Evolution as Designer

An oxymoron – but a fantasy that’s continuously repeated by Our Betters.

The quote below is from Creation Evolution Headlines:


Evolution is not a Designer

From Richard Dawkins to new prizewinning engineers, scientists get natural selection all wrong.

Artificial selection is not natural selection. They are, in fact, opposites. True, Charles Darwin leaped from artificial to natural selection, but the former has purposeful goals, while the latter has none. It is the very mindlessness of natural selection that is its key characteristic. Adaptations, whatever form they take, are accidental; they are unintended. For this reason, the following are oxymorons:

  • Evolutionary design
  • Evolutionary engineering
  • Directed evolution

These terms, if they mean anything, are synonyms for artificial selection, not natural selection. In fact, Darwin wrestled with his term natural selection because it seemed to personify what he considered an aimless, blind process. Yet scientists and reporters continue to confuse the two. Here are recent examples.

Evolutionary Designer

The BBC News proudly announced that  “US engineer Frances Arnold has won the Millennium Technology Prize for pioneering ‘directed evolution’.” What she did was randomize stretches of DNA, seeking to identify new functional enzymes. She knows she was doing artificial selection (a form of intelligent design), because she compared it to breeding: it’s “pretty much like we’ve done for cats, dogs, cows, chickens, you name it.” Her “directed evolution” could not be further from natural selection conceptually […]

Selfish Genes

Richard Dawkins personified evolution famously with his “selfish gene” concept 40 years ago. Has he grown wiser since then? Apparently not; the BBC News interviewed him, and he’s still clinging to that and his other famous personification, “the blind watchmaker.” Jonathan Webb titles his article, “The gene’s still selfish: Dawkins’ famous idea turns 40.” Does Dawkins clarify these personifications and render them in purely materialistic terms?

If you ask what is this adaptation good for, why does the animal do this — have a red crest, or whatever it is — the answer is always, for the good of the genes that made it. That is the central message of the Selfish Gene and that remains true, and reinforced.”

Jonathan Webb never contradicts these misleading statements. He joins in the fun of watching intelligently-designed software tools guiding random changes toward higher goals according to rules chosen by the programmer. Like Darwin long ago, Webb and Dawkins leap from artificial to natural selection, as if the two are one and the same running at different rates (natural selection being slower). But so-called “evolutionary computing” or “evolutionary algorithms” are not evolutionary in the Darwinian sense. The designer pulls good things out of randomness, recognizing what is desirable and what is not. […]


There’s a lot of sleight-of-hand going on in Darwin World.

 

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