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  Topic: ID myth: IC subsets "functionless" by themselves, collecting quotes by behe et al< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
rafe gutman



Posts: 27
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 24 2002,13:45   

have you ever heard behe (or more recently dembski) imply that subsets of IC systems have no function? i certainly have. however, in a recent internet discussion over on ISCID, dembski clearly stated that that was false, and that ID critics were misrepresenting their opinion. in his own words,
Quote
You've charged me with moving the goalposts and adjusting the definition of irreducible complexity because I require of evolutionary biologists to "connect the dots" in a causally convincing way. The dots here are functional precursors that could conceivably have evolved into the final system of interest. You state that previously I claimed that the dots couldn't exist because they wouldn't be functional. Please show me in Michael Behe's writings or my own where we deny that IC systems can be made up of subsystems that can be functional in their own right. The point is not whether subsystems can be functional on their own but whether they can exhibit the same function in the same manner as the system in question. You misrepresent our position.

then later, when presented with quotes implying such (which will be given later):
Quote
I wrote, "Please show me in Michael Behe's writings or my own where we deny that IC systems can be made up of subsystems that can be functional in their own right." Both Behe and I have always defined IC with reference to the basic function of the system in question (if we've not said it explicitly -- and I have in NFL -- then a charitable reading would have granted that -- neither Behe nor I are that stupid). We therefore left open the possibility of subsystems having function in their own right. You and Yersinia charge us with a denial.

one of the key arguments of irreducible complexity being a roadblock to evolution is the lack of "functional intermediates" for selection to act upon. if a purportedly IC system has 20 components, and homologues to all 20 are observed in 20 separate systems, then an IDist might propose that all 20 components had to come together in one step in order for the IC system to evolve. of course, to say this is to deny that 3, or 5, or 10 components could have a function all to their own (whether it be the IC function or something else). i'd like this thread to serve as a place where ID critics could post quotes of behe or dembski, or any other IDist where they propagate this myth. please indicate the source of the quote in your post.  i'll post my initial contributions below.

  
rafe gutman



Posts: 27
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 24 2002,14:05   

michael behe's original definition of irreducible complexity:
Quote
"a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease function.  an irreducibly complex biological system, if there is such a thing, would be a powerful challenge to darwinian evolution.  since natural selection can only choose systems that are already working, then if a biological system cannot be produced gradually it would have to arise as an integrated unit, in one fell swoop, for natural selection to have anything to act on." (DBB page 39)


dembski's definition of IC, NFL:
Quote
"A system performing a given basic function is irreducibly complex if it includes a set of well-matched, mutually interacting, non-arbitrarily individuated parts such that each part in the set is indispensable to maintaining the system's basic, and therefore original, function. The set of these indispensable parts is known as the irreducible core of the system." (page 285)


Quote
"a flagellum without its full complement of protein parts does not function at all. Behe therefore concludes that if the Darwinian mechanism is going to produce the flagellum, it will have to do so in one generation." (page 251)


Quote
"To achieve an irreducibly complex system, the Darwinian mechanism has but two options. First, it can try to achieve the system in one fell swoop. But if an irreducibly complex system's core consists of numerous and diverse parts, that option is decisively precluded. The only other option for the Darwinian mechanism then is to try to achieve the system gradually by exploiting functional intermediates. But this option can only work so long as the system admits substantial simplifications. The second condition [that the irreducible core of the system is at the minimal level of complexity needed to perform its function] blocks this other option. Let me stress that there is no false dilemma here-it is not as though there are other options that I have conveniently ignored but that the Darwinian mechanism has at its disposal." (page 287)


by john bracht in a metanexus article entitled: Knotty Pine and Corroding Coins
Quote
"In order for the fitness function to have smoothly sloped sides rather than sharp cliffs, there must be a way to gradually build a flagellum with fitness increases at each step as parts of the system are added. It is common for biologists to do mutation experiments in which they destroy some component of a molecular system and see whether it still works; with the flagellum they have found that all the components are required for function. In other words, the intermediates are non-functional and thus convey no selective advantage."

and also:
Quote
"In contrast to the coin-flipping machines in which a sequence has progressively greater selective value the more heads it contains, there is no advantage in having a nearly complete flagellum."

from washington times article entitled: Challenging Darwin by jen waters:
Quote
"Mr. Behe argues that cells are full of "molecular machines." All the parts must be there at once for the "molecular machines" to work correctly. (In the same way, all the pieces of a mousetrap must be present for it to operate properly.) Taking away parts from the molecular machines of a cell would make them stop working, which is why Mr. Behe believes life appears to be designed."


does anyone have any more examples?  also, if you have examples where behe or dembski acknowledge that subsets of IC systems can be functional, let me know.  so far, i've found no such acknowledgement in any of their popular writings.

  
ExYECer



Posts: 36
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Sep. 25 2002,09:07   

I am not sure how strong the case is. In NFL it seems to me that Dembski has redefined Behe's original statement by focusing on _original function_  or _basic function_. The problem is that once intermediates of a different function are allowed that IC systems seem to lose their relevance. Only if it can be argued that an IC system has to maintain its original function in its intermediates can one argue ala Dembski/Behe.

Allowing different intermediate functions opens the door even wider for evolutionary mechanisms.

Dembski's NFL arguments surely suggest a new variant though I would disagree with Dembski about Behe's original IC claim.

Quote

The concept of an "invariant" was introduced, something which falsifies a hypothesis, or posit. Irreducible complexity, Dembski said, is Darwin's invariant, but only when defined in the right way. Dembski then "tightenened Behe's invariant" and talked about many of the standard criticisms of irreducible complexity (scaffolding can support IC structures, co-optation, remove 2 parts and function is restored, etc), and presented a new revised version of irreducible complexity:

1. Removal of one part destroys original function.
2. Removal of multiple parts kills system's original function
3. System has numerous complex interacting parts
4. System is minimally complex in relation to its minimal function for selective advantage.


Source

Seems that Dembski admits that a redefinition of Behe's original function was needed.


Yet Dembski also argues

Quote

Dembski discussed Michael Behe and his "irreducible complexity" approach to ID, and mentioned that Behe is coming to Albuquerque next March. Amazingly, Dembski described several effective critiques of Behe's ideas, including scaffolding, co-aptation, redundant complexity, ignorance of the scientific literature, appeals to ignorance, incremental indispensability, and reducible complexity. But Dembski blew off all the criticisms, as if simply mentioning their existence effectively counters them. Here's an example: Dembski mentioned scaffolding and the Roman arch example, which Massimo Pigliucci happened to have presented to NMSR at his talk on August 11th. Here, a mound is built, then stones are place on top to make the arch; once the last stone is in place, the mound is removed, leaving the arch in apparent "irreducible complexity" (take away any stone and the whole thing falls down). Dembski's counter to this example was to claim you can't have "delayed gratification," i.e. that in living systems, you would need the arch to work right away, and wouldn't possibly have a "mound" stage.

Dembski described his addition to Behe's "irreducible complexity" required to tighten it up: it's a system where removal of a single part destroys the original function, removal of multiple parts destroys the original function, the system comprises numerous and diverse parts, and (Dembski's innovation) the system is minimally complex for the required functionality. He calls this "Irreducible Complexity 2.0 (read two-point-oh), and claims this is the "Darwin-stopping invariant." In five to ten years, Dembski said, "Darwinism" will stand alongside failed theories like alchemy and perpetual motion. He said Darwin's unpaid debt is an unpayable debt, and that leaves only Design.


Source

  
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