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Where did the term “irreducible complexity” originate?

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The term refers to the fact that many features of cells simply cannot be the product of Darwinian evolution (a point that is slowly being conceded now).

Trying to rectify some known functions of cells with explicitly Darwinian evolution is just a time sink.

Some say, of course, that the idea of irreducible complexity (IR) arose from creationist literature (also here.)

Seriously, the term has so far been traced to Templets and the explanation of complex patterns (Cambridge U Press, 1986) by theoretical biologist Michael J. Katz.

“Irreducible complexity” appears as an index entry in Katz’s book, and set forth as follows:

In the natural world, there are many pattern-assembly systems for which there is no simple explanation. There are useful scientific explanations for these complex systems, but the final patterns that they produce are so heterogeneous that they cannot effectively be reduced to smaller or less intricate predecessor components. As I will argue in Chapters 7 and 8, these patterns are, in a fundamental sense, irreducibly complex…” (pp. 26-27)

This sounds pretty much like the way the ID theorists like Michael Behe use the term. So, whatever happened was not simple like climbing a ladder, rung by rung.

Self-assembly does not fully explain the organisms that we know; contemporary organisms are quite complex, they have a special and an intricate organization that would not occur spontaneously by chance. The ‘universal laws’ governing the assembly of biological materials are insufficient to explain our companion organisms: one cannot stir together the appropriate raw materials and self-assemble a mouse. Complex organisms need further situational constraints and, specifically, they must come from preexisting organisms. This means that organisms — at least contemporary organisms — must be largely templeted.” (p. 65)

Today’s organisms are fabricated from preexisting templets — the templets of the genome and the remainder of the ovum [egg] — and these templets are, in turn, derived from other, parent organisms. The astronomical time scale of evolution, however, adds a dilemma to this chain-of-templets explanation: the evolutionary biologist presumes that once upon a time organisms appeared when there were no preexisting organisms. But, if all organisms must be templeted, then what were the primordial inanimate templets, and whence came those templets?” (pp. 65-66)

For some natural phenomena,there simply is no reduction to smaller predecessors. In these cases, the companion rule to ‘order stems from order’ is that ‘complexity stems from complexity'” (p. 90).

Also:

… the unique characteristics of organisms are pattern characteristics. The first of these fundamental pattern characteristics is complexity. Cells and organisms are quite complex by all pattern criteria. They are built of heterogeneous elements arranged in heterogeneous configurations, and they do not self-assemble. One cannot stir together the parts of a cell or of an organism and spontaneously assemble a neuron or a walrus: to create a cell or an organisms one needs a preexisting cell or a preexisting organism, with its attendant complex templets. A fundamental characteristic of the biological realm is that organisms are complex patterns, and, for its creation, life requires extensive, and essentially maximal, templets.” (p. 83)

See also: Who invented the phrase “intelligent design”?

Computational challenges to IC

and

Suzan Mazur to Larry Krauss: Darwinism now marginalized

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27 Replies to “Where did the term “irreducible complexity” originate?

  1. 1
    CHartsil says:

    It’s a failed rehashing of Paley’s watchmaker argument. Component subsets of ‘IC’ systems exist in nature and we’ve even seen the evolution of a system that could only be considered IC afterwards.

  2. 2
    Timaeus says:

    CHartsil:

    The fact that component subsets of a system exist in nature — a point which Behe has always granted — does not constitute evidence that those component subsets can crawl, inch by inch, through a blind search to become the entire system, any more than a fuel pump could crawl, via blind search, through a junkyard and over time combine with other junk until it became a working automobile. There are no “islands of fitness” which would make just two, or three, or four, or five parts of an automobile that happened to get stuck together useful for anything. This is why the argument of Matzke and Miller regarding the bacterial flagellum is so vacuous. They come up with *one* component system, and then, without any attempt at a credible historical narrative of how *that specific system* could become a bacterial flagellum, simply assert that Darwinian mechanisms can do the job. Basically, they are asking to us to accept an intellectual IOU. And the intellectually complacent are willing to let them do it. But those with even a minimally skeptical mind want to hear the details.

