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal. Strong research and tight writing spotlight death by a thousand cuts.
Claire North’s The Gameshouse (Orbit, 2019) is a remarkable set of three novellas in which kinglike players compete in chess and other games that transcend boards: Their pawns and other pieces are real people who live or die based on decisions of the players. North’s writing is excellent, but F-bombs suddenly explode in the third novella. —M.O.
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