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Sonny and Cher Meet Witt and Leisola

David Klinghoffer

Matti Leisola

John Zmirak has a very clever and funny rave review of Matti Leisola and Jonathan Witt’s new book, Heretic, up now at The Stream. Leisola, of course, is a Finnish bioengineer who realized through his work that life could not have assembled itself through unguided processes.

You can’t beat Zmirak’s opener, and I bet you didn’t know this about Sonny and Cher:

Poor Sonny Bono. He met and fell in love with the younger, more gifted Cher when she was only 16. And he had to break the news to her: Mt. Rushmore is not a natural formation.

So reports the Chicago Tribune, anyway. I don’t know how hard she pushed back. How long the argument took. Or what evidence she offered that Mt. Rushmore was not designed and carved by Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum between 1927 and 1941. That instead, the random forces of nature had somehow contrived it. Over millions of years of wind and weather, they formed precise portraits of four human beings. Not just any humans, but American politicians. But not just any politicians. Four men who would someday become key U.S. presidents. Imagine the odds of nature happening to pick just those four. Why didn’t the wind and rain slowly carve into the granite the faces (let’s say) of James Buchanan, Warren Harding, William Henry Harrison, and William Jefferson Clinton?

Sonny might have said all this. Cher could have answered: “It’s just the power of Natural Erosion. Given enough time, nature might very well carve out more presidents. Or maybe it will switch to Grammy winners. Who’s to say? There’s no design behind all this. It’s just blind chance and mindless forces. Isn’t Nature amazing?”

Alphabet Soup Writes Its Own Cookbook

For those who study deeply the sciences of life Cher might not seem so foolish. Because the odds are much, much better that nature could have carved out Mt. Rushmore on its own than they are that any of the following things happened randomly. (At least not in the amount of time that has elapsed in the history of the universe.)

  • Organic chemicals combined to form the immensely complex and fragile structures of enzymes and proteins. (Imagine alphabet soup randomly combining to form sentences. And then the recipe for alphabet soup.)
  • Those enzymes combined and learned to cooperate to form the tiny biocomputer facility we call a cell. (The alphabet soup forms a Help Wanted ad for a chef to come cook more soup.)
  • Such cells differentiated, and learned to work together to form higher organisms. (The alphabet soup writes the chef’s autobiography.)
  • The cells in those organisms underwent major mutations to form whole new physical structures of new species that weren’t unviable mutants, but better adapted organisms. In decades of lab research on microorganisms, scientists have found exactly zero mutations like that. (The alphabet soup forms a series of cookbooks. It lists the chef as the author.)
  • The same process of natural selection and random mutations happened often enough, and turned out well enough, to explain how infinitesimal microorganisms “evolved” into plants, then animals, then humans. (The alphabet soup develops into a variety of ethnic cuisines, from Jamaican to Japanese.)

I’m trying to think of some way to work a pun on “I’ve Got You, Babe” into this post…. Nope, can’t do it. Zmirak concludes:

Read the absorbing, informative Heretic for a scientist’s first-hand account of how he discovered intelligent design. He shows why it’s a more robust and persuasive heuristic for understanding life. If it’s ever an audio book, Discovery Institute should hire Cher to read it.

Good idea. We’ll definitely do that.

Photo: Sonny and Cher, 1971, by Kapp Records (Billboard 18 September 1971, pages 12 and 13) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.