    On your second point, please specify the evolved IC systems you are talking about. In most cases, when such examples are examined, they fall apart.

    Of course, Behe never argues that IC systems cannot “evolve”; he says it would be very difficult for them to evolve *by Darwinian means* — quite a different thing. If evolution proceeds by as yet unknown means of more holistic transformation, then it might be possible to flip one IC system into another, even in one generation. But that would not be Darwinian evolution.

  3. 3
    logically_speaking says:

    CHartsil,

    Paleys arguments still stand, also your definition of IC isn’t correct as has been pointed out plenty of times.

    Sidenote – All watches are intelligently designed.

  4. 4
    Zachriel says:

    Timaeus: They come up with *one* component system, and then, without any attempt at a credible historical narrative of how *that specific system* could become a bacterial flagellum, simply assert that Darwinian mechanisms can do the job.

    That is incorrect. They propose a step-by-step process.

  5. 5
    Timaeus says:

    Zachriel:

    No, my characterization of Matzke and Miller is correct. They propose that a step-by-step process is what did it, but they don’t list the steps.

    Show me where Matzke or Miller — or any biologist on the planet — has listed the evolutionary steps between a bacterium with no flagellum, and one with a completely working flagellum.

    The secretory system, even if it is counted as one of the steps, is not enough. Moving from “no flagellum” to “secretory system” to “working flagellum” is like jumping from Japan to Guam to California. Even The Hulk couldn’t do it in two leaps. He’d need a chain of islands no more than, say, a quarter of a mile apart. Show me the chain. Otherwise, you cannot possibly *know* that Darwinian mechanisms can do it, but are simply expressing an act of faith in the Darwinian speculation.

  6. 6
    tjguy says:

    Zachriel @ 4

    That is incorrect. They propose a step-by-step process.

    Proposing a step by step process is a good step in the right direction. Next step would be to test their hypothesis.

    Has this been done? Is it possible?

    As was pointed out, first the original components need to come from somewhere and then you have to figure out how they could suddenly reorganize and assemble themselves into a new machine, simultaneously write software for the new machine, connect the machine to the processes of life, and start working.

    Heck, I’d give you all the components for free. I’d love to see them re-organize and assemble themselves into a new machine to help the bacterium move to different locations to fine food!

  7. 7
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    Hey all,

    Here is an interesting exemplification of IC taken from Integrated Information Theory:

    quote:

    In a system composed of connected “mechanisms” (nodes containing information and causally influencing other nodes), the information among them is said to be integrated if and to the extent that there is a greater amount of information in the repertoire of a whole system regarding its previous state than there is in the sum of the all the mechanisms’ considered individually. In this way, integrated information does not increase by simply adding more mechanisms to a system if the mechanisms are independent of each other.

    end quote:

    That gets to the heart of what IC is.

    The cool thing abut this understanding of the concept is that it’s already been proven mathematically to beyond the scope of Algorithmic processes like evolution.

    Behe was definitely ahead of his time

    check it out

    https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/mathematical-model-of-consciousness-proves-human-experience-cannot-be-modelled

    peace

  8. 8
  9. 9
    CHartsil says:

    “The fact that component subsets of a system exist in nature — a point which Behe has always granted — does not constitute evidence that those component subsets can crawl, inch by inch, through a blind search to become the entire system”

    By the definition of IC, any subset of those components shouldn’t function.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks fifth and Cross. The proof on consciousness is ‘beautiful’.

    Going right beneath Godel’s incompleteness in my notes.

  11. 11
    rvb8 says:

    So all of the creationists above say that step by step, environmentally selected tiny changes, cannot produce the beauty in nature. And when you ask what does, they say, in hushed awe, ‘the designer’.

