Posted: Jul 21, 2010 8:04 pm
by CharlieM

This post and a few of its replies were merged from this thread: "Creationists Read This". -Mr.Samsa

I wish I had more time to participate in this interesting discussion but my internet access will be very limited over the next few weeks. I will try to follow the arguments and, who knows, they may still be going strong when I return.

I still haven't heard any plausible explanation as to how the flagellar universal joint came by its remarkable ability to assemble and rotate in the way it does. I'm seriously interested in finding an answer.

Anyway I will leave this quote from Behe and try to answer any responses to this post if and when I get a chance.

Excerpt from

In a recent column in the Wall Street Journal (February 13, 2004, Science Journal, page B1, "Evolution Critics Come Under Fire for Flaws In 'Intelligent Design'") science writer Sharon Begley repeated some false claims about the concept of irreducible complexity (IC) that have been made by Darwinists, in particular by Kenneth Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University. After giving a serviceable description in her column of why I argue that a mousetrap is IC, Begley added the Darwinist poison pill to the concept. The key misleading assertion in the article is the following: "Moreover, the individual parts of complex structures supposedly serve no function." In other words, opponents of design want to assert that if the individual parts of a putatively IC structure can be used for anything at all other than their role in the system under consideration, then the system itself is not IC. So, for example, Kenneth Miller has seriously argued that a part of a mousetrap could be used as a paperweight, so not even a mousetrap is IC. Now, anything that has mass could be used as a paperweight. Thus by Miller's tendentious reasoning any part of any system at all has a separate "function". Presto! There is no such thing as irreducible complexity.

That's what often happens when people who are adamantly opposed to an idea publicize their own definitions of its key terms—the terms are manipulated to wage a PR battle. The evident purpose of Miller and others is to make the concept of IC so brittle that it easily crumbles. However, they are building a straw man. I never wrote that individual parts of an IC system couldn't be used for any other purpose. (That would be silly—who would ever claim that a part of a mousetrap couldn't be used as a paperweight, or a decoration, or a blunt weapon?) Quite the opposite, I clearly wrote in Darwin's Black Box that even if the individual parts had their own functions, that still does not account for the irreducible complexity of the system. In fact, it would most likely exacerbate the problem, as I stated when considering whether parts lying around a garage could be used to make a mousetrap without intelligent intervention.

In order to catch a mouse, a mousetrap needs a platform, spring, hammer, holding bar, and catch. Now, suppose you wanted to make a mousetrap. In your garage you might have a piece of wood from an old Popsicle stick (for the platform), a spring from an old wind-up clock, a piece of metal (for the hammer) in the form of a crowbar, a darning needle for the holding bar, and a bottle cap that you fancy to use as a catch. But these pieces, even though they have some vague similarity to the pieces of a working mousetrap, in fact are not matched to each other and couldn't form a functioning mousetrap without extensive modification. All the while the modification was going on, they would be unable to work as a mousetrap. The fact that they were used in other roles (as a crowbar, in a clock, etc.) does not help them to be part of a mousetrap. As a matter of fact, their previous functions make them ill-suited for virtually any new role as part of a complex system.

Darwin's Black Box, page 66.

The reason why a separate function for the individual parts does not solve the problem of IC is because IC is concerned with the function of the system:

By irreducibly complex I mean a single system which is composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.

Darwin's Black Box, page 39.

The system can have its own function, different from any of the parts. Any individual function of a part does not explain the separate function of the system.