CSC senior fellow David Berlinski recently sent me the following comments about science writer Dr. Susan Blackmore’s adoration of the inevitability of natural selection.
Dr. Susan Blackmore on Darwin’s Great Insight:
“Frighteningly, most people do not understand Darwin’s great insight. What people miss is the sheer inevitability of the creative process. Once you see it — copy, vary, select; copy, vary, select — you see that design by natural selection simply has to happen. This is not like Isaac Newton’s laws, or quantum physics, or any of the other great theories in science, where one can ask “why is this so?” It simply has to be the case. Then, the scary implications follow. If everyone understood evolution, then the tyranny of religious memes would be weakened, and we little humans might find a better way to live in this pointless universe.”
It is, indeed, odd that so many people seem to miss Darwin’s great insight. What is odder still is that the insight is so easy to demonstrate. All that is required are ten packs of cards and ten friends. Here are the steps involved, which can really be followed by anyone with an open mind:
- Distribute one pack of cards to each of your ten friends;
- Ask everyone to shuffle their pack seven times (the least number of shuffles required to insure a random deck);
- Now ask everyone to select five cards from his or her deck; no peeking;
- Then ask everyone to replace from one to four cards in his or her hand with new cards; again, no peeking.
That’s it. Nothing more is involved. Design by natural selection should now be obvious. It’s right there in front of your eyes. As Susan Blackmore says, “it simply has to happen.”
This experiment can be performed by high-school students as well as the elderly.