    Where does it exist? Who, or what is it? How did it do its work?

    We can answer all of these; In time and space. Natural forces and chemicals. Trial and error.

    The Trial being the urge to replicate, the error being, a failure to replicate.

    Your turn!

  12. 12
    Timaeus says:

    CHartsil:

    You’ve changed “component subsets” to “subset of those components”; I’m not sure what this change of phrase means. It might help if you gave a non-biological *example* of:

    1. An IC system.

    2. A “component” of that IC system.

    3. A “subset” of that component.

    I believe that in most cases we don’t need the word “subset” to understand IC systems. If we restrict ourselves to “system” and “component,” we can see:

    It is the *system* which will not function when you remove a component; IC says nothing at all about whether the *components* might function in some other context.

    Example: I may build a clock that depends on the action of a certain ball bearing; if the ball bearing is removed, the clock will stop. There’s the breakdown of the IC system. But that doesn’t mean the ball bearing couldn’t be used somewhere else. It might happen to be the same size as the ball bearings used in, say, a bicycle wheel. So it could be used there. That is irrelevant to whether or not the clock is an IC system.

    So when Matzke etc. say that some component of the flagellum has some use outside the flagellum, that doesn’t prove the flagellum isn’t an IC system. If the *flagellum* won’t work when a certain coherent group of proteins is removed, then it is an IC system, regardless of whether that cluster of proteins could do some work by itself somewhere else.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Irreducible complexity 101, here.

    Dembski elaborates, here. (Also, cf. occasional UD contributor J Bartlett here.)

    Kindly note, esp, the challenge implied by Menuge’s criteria C1 – 5, as set in the context of the flagellum:

    For a working [bacterial] flagellum to be built by exaptation, the five following conditions would all have to be met:

    C1: Availability. Among the parts available for recruitment to form the flagellum, there would need to be ones capable of performing the highly specialized tasks of paddle, rotor, and motor, even though all of these items serve some other function or no function.

    C2: Synchronization. The availability of these parts would have to be synchronized so that at some point, either individually or in combination, they are all available at the same time.

    C3: Localization. The selected parts must all be made available at the same ‘construction site,’ perhaps not simultaneously but certainly at the time they are needed.

    C4: Coordination. The parts must be coordinated in just the right way: even if all of the parts of a flagellum are available at the right time, it is clear that the majority of ways of assembling them will be non-functional or irrelevant.

    C5: Interface compatibility. The parts must be mutually compatible, that is, ‘well-matched’ and capable of properly ‘interacting’: even if a paddle, rotor, and motor are put together in the right order, they also need to interface correctly.

    ( Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science, pgs. 104-105 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004).

    . . . also, to appreciate idea roots, kindly observe from the ID Foundations no 3 101, on Behe’s definition in DBB, in response to Darwin’s somewhat special pleading “could not possibly” remark:

    let us first of all define it by slightly modifying Dr Michael Behe’s original statement in his 1996 Darwin’s Black Box [DBB]:

    What type of biological system could not be formed by “numerous successive, slight modifications?” Well, for starters, a system that is irreducibly complex. By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the [core] parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. [DBB, p. 39, emphases and parenthesis added. Cf. expository remarks in comment 15 below.]

    Behe proposed this definition in response to the following challenge by Darwin in Origin of Species:

    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. But I can find out no such case . . . . We should be extremely cautious in concluding that an organ could not have been formed by transitional gradations of some kind. [Origin, 6th edn, 1872, Ch VI: “Difficulties of the Theory.”]

    In fact, there is a bit of question-begging by deck-stacking in Darwin’s statement: we are dealing with empirical matters, and one does not have a right to impose in effect outright logical/physical impossibility — “could not possibly have been formed” — as a criterion of test.

