Moore laments the use of anthropomorphic terminology in the evolution literature and rightly points out it misrepresents evolutionary theory:
There have even been meetings organized under titles such as “Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution.” This and other examples impose a fallacious sense of direction of causality in evolution, and that is completely consistent with a common misconception of evolution facilitating organisms towards certain aims or goals. Another concept that arises from the “anthropomorphisation” of evolution is the “problem”: in other words, an organism or system evolves towards what we, retrospectively, identify as a barrier, or “problem” that had to be “solved,” and we wonder how it was overcome. Nature doesn’t solve anything. “Evolved towards” is another trap: we can only say “towards” in retrospect. The system cannot actually evolve towards anything.
But why would Moore think that such an error has led to the lay public rejecting evolution? I know people who are skeptical of evolution, and believe me this misconception (whether they hold it or not) is not the reason.
In fact, quite the opposite, it is precisely non evolutionary language that makes evolution more palatable. Anthropomorphic and Lamarckian terminology allows us to escape evolution’s foundational claim, and ultimate absurdity, that the biological world spontaneously arose by itself. Indeed, that very phrase, spontaneously arose by itself, while a scientifically accurate description of evolutionary thinking, is almost universally rejected by evolutionists as a straw man rendition of their theory. It is always interesting to see how evolutionists react when confronted with their own ideas, sans the euphemisms.
Consider this example conclusion from research involving the third eye:
A G_o-mediated phototransduction pathway might already be present in the ciliary photoreceptors of early coelomates, the last common ancestor of lizard (vertebrate) and scallop (mollusk), because both have this pathway. Later, the ancestral vertebrate photoreceptor acquired a second G protein, either gustducin or transducin, for chromatic antagonism and perhaps other purposes. The parietal photoreceptor evolved subsequently and retained these ancestral features.
This anthropomorphic and Lamarckian language is important in the evolutionary genre. Imagine if evolutionists reported that random biological variation produced a phototransduction pathway, and then produced myriad new proteins, which fortunately just happened to include a second G protein, which fortunately just happened to ... well you get the point.
Andrew Moore is correct that anthropomorphic and Lamarckian descriptions are misleading accounts of evolution. But he underestimates their important role as a necessary literary device to suppress the underlying absurdity. Far from an obstacle, they help enable acceptance of evolution.