The dominant, foundational and unifying theory among all biological sciences for the past century — evolution by natural selection — has been thoroughly debunked by a Facebook video, every scientist in the world reports.
The video in question was uploaded May 23 by social media evangelist Joshua Feuerstein, of Fountain Hills, Ariz. According to his Facebook page, Feuerstein is “a 33-year-old bachelor soon to become husband and father to four.” From the original posting, the roughly five-minute clip was shared over 188,000 times.
“Evolution is not a science. Never has and never will be. Why? Because it cannot fit within the parameters and parentheses of science for one simple reason: It was never observed,” Feuerstein explains in his video. “That’s why it’s not science. That’s why it’s called the theory of evolution. One man’s theory.”
The fallout in the scientific community has been widespread and devastating.
“I honestly don’t know what to say,” a visibly shaken Richard Dawkins told BBC World News this week.
For decades, the scientist and author has been widely considered one of the world’s most eloquent defenders of evolutionary biology, but Feuerstein’s arguments left him stammering and virtually speechless. “It’s just … I don’t know. Really, I don’t. It’s like, you spend your life studying this stuff, and then, one day you see a video on a friend’s Facebook page that just … undoes everything you thought you knew.”
Pressed by BBC lead anchor Katty Kay about his thoughts of Feuerstein, Dawkins shook his head slightly, staring off into space with a strangely vacant expression.
“He’s a brilliant man,” he replied softly. “A saint.”
Feuerstein opened the influential video by recounting a recent conversation with an unnamed atheist, who had criticized the social media user for his faith in God. Initially framed as a response to this atheist, the scope of the short clip broadened quickly, as it soon became clear that Feuerstein wished to strike directly at the underpinnings of an overwhelmingly well-evidenced scientific theory that has — for more than 100 years — been used to succinctly and elegantly explain such far-ranging phenomena as comparative DNA sequence analysis, phylogenetic reconstruction, endogenous retroviruses, pseudogenes, nested hierarchies, atavisms, homologous and vestigial structures, fixed-action patterns, continental distribution, island biogeography, ring species and the fossil record.
Without wasting time on such trivial matters, Feuerstein’s video skillfully sidestepped the evidence for common ancestry and struck right at the theory of evolution’s greatest weakness: It’s stupid.
“In some accidental cosmic bang, out of that was created one cell, and from that one cell, all life springs,” Feuerstein said, summarizing the definition of evolution affirmed by all biologists. “Every plant, every animal, every single human being. And somewhere along the way over years and years, we mysteriously and magically all developed different wills and all developed different characteristics and traits, all because we willed it?”
“I just had never thought about it that way before,” admitted Michael Shermer, founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and another once-well-known proponent of evolutionary science.
Shermer has been in seclusion at his south California home since Feuerstein’s video began gaining traction, but he agreed to answer a few questions through email.
“Josh just nailed it. That’s all there is to it,” Shermer wrote in an email that was, originally, utterly devoid of any capitalization or punctuation, as though the writer had simply lost the will to follow such mundane grammatical conventions. “After watching his video, I remember sitting back in my chair and just thinking, ‘Holy (expletive), he’s right. This (expletive) (expletive) doesn’t make sense.’”
One of Feuerstein’s main points of evidence was what he called “The Law of Thermodynamics,” which appears to be a postulate of his own devising, since the scientific canon contains nothing that precisely correlates with the idea. Feuerstein defined the law concisely as: “Chaos can never produce order.”
“What if I were to tell you that somewhere in Oklahoma a tornado rolls through a junkyard of old cars, and somewhere on the other side of that tornado, out of that junk pile, it magically produces a perfectly red, shiny, working Lamborghini?” Feuerstein asked in his clip. “You would tell me I was nuts. You would tell me I had lost it. You would probably try and admit me to the psychiatric ward. Why? Because that is absolutely stupid. I mean, how much faith would it really take to believe something as idiotic as that? And yet, that’s exactly what science believes.”
“It’s true: We do believe that,” agreed a shell-shocked Ann Reid, former executive director of the National Center for Science Education, which permanently disbanded in disgrace last week. “Well, at least we did, you know, before Mr. Feuerstein’s work was brought to our attention.”
Appearing deeply humbled but saying she had to “give credit where it’s due,” Reid said Feuerstein’s scientific contributions to future generations would include not only the Law of Thermodynamics and the Parable of the Lamborghini in the Junkyard, but also what the scientific community has termed the “Stupidity Test,” meaning that any theory must be ruled invalid if a member of the general public finds it stupid — regardless of what the evidence says.
According to his Facebook page, Feuerstein appears to have no formal training in the sciences, but Reid said that is not unprecedented.
“Gregor Mendel went into the monastery precisely because he couldn’t afford college, and he founded modern genetic science while working in his garden,” Reid said. “And look at Michael Faraday: He was a book-binding apprentice with almost no formal education, and he went on to become one of the most influential scientists and inventors of all time.”
Reid trailed off, shaking her head and muttering something that sounded like “Out of the mouths of babes…” After a while, she smiled and shrugged.
“I guess we’re just seeing history repeat itself.”
Feuerstein’s video has not been entirely without its critics. Some, Reid included, have called the evangelist’s final thought — that the word “universe” is comprised of “uni” meaning “one” and “verse,” meaning “a spoken statement” — a bit questionable.
Though “uni” does mean “one,” “verse” is actually taken from the Latin “vertere,” meaning “something rotated, rolled, changed,” Reid said. Then she chuckled embarrassedly and looked at the ground.
“Oh, what’s the point?” she mumbled, her face reddening. “I’m just being a nitpicky little sore loser, aren’t I?”