Defining Terms: Irreducible Complexity

Before moving on to taking a closer look at Evolution I wanted to tie up some loose ends on a post I had over a few weeks ago I wanted to finish out some ideas of the Teleological Argument.  One of the main 2 components of Intelligent Design is the Idea of Irreducible Complexity or (IC) for short.

Irreducible Complexity – A single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.

A Mouse Trap is a great example of Irreducible Complexity.   I’m not talking about the more humane traps they have now, but the “old school” kind that consisted of a spring, a trigger, a hammer type bar, and a piece of cheese all mounted on a base.   You know what I’m talking about.  They provided endless amounts of laughter in movies where people stepped on them and got their fingers caught in them.  If you were to remove just one of the parts of the mouse trap it would not continue to function as a trap.  At the same time if you build a trap and leave off a part, it will also not work.  We can see from the design of the mouse trap that it has a specific design and it will only function properly when all the pieces are present and working together.

The mouse trap is relatively simple compared to other examples of (IC) that we can look at in life.  Below are some examples of Irreducible Complexity in biology.

The Eye – The eye is what caused Darwin to pause for a second in reviewing his own theory of evolution.  He could not see how the eye could have evolved given the fact that all 12 parts of the eye need to be present for sight.  If an eye were to start to evolve the individual parts would have to come about slowly over time and until each part was complete there would be no advantage until the whole eye was formed.  In other words there would be no need for an eye lid to grow if there was no eye, or there would be no lens if there was no pupal to connect it to.  Darwinian evolutionists have tried to compare other animal eyes that are less complex and show that they could have evolved from species to species, but have not made a solid case.

“The Simple Cell” and Bacteria Flagellum  – In my early days in biology we studied the “simple cell” and learned about the 8 basic parts that made up the cell.  Today, the simple cell has become not so simple.  There are 52 individual parts that make up the cell.   The cell functions like a super efficient delivery service company in the height of their Christmas season.  There are things moving around and through the cell all the time.   When a cell is missing one of the components the cell will cease to function.

Michael Behe, an Intelligent Design (ID) supporter has said “What we’ve discovered in a cell in the past half-century or so are quite literally molecular machines, machines of enormous complexity.  There are little machines in the cell that act as trucks and busses that take supplies from on side of the cell to the other.  And they use little signposts, and there are garage doors that open and shut to let the supplies into various compartments.”  Behe, continues to explain the parts of the ion powered rotary engines called flagella of certain bacteria.  They have similar parts of a motor like  O rings, Drive shafts, bushings, etc…  Absence of any of these parts would cause the bacteria not to function.  With a cell, it’s “All or Nothing.”

The Wing – How did the wing evolve?  Evolutionist say that it was to extend jumping or to slow falling.  – The complexity of the wing would have required thousands of positive mutations in order to change to the complex wing.  The instincts of the ground animal would also have to change to flying from walking or living in trees.

One of the criticisms of (IC) is because we don’t understand how things work or have come to function as a whole, doesn’t mean that we might not understand the science or biology in the future.  Science may in fact yield an explanation to one of the examples above, but that doesn’t mean that God does not exist.  It only means we have had a gap in the knowledge.  The new atheists have coined the phrase “God of the Gaps” for Christians who cannot explain something and just say that “God did it.”   As a Christian, I have no problem with giving credit to God for all explained and unexplained events.  God can surely created laws of science to build the universe within, but we must be careful to not try speak for God and explain things incorrectly.  We might end up eating our words after the passing of time.

As always, questions, comments, and discussions are welcomed.

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