irreducible complexity

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View of red, blood-like liquid patterns
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In Defense of the Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade

Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution I devoted a chapter to the mechanism of blood clotting, arguing that it is irreducibly complex and therefore a big problem for Darwinian evolution. Since my book came out, as far as I am aware there have been no papers published in the scientific literature giving a detailed scenario or experiments to show how natural selection could have built the system. However three scientists publishing outside science journals have attempted to respond. Read More ›
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minimalistic yellow background with a mousetrap and a piece of tasty cheese

A Mousetrap Defended

In Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution I coined the term "irreducible complexity" in order to point out an apparent problem for the Darwinian evolution of some biochemical and cellular systems. In brief, an irreducibly complex system is one that needs several well-matched parts, all working together, to perform its function. Read More ›
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Stack of documents with paper clips on office table. Space for text

Irreducible Complexity and the Evolutionary Literature

Although several persons have cited numerous references from the scientific literature purporting to show that the problem of irreducible complexity I pointed out in Darwin's Black Box is being seriously addressed, the references show no such thing. Read More ›

Irreducible Complexity And Darwinian Pathways

It’s official. Behe’s concept of irreducible complexity (IC) has found itself in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Ironically, it was introduced by two critics of ID attempting to formulate non-teleological mechanisms for spawning IC. The article is: Thornhill, R.H., Ussery, D.W. 2000. “A classification of possible routes of Darwinian evolution.” J. Theor. Bio. 203: 111-116. First of all, this article shows Read More ›

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Self-Organization and Irreducibly Complex Systems

Some biochemical systems require multiple, well-matched parts in order to function, and the removal of any of the parts eliminates the function. I have previously labeled such systems "irreducibly complex," and argued that they are stumbling blocks for Darwinian theory. Instead I proposed that they are best explained as the result of deliberate intelligent design. In a recent article Shanks and Joplin analyze and find wanting the use of irreducible complexity as a marker for intelligent design. Their primary counter-example is the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, a self-organizing system in which competing reaction pathways result in a chemical oscillator. In place of irreducible complexity they offer the idea of "redundant complexity," meaning that biochemical pathways overlap so that a loss of one or even several components can be accommodated without complete loss of function. Here I note that complexity is a quantitative property, so that conclusions we draw will be affected by how well-matched the components of a system are. I also show that not all biochemical systems are redundant. The origin of non-redundant systems requires a different explanation than redundant ones. Read More ›
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Photo of Mars surface by NASA via Unsplash

The Sterility of Darwinism

As it struggles to comprehend nature, science sometimes has to completely re-think how the world works. For example, Newton’s laws apply to everyday objects but can’t handle nature’s tiny building blocks. Propelled by this discovery, quantum mechanics overthrew Newton’s theory. Revolutions in biology have included the cell theory of life in the 19th century, as well as the slow realization Read More ›

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Keeping an Eye on Evolution: Richard Dawkins, a Relentless Darwinian Spear Carrier, Trips Over Mount Improbable.

The theory of evolution is the great white elephant of contemporary thought. It is large, almost entirely useless, and the object of superstitious awe. Richard Dawkins is widely known as the theory’s uncompromising champion. Having made his case in The Blind Watchmaker and River out of Eden, Dawkins proposes to make it yet again in Climbing Mount Improbable. He is Read More ›

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Darwin’s Black Box

In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe argues that evidence of evolution’s limits has been right under our noses, but its undoing is evident at such a small scale that we have only recently been able to see it. The field of biochemistry, begun when Watson and Crick discovered the double-helical shape of DNA, has unlocked the secrets of the cell. There, biochemists have unexpectedly discovered a world of Lilliputian complexity. As Behe engagingly demonstrates, using the examples of vision, bloodclotting, cellular transport, and more, the biochemical world comprises an arsenal of chemical machines, made up of finely calibrated, interdependent parts. For Darwinian evolution to be true, there must have been a series of mutations, each of which produced its own working machine, that led to the complexity we can now see. The more complex and interdependent each machine’s parts are shown to be, the harder it is to defend Darwin’s gradualistic paths. Behe surveys the professional science literature and shows that it is completely silent on the subject, stymied by the elegance of the foundation of life. Could it be that there is some greater force at work?

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