Granville Sewell is at it again, and he never seems to learn. In a piece at the Discovery Institute’s site Evolution News & Science Today he argues that it is obvious that one can reject the ordinary processes of physics, chemistry, and evolution as having brought about living organisms. His piece is entitled “Some problems can be proved unsolvable”. He mentions a mathematical theorem that was finally proven after hundreds of years (Fermat’s Last Theorem), and a task that can easily shown to be unsolvable (covering with two-square-sized dominos a chessboard that has had two squares in opposite corners removed). Then he argues that it is obvious that evolving present-day life that ends up inventing iPhones can easily be seen to be impossible by natural processes.
He summarizes his argument in a few sentences:
Well, I have a very simple proof that the biological problem #3 posed above is also impossible to solve, that does fit in the margin of this document. All one needs to do is realize that if a solution were found, we would have proved something obviously false, that a few (four, apparently) fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into libraries full of science texts and encyclopedias, computers connected to monitors, keyboards, laser printers and the Internet, cars, trucks, airplanes, nuclear power plants and Apple iPhones.
Is this really a valid proof? It seems perfectly valid to me, as I cannot think of anything in all of science that can be stated with more confidence than that a few unintelligent forces of physics alone could not have rearranged the basic particles of physics into Apple iPhones.Now Sewell is a mathematician, author of a book on solving differential equations. But he seems to accept proof-by-obviousness, a method most mathematicians would not accept. He should listen to them. Instead he lays the obviousness on a bit too thick ... He asks whether elementary particles and the four fundamental forces of physics (there are now only two, actually) could end up with computers, iPhones, libraries, and so on. That sounds impossible. But he's left out a few steps. For example:
- Elementary particles aggregating to form larger particles
- Those particles forming atoms
- Atoms becoming connected by bonds to form chemicals
- Chemicals interacting to form cosmic dust
- Cosmic dust forming clouds by the attraction of gravity
- Gravity in dust clouds leading to clumps that become a solar system
- ... including the formation of a star and planets
- Lots of geology (steps omitted)
- An early Earth with interesting organic chemicals
- Origin of life
- Evolution of protists and single-celled eukaryotes
- Evolution of multicellular life
- Evolution of people
- People producing tools
- People producing agriculture
- and civilization,
- and technology
See, it isn't just a direct aggregation of particles. If we don't know all the details of those steps, few seem to think that the processes of astronomy, chemistry, and geology can't explain our planet without the intervention of a cosmic Designer. Intelligent Design arguments are not very visible in physics, in chemistry, in astronomy, and in geology. Those very active sciences get along fine without ID. Sewell's proof-by-obviousness needs somewhat more focus.