This is a letter I wrote to New Scientist recently, triggered by an article on 'Evolutionary design flaws' by Claire Ainsworth and Michael Le Page. It's not a critique of their article so much as a response.
I need to admit that I consider New Scientist the best periodical on the planet. The other reference is to Paul Davies, whom, along with John Gribbin, are probably the best science writers I have read. Having said that, I would vote Roger Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind, The Best science book for mine. Not only is it the best exposition on physics, without equations, one can read, Penrose's philosophical perspective on mathematics is very close to mine, as is Davies' (refer The Mind of God). See my blog posting: Is mathematics invented or discovered?
Reference: New Scientist, 11 August 2007, pp36-9
What’s amazing about evolution is not the design flaws, but that, as a process, it can design so well at all. Nature’s designs, the result of an interaction of genes, environment and biochemistry can design the most amazing attributes, that not just provide survival, but outperform most of human inventions – take the human brain or the liver. I once saw a BBC documentary on testing the diving performance of peregrine falcons and it is designed to within the absolute limits of what is physically possible.
Evolution has no purpose, yet its strangest creation of all is imagination. It has evolved a species that can imagine a purpose where no purpose apparently exists. Einstein once said that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. The universe eventually created the means to comprehend itself. Evolution evolved a species that could eventually examine and decipher evolution. What sort of paradox is that?
I can’t help but find some agreement with Paul Davies’ thesis that he explores in The Goldilocks Enigma: 'it’s like the universe saw us coming' (quoting Freeman Dyson).
For those who are sceptical, be aware that evolution is used as a design methodology in industrial applications as well, using computer programmes that combine the 'most successful' of design 'offspring' in an iterative process.
This blog posting led me to write a companion blog on Intelligent Design. See also my later posting: Does the Universe have a Purpose?
In a later posting I provide a detailed argument on this entire subject: Is evolution fact? Is creationism myth?