    If, one is making a positive scientific assertion that complex organs exist and were credibly formed by gradualistic, undirected change through chance mutations and differential reproductive success through natural selection and similar mechanisms, one has a duty to provide decisive positive evidence of that capacity. Behe’s onward claim is then quite relevant: for dozens of key cases, no credible macro-evolutionary pathway (especially no detailed biochemical and genetic pathway) has been empirically demonstrated and published in the relevant professional literature. That was true in 1996, and despite several attempts to dismiss key cases such as the bacterial flagellum [which is illustrated at the top of this blog page] or the relevant part of the blood clotting cascade [hint: picking the part of the cascade — that before the “fork” that Behe did not address as the IC core is a strawman fallacy], it arguably still remains to today . . .

    But in fact, the root of the concept is a quite familiar experience:

    a: Many systems around us have in them

    b: a core cluster of several [NB: I do not think that just two or a few are sufficient to get to what Behe had in mind, the cumulative info challenge should for preference exceed a planetary surface search capacity plausibility threshold . . . ] parts x1, x2, x3 . . . xn that

    c: are each necessary and — per fine tuned functional organisation — . . .

    d: are jointly sufficient for a core function. Where,

    e: should such a part xk be knocked out, that core function will cease. (And, knockout studies are a key genetic functionality investigatory technique, which per Scot Minnich’s work is specifically relevant to the case of the flagellum; cf p. 2 of the 101, here.)

    A simple natural case is a fire, which exhibits core necessary interacting factors, heat, fuel, oxidiser and combustion chain reaction. Should any of these be interfered with or knocked out, a fire will not be possible; showing the crucial causal logic involved, the enabling, on/off necessary causal factor. In the world of technology, too, a great many systems have that character, and the 101 article here at UD discusses a double-acting piston-driven steam engine, with an animated illustration of its action.

    That is, irreducible complexity is a commonplace fact of life.

    As p. 1 of the 101 summarises and p. 2 in discussing knockout studies elaborates, it is also applicable to a crucial case, the flagellum. For instance, Minnich, as a researcher, testified:

    “One mutation, one part knock out, it can’t swim. Put that single gene back in we restore motility. Same thing over here. We put, knock out one part, put a good copy of the gene back in, and they can swim. By definition the system is irreducibly complex. We’ve done that with all 35 components of the flagellum, and we get the same effect.” [Dover Trial, Day 20 PM Testimony, pp. 107-108 . . . ]

    So, irreducible complexity is both a factual reality of our world of common experience, and is directly relevant to the biological world on specific cases. Given Menuge’s C1 – 5, once we are beyond a reasonable threshold of complexity, it is maximally implausible for cumulative stepwise innovation of such systems to occur de novo, though reversal of simple loss of function is reasonably possible (as is done in knockout type studies) . . . which has nothing to do with the original ARRIVAL of such IC systems. (Never mind much rhetorical huffing and puffing to the contrary.)

    Exaptation of sub-assembles and/or components that are separately functional is logically possible, but runs into serious questions of interface compatibility, functional organisation and coupling. (CH should note that, above [and as Timaeus just pointed out], he has unfortunately misrepresented the question of separate functionality of sub-assemblies or components, and its relevance to IC systems in light of Menuge’s C1 – 5.)

    Thus, once we are past a reasonable threshold of specific, interactively functional, complexity, such rearrangement and emergence . . . which BTW requires genetic rearrangement to be hereditable and embryologically feasible . . . becomes maximally implausible.

    Hence, the Behe challenge to provide per the research literature, a detailed, empirical observation-warranted stepwise account of IC system emergence beyond the “edge” of evolution.

    Glorified just-so stories need not apply.

    KF

    PS: Those who would dismiss Paley should note that typically his main argument regarding self replicating systems, in Ch II of his Nat Theol, is omitted from dismissive discussions. Here is a key excerpt:

    Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch should after some time discover that, in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing in the course of its movement another watch like itself – the thing is conceivable; that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts — a mold, for instance, or a complex adjustment of lathes, baffles, and other tools — evidently and separately calculated for this purpose . . . .

