Have Computer Simulations Proven Darwinian Evolution? Part 2

As we continue to look at computer simulations of Darwinian evolution, we come to our second major problem: even with intelligent intervention by the programmers of these simulations, they mostly fail to produce irreducibly complex systems. J. Warner Wallace resumes his analysis in God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe:

Even with the help of intelligent programmers and designers, many of these simulations fail to achieve their goal of creating the kind of complexity we see in the bacterial flagellum. Irreducibly complex structures, as first described by Michael Behe, are highly improbable systems in which the removal of a single structural element renders the system inoperable. In addition, these efficient systems are “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function” of the system. These individual parts are also complex in their own right. The simplest building blocks in Behe’s examples are typically single proteins (which, in and of themselves, are very complex).

Many of the computer simulations we’ve described fail to produce truly irreducible structures, truly complex building pieces, or integrated systems with well-matched, interacting parts. The Ev project, for example, produced systems capable of operating when a binding site was removed. As a result, the system is not truly irreducible like the biological examples described by Behe. Adrian Thompson’s digital experiment suffers the same flaw; it also produced circuits capable of operating when some of their parts were removed and, therefore, cannot be used as a model for producing irreducible complexity.

Many of the simulations produced only trivially complex structures (on the level of an amino acid rather than a protein) and were incapable of producing the component sophistication seen in irreducibly complex biological systems. The Avida and Ev projects and Sadedin’s geometric model fall into this category. Finally, most of the computer simulations were unable to define the roles of each part in the context of the whole. This is important because “well-matched, interacting parts” can’t be evaluated unless we first know the role of each part. For this reason, computer simulations fail to address a key attribute of irreducible complexity.

In summary, computer simulations of Darwinian evolution have smuggled intelligent intervention into their models and still cannot produce the kinds of complex biological systems that are found in plants and animals. So, is Dawkins right about computer simulations proving the effectiveness of Darwinian evolution? Not really, no.

If the intelligent design movement has proven anything, it’s that biological organisms are loaded with complex, specified information. Complex, specified information only comes from intelligent agents, but Darwinian evolution does not allow for intelligent agents. Therefore, no computer simulation which accurately models Darwinian evolution will ever succeed.