quote:I'm glad someone brought up the relationship of computer software, evolution, and intelligent design hypotheses. I was pondering starting a new thread but I'm glad I don't have to. (I'm new to the forum, so hello everybody.) The technique of so-called "genetic" or "evolutionary" programming is not new; however a recent article in Scientific American highlights its use in creating patentable electronics. To put it simply, genetic programming is a kind of problem-solving computer-driven technique that applies the basics of evolutionary models (inheretable variation, descent with modification, survival of the fittest) to solving general problems, such as (in the case of the article) filtering out high or low frequency signals. The computer designs random electronic circuits from standard parts and puts them to the test - do they do any filtering, for example - and selects the most successful circuits. Then, processes like mutation and genetic crossover are applied to generate new circuits, which are then tested again, and so on.
The gist of the article is not only does this process give rise to successful circuits, it creates circuits that are often more efficient than the same circuit designed by a human. Also, while the article doesn't make this comparison, such circuits often bear similarities to living systems, in that they possess elements that are redundant or have no purpose. Also, many of the circuits made defy our understanding of their operation. They're simply too complex.
Basically, if evolutionary processes (random chance plus natural selection) can give rise to complex systems - in fact, can make them better than humans can design them - what does that say for "intelligent design" theories? Ignoring the fact that the whole genetic programming system is human-made - if you need God to set up evolution in the beginning, that's fine - doesn't this spell defeat for a theory based on the premise that complexity can't come from chance?
(P.S. I'm sorry the article is subscription-based; I suggest you get to your library. It's the Feburary issue. Great diagrams.)
I think it's held up pretty well. Not all my old posts have, of course.