I gave a talk at the beginning of this year to a group of students at Biola University . In the talk I described just how revolutionary ID is compared to the current scientific paradigm of chance and necessity. But, such a talk is likely to go over students heads if there aren’t concrete examples. How could I show them everyday instances of intelligent agents creating information? Then it struck me just how pervasive the notion of irreducible complexity is. Just about everything we make as humans is a form of irreducible complexity. All the machinery and technology of our modern lives are very evidently irreducibly complex, especially considering how often we have to repair them…But we can see irreducible complexity in our less technical tools and creations.
For instance, part of what makes a great work of art so great is that it is a unified integration of a very large number of very carefully crafted parts, often integrated to such a degree that they join together seamlessly. On the other hand, when elements are just jumbled together our instinctive reaction is that the “art” is a load of junk, regardless of whether some conniving artist has been able to defraud the government of our tax dollars. Perhaps ID can help us define good art here?
At the organizational level, one of the hallmarks of a good leader is someone who can bring together a disparate group of talented individuals to accomplish a difficult goal. Steve Jobs is an excellent example of a leader who brought together extraordinary technical and design geniuses to create an irreducibly complex organization, which in turn created numerous irreducibly complex products that have helped ease the technical burden faced by many of us in the IT age, while still enjoying its many benefits (he writes on his MacBook).
In the realm of academia, one of my favorite examples of irreducible complexity is a carefully crafted argument, such as David Stove’s argument against Hume’s inductive skepticism , or Euclid’s argument for an infinite number of primes . In fact, it appears to me that irreducible complexity is responsible for most of what I like in life.