    The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive in this new observation nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done — for referring the construction of the watch to design and to supreme art . . . . He would reflect, that though the watch before him were, in some sense, the maker of the watch, which, was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet it was in a very different sense from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair — the author of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their use.

    [[Emphases added. (Note: It is easy to rhetorically dismiss this argument because of the context: a work of natural theology. But, since (i) valid science can be — and has been — done by theologians; since (ii) the greatest of all modern scientific books (Newton’s Principia) contains the General Scholium which is an essay in just such natural theology; and since (iii) an argument ‘s weight depends on its merits, we should not yield to such “label and dismiss” tactics. It is also worth noting Newton’s remarks that “thus much concerning God; to discourse of whom from the appearances of things, does certainly belong to Natural Philosophy [[i.e. what we now call “science”].” )]

    Failure to solidly address this on its merits, sustained for many decades, is a patent case of a strawman tactic.

  14. 14
    Joe says:

    CHartsil:

    By the definition of IC, any subset of those components shouldn’t function.

    That is incorrect. The components and subsets can function, just not provide the same function as the IC system.

  15. 15
    Joe says:

    rvb8- Yours can’t even explain biological reproduction. So that would be a problem.

  16. 16
    fifthmonarchyman says:

    KF says,

    A simple natural case is a fire, which exhibits core necessary interacting factors, heat, fuel, oxidiser and combustion chain reaction. Should any of these be interfered with or knocked out, a fire will not be possible;

    I say,

    Exactly, each of the factors may exist independently and may perform functions independently but fuel is not pre-evoleved fire. Heat does not incrementally morph to yield an inferno.

    What is necessary is an all for nothing non-algorithmic combinatorial event that integrates each of the seperate components into a new functioning system. A system containing more information than there is in the various components considered separately.

    The more parts a system has and the tighter the integration the less likely the non-algorithmic combinatorial event that gave rise to it occurred by chance.

    That is the IC argument in a nutshell

    Pointing out that fires arise in nature does not defeat the argument.

    To defeat the argument you need to show that fire evolves in an incremental fashion from fuel to inferno with each step adding function over the previous step.

    peace

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    5th, serious point, well said. KF

  18. 18
    Zachriel says:

    Timaeus: No, my characterization of Matzke and Miller is correct. They propose that a step-by-step process is what did it, but they don’t list the steps.

    That is incorrect. See Matze, Evolution in (Brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum, 2003.

    tjguy: Next step would be to test their hypothesis.

    Direct experimentation is not a practical tool, but phylogenetic analysis may provide some clues.

  19. 19
    Joe says:

    Matzke did not list the steps and phylogenetic analysis assumes what it is trying to demonstrate.

  20. 20
    Timaeus says:

    Zachriel:

    Where is the Matzke article published? I don’t have access to get beyond paywalls. Is it available free somewhere on the internet? If it’s free, I will look at it. But I fear you and I don’t mean the same thing by “steps.”

  21. 21
    Zachriel says:

    Timaeus: Where is the Matzke article published?

    Here’s the basic outline:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_1.html

    Here’s the detail:
    http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html

    Timaeus: But I fear you and I don’t mean the same thing by “steps.”

    You had suggested they didn’t show any steps, which was incorrect.

  22. 22
    Joe says:

    Matzke’s article didn’t have anything to do with unguided evolution. And he still doesn’t have any clue how any bacterial flagellum could have evolved via blind and undirected chemical processes.

  23. 23
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Paley in Ch 2 NT on the self replicating watch (fuller form):

    >>Suppose, in the next place, that the person who found the watch should after some time discover, that in addition to all the properties which he had hitherto observed in it, it possessed the unexpected property of producing in the course of its movement another watch like itself—the thing is conceivable ; that it contained within it a mechanism, a system of parts—a mould, for instance, or a complex adjustment of lathes, files, and other tools—evidently and separately calculated for this purpose; let us inquire what effect ought such a discovery to have upon his former conclusion.

