Darwin once remarked the tail of the peacock made him sick because the unnecessary extravagance of nature was suggestive of Intelligent Design. What made Darwin sick then still holds true today, he never solved the problem, and it is more in evidence by the problem of Irreducible Complexity (IC).
To illustrate extravagance, consider the simple goal of getting a card to lie horizontally. This goal is easily achieved. Simply let a card fall down on a table. But one can take the same card and get it to lie horizontally by making part of the flat roof of a house of cards like this one.
Cleary one could argue there is an irreducibly complex core of this system, namely the cards on the lower levels. Removal of a single card from the lower levels would cause a breakdown of the system.
What if a Darwinist said,
the system does not have an irreducibly complex core because I can get a card to lay down horizontally without such an elaborate infrastructure. Further the house of cards is not evidence of intelligent design because the same task of getting a card to lie horizontally is inefficiently achieved. It is bad design because it is frail, and therefore it is not intelligently designed. Therefore the house of cards does not have an irreducibly complex core and further it is evidence of bad design since the same goal can be achieved more simply.
Would we think the objection is silly x 10? Of course we would! Yet Darwinists have made such silly objections, and worse, people like Judge Jones accepted similarly silly objections as valid science in his ruling against Intelligent Design.
What is spectacular about a house of cards is not that the goal can be achieved with the fewest parts, but the goal is achieved with MANY interdependent parts with a great depth of integration. This even more the case with Rube Goldberg Machines. From wiki:
A Rube Goldberg machine, contraption, invention, device, or apparatus is a deliberately over-engineered or overdone machine that performs a very simple task in a very complex fashion, usually including a chain reaction. The expression is named after American cartoonist and inventor Rube Goldberg (1883-1970).
Michael Behe even referenced the Rube-Goldberg machine in his book to describe irreducible complexity.
But Behe also used the a mouse trap consisting of 5-parts to illustrate the notion of irreducible Complexity (IC). A missing part would render the 5-part trap dysfunctional. Darwinists responded by saying mouse traps can be built with 4 parts, therefore, a 5-part mouse trap is not irreducibly complex since 4-part traps can be made. But Darwinists refute an argument that Behe never made. They don’t refute the concept of irreducible complexity, but only a straw man misrepresentation of Irreducible Complexity (IC).
I would argue Rube-Goldberg machines are far more illustrative of the problem irreducible complexity poses for Darwinism than mouse traps. Given the Darwinists misrepresentations, I suggest instead of mouse traps, ID proponents illustrate IC via a 3-glasses-3-knives system (depicted below). I suggest it because it will better resist Darwinist misrepresentations.
Consider the goal of letting a glass of beer be oriented vertically such that the beer doesn’t spill out. This simple goal can be achieved with minimal effort by simply placing the glass of beer on a level table. However the same goal can be achieved by letting it rest on an irreducibly complex system of 3 knives-and 3 glasses arranged in such a way that there is depth of integration in the parts. A video is worth a thousand words:
And that is the real problem irreducible complexity poses, the extravagance involved in doing tasks that can be done more simply.
Despite this, we have Darwinists saying the human blood clotting system is not Irreducibly Complex because there are creatures that implement blood clotting with fewer parts than humans. They also say that the flagellum is not irreducibly complex because we find existence of flagellum proteins in other systems. They might also argue that having extra parts is evidence of imperfect design because the same goal can be achieved with fewer parts.
But such arguments are as silly as saying the 3-glasses-3-knives system in the above video is not irreducibly complex because a glass of beer can remain vertical without such an elaborate system, or that the 3-glass-3-knife system is not irreducibly complex because knives have been co-opted to be used for other purposes, or that the system is not evidence of intelligent design because it is frail and unstable and thus an imperfect design, etc. etc.
Yet similar arguments are in promoted by Darwinists like Ken Miller and Nick Matzke and then accepted by Darwinists like Judge Jones. They seem unwilling or unable to discuss the real arguments being made. So I’m presenting this 3-glasses-3-knives illustration to help cure them of the injuries with Darwinism has inflicted on their ability to think clearly. If they are willing to take the medicine, perhaps they can be cured of their misconceptions!
I think in light of the misrepresentations put forward by Darwinists, the 3-glass-3-knife illustration can be used instead of mouse-traps since it illustrates the Rube-Goldberg concept which Behe put forward.
The problem IC poses for Darwinism is the extravagance of nature. Darwin perceived the problem the extravagance of nature posed for his theory and it made him sick. The problem is not that goals are achieved via the simplest means, but via extravagant and irreducibly complex means with great depth of integration.