What is the probability of a structure like the bacterial flagellum evolving under Darwinian processes? This is the question on which the entire debate over Darwinian evolution turns. If the bacterial flagellum’s evolution is absurdly improbable, than Darwinism is false. On the other hand, if the flagellum is reasonably probable than Darwinism looks like a perfectly plausible explanation for life.
Dembski’s development of specified complexity depends on having established that the probability of structures like the bacterial flagellum is absurdly low under Darwinian mechanisms. Specified complexity provides the justification for rejecting Darwinian evolution on the basis of the absurdly low probability. It does nothing to help establish the low probability. Anyone arguing the Darwinian evolution has a low probability of success because of CSI has put the cart before the horse. You have to show that the probability of the bacterial flagellum is low before applying CSI to show that Darwinism is a bad explanation.
So what is the probability of a bacterial flagellum under Darwinian mechanisms? Obviously, we can’t expect to know the exact probability, but can we at least determine whether or not its absurdly improbable? That’s the question on which the whole debate rests. It seems that any arguments over Darwinism should be focused on arguments about this probability. It is the key to the whole discussion.
Intelligent design proponents have long offered a number of arguments attempting to show that Darwinian evolution accords a low probability to structures such as the bacterial flagellum. Darwin’s Black Box argues that irreducible complexity is highly improbable to evolve. The Edge of Evolution argues that non-trivial constructive mutations are too improbable for Darwinian evolution. Doug Axe’s protein work argues that protein evolution is too improbable. The fact is, almost every work by intelligent design proponents has been directed towards arguing that Darwinian evolution is too improbable to work. There is no mystery about why we intelligent design proponents think that evolution is improbable.
Intelligent design critics are going to dispute all of these arguments I mention. That’s fine. But dispute those arguments. Don’t act as though we’ve never given explanations for why we think that Darwinism is an improbable account of the complexity of life. Don’t attack specified complexity for not showing that Darwinism is improbable. That was never the intent of specified complexity. It is the intent of a host of other arguments put forward by intelligent design proponents.
Arguing over who has the burden of proof might be ok if there were no arguments on the table attempting to establish that question. But there are arguments on the table. There is no need to fall back on trying to shift the burden of proof onto someone else. Its a dubious tactic at the best of times, and totally pointless in the face of the arguments developed by intelligent design proponents.
So please, discuss the actual arguments put forward about the probabilities.