That argument is far from sound. It is simplistic and flawed, and like the rest of the DI-based ID camp, ignores population genetics. (HT to Joao for already pointing this out on the Reclaiming Design thread.) No evolutionary geneticist (or any other kind of geneticist) has even given it a second thought. The claim that an IC system with 3+ components must be “intelligently designed” is without merit, and I think this has been discussed comprehensively in critiques of IC. I would think that Prof Venema right here at BL has done this, but haven’t checked today.
Especially in the context of the claim that ID has “produced a research program,” it is notable that IC is a topic of actual research by qualified scientists. The phrase “irreducible complexity” is rather uncommon in the literature, but it can be found in one very recent publication (abstract and title below) and is a subject of strong interest in sectors of the evolutionary biology research community, travelling under other names. (Such as complex adaptation.) I found several superb examples just now, looking only at recent articles in two of my favourite open-access journals. I pasted a few links below.
I think the DI-based ID community could do research on evolution, even productive research, if it wanted to. I don’t think it wants to, and I have written about how very badly its apparent research efforts have gone.
The papers I mentioned:
“Cryptic genetic variation can make “irreducible complexity” a common mode of adaptation in sexual populations” by Trotter et al.
Abstract: The existence of complex (multiple-step) genetic adaptations that are “irreducible” (i.e., all partial combinations are less fit than the original genotype) is one of the longest standing problems in evolutionary biology. In standard genetics parlance, these adaptations require the crossing of a wide adaptive valley of deleterious intermediate stages. Here, we demonstrate, using a simple model, that evolution can cross wide valleys to produce “irreducibly complex” adaptations by making use of previously cryptic mutations. When revealed by an evolutionary capacitor, previously cryptic mutants have higher initial frequencies than do new mutations, bringing them closer to a valley-crossing saddle in allele frequency space. Moreover, simple combinatorics implies an enormous number of candidate combinations exist within available cryptic genetic variation. We model the dynamics of crossing of a wide adaptive valley after a capacitance event using both numerical simulations and analytical approximations. Although individual valley crossing events become less likely as valleys widen, by taking the combinatorics of genotype space into account, we see that revealing cryptic variation can cause the frequent evolution of complex adaptations.
“Chimeric Protein Complexes in Hybrid Species Generate Novel Phenotypes” by Piatkowska et al.