On a Dallas highway near the Institute for Creation Research offices, a billboard advertising a new computer reads, "The laptop has just evolved." Likely, the statement is not meant to be taken in a literal Darwinian sense, since laptops are the product of human engineering. Why, then, is the word "evolved"—typically used to describe a natural process—used in the advertisement?
Technical-minded evolutionary biologists have different definitions of "evolution," but on the street this term can carry the generalized meaning of onward and upward advancement from simple to complex forms or functions. Plainly, it is this concept to which the advertisement appeals.
The message is, "if you want the latest pinnacle of technology, then buy this product. It is the most evolved, or advanced, to date." So, evolution is equated with advancement. The means, or "how," behind such progress is, however, not explained.
But the way this technology became "advanced" contrasts with the way that Darwinian evolution supposedly transformed the living world from "simple" to "advanced," and this falsifies the metaphor. Real-life personal design actually went into the advertised product, from its mental conception through its production and marketing. Highly refined machines like computers could never assemble themselves or be the result of random forces. Complicated, advanced systems in the living world must likewise have shared a similar history of personal design.
A different advertisement promoting the engineering department of a nearby university stated "cool stuff doesn't just make itself," implying that "cool stuff" is purposefully engineered. It never happens naturally.
The tablet computer advertised on the billboard is "cool stuff." It is not a product of nature, but was made by technicians. Body cells and other living systems are also "cool stuff," but far more complicated than any man-made computer. They must therefore have come from the ultimate Technician.
The billboard's application of the word "evolved" to something that is clearly the result of intelligent engineering offers an ironic commentary on evolutionary biology's similar misuse of the term to explain clearly engineered life.
* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on January 26, 2011.