Irreducible complexity is a undeniable fact


(Otangelo Grasso) #1

Irreducible complexity is a undeniable fact

The argument of irreducible complexity is obvious and clear. Subparts like a piston in a car engine are only designed, when there is a goal where they will be mounted with specific fitting sizes, and correct materials, and have a specific function in the machine as a whole. Individually they have no function. Same in biological systems, which work like factories ( cells ) or machines ( cells host a big number of the most various molecular mashines and factory like production lines ) For example, in photosynthesis, there is no function for chlorophyll individually, only when inserted in the light harvesting complex, to catch photons, and direct them to the reaction center in Photosystem one and two. Foreplanning is absolutely essential. This is a this simple fact, which makes the concept of Irreducible complexity a simple and obvious concept. Nontheless people argue all the time that its a debunked argument. Why ?

Irreducible complexity keeps being a unsurmountable problem for the ones that propose unguided evolution and natural mechanisms to explain the origin of life and biodiversity in general. No attempt to refute and successfully debunk the argument has been brought forward so far. Eyery attempt, no exception, has failed. Why ? Because IC is a undeniable FACT, no matter what. And this FACT becomes obvious to the unbiased mind when we envision biological systems as complex molecular machines, that operate similar to man made machines, but far far more complex. Individual parts have no function by themself. This is a important point to highlight.

What use does the wing of a airplaine have alone? None. The engineer has to envision a function for the wing, used as essential part of the design of the airplane as a whole in order to fly, and its use once the airplane is fully built with all parts in place. The wing must be made with the right specifications, size, materials, form, and placed and mounted at the right place in the right way. And the wing itself requires complex machines to be made. The right materials must be transported to the building site. Often these materials in their raw form are unusable. Other complex machines come into play to transform the raw materials into usable form. All this requires specific information. The precise same thing happens in biological systems. Even the most simple cell useses inumerous parts, that have no use by their own. For what reason would natural mechanisms create these parts , if there were no use for them individually ?

This is a problem that stretches through all biology, from the simplest to the most complex. Biological systems do only achieve specific tasks, once a number of individual parts are made upon specific complex instructions, frequently through other specific machines or even factories and assembly lines, that have no other tasks than to build these specific parts, and all this through the instructions of the blueprint in the genome, and then other specific instructions provide the information of how, when , and where to mount the parts to form the complex machine. Same as done when building human made machines. And all these processes must be strictly controlled, with error check and feedback mechanisms, and if something is not build upon the right specification, complex repair machines fix the problem. These checking and repair systems must be fully operational from day one, otherwise, the organism dies. And energy in usable form must also be provided ,and the make of energy requires also complex machinery which by itself requires energy to be made ( chicken-egg problem ).

Furthermore, internal and external communication networks must be established. Also all these machines are made to self replicate , which adds a hudge amount of further complexity into the picture. Self replication is far from simple. It demands the most complex molecular machinery, which works in a astonishing , beautyful, orchestrated , regulated and controlled manner. Why at all would natural unguided, non-intelligent chemical reactions have the need to produce living biological systems, and keep them existing through self replication?

A list of irreducible complex systems

Catch22, chicken and egg problems in biology and biochemistry


(Jay Nelsestuen) #2

Theoretically, irreducibly complex mechanisms like the bacterial flagellum could have evolved by other means besides random mutation and natural selection; natural genetic engineering, transposition, horizontal gene transfer, etc. All of these are parts of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis. Cells are being shown to have the remarkable capability of reprogramming themselves. If this is the case, then there is no need to posit divine intervention; God creates through natural processes. Obviously, Modern Synthesis proponents will still argue that the random processes of natural selection and random mutation must explain the bacterial flagellum, but there are other mechanisms at work. The debate rages as to how involved those mechanisms are in evolution.

Because that is the case, I don’t feel the need to push God into the gap of scientific knowledge that we currently possess as to how the flagellum evolved. It is true that irreducible complexity is compelling at first glance, but again, I don’t see why we must use it as an excuse to shove God into nature. God’ll do just fine regardless of what we discover about how he creates.


(Stephen Matheson) #3

There are certainly other things at work in evolution than just selection, and I doubt there is a single “Modern Synthesis proponent” in the galaxy who would dispute that. But I don’t think we need to invoke any particular special explanation for IC. You are right that IC is “compelling at first glance,” but I think that is simply because it is natural for our brains to struggle with the stepwise, historically contingent process by which anything has evolved. The solution to the IC conundrum is not any particular component of the EES – it is the understanding that systems can become IC without originating that way.

For a nice paper that directly addresses IC, even puts it in the title, see the blog post below, written by a prominent evolutionary biologist at my alma mater.

