Getting Computers to Evolve

Author: Stephen Caesar, Associates for Biblical Research
Subject: Intelligent Design
Date: 06/04/2003

In last month’s column, I reported on scientists who are coming to realize that the Universe appears to be one huge computer program. I also pointed out that, if the Cosmos is a computer program, there had to be a Programmer. I closed by mentioning that computers have become extremely sophisticated, almost to the point where they can imitate actual living organisms.

This is extremely important for looking at the Cosmos as a huge computer program that was created and programmed by an outside Intelligence, since today’s supercomputers, as phenomenal as they are at imitating living entities, need human CREATORS to get them going in the first place. An example of this can be found in an article written by three computer scientists, Dr. John Koza, Dr. Martin Keane, and Matthew Streeter, in the Feb. 2003 issue of Scientific American. In it they described the phenomenon of “genetic programming,” in which supercomputers are programmed to act exactly the way a living organism’s genetic code would act in nature.

They reported that “genetic programming begins with a primordial ooze of randomly generated trial ‘organisms’ and a high-level description of what function the organisms are meant to accomplish…” (p. 54). They also noted that, once created, these basic programs were able to “create offspring” (p. 54). They imitated sexual reproduction by mating pairs of superior “organisms” which sired offspring composed of computer-produced genetic material from both parents. The scientists reported, “Recombining the traits of two relatively fit organisms in this fashion sometimes produces superior offspring” (p. 54).

In addition to “sexual reproduction,” genetic programming copies about 9% of the fittest “organisms” into the next generation. These genetic operations, combined with the production of offspring superior to their parents, “progressively produce an improved population of mathematical functions” (p. 54). Genetic programming has even reached the point where a program can classify protein sequences in imitation of what happens to DNA in nature, such as gene duplication and gene deletion (pp. 54-5).

The scientists drew parallels with the theory of evolution. They stated, “Our genetic programs have evolved two distinct improvements” in older programs (p. 57). They further noted: “During the evolutionary process, we must efficiently evaluate the fitness of thousands or millions of offspring in each generation” (p. 57). Their claim is that the ability of genetic programming to imitate life and to “evolve” improved programs proves that evolution occurs in nature.

However, what they completely miss is the fact that these three computer scientists, acting as an outside, intelligent, designing force, had to create and program these supercomputers in the first place. Rather than disproving the need for a Creator, they have done just the opposite. They inadvertently demonstrated this by comparing their astoundingly advanced computers to the human brain. They constructed a “computer cluster” consisting of 1,000 normal computers, and then reported:

“The 1,000 computers together perform about 350 billion cycles a second. Although this amount of computer time may, at first blush, sound like a lot, it pales in comparison to the amount of computation performed by the trillion cells of the human brain (each of which is thought to have about 10,000 connections and operate at a rate of 1,000 operations a second)” (p. 58).

Now, if a cluster of 1,000 computers, CREATED BY MANKIND, can perform only a fraction of what is performed by the brain, then it is overwhelmingly unlikely that the brain could have been produced by random, ungoverned chance. In other words, if the computer cluster created by Koza, Keane, and Streeter is intellectually inferior to the human brain, then it is perfectly acceptable to surmise that the brain was created by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Koza, J.R., et al. 2003. “Evolving Inventions.” Scientific American 288, no. 2.

Stephen Caesar holds his master’s degree in anthropology/archaeology from Harvard. He is a staff member at Associates for Biblical Research and the author of the e-book The Bible Encounters Modern Science, available at

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