Irreducible Complexity

One of the storms raging in the sciences right now is the confrontation of evolution with the growing popularity of what has been dubbed the “Intelligent Design” movement. Headed by such men as William Dembski, Michael Behe, Jonathan Wells, and Stephen Meyer, the ID movement is gaining steam as long-time followers of evolution are beginning to ask the questions that were in the back of all our brains.

That is, there are many things that are wrong with Darwinian theory, yet it is touted as being the savior of all our questions for the origins of life. The problem is, as mentioned in my last post, there is no answer to where did all the matter come from. The Darwinian does not seem to care about this question. The theory fails to answer the deepest longings of the human psyche.

Michael Behe has written a book that has received critical acclaim, Darwin’s Black Box. Rather than reading the book, I found it beneficial to read his essay in Science and Evidence for Design in the Universe entitled “Evidence for Design at the Foundation of Life”.

Behe’s argument boils down to this: Darwin said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down” (Behe, Science and Evidence, San Francisco: Ignatius, 2000, 119).

Behe believes he has found the daddy to do the job. He says that if there could be shown an organ that is “irreducibly complex” then Darwin’s theory would utterly be destroyed. An “irreducibly complex” structure would be like a mousetrap. You need the spring, the hammer, the trip, and hold for the hammer. If any single one of these elements were missing from the trap it would cease to work as it was designed. Without a hold, the hammer would not stay up. Without the trip, the mouse would be able to eat all day. Without the hammer, no dead mouse.

The same can be seen in the flagellum of bacteria as well as cilium in the lungs. They are irreducibly complex. More specifically, the human eye is irreducibly complex. You can see this when someone loses a cornea. The eye ceases to be useful. When there is no retina, no light, no sight. There is no way that the eye could have just evolved.

Although Darwin claims there were successive movements from photo-sensitive cells evolving into a depression then into a cup shape and so on. However, he never answers where the light-sensitive cells came from. He knew the question was lingering in the dark, but dodged it by saying: “How a nerve comes to be sensitive to light hardly concerns us more than how life itself originated” (Behe, Science and Evidence, 116). This is ridiculous. The whole theory rests on the haunches of this question. He is trying to explain the origins of life but is incapable of reaching back any further than the fact that matter just exists…shouldn’t he be concerned with where this matter came from? Even more, how does this matter is structured in such a way as to point to a designer?

So if you’re taking a Biology class now or have taken one or will take one in the future. Don’t let evolution win the day with its tautology. It is nothing more than a question-dodging theory. It cannot answer how matter came into being? This should be the starting point, but it is avoided totally! The innate sense in mankind to ask the question “Why?” exudes with this fact. People want to know the purpose of life…Darwinian theory cannot and will never answer this question.

If you have 30 minutes and want to get a good feel for the idea of “irreducible complexity” read Behe’s essay. If you want to go deeper, buy the book, Signs of Intelligence .

Some other resources:
Web Sites
Dembski’s Web Site – Design Inference
Intelligent Design the Future
Access Research Network
Intelligent Design Undergraduate Research Center

Dembski’s Blog – Uncommon Descent
Telic Thoughts
ID in the UK
Discovery Institute
Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture
International Society for Complexity Information and Design
Intelligent Design Network
Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center

Jonathan Wells’ Articles
Behe Articles
More Behe Articles
Evolution, Neutrality, and Antecedent Probability

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