Something Up Their Sleeve

Scientists have added a new tool to their telescopes and microscopes: the computer. As a British newspaper recently explained, "the sheer speed and power of modern computers now makes it possible for scientists . . . to envisage the end results of processes as complex as . . . the evolution of living things." Yes, even evolution is being simulated on computers. But what the news report doesn't say is that the only way to get anything to "evolve" on screen is by cheating—by stacking the deck. Consider that old evolutionary conundrum, the origin of the eye. Can the blind process of natural selection create complex structures like the eye? The idea seems unlikely. Charles Darwin himself admitted that the origin of the eye was a grave threat to his theory. He said it gave him a "cold shudder." But modern computers have come to Darwin's rescue—or so it might seem. Two Swedish biologists recently devised a computer model demonstrating how natural selection might construct a camera eye with a converging lens (the kind that humans have). The biologists started with a light-sensitive patch of cells and programmed the computer to randomly vary its shape, changing the angle at which the cells received light and preserving any changes that improved visual acuity. As the computer program ran, the patch of cells gradually became spherical—finally looking very much like an eye. It was evolution re-enacted by computers—or so Darwinists claim. One science journal announced that the computer model has "stilled Darwin's `cold shudder' about how the eye could evolve." But can Darwin finally rest easy in his grave? Not yet. The problem is that the experiment starts with a stacked deck: with the assumption of light-sensitive cells. But that's a huge assumption. As biochemistry professor Michael Behe points out, cells require complex molecular machinery—involving a host of specialized proteins such as retinal, rhodopsin, and transducin—all working together to detect light and convey signals to the optic nerve. By taking this molecular machinery as a given, biologists started with what was actually a flat eye. All that changed was its geometric shape. The computer model merely demonstrates that if you program a computer to select eyes that see better, it will select those with a more spherical shape over those with a flat shape. But that's something that anyone with an elementary knowledge of the laws of optics could have told us. As Professor Behe puts it, the experiment proves nothing more than we could have learned from any optician in the neighborhood shopping mall. The computer model turns out to be something like a conjuring trick. Biologists keep the flat eye up their sleeve the way a magician keeps cards up his sleeve. It's science by sleight of hand. The reason many scientists are fooled by it is that they're eager to find a purely naturalistic explanation of life—an explanation that denies the hand of the Creator. So make sure you're reading your children's science textbooks. Something tricky may be up the authors' sleeve—and it's up to you and me to call their bluff.


Chuck Colson


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