Directed evolution versus intelligent design of enzymes
"How have all those exquisite adaptations of one part of the organisation to another part, and to the conditions of life, and of one distinct organic being to another being, been perfected? We see these beautiful co-adaptations most plainly in the woodpecker and missletoe; and only a little less plainly in the humblest parasite which clings to the hairs of a quadruped or feathers of a bird; in the structure of the beetle which dives through the water; in the plumed seed which is wafted by the gentlest breeze; in short, we see beautiful adaptations everywhere and in every part of the organic world." -- Charles DarwinEvolution denialists often claim that these adaptations must have come from an Intelligent Designer, who has apparently been too busy lately (protecting pedophile priests, maybe, or working to block gay marriage?) to come up with any new designs. They claim that natural selection (nonrandom proliferation of random variants) isn't up to the job.
But intelligent human designers are increasingly relying on processes similar to natural selection. The latest issue of Science discusses two examples of the use of selection-like processes for developing useful enzymes. One paper explicitly calls their approach "directed evolution." The other doesn't use the term, but what would you call generating billions of randomly varying designs in a computer and selecting those that meet certain criteria? Sounds like selection to me. In neither case did the researchers rely only on natural-selection-like processes. Instead, they used some combination of intelligent design and selection from among random variants. But nonrandom selection from among random variants was a key contributors in each case, solving problems beyond the reach of human reason or intuition.