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The sole contribution of intelligent [sick] design theory
advocate, biochemist Michael Behe
consists of the scientifically refuted notion that a multicomponent functional system could not have arisen by "Darwinian" evolution.
In essence, Behe argues that because removal of any component will render the system non-functional, such a system could not be produced by continuously improving the initial function (which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system (p.39 of Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
Behe targetted several complex systems as purportedly providing support for this flawed proposal: evolution of the eye, clotting cascades and complement system, and the bacterial flagellum.
Behe's "mousetrap" sold popular pseudoscience books to the determinedly ignorant, but there are major problems with Michael Behe's contrived challenge of 'irreducible complexity'. In his latest creationist
venture, Behe has been forced to retreat
from his earlier refuted claims.
First, the implicit assumption that the components of currently functional system have 'always and only' performed the function that they currently display. The most obvious illustration of this flaw lies in an examination of Behe's designed-for-the-scientifically-ignorant analogy of a spring-based mouse trap. All the components of a spring-based mouse trap can be found, in modified forms, functioning in a variety of settings. It is only the assemblage of these modified forms within a mouse trap that renders each a necessary component of the trap's function. That is, already existing components have been slightly modified then assembled into a simple mechanism. This is exactly how biological evolution operates – mutations generate modifications and successful mutations are retained, so even Behe's analogy demonstrates that which he sought to refute. (Intelligent design devotees seem incapable of grasping the point that analogies are useful in explanatory descriptions, but that fallacious arguments from analogy are rapidly invalidated as arguments aimed at attacking scientific facts.)
Second, research in medical genetics has uncovered mechanisms that explain 'reducible' complexity
Third, research has demonstrated that assembly of pre-existing modifications operate in subsequently evolved features. Science provides innumerable examples of similar adaptive employment of mutation-coded-proteins that result from pre-existing gene segments.
Behe's ridiculous make-room-for-design (aka God) was refuted before Behe even concocted it! Even if evolutionary biologists were never able to reconstruct the mutational route to specific biological features, such a failure could not be taken to demonstrate Behe's pull-a-miracle-out-of-the-hat illogical claims. Behe may be a protein biochemist, but he is clearly not a logician because his entire argument placed faulty science on a fallacy of logic – argumentum ad ignorantiam
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Labels: intelligent [sick] design, irreducible complexity, Michael Behe, mousetrap