Biology Magazine

Adaptive Optimization: Code for Design

By Cris

For the holidays I’d like to share this with my theist friends who see hominin evolution progressively unfolding as one adaptation after another, all culminating in the transcendent and numinous splendor of modern humanity:

To tell stories about a world in which all the organic parts are at an adaptive optimum is typical of attempts to domesticate Darwinism’s randomized, liminal world in motion and render it less fearsome. In fact, adaptive optimization covertly restores the pre-evolutionary argument from design, whose affective motive was to make the world (and its Creator) familiar and tame by founding it upon those analogies to the self, reason and human will, that assure the existence of control over Nature’s power and domestication of Nature’s otherness.

This is a slightly revised excerpt from Eric White’s essay “The End of Metanarratives in Evolutionary Biology,” in which he cites Davydd Greenwood’s Taming of Evolution: The Persistence of Nonevolutionary Views in the Study of Humans.

Nowhere are such views or metaphysical narratives more prevalent than among theist scholars who (often with generous funding from the Templeton Foundation) churn out articles ostensibly demonstrating that religion was targeted by natural selection because it is the Greatest Designed Adaptation, ever.

Adaptive Optimization: Code for Design

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