Karsten Pultz, our Danish correspondent, recounts the students’ remarkable find: Intact theistic evolution fossils that, properly curated, can close still more minds, never mind churches, in Denmark:
A handful of young Christian students in Denmark are seemingly having success convincing fellow Christian students, that Michael Behe ’s irreducible complexity is not a valid argument and that it in no way constitutes a serious problem for evolution. They even go as far as to call Behe’s way of using the IC argument a trick.
They find support in writings from the Biologos organization but also, weirdly enough, turn to atheist Stefaan Blancke and his paper “Irreducible incoherence and Intelligent Design: a look into the conceptual toolbox of a pseudoscience”. I guess the old saying that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” can be applied to this bizarre situation where young adherents to theistic evolution join ranks with atheists to prevent other young Christians from being drawn to ID.
Blancke argues that Behe uses two definitions of IC, a strong one and a weak one and he switches from one to the other when he is met with criticism: Precisely because the bacterial flagellum is IC, Behe tells us, it could not have evolved by means of random mutation and natural selection. However, when critics object that the system’s components may well be able to perform other functions in other contexts, thus pointing to the possibility of indirect evolutionary pathways, Behe switches back to the weak definition and claims that his critics have misrepresented his argument.
I don’t know how the accusation is precisely to be understood but it ought to be obvious that the notion of IC can only be applied to functional systems. It might be that Blancke and his TE friends call it a weak definition because Behe can’t rule out a fantasy scenario where preexisting proteins find a new function together, namely the FM. If this is the case, they will find themselves disagreeing with the entire community of engineers. Engineers know that irreducibly complex functional systems do not come about by parts randomly finding each other, as suggested by Dr. Swamidass. Empirical evidence and sound reasoning don’t support such an idea. We can only relate IC to existing machinery, and Behe’s so called weak definition is first of all not weak and secondly not debunked by fantasy scenarios of proteins “finding each other”. IC is an observable fact while proteins “finding each other” is pure fantasy.
If the discussion about IC was moved to an engineering forum, the idea that complex functional systems could arise by non-guided, non- intelligent causality, would immediately be deemed as nonsense. There is no indirect evolutionary pathway to an FM, as Blancke suggests, because any such hypothetical scenario wouldl stand in direct opposition to empirical evidence from the world of engineering. Behe is basically questioning the validity of a fantasy scenario backed by no evidence since complex functional systems never have been observed coming into existence by any other mean than intelligent agency.
In some vintage cars you can find a solenoid in the overdrive identical to the solenoid in the starter motor. This does not suggest that the overdrive evolved from the starter motor. Homologous proteins and structures likewise do not imply that evolution by random mutation can get us from one function to another.
Even if whole complex homologous entities exist in different biological systems, the gradual step-by-step process of evolution cannot change one function into another without encountering a gap where the already existing system has ceased to function before the new system is fully formed and operational.
It doesn’t matter if evolutionists can imagine the FM being built from proteins from a preexisting functional system, the organism still have to go through transitional generations facing the problem of having no benefit from neither of the two functional systems. This leaves natural selection with nothing beneficial to select from and hence evolution is dead in the water.
We know from engineering that moving from one function to another requires a “quantum leap” because there’s no way to preserve function all the way through a transition. Engineers would need to stop the running of one function in order to rearrange parts so they can acquire another function. There’s no gradual step by step-path between two different functional systems, and this counts for biological systems too because they occupy the same reality as manmade systems.
A new functional system also needs new information which can 1) build the system, and 2) operate it. Even if you have all the building blocks available you still need a genetic blueprint, and new software enabling the bacteria to use its new-acquired function. New systems need new information regardless of how many preexisting proteins are available.
According to Blancke and the theistic evolutionists, imagining that one functional system can transition into another system gradually while upholding function all the way, is science. When Behe, on the other hand, questions this imaginary scenario which, seen from an engineering perspective, is ludicrous, they call it pseudoscience.
I wonder what the goal is for those Christians who adhere to theistic evolution and feel an urge to fight ID. If they somehow got to win the argument, they could then fully convince fellow Christians that random mutation can produce new functional systems and thus demonstrate that God is not needed since random processes are fully capable of doing his job. Why would they be attracted to a theory that makes God superfluous?
See also: Karsten Pultz on the Church of Darwin in Denmark Pultz: They agree that God designed life, but if you are able to see evidence for design in nature, you are wrong.