What can evolutionary biology learn from creationists?


(Peaceful Science) #4

Good news! There absolutely has been many attempts to debunk the iC argument. And the attempts have been successful too; IC has very clear scientific and logical flaws.

The BioLogos position does not insist that evolution is unguided. Speaking for myself, I believe God has providence over all things including evolution, and He would guide evolution if it needed to be guided. I do not, however, know how He guides and to what extend any direct intervention is necessary.

It sounds more like you are arguing against the atheist position. That, however, is not BioLogos! Though, there are some atheists on the forums who might take you up on this.


#5

Now I too, hereby declare my own “undeniable fact”:

Irreducible complexity is a deniable fact, and therefore, is not an undeniable fact at all.

Seeing how our two bold declarations cancel each other out, I guess this debate is concluded! (I’m not trying to sound smug. Instead, I hope it is evident that when arguments begin with “My position is obviously the best” or “Clearly, there is no other conclusion than what I’m telling you.”, constructive dialogue rarely follows.)

Not true. The boomerang is a very useful weapon and is used very skillfully by hunters looking for a meal. It is basically a wing “used alone”.

Irreducible complexity has been debunked so many times that it has made no headway within the academy.

IC is basically just the Argument from Personal Incredulity fallacy.

As a Christ-follower, it concerns me when the name of Christ becomes associated with poorly constructed arguments. No doubt the people associated with the Discovery Institute (and others) who promote IC are sincere. But I wish they would learn from the constructive peer-review from within the Christian community.


(Otangelo Grasso) #6

You can theoretically shovel natural genetic engineering, transposition, horizontal gene transfer, etc into the picture as possible explanation, if you have evidence for this. But you can’t do it prior to DNA replication, when there was no evolution. And according to mainstream science, a minimal gen set requires about 200 genes to have a functional cell. you can’t reduce a cell further. How could it have emerged naturally, if the sub units and compartments would have no function by their own, similar as a piston has no function, unless mounted in the cylinder of the engine ?


(Otangelo Grasso) #7

Thats precisely the crux of the issue. Cells are factories, and contain tons of molecular machines and multistep manufacturing lines.

Would you say that it is plausible that a tornado over a junkyard could produce a self replicating machine, like John von Neumann’s Universal Constructor ?
Would you say that it is plausible that mindless random chance can write a book ? if you see a message on a sand dune, like " John loves Sandy ". Would you intuitively and immediately recognize that someone past there a short time ago, and wrote the message on the sand dune ? Or would you consider that rain and wind wrote the message randomly on the dune ? The cell is far more complex than the most complex machine made by man, and the simplest cell stores as much information as contained in a CD.

Objection : Comparing living cells to man-made self replicating machines, and books is a false analogy
Answer: Talking about life getting together is similar to talking about cars forming themselves, or even basic computer programs making themselves. These things are not just improbable, they are impossible without intelligence.
Marcello Barbieri writes : Molecular biology has proved that there is a genetic code in every cell, and that genes and proteins are molecular artifacts because they are manufactured by molecular machines. Coding and artifact-making, in other words, take place both in our society and inside the cell, and this does create a parallel between culture and molecular biology. Code Biology A New Science of Life, page 28
In other words. Intelligence produces self replicating machines, and books. And so only intelligence can produce life, that depends on coded information, proteins and molecular machines.

If the analogy of two phenomenon are very close and striking while at the same time, the cause of ONE of the phenomenon is very obvious; it becomes scaresely possible to refuse to admit the action of an analogous cause in the other phenomenon, though (the cause of the other phenomenon is) not so obvious in itself"
— in “Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy”, London, Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green, 1831, page 149.

When you see that:
the way genetic information encoded in the DNA is exactly the same as what we humans would do to encode information in our books, computers, etc;
the way that the nucleus communicates with its ribosome is similar to how we humans has designed computers to communicate with one another,
then one has to AT LEAST stop and wonder whether some intelligent being has designed the genetic code and made the communication system between the nucleus and its ribosomes…
Perry Marshall, Evolution 2.0, 1


(Otangelo Grasso) #8

Please address and refute this : Subparts like a piston in a car engine are only designed, when there is a goal where they will be mounted with specific fitting sizes, and correct materials, and have a specific function in the machine as a whole. Individually they have no function. Same in biological systems, which work like factories ( cells ) or machines ( cells host a big number of the most various molecular mashines and factory like production lines ) For example, in photosynthesis, there is no function for chlorophyll individually, only when inserted in the light harvesting complex, to catch photons, and direct them to the reaction center in Photosystem one and two. Foreplanning is absolutely essential. This is a this simple fact, which makes the concept of Irreducible complexity a simple and obvious concept. Nontheless people argue all the time that its a debunked argument. Why ?


