Pretending Intelligent Design Is Like Evolution
Imprecise language confuses the evolution issue, making it seem like goal-directed activity of intelligent minds mimics Darwinism.
The authors of a paper in PNAS might be forgiven for speaking of ‘cultural evolution’ in their paper on classical literature, because they don’t really mention mutations or natural selection. However, the word evolution is so tainted by Darwinism these days, is their meaning clear?
We trace the evolution of features not tied to individual words across diverse corpora and provide statistical evidence to support interpretive hypotheses of literary critical interest. The significance of this approach is the integration of quantitative and humanistic methods to address aspects of cultural evolution.
The summary on Phys.org, however, adds to the confusion with its imprecise meanings:
“There is a growing appreciation that culture evolves and that language can be studied as a cultural artifact, but there has been less research focused specifically on the cultural evolution of literature,” said the study’s lead author Joseph Dexter, a Ph.D. candidate in systems biology at Harvard University.
The link in that quote produces a page mixed with goal-directed or mindful change and biological change due to neo-Darwinism. So is cultural evolution something that just happens randomly like biological change, or not? Readers are left thinking the two concepts can be intermixed.
A worse case of equivocation has emerged from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Science Daily‘s headline says, “Meteorologist applies biological evolution to forecasting,” tying in the science of weather forecasting directly to Darwin:
What if a computer model could improve itself over time without requiring additional data? One researcher has made weather forecasting more accurate by repurposing an idea from Charles Darwin.
It might seem to some commuters without umbrellas that forecasters roll dice, but the story is about Paul Roebber, “an innovator in weather prediction.” Presumably he is trying by intelligent design to improve the art and science of a fiendishly difficult field with many variables. While he may vary his inputs, he very sincerely chooses the outputs, having a goal to increase the reliability of his craft.
To boost the accuracy, forecasters don’t rely on just one model. They use “ensemble” modeling — which takes an average of many different weather models. But ensemble modeling isn’t as accurate as it could be unless new data are collected and added. That can be expensive.
So Roebber applied a mathematical equivalent of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to the problem. He devised a method in which one computer program sorts 10,000 other ones, improving itself over time using strategies, such as heredity, mutation and natural selection.
The wording is entirely misleading. Heredity is not a strategy if Darwin’s theory is true; it’s an outcome of a long series of mistakes. Mutation is clearly not a strategy, any more than a random meteor strike. Least of all is natural selection a ‘strategy.’ If Roebber were really using natural selection, he would walk away from the computer and let stuff happen on its own. Clearly he watches the outcome and guides it toward his goal ‘to boost the accuracy’ of forecasting.
In other words, Roebber is doing artificial selection, a form of intelligent design. The only thing his work has in common with Darwin is this: they both used the same fallacy of equivocation, confusing artificial selection with natural selection.
Nature favors diversity because it foils the possibility of one threat destroying an entire population at once. Darwin observed this in a population of Galapagos Islands finches in 1835. The birds divided into smaller groups, each residing in different locations around the islands. Over time, they adapted to their specific habitat, making each group distinct from the others.
Applying this to weather prediction models, Roebber began by subdividing the existing variables into conditional scenarios: The value of a variable would be set one way under one condition, but be set differently under another condition.
The computer program he created picks out the variables that best accomplishes the goal and then recombines them. In terms of weather prediction, that means, the “offspring” models improve in accuracy because they block more of the unhelpful attributes.
So did the finches create computer programs, too? Did they hold a committee and say, ‘We need to subdivide into smaller groups to avoid threats’? Obviously not. Darwin could not have cared less if they all died in one threat, or died separately in separate threats. The birds did not choose to adapt. If they had all perished, Darwin would have explained that, too.
Roebber looks at the outcome of the Galapagos finch population distribution, and presupposes that it occurred by a Darwinian mechanism, ignoring the possibility that organisms are designed to adapt. To the extent he thinks the finches divided on purpose, he also commits the fallacy of personification. By contrast, Roebber himself had a goal in his research. Purposely working toward a goal by applying an intelligent strategy is not Darwinian.
As a reward for his equivocation, the government gave Roebber $500,000 in funding. If his work helps commuters know when to bring an umbrella, they will be happy and not care about the Darwinese. They don’t need the narrative gloss that Darwin helped him with his intelligent design.
Evolution is a god to the science research and media culture, capable of innovation, progress, and adaptation. Evolutionists think they are pleasing Darwin by being Darwin-like the way Christians try to please God by being Christ-like. The Darwinians imbue all the attributes of God onto natural selection. They fall down and worship its omniscience and omnipotence. They might as well be singing Darwin’s praises in hymns.