Saturday, April 20, 2013

#32 Irreducible Complexity

The concept of “irreducible complexity” was put forth by Dr. Michael Behe, a biochemist, in his book, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. [1]

The concept is a strong argument against Darwinian Evolution and in favor of an invisible designer. Remember Darwin’s evolution was all about lots of small incremental changes over time and many generations. Darwin even said the following:

"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." --Charles Darwin [2]

Years ago before modern equipment like the electron microscope scientists believed that a single cell was basically just a blob of protoplasm, not complicated at all. This is the “black box” that Behe refers to. They did not know what was going on inside. Nowadays, we know for a fact that the tiniest of living bacteria cells is very, very, very complicated.

"Although the tiniest bacterial cells are incredibly small, weighing less than 10^-12 grams, each is in effect a veritable microminiaturized factory containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery, made up altogether of one hundred thousand million atoms, far more complicated than any machine built by man and absolutely without parallel in the non-living world." [3]

If a system is “irreducibly complex”, this simply means that you cannot take away any single piece at all because if you do, it won’t work. Behe uses the example of the mousetrap to try to illustrate his point. It has only five parts, but if you took away any one of them, it would not work.

"If any one of the components of the mousetrap (the base, hammer, spring, catch, or holding bar) is removed, then the trap does not function. In other words, the simple little mousetrap has no ability to trap a mouse until several separate parts are all assembled. Because the mousetrap is necessarily composed of several parts, it is irreducibly complex. Thus, irreducibly complex systems exist." [4]

In his book, Behe gives a few examples, but the one that I like is the flagellum (tail) of a tiny bacteria. Behe has studied those for 20 years. The tail allows it to swim around. The tail works a lot like a machine, an outboard motor on a boat. Behe says there are 40 different proteins that are needed for the flagellum and they have to be assembled in the correct order and sequence. One mistake or one missing piece and it won’t work. (Watch an animation of the process on YouTube. [5]) This could never develop slowly piece by piece. All pieces must be present at the beginning and assembled in the correct order.

The big problem for evolution is that it relies on small incremental and accidental steps AND each one has to make the organism better off or it doesn’t survive by “natural selection.” It has to be BETTER adapted than its ancestor. If a tail begins to develop slowly, the early bacterium is going to have a useless tail. That’s not going to be advantageous. It’s going to be worse. Evolutionists faithfully believe that this process happens over and over again thousands of times.

Let’s take a larger scale example. Evolutionists believe that dinosaurs evolved into birds. How did that supposedly happen? Imagine you are a dinosaur on four legs and you have a baby that has two legs that start to look slightly like wings. Then this baby grows up and has a descendant down the line. In this new dinosaur, the same two legs look slightly more like wings. The process repeats itself many, many times. Each time the offspring is somehow more fit to survive. At some point in the middle of the evolution, the dinosaur must have half-leg/half-wings. How good is that going to work? Obviously, it has to be the two front legs and only the two front legs that change. Back legs changing doesn’t work. Two legs changing on the left side or right side doesn’t work. Only one leg changing doesn’t work. All this seems preposterous to me, but letting our imaginations go on a little more we eventually get to the midway point. At the halfway point you’ve got limbs that are almost worthless as legs and totally worthless as wings. You’re dead meat.

Naturally the true believers in evolution maintain their faith by using their imaginations to get around the irreducible complexity argument. Check out some of their rebuttals if you want and then follow up with the responses by Behe and others. [6]

Typically the evolutionists have no physical evidence for their imagined processes so how can you debate their faith. Secondly, their imagined processes always violate one important rule of Darwinism, namely that no directed intelligence is ever allowed at any stage of development because there cannot be God.

In the end, scientific truth will lead to proof that there must be God.


[1] Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.

[2] Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, chapter 6 (p. 189), 1859, Murray: London

[3] Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.

[4] Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.

[5] Animated video of growth of bacterial flagellum.

[6] Responding to Darwinists claiming to have explained away the challenge of Irreducible Complexity.

[7] Link to article on Irreducible Complexity.

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