#9

A word on semantics…
In Behe’s initial formulation of the term, Irreducibly Complex systems do exist in biology. That is, there exist systems such that removal or mutation of one part eliminates one particular activity of the system.

However, Behe’s argument of ‘ICness’ as a reliable proxy for ‘unevolvabilty’ is questionable.

PS - Behe’s later formulation, that defines ICness as a function of a particular evolutionary path, is a separate beast entirely. Unfortunately, IC definition 1 and definition 2 are often conflated because Behe made the mistake of using the same name for both.


(Benjamin Kirk) #10

But another semantic note on top of all that, what Otangelo is eliding is important. IC is two definitions, not “fact.” Behe’s HYPOTHESIS, never stated as one, is that IC structures can’t evolve.

Otangelo, what have you done to test this hypothesis? Please note that in science, analogies are explanatory devices, and they always break down. Analogies are never tests of hypotheses.


(Otangelo Grasso) #11

IC systems cannot evolve BY DEFINITION.

" An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced gradually by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, since any precursor to an irreducibly complex system is by definition nonfunctional. Since natural selection requires a function to select, an irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would have to arise as an integrated unit for natural selection to have anything to act on. It is almost universally conceded that such a sudden event would be irreconcilable with the gradualism Darwin envisioned."

In the quote above, Behe notes that there is a fundamental quality of any irreducibly complex system in that, "any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.” Behe elaborates upon this definition saying “An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of unselected steps in the pathway.”

Otangelo, what have you done to test this hypothesis?

You don’t know about the knock out experiments done by Minnich of the flagellum ?


(Christy Hemphill) #12

@Otangelo_Grasso1
To quote another person’s post, select the text from their post you would like to import to your own and click on the ‘quote selected’ option that appears. This automatically tags and notifies the person you are quoting so they can continue the discussion. To direct part of a response to a specific user, type the @ sign and begin typing the user name. Select the correct user from the list that appears. This sends a notification to the person.

Since replies are not nested, quoting little snippets of other people’s posts so people know what part of the thread of conversation you are responding to is a helpful way to keep the thread readable for those who are following the discussion. :slight_smile:


(Lynn Munter) #13

What if you add a part to a system, and then further refine the system so that the part is now indispensable? Could this method give you false positives of systems which look irreducibly complex, but are actually just normally complex?


(Otangelo Grasso) #14

Biological systems are structured like manmade machines, consisting of many subunits, and parts that are assembled together and interlinked in metabolic, catabolic and anabolic networks, where often when just one part is missing, the whole system breaks down and cannot function. If just one subunit of the oxygen evolving complex in photosynthesis is missing, the whole pathway breakws down. But that subunit by itself has no function. So why would evolution select a number of mutations, if at the end there is a product, that has only function, if fully inserted and embedded in the complex molecular machine ?


(Benjamin Kirk) #15

[quote=“Otangelo_Grasso1, post:11, topic:35068, full:true”]
IC systems cannot evolve BY DEFINITION. [/quote]
No, it’s a HYPOTHESIS.

Then no one on Earth has demonstrated this and no one will. It’s silly.

Repeating the silliness only makes it more obvious.

Behe has changed that definition too.

[quote]You don’t know about the knock out experiments done by Minnich of the flagellum ?
[/quote]I do. They aren’t any different from thousands of others. They don’t test an evolutionary (nor a design) hypothesis, Otangelo!


(Benjamin Kirk) #16

No, they aren’t. Analogies are explanatory devices, not arguments.


(Lynn Munter) #17

First, evolution plays with things with no function all the time. It is called genetic drift: if a gene has neither a strong negative effect nor a strong positive effect, the gene selection is random, or close to it, and many functionless genetic changes can therefore occur in a row before something interesting happens.

Second, there are many observed cases of subunits which are a) copies of other subunits, b) copies of other subunits with slight modifications, c) copies of parts of entirely different systems which have been co-opted into serving a new purpose, d) novel proteins formed from previously non-protein coding regions of DNA, and e) not currently known to correspond to previous proteins, but may or may not be found to in the future.

It seems to me that the flaw in your reasoning is you assume that a function is a rare and unusual thing for a protein to be able to develop. I don’t think this view could be supported very long if you delved deep into molecular biology.


(Benjamin Kirk) #18

Are you aware that selection acts on a large reservoir of existing genetic variation, not just mutations? That recombination, for example, is a huge source of new variation, particularly for diploids like us?


(Otangelo Grasso) #19

Well, then you have never seen a flagellum, atp synthase etc.


(Otangelo Grasso) #20

Before you even start talking about evolution, you need to be able to explain the origin of the first genome and proteome and metabolome of the first living cell…