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Oxford University Physicist Ard Louis on Evolution as Self-Constructing LEGO Train


Recently I was reading a biographical sketch on Oxford physicist Ard Louis (not a fan of intelligent design), a fellow who some may recall debated Stephen Meyer a couple of years ago. The sketch appears in Tim Stafford’s book The Adam Quest: Eleven Scientists Who Held on to a Strong Faith While Wrestling with the Mystery of Human Origins. While Louis dismisses William Dembski’s arguments based upon logic and mathematics, he asks us to swallow almost any ridiculous claim so long as it supports the Darwinian paradigm. He declares with some pride:

I use an analogy in my talks. If I give you a fully formed LEGO train, that’s cool. If I give you a box of LEGOs and I shake the box, and out comes a fully formed LEGO train, that’s even cooler. That’s what the evolutionary argument is: this is a world that can make itself. I think that’s unbelievably cool. I can look at that and think, That’s amazing.

Now frankly it isn’t cool or amazing, it’s preposterous. If that’s the evolutionary argument, why should any ID proponent be accused of being "unscientific" or "a crank" (in Louis’s words) for being incredulous?

He can believe that fully formed LEGO trains emerge from a well-shaken box, but to suggest that a LEGO train really needs an intelligent builder is ruled out of court. It’s no longer about evidence and experiential logic, now it’s about magical self-construction. What’s most frightening is that Louis, obviously a bright young man, really does think this is sound reasoning. Oh my, what has "science" come to!

Image by Alan Chia (Lego Color Bricks) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Michael Flannery

Fellow, Center for Science and Culture
Michael A. Flannery is professor emeritus of UAB Libraries, University of Alabama at Birmingham. He holds degrees in library science from the University of Kentucky and history from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He has written and taught extensively on the history of medicine and science. His most recent research interest has been on the co-discoverer of natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). He has edited Alfred Russel Wallace’s Theory of Intelligent Evolution: How Wallace’s World of Life Challenged Darwinism (Erasmus Press, 2008) and authored Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life (Discovery Institute Press, 2011). His research and work on Wallace continues.