Monday, May 26, 2008
It's Easy as a Rubiks Cube
Creationists often ask how something as complex as the human eye can just form itself. They look at complex structures, which are supposedly "irreducibly complex" and extrapolate that there must have been a creator. They criticize evolution on the grounds that nothing can be created with such perfection in the way described by natural selection. This criticism stem from their fundamental misunderstanding of the processes behind natural selection.
A Rubik Cube will illustrate this point clearly. The human eye, and every other example offered by Creationists could be considered the "completed" Rubik Cube at the top. How could it ever have POOF! burst into existence already completed like that? WOW! There IS a creator.
They confuse the process of natural selection with their own conception of a designer. A human, in this case, has solved the Rubik Cube. I myself could never hope to solve one, unless I took it apart and stuck it back together (which shows you what a terrible designers I would be). Nevertheless, the human who spent many hours and frustrations to solve this Rubik Cube was using a process of natural selection to weed-out mistakes which impaired the solution to the problem.
It is in this process of weeding-out that is so "miraculous" about natural selection. By using a directed force, the human was able to find a solution to the problem. Likewise, each generation of life is like a turn in the Rubik Cube. Each generation gets closer to being "solved" so-to-speak.
We are still missing one piece of the puzzle. The Rubik Cube example, although explanatory, is not all together accurate. Each generation doesn't need to be a solved Rubik Cube, that is, it doesn't need to be perfect. Each generation only needs to be "good enough." Which is fine for me, because I could never solve a Rubik Cube. Suppose the second Rubik Cube, which isn't "solved" could be perfectly "adapted" to the environment in which it existed. In that case, the mismatched Rubik Cube would in-fact be "Solved." It would be "solved" until the environment changed and made it once again, unsolved, in which case the process would start over from the last generation in the puzzle.
William Paley was one of the great minds behind this whole misconception. He hypothesized that if he found a watch on the beach, he would have to assume, due to its complexity, that it had a designer. Unfortunately, watches undergo the same process of natural selection as living organisms do.
The watch to the left started out, many years ago, as a Grand-Father clock. Grand-Father clocks were much to big to carry around, so they were "naturally selected" out of use. Even before the Grand-Father clock was the Sun Dial, made of stone, and before that, Stonehenge which was made of 3 ton boulders.
So Paley, like the modern day Creationists, choose bad examples for the irreducibly complex forms. We can see that very complex mechanisms, such as the Rubik Cube or Watch can be naturally selected for using a directed process of elimination. And such is the process for natural organisms.