Sunday, January 14, 2007

No Engines, No Wings -- Won't Fly

There is an environment that makes most of the pilots I know gag. It is the sound of whirring disk drives and hissing pistons. It is the smell of hydraulic fluid and heated computer hardware. Each of these reverberates within a boxy cavern that pilots cannot help but associate with anguish, stress, fear and despair. It is a place we loathe but cannot avoid. It is the simulator.

I understand the purpose and inevitability of simulator training. I am glad that my family rides on airplanes flown by pilots who are required to undergo simulator training. I get all that. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. No one wants to endure any form of torture but that is exactly what the simulator is. Most of us call it the “sweatbox” for a reason.

That is the issue at the core of our hatred for simulators. The new, high-tech, high-speed generation of simulators is so well designed that, when you are in them, you begin to believe what you see. The picture that is projected on the windscreen in front of you looks real, right down to the last detail. The airports you land at have every light, and building, and taxiway perfectly represented. The flight and navigation instruments work just like they do in an airplane – complete with the wobbles and beeps and buzzes you would actually experience. The engines surge and push you into the back of your seat. The weather pounds you into submission. Birds fly by. Radios hiss and squeal. Your blood pressure rises. You sweat like a pig. You flinch when you hear a loud bang. You try to make smooth landings in a contraption designed to make you fail. It all looks very real – but it’s not.

They can do anything to you in the simulator. Engines catch on fire or blow up. Passengers have heart attacks. Generators fail. Hydraulic systems leak. Landing gear won’t retract, or extend. The weather can change from ice and snow to hot summer thunderstorms; from calm, opaque fog, to gusty turbulence, to driving rain – all in the space of a few minutes, or all at the same time. Pilots are used to dealing with inflight emergencies – but not with all the inflight emergencies you can think of, all at the same time.

And that is what we don’t like about simulators. On the surface, they are staggeringly convincing. But when it comes down to it, “flying” a simulator is not the real thing. A simulator looks good on the inside, but when you step back and look at the big picture, you see what an incomplete representation it really is. Pilots love to fly airplanes but simulators are not airplanes.

After you have spent four or five hours getting abused inside the "sweatbox" your instructor pushes a button to turn the “motion” off and makes the whole nightmare come to an end. You climb out of your seat in a frustrated ball of stress-induced paranoia, exit through a door that looks nothing like an actual airplane door, and walk over a narrow bridge back into the real world. If you were to turn around and look at the simulator (most of us don’t – we just want to get away from the thing as quickly as possible) you would see that it is nothing but a big, square box that sits on top of a tangle of spindly hydraulic legs and the thick, black cables that give it artificial life. It is propped up by a horde of engineers who force it to act like it is flying. But simulators will never fly. They can’t.

A simulator has no engines. A simulator has no wings.

Real airplanes need engines to get themselves off the ground. Real airplanes need wings to sustain themselves in flight. It is as simple as that. And for those two reasons, Darwinian Evolution looks an awful lot like a simulator. It has no engine to get it off the ground. It has no wings to sustain it in flight. Darwinian Evolution is a box that won’t fly, no matter how much we have been programmed to believe it really does.

There are many technical reasons why Darwinian Evolution falls short of offering us a realistic explanation for life on Earth. The more information scientific research gives us, the more the data undermines its dubious claims. The model looks great from the outside, but if you analyze the data without first assuming the truth of Darwinian Evolution, you soon realize that the data gives us a picture that materialistic Darwinian processes just can’t paint. You will never read that in a textbook or on the pages of Nature or Scientific American, but that does not change the utter inability of Darwinian Evolution to explain the existence of even the simplest forms of life.

The analogy stands. Darwinism’s missing engine is its inability to explain the origin of life. Without that, it can never get off the ground. Darwinism’s missing wings are the theory’s lack of credibility in explaining the diversity of life we see around us. Without that, it has no capability to sustain itself about even its most fundamental claims.

Fuzzy Definitions

We have to choose our words precisely when we talk about evolution. Before evaluating evolution as a theory, we have to be very careful about defining what we mean when we use the term “evolution.” There are several meanings for the word – some that are controversial and some that are not. The greatest misuse of the word occurs when these various definitions are applied interchangeably. The most common form of this is the bait-and-switch.

Here, the naturalistic scientist offers some evidence for a non-controversial version of evolution. When you agree that the evidence offered is valid you have taken the bait. While you have only been offered evidence of evolution in this non-controversial sense, the naturalistic scientist then makes the switch. She claims that by this evidence she has proven that evolution in another sense is true. The other sense is always some controversial form of evolution for which you have been offered nothing but a promise of future proof. This is easy to see once you are clear on the three definitions themselves.

The simplest definition of evolution is change over time. This is non-controversial. It would be silly to deny that our almost every aspect of our world changes over time. Mountains erode. Rivers flow. Fish spawn. Birds migrate. Plants grow. Middle age waistlines expand. The point is that "evolution" is not an evil word or one we should be afraid to utter. To say, for instance, that a human embryo evolves into a full-grown, adult human being is not in any way tantamount to admitting that we have agreed to the tenets of Darwinian Evolution.

The second definition of evolution can be called micro-evolution. This one becomes slightly more complicated even though most agree that it is non-controversial as well. This form of evolution can also be labeled adaptation. Charles Darwin wrote about it extensively and most famously in his discussion of the finches he encountered on the Galapagos Islands. Over long periods of observation, the finches’ beaks were noted to change size and shape in response to the availability of food and water on the islands.

Darwin made much of his finches and biologists have since continued the tradition. All of us can agree that it is fascinating to see the different ways that all forms of life are able to adapt to their environment in order to survive. Depending on your point of view, the implications of these observations can be used to “prove” completely different hypotheses. Evolutionists interpret this tendency in nature as offering support for their admiration for the efficiency of natural selection. Creationists interpret it as confirmation of the care and elegance with which the Designer infused His creation.

In either case the evolution in question is non-controversial, even though this example has become a classic case of the bait and switch. This is where our definitions of evolution become vitally important. By agreeing with, and even admiring, the fact that we have verification that finch beaks vary within finch populations, the Darwinian Evolutionist wants to say that, having observed the actuality of the second (non-controversial) definition of evolution, we are compelled to translate that observation as proof that a third definition of evolution is also true.

This third definition of evolution can be called macro-evolution or, in scientific parlance, speciation. This is the view that minute, incremental changes in species, amassed over long periods of time, result in changes to the original species so drastic that they constitute the appearance of a new species altogether. But, to use the example at hand, there is no scientific evidence to show that the beak morphing observed with Darwin’s finches led the birds to become anything other than finches with different sized beaks. Though the Darwinian Evolutionist wants us to accept the reality of the third definition of evolution, she is offering the second definition of evolution as her proof.

This is where the problems begin. And this is where Darwinian Evolution becomes a simulator that misrepresents topics much more important than the reality of flying real airplanes in the real world. Those topics include the foundation for our worldview and our understanding of what makes us human. The stakes are high – so high that we should not accept the Darwinian Evolutionist’s model for the appearance and diversity of life on Earth before we see it for what it really is. It is a simulator that can never get off the ground – a simulator with all the aerodynamic flying qualities of a set of car keys.

It just won’t fly.

... to be continued ...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Though I do not moderate comments, I reserve the right to delete any comment that I deem inappropriate. You don't have to agree with me, but I don't tolerate abusive or objectionable language of any kind.