    I. The first effect would be to increase his admiration of the contrivance, and his conviction of the consummate skill of the contriver. Whether he regarded the object of the contrivance, the distinct apparatus, the intricate, yet in many parts intelligible mechanism by which it was carried on, he would perceive in this new observation nothing but an additional reason for doing what he had already done— for referring the construction of the watch to design and to supreme art. If that construction witliout this property, or which is the same thing, before this property had been noticed, proved intention and art to have been employed about it, still more strong would the proof appear when he came to the knowledge of this further property, the crown and perfection of all the rest.

    II. He would reflect, that though the watch before him were in some sense the maker of the watch which was fabricated in the course of its movements, yet it was in a very different sense from that in which a carpenter, for instance, is the maker of a chair—the author of its contrivance, the cause of the relation of its parts to their use. With respect to these, the first watch was no cause at all to the second: in no such sense as this was it the author of the constitution and order, either of the parts which the new watch contained, or of the parts by the aid and instrumentality of which it was produced. We might possibly say, but with great latitude of expression, that a stream of water ground corn; but no latitude of expression would allow us to say, no stretch cf conjecture could lead us to think, that the stream of water built the mill, though it were too ancient for us to know who the builder was. What the stream of water does in the affair is neither more nor less than this: by the application of an unintelligent impulse to a mechanism previously arranged, arranged independently of it and arranged by intelligence, an effect is produced, namely, the corn is ground. But the effect results from the arrangement. The force of the stream cannot be said to be the cause or the author of the effect, still less of the arrangement. Understanding and plan in the formation of the mill were not the less necessary for any share which the water has in grinding the corn; yet is this share the same as that which the watch would have contributed to the production of the new watch, upon the supposition assumed in the last section. Therefore,

    III. Though it be now no longer probable that the individual watch which our observer had found was made immediately by the hand of an artificer, yet doth not this alteration in anywise affect the inference, that an artificer had been originally employed and concerned in the production. The argument from design remains as it was. Marks of design and contrivance are no more accounted for now than they were before. In the same thing, we may ask for the cause of different properties. We may ask for the cause of the color of a body, of its hardness, of its heat; and these causes may be all different. We are now asking for the cause of that subserviency to a use, that relation to an end, which we have remarked in the watch before us. No answer is given to this question, by telling us that a preceding watch produced it. There cannot be design without a designer; contrivance, without a contriver; order, without choice; arrangement, without any thing capable of arranging; subserviency and relation to a purpose, without that which could intend a purpose; means suitable to an end, and executing their office in accomplishing that end, without the end ever having been contemplated, or the means accommodated to it. Arrangement, disposition of parts, subserviency of means to an end, relation of instruments to a use, imply the presence of intelligence and mind. No one, therefore, can rationally believe that the insensible, inanimate watch, from which the watch before us issued, was the proper cause of the mechanism we so much admire m it—could be truly said to have constructed the instrument, disposed its parts, assigned their office, determined their order, action, and mutual dependency, combined their several motions into one result, and that also a result connected with the utilities of other beings. All these properties, therefore, are as much unaccounted for as they were before.

    IV. Nor is any thing gained by running the difficulty farther back, that is, by supposing the watch before us to have been produced from another watch, that from a former, and so on indefinitely. Our going back ever so far brings us no nearer to the least degree of satisfaction upon the subject. Contrivance is still unaccounted for. “We still want a contriver. A designing mind is neither supplied by this supposition nor dispensed with. If the difficulty were diminished the farther we went back, by going back indefinitely we might exhaust it. And this is the only case to which this sort of reasoning applies. “Where there is a tendency, or, as we increase the number of terms, a continual approach towards a limit, there, by supposing the number of terms to be what is called infinite, we may conceive the limit to be attained ; but where there is no such tendency or approach, nothing is effected by lengthening the series. There is no difference as to the point in question, whatever there may be as to many points, between one series and another—between a series which is finite, and a series which is infinite.

