We are regularly told by proponents of evolutionary theory, from Darwin right up to the present day, that purely natural processes, such as random mutations and natural selection, have the ability to build, construct, fashion, purpose and create remarkable machines. Machines that rival, and in many cases surpass, our most advanced technologies.
We are assured in no uncertain terms that such natural processes have this great creative power. Yet when examples are sought, we are invariably given examples that either did not come about through purely natural processes (see Berra’s Blunder), or examples that are trivial in scope. But nothing that even comes close to verifying the grand claims of the evolutionary creation story.
There is a huge elephant in the room.
Why, if evolutionary processes are so incredibly adept at producing remarkable technologies that surpass our capabilities, do we not see such evolutionary processes being put to good use on a regular basis?
All around the world, every day, millions upon millions of new inventions, designs, projects, programs, and other creations are being pursued. Yet the most awesome creative force of all, so we are assured, is for some reason notably absent. Occasionally someone will claim that evolutionary processes were responsible for creating this or that product (the NASA antenna being the example most often trotted out, even though it is not a proper example of purely natural evolutionary processes). Sometimes someone will assert that an “evolutionary algorithm” has produced something mildly interesting (like the questionable and potentially flawed Avida results touted several years ago in Nature). But by and large, this alleged remarkable creative force is absent, irrelevant, a “no show,” when it comes to actually creating things in the real world.
Now the evolutionary proponent will no doubt argue that the reason is simple: not enough time. Easily impressed with all the zeroes in a number like the billions of years of Earth’s history, the evolutionist reposes faith in the power of deep time to take what is clearly an impotent process in the short term and turn it into the most potent creative force in the long term. But when the actual numbers are reviewed and the actual requirements for construction of functional creations assessed, it becomes clear that those zeroes in the age of the Earth or even the age of the universe are but a rounding error and are unhelpful in addressing the larger issue.
To be sure, a trial-and-error process like random mutations and natural selection can occasionally do something interesting – if there is a large enough population and a strong enough selective pressure. Behe has spent time searching for this “edge of evolution,” while in stark contrast most evolutionists never even bother thinking about what evolutionary processes can actually accomplish in the real world, simply taking it as an article of faith that “with evolution nothing is impossible.”
More to the point, such minor changes even when they do show up do not constitute evidence for the larger evolutionary claims. Particularly when many of the alleged examples of evolution’s power turn out to be, on closer examination, examples of breaking a machine, rather than building it.
So the elephant in the room remains. Design is a critical aspect of our modern lives. Design occurs across the spectrum of disciplines and across the globe on a near constant basis. Yet the most potent creative force that allegedly ever existed, that of evolutionary mechanisms, is noticeable in its near complete absence – dabbling at the fringes, only occasionally participating, rarely influencing, never doing much of any real consequence.
We might be forgiven for wondering if perhaps this is all the evolutionary mechanisms have to contribute.
Or all that they ever did.