Methinks it is a Weasel

Richard Dawkins, the man who tells us that evolution is true no matter what the evidence shows, has now given us a computer program that he says replicates evolution. But it does not.

The program is represented as being "a randomly generated sequence of 28 letters and spaces." The computer takes these letters and spaces (actually 26 letters and 5 spaces) and randomizes them until it strikes upon a sequence that "however slightly" resembles the target phrase which is "Methinks it is a Weasel." The target phrase represents a completed evolutionary improvement in the species.

The program causes each iteration to be unlike the previous one. This represents an error in genetic duplication. Supposedly the amount of "error" programed into the program is approximately the same frequency as copy errors from a DNA molecule. When an iteration slightly resembles the target phrase, the program recommences from that point and does another iteration, again seeking something that is closer to the target phrase. Thus each similar iteration moves closer the completion of the target phrase.

In his own words, Dr. Dawkins states:

"We again use our computer monkey, but with a crucial difference in its program. It again begins by choosing a random sequence of 28 letters, just as before ... it duplicates it repeatedly, but with a certain chance of random error– 'mutation' – in the copying. The computer examines the mutantnonsense phrases, the 'progeny' of the original phrase, and chooses the one which, however slightly, most resembles the target phrase, METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL"

Although the program may appear at first glance to be somewhat representative of what could actually occur, it is not for the following reasons:

1. The program is not resuffling the 26 letters of the alphabet, it is reshuffling the letters of "Methinks it is a weasel" plus 10 others. So, rather than dealing with a deck of millions of cards, he is using a deck of 20. But even then, he is vastly mistaken.

2. Dawkins explains that the program is programmed to seek the target phrase and to eliminate all combinations that are not similar to the target phrase. But natural selection is not "programmed" to seek anything. All it does is to select those who can survive best. Dr. Dawkins' program does not to that. The program is made to select anything similar to the target phrase, "however slightly" the similarity happens to be. Dawkins is assuming that any change "no matter how slight" will result in a genetically and permanently altered organism. But natural selection does not select slight changes. Natural selection selects only those changes that provide the organism with a superior ability to survive.

If the phrase "Methinks it is a weasel" represents the mutation that will aid in survival, then the Weasel program should be run at random and without a pre-defined outcome until the entire phrase is produced. In that scenario, the chances of success are 1 in 2,432,902,008,176,640,000. See What are the Odds.

And that is with only 20 variables--and 20 variables (20 DNA instructions) is grossly unreasonable. For instance, for just one protein necessary in human eyesight (the CRX protein), there are 23,551 DNA instructions (base pairs). The well known complexity of creation belies the weasel.

Dawkins makes it clear that the program is intended to replicate "cumulative" natural selection. Cumulative natural selection is an enhanced theory to the effect that somehow changes that do not provide an organism with a superior ability to survive are nonetheless effective. The problem is that there is simply no room for such a theory because a change must enhance the ability of the organism to prevail over other lesser equipped organisms.

Indeed, if Dr. Dawkins' model is accurate, why don't we see physical evidence of it today. Where are these changes that the model predicts? And indeed, the pre-determined outcome that is inherent in the weasel limerick is nowhere to be found in nature.