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.
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, but the article completely blurs the two:
By driving a sped-up version of natural selection in the lab, the method has created new enzymes for industrial catalysts, household detergents, and even to make rocket fuel from sugar….
“Evolution, to me, is the best designer of all time. And I figured out that this should be the algorithm for forward design, for making new biological code that is useful to humans,” Prof Arnold said….
With her engineering background, Prof Arnold wanted to make new, useful, problem-solving proteins. So she took her cue from the way nature does the same thing.
“I looked at it and said, well, nature didn’t actually design enzymes… How does this happen? You make mutations randomly, you look through a large number of things for the ones that have the properties you’re interested in, then you repeat the process.
Natural selection is so misleading a term, Darwin later chose “survival of the fittest” as closer to what he meant. Some evolutionists picture the environment as a selector. Others view survival as a selector. These are both logical fallacies. Neither the environment or survival can select, because neither has foresight, mind, or goals. Whatever happens, nobody cares. Norman Macbeth wrote in 1971, “A process that operates invisibly, with an intensity that cannot be observed and with no ability to explain specific problems, an impersonal process that is continually given personal qualities—this sets my teeth on edge” (Darwin Retried: An Appeal to Reason, p. 46).
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.
From there, Webb lets Dawkins speak his mind about his pet peeve: religion. Neither of them were of a mind to upset their fun by letting a qualified Darwin skeptic in the room.
This is what we’re up against, folks; the leading advocates of a materialistic worldview who don’t even understand their own theory. Read the quotes again at the end of “Time to Ditch Natural Selection?” (10/03/15). A few notable thinkers have realized the illogic of natural selection, blind watchmakers, and selfish genes.
We all know what the human mind can achieve with breeding. Even if there is some random variation thrown in, the chief difference is the direction toward a goal supervised by the breeder’s intelligence. Intelligent designers can pull good things out of randomness because they know what they want and how to get it.
No such direction is provided by so-called “natural selection”—one of the most misleading phrases ever concocted. The environment doesn’t select; it couldn’t care less what happens. It changes randomly as much as mutations are random. Natural laws don’t select; they produce the same outcomes, not a propensity toward building brains, wings, and eyes. Mutations don’t select, obviously. Everything is blind; everything is chance! Darwin’s theory is a dressed-up version of the Stuff Happens Law: the antithesis of science.
So here we have the fulcrum of secular materialistic civilization resting on nothing but the shifting sands of chance. And yet evolutionists position themselves as the champions of logic, spitting on the “people of faith” far beneath them. Did humanity ever get things so backward, calling good evil, and evil good?
Yes; twice: in the garden, and at the cross.