Thursday, June 09, 2005

Caricatured Argument

A lot of people seem to want to sound off on Intelligent Design without doing their homework. It seems that there is an attitude that Darwinism, is, of course, true, therefore there is no real need to address or learn actual ID arguments, but instead it is sufficient to spew "refutations" that might have held water ten or fifteen years ago, but now just sound ludicrous and ignorant. This Tech Central Station column is a case in point. The author says:
And while religion is at the core of ID, its proponents generate lots of science-y arguments. One of the best known ID-ers is Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University and author of Darwin's Black Box. Behe argues that it just isn't possible that random evolution could have produced the flagellum -- the propeller/tail -- on a bacteria. Such an organ, he concludes, is "irreducibly complex," which is to say, only a Master of Complexity could have created it.
Pathetic. The real definition of an irreducibly complex system (as given by Behe) is one in which all components must be present in order for the system to have any function. For example, the engine in my old VW Beetle is irreducibly complex. Take away the push rods, and engine no workee. Take away the camshaft and engine no workee. Take out something so tiny as the breaker points and engine no workee. Darwinism says that complex structures are built up from numerous localized mutations, which have no end goal in mind. If it takes say, 20 closely matched key parts for a system in the cell to function, and thereby add selectable survival value, then it's hard to see how the system is ever going to come about through Darwinian selection. The system missing one of the parts doesn't have 95% function. It has zero function. There is therefore nothing for selection to grab hold of. There is no reason for a partially built system containing just a few of the parts to be held in being, preserved, selected for, regulated, etc, until the next necessary mutations just happen by.

That is the meaning of "irreducible complexity", not this lame-assed, childish, caricatured "Such an organ, he concludes, is 'irreducibly complex,' which is to say, only a Master of Complexity could have created it" definition used in the TCS article. I'd almost go so far as to say that the author of the TCS article is committing a form of slander. Nowhere does Behe state anything remotely like what the author claims.

You might disagree that Behe's actual definition of 'irreducible complexity' has implications against Darwinism, but that's not my point here. My point is to illustrate the flippant ignorance with which Intelligent Design is "refuted". I've been following the debate for a decade and I see this time and time again. How can I not think there is something to Intelligent Design when I keep seeing this kind of foolishness on the other side?

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