As providence would have it, last night I read the next chapter of Coyne’s book in order to mull over it a bit before writing my next post. And then this morning, as is my practice, I spend some time reading through any magazines that have accumulated during the course of the week. And, as I mentioned, as providence would have it, part of that stack was the very fine magazine Salvo, which I am happy to commend to you.
Coyne’s sixth chapter was “How Sex Drives Evolution.” The cover article for this issue of Salvo was a great article by Richard Stevens on how sex and mating rituals exhibit (and require) intelligent design.
First, Coyne’s chapter was embarrassing in its own right. He points out the staggering complexity involved in the matter of sex, and then gives an evolutionary account of various trifles. He explains things that don’t require much explanation (such as how the non-survial of a male is still consistent with the survival of a bunch of his offspring), and leaves untouched the screamers that demand an accounting for anybody who has thought about the problem for more than five minutes.
He does allude to one of those screamers in passing. “Why sex evolved is in fact one of evolution’s greatest mysteries” (p. 155). True enough, and no kidding. But then he goes on to explain something else entirely — he solemnly explains how species that already reproduce sexually might avoid mutating back to a system of asexual reproduction.
It is as though he said, “How the turtle got on top of the fence post is one of the greatest mysteries we have. Perhaps I can help by explaining how he might get down off of it.”
And this is a good place to bring Stevens’ insights into the discussion. One of the things that materialistic evolutionists cannot get their minds around is the fact that information — programming, software, code — does not weigh anything and is not any particular color. Information is not material. There is a difference between arguing that an artifact displays the marks of intelligence having been there (as a broken watch still might) and arguing that another artifact requires an intelligent programmer to crank out the code that the system needs to runs on. Both kinds of intelligence need to be explained away by the evolutionist — but they somehow think they only need to explain the first kind, and they don’t do that very well.
The fact that the symbol m represents an em sound is not something that is physically resident in that letter. It is part of a code, and codes were coded by somebody. The assumption that evolutionists make, as Stevens points out, is that if a creature has legs, it can just walk. If it has wings, it can just fly. If it has sexual organs, it can just mate.
No. That is like saying that if you have the computer hardware you can do without the software. Believing in the “evolution” of the hardware is a stretch already, but then there is the programming involved. Sexual behaviors are enormously complicated information systems. And, as Stevens shows, the information is needed prior to the behavior itself.
There are a host of things that creatures can do in their behavior, provided they have a pre-programed control system that will enable them to do that particular thing. In order to mate — as the examples Coyne uses plainly show, but which he does not see — there must be a cascading system of if, then choices, made by both the male and the female. In addition, there is the complexity involved in pattern recognition, both sending and receiving — chirping of the cricket, the croaking of frogs, the bling collection of the bowerbirds, and so forth. This is not something that these creatures “just do” because they have the equipment for doing it. Their behavior is driven by something. Their behavior exhibits intelligence, and not theirs. It exhibits the intelligence of the one who wrote the code.
In other words, according to evolution, the hardware has to evolve by chance, and the programming has to evolve simultaneously, also by chance, and the programming can’t be an iOS trying to run on a PC. Not only that, but the reciprocal elements (to whatever it is that just happened by chance) have to simultaneously happen over in the other sex, hardware and software both, and all of it has to happen at the same time, and within walking, swimming, or flying distance. And this has to happen thousands and thousand of times, over and over again.
And I am not even counting non-behavioral mating aspects, like the eyespots on a peacock’s tail. I mean, he doesn’t even know that they are back there.
And then, on top of everything else, Coyne fails to show how abandoning asexual reproduction in the first place could possibly confer any kind of survival advantage. When you can already reproduce all by yourself, how are you doing anything to advance the cause by taking half your genetic material necessary for survival, and sending it off somewhere else? Now he might never call. What kind of sense did that move make?