The sociologist Rodney Stark, writing for the American Enterprise Institute (why? I have no idea), has given us a delightfully ridiculous little article called Fact, Fable and Darwin. Now ordinarily I take articles like this and rip them apart claim for claim, but I wanna try something different this time. I want to throw this one open to my readers to discover and point out to others all of the misrepresentations, distortions and outright falsehoods it contains. And believe me, they are vast in number. Indeed, the fact the article was written by an otherwise reputable scholar (writing far outside his field, of course) is nothing short of astonishing. If this was turned in as a paper in pretty much any biology course this side of the ICR Graduate School, it would be given a failing grade in a millisecond, and not because of the grand Darwinian conspiracy that Stark so casually invokes but because it’s so badly written and reasoned that it deserves such a grade. The nonsense starts from the very first paragraph, which claims,
There is no plausible scientific theory of the origin of species! Darwin himself was not sure he had produced one, and for many decades every competent evolutionary biologist has known that he did not.
Folks, when someone from one field begins an article by, in essence, claiming to be able to read minds and to have determined that “every competent” practitioner in another field secretly knows that everything taught in that field is false despite the fact that they spend their entire lives doing research in that field and teaching in it, you can be pretty sure that what follows is going to be some major league mental flatulence. This is especially true when the person writing can’t get even the most basic facts right in the field he is writing on. For example, he says,
Within each genus (mammals, reptiles, etc.) are species (dogs, horses, elephants, etc.) and within each species are many specific varieties, or breeds (Great Dane, Poodle, Beagle, etc.).
Bzzzt. Thank you for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts for you. Every 1st year biology student knows the basic taxonomic categories in the right order – kingdom, phylum, subphylum, class, order, family, genus, species, subspecies. Calling mammals and reptiles examples of a genus isn’t even close; both are classes, a full 3 taxonomic levels higher than genus. Each contains over two dozens orders, many dozen families and probably hundreds of genera. Elephants alone are an entire family, with two genera within it, and horses are not a species but multiple species in the Equus genus.
I leave it to my readers to have a little fun with this and point out the rest of the numerous distortions and falsehoods contained in this article.