    A chain composed of an infinite number of links can no more support itself than a chain composed of a finite number of links. And of this we are assured, though we never can have tried the experiment; because, by increasing the number of links, from ten, for instance, to a hundred, from a hundred to a thousand, etc., we make not the smallest approach, we observe not the smallest tendency towards self support. There is no difference in this respect—yet there may be a great difference in several respects—between a chain of a greater or less length, between one chain and another, between one that is finite and one that is infinite. This very much resembles the case before us. The machine which we are inspecting demonstrates, by its construction, contrivance and design. Contrivance must have had a contriver, design a designer, whether the machine immediately proceeded from another machine or not. That circumstance alters not the case . . . [Natural Theology, Ch 2, 1806.] >>

    KF

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: VJT answers 12+ myths regarding Paley and his arguments here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....m-analogy/

    KF

  25. 25
    Mung says:

    As our good friend Upright BiPed would say, it’s not just the many features of cells that simply cannot be the product of Darwinian evolution, but rather that Darwinian evolution itself cannot be the product of Darwinian evolution.

    There exists a minimally complex system capable of Darwinian evolution. This minimally complex system is itself irreducibly complex. An irreducibly complex system is a minimal requirement for Darwinian evolution. Darwinian evolutionary theory cannot explain the existence of this IC system.

    These are the facts.

    The “critics” if irreducible complexity have yet to confront these facts.

  26. 26
    Timaeus says:

    Zachriel:

    I did find the (old) Matzke article you cited. I concede that he went beyond Ken Miller in actually providing some details of a suggested evolutionary pathway for the flagellum. Of course, even he doesn’t stand by all of it anymore, as his remarks indicate, but at least he tried to be specific.

    Notice that no one has provided the equivalent effort for any of the major evolutionary sequences in multicellular creatures. Try to find precise suggestions (at the molecular/genetic level, not merely in fossil bone comparisons) for the sequence of steps “artiodactyl to whale” in the literature. You’ll be looking a long time.

    By the way, Behe was alerted by someone (not me) to the Matzke link and has commented on it:

    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....94271.html

  27. 27
    bloodymurderlive says:

    I assume an earlier comment was referring to Miller’s argument that the evolution of IC had been observed under laboratory conditions. Behe responded to this long ago, here: http://www.discovery.org/a/441

    A few excerpts:

    Briefly, in his book Finding Darwin’s God (Harper Collins, 1999) Kenneth Miller quite rightly says that a “true acid test” of Darwinism is to see if it could regenerate an irreducibly complex system that was knocked out using the tools of molecular biology. He then discusses work from the laboratory of Barry Hall of the University of Rochester on the lac operon of the bacterium E. coli. Miller strongly implies that natural selection pieced together the whole pathway in Hall’s experiments, but in fact it only replaced one component (and even then it could only replace the component with a spare near-copy of the original component). When two or more components were deleted, or when the bacterium was cultured in the absence of an artificial chemical (called IPTG), no viable bacteria could be recovered. Just as irreducible complexity would predict, when several steps must be taken at once, natural selection is a poor way to proceed.

    When I first read this section of Miller’s book I was quite impressed by the prospect that actual experiments–not theoretical, “just-so” stories–had produced a genuine, non-trivial counterexample to irreducible complexity. After going back to read Professor Hall’s publications, however, I found that the situation was considerably different. Not only were Hall’s results not what I expected based on Miller’s description, in fact they fit most naturally within a framework of irreducible complexity and intelligent design. The same work that Miller points to as an example of Darwinian prowess I would cite as showing the limits of Darwinism and the need for design.

    contrary to Miller’s own criterion for “a true acid test,” a multipart system was not “wiped out”–only one component of a multipart system was deleted.

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