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  Topic: Irreducible Complexity, flagella - Don't Put Your Lips On It< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Mr_Christopher



Posts: 1238
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,07:56   

My background - I am not a biologist but I can spell it.

My bias - Intelligent Design to me is complete nonsense.

My comments and question -

Irreducible complexity (especially as it relates to flagella of certain bacteria) is the so-called "scientific" center piece and foundation of intelligent design creationism.  As far as I can tell without Behe they have no theory and Dembski own ideas are completely dependent on Behe's so they have a lot to lose if they lose the IC "war".

Ken Miller has refuted IC on several occassions, yet the IDers continue to claim Miller's ideas are mistaken.  See Dembski making such a claim here
Still Spinning Just Fine: A Response to Ken Miller

My questions

1) Who else has refuted IC besides Miller?

2) And if IC can be disproven/refuted, IDC collapses no?  If this is true why isn't the entire scientific community pounding IC with a sledge hammer?

I don't see anyone in the science community taking the Disco or Dembski to task for claiming Miller is mistaken.  Nor do I see anyone other than Miller talking about how nutty Behe's IC is.  Or maybe I am missing something.

Sorry if my questions are naive, I said I was not a biologist and I meant it :-)

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Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  
Henry J



Posts: 4788
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,09:29   

I'm not a biologist either, but "IC" strikes me as a case of "jumping to confusions". Really, what it says is that if one removes a critical part of a system from that system, said system will then cease doing its job? Both obvious and irrelevant to the argument.

After all (imnsho), evolution will tend to drop redundant parts, since their manufacture uses energy and materials that could be used for other things. And if one drops redundant parts, what's left? Critical parts, that's what.

Therefore, as near as I can tell, both models predicts that "IC" will occur in at least some cases. Therefore the concept is useless in distinguishing between them.

If I missed something in the above, could one of the resident biologists point it out?

Henry

  
stevestory



Posts: 10393
Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,09:39   

Why do you think ID predicts IC?

   
Henry J



Posts: 4788
Joined: Mar. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,10:31   

Re "Why do you think ID predicts IC?"

Hmm. That's a good question. I guess it'd be more accurate to say that the pushers of ID claim it predicts IC. But on thinking about it, ID is just as consistent with not-IC as it is with IC, isn't it? Huh.

Henry

  
cogzoid



Posts: 234
Joined: Sep. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,10:39   

I think the argument is that IC implies ID, not the other way around.

Quote
And if IC can be disproven/refuted, IDC collapses no?  If this is true why isn't the entire scientific community pounding IC with a sledge hammer?
Sadly, this isn't really a scientific battle.  And better arguments aren't going to change a fundamentalist's mind.  So most don't bother with hammering IC.  They have real work to do.

  
J. G. Cox



Posts: 38
Joined: Dec. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,10:45   

Here's my take:
 1: even if IC were somehow demonstrated, it would not be support for ID, merely evidence against evolution as the mechanism producing a specific structure.
 2: as of yet, there is no way to demonstrate IC, because it has not been formalized in such a way that data about a system can be analyzed and produce a "IC positive" or "IC negative". Right now it is just, "if looks IC, then IC," which is not..adequate... for scientific criticism
 3:  evolutionary theory can account very well for the production of seemingly "irreducibly complex" systems via observed phenomena such as gene duplications, co-option of function, etc. In other words, just because a modern biological system wouldn't work if you yanked a part doesn't mean that the system didn't evolve from a similar system that worked slightly less well with slightly modified parts (even if for a different function!;). In addition, just because you don't find those slightly "less evolved" systems nowadays doesn't mean that they did not exist in the past (they conferred less fitness, otherwise they wouldn't have been replaced in the first place).
 4: IC is not debated by evolutionary biologists because it has never been proposed in a respected scientific journal. Such a concept would normally be formalized (and modeled, if amenable to that) in a journal that focuses on theoretical development, but no such paper has been published. Therefore, in the science world, there is nothing to criticize. As far as I know, Miller's refutations of IC also have not been published in empirical or theoretical *research* journals either (though I may be mistaken); again because there is nothing from these journals to refute.
 5: IC as it currently stands is a useless concept. It is not measurable, and provides no alternative explanations. It cannot produce predictions. IC serves only as a putative "test" of the capacity of evolutionary processes to produce a certain system. However, it has never been demonstrated. Think of Dover, in which much research into the evolution of all of Behe's favorite "irreducibly complex" systems was displayed. Nothing supposedly identified as IC by Behe's gut instinct has yet proven resistant to evolutionary investigation. Thus, IC has nothing material in it either to make use of in a scientific manner or to criticize.

 The bottom line is, scientists will ignore IC (at least in scientific forums) until it is formalized into a scientifically useful or testable concept. Until then, it is only diffuse propaganda.

  
Mr_Christopher



Posts: 1238
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,10:50   

Thanks JG Cox, that makes sense.

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Uncommon Descent is a moral cesspool, a festering intellectual ghetto that intoxicates and degrades its inhabitants - Stephen Matheson

  
Flint



Posts: 478
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 26 2006,13:27   

Mr. Christopher:

I've puzzled for a couple three years now over what 'irreducible complexity' might mean.

First, people said you'd expect the standard definition ("all parts required") to describe a pretty sizeable precentage of organisms, since nature always seems to find some functional application of any useful redundency. Behe said that didn't count; somehow just because an organism can't survive without all its parts doesn't make it IC (whatever that might mean).

Next, people pointed out the 'scaffolding' process by which structures no longer necessary for a changed lifestyle are discarded. Parasites were common examples. Behe said that didn't count, he was talking about someting evolving by adding and not losing stuff.

Next, people pointed out what Gould (and Judge Jones) called exaptation - the adaptation of some structure to another use. Behe said that didn't count, he was talking about adding structures without changing their application.

Next, people pointed out that the same function is performed in different organisms by less complex structures. Behe said that didn't count, those were *different* IC systems.

Next, people pointed out that the same function is performed in very similar organisms by essentially the same system, but still lacking one or more parts. Behe said that didn't count, by redefining what a 'part' is. It could be anything from an organ down to an amino acid, whatever Behe decided the system couldn't work without.

Next, people pointed out that we have enough historical data to show how Behe's IC systems actually evolved. Behe said that didn't count unless you could produce hard evidence of every molecular change leading to his selected structures, for every ancestor back to the original life.

Apparently, Behe's model of evolution is that there's a vast inventory of existing "parts" out there, available to be bolted on as though evolution worked like making widgets on an assembly line. In fact, the assembly-line model is the ONLY model Behe will allow. Removing parts not allowed, morphing parts not allowed, functional change not allowed, lifestyle change not allowed, even direct refutations based on what IS allowed are not allowed!

So we finally reach the end of the road: for Behe, IC systems are systems that could not have evolved according to the only evolutionary path he is willing to recognize, which just happens to be a path evolution does not follow because it's not possible. All other paths are ruled out.

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 27 2006,07:54   

Well, I personally can't seem to find any solid definition for IC that doesn't change on a weekly/daily/as necessary basis.  What gets me chuckling every single time the subject comes up though, is a picture of Mr. Behe sitting in a courtroom Oh-So-Seriously talking about some bacterium Self-flagellating while intoning something in Latin.  Think Holy Grail.  Yep, I need to grow up, but yep, it's funny.  How Judge Jones kept a straight face, I'll never know.

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Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
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