Irreducible Complexity

How NOT to Argue Against Irreducible Complexity

Here, I will address an objection to irreducible complexity I’ve encountered that attempts to handwave the argument away as though I were missing something obvious. This is, in my judgment, one of the weakest objections to irreducible complexity, though it persists as a popular one — even among experts. It is therefore worth commenting on. I will use as case examples two responses to recent articles of mine.

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For Males, an Engineering Marvel that Originates in the Brain

As in the case of so many physiological processes, the male erection and ejaculation reflex requires multiple processes to function in unison to achieve a higher-level objective — in this instance, depositing seminal fluid, containing millions of sperm cells, in the female vaginal cavity.

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First Life Must Have Had a Minimally Reliable Replication System ­— A Conundrum for Materialists

An important requirement of life is a means of minimally accurate self-replication. Biologist Jack Szostak explains that “In order for RNA to have emerged as the genetic polymer that enabled protocells to evolve in a Darwinian manner, the process of RNA replication must have been accurate enough to allow for the transmission of useful information from generation to generation, indefinitely.”

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The Incredible Design of Vertebrate Blood Clotting

The intricacies of vertebrate blood clotting represent a significant challenge to evolutionary mechanisms. The process of clot formation is itself irreducibly complex and must also emerge simultaneously with a mechanism to prevent excessive clotting and to confine the clot to the site of injury. From a neo-Darwinian perspective, it is difficult to envision such a system emerging one step at a time without passing through maladaptive intermediate stages.

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The Genius of the Fetal Circulatory System

It is difficult to imagine a more profound testimony to design than the delivery of a fully developed baby that, only nine months ago, was a single cell. Few biological phenomena are as gripping and awe-inspiring as the process of reproduction and the development of a baby in utero. The signature of design here is unmistakable, for so much of the process — from conception to delivery — depends on foresight and planning.

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Irreducibly Complex, Bacterial Cell Wall Manufacture Is an Evolutionary Enigma

One of the most incredible features of cellular life is the capability of self-replication. Bacterial cells divide by a process known as binary fission — an amazing feat of engineering, requiring a myriad of different proteins. Several features of bacterial cell division exhibit irreducible complexity. This represents a fundamental challenge to evolutionary explanations of its origins. Here, I will focus only on the severing and re-synthesis of the bacterial cell wall.

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On the Irreducible Complexity of Sperm Cells

Human reproduction is perhaps the quintessential example of teleology in biology. The process by which a fertilized egg develops into an infant over the space of nine months reveals exquisite engineering and ingenious design. Before this intricate process can even begin, there is a need for a sperm cell to fuse with an ovum — each carrying, in the case of humans, 23 chromosomes. This incredible feat bears the unmistakable hallmarks of conscious intent and foresight.

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Answering Farina on Behe’s Work: Darwin Devolves

Farina’s video rebuttal directed at Behe’s work misrepresents Behe at multiple points. Moreover, Farina misreads several papers that he cites in his video, failing to understand how they intersect with Behe’s critiques of evolutionary theory. There is also little that is new to see in his video. Many of his criticisms of Behe have been made before by others and addressed in detail elsewhere. In short, despite Mr. Farina’s smug condescension and patronizing demeanor, he fails to mount a credible critique of Dr. Behe’s thesis.

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Answering Farina on Behe’s Work: Bacterial Flagella

In relation to the flagellum, the video complains about Behe’s “dishonest usage of terminology pertaining to machinery,” including phrases such as “outboard motor,” “drive shaft,” “universal joint,” “bushings,” and “clutch and braking system.” In reality, this terminology is used widely in the scientific literature. It’s not unique to Behe. Is Farina going to charge the entire flagella research community with dishonesty as well?

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