This may sound like something from a Star Wars movie, but it’s actually an important topic – and one that exposes holes in current theories of evolution. It all starts with a mousetrap – but let’s get some background first!
Dr. Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry and author of Darwin’s Black Box, spoke about a test Charles Darwin proposed for his own theory.
“Darwin said, ‘If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.’ And that was the basis for the theory of irreducible complexity.
“You see a system or device is irreducibly complex if it has a number of different components that all work together to accomplish the task of the system, and if you were to remove one of the components, the system would no longer function. An irreducibly complex system is highly unlikely to be built piece-by-piece through Darwinian processes, because the system has to be fully present in order for it to function. Like a mousetrap. (A mousetrap turns out to be a great example.)
Behe in his example held up a run-of-the-mill wooden mousetrap. “You can see the interdependence of the parts for yourself,” he said, pointing to each of the five components as he described them. “Now, if you take away any of these parts – the spring or the holding bar or whatever – then it’s not like the mousetrap becomes half as efficient as it used to be. It doesn’t catch half as many mice. It doesn’t work at all.
“So the mousetrap does a good job of illustrating how irreducibly complex biological systems defy a Darwinian explanation,” he continued. “Evolution can’t produce an irreducibly complex biological machine suddenly, all at once, because it’s much too complicated. The odds against that would be prohibitive. And you can’t produce it directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor system would be missing a part and consequently not function. There would be no reason for it to exist.”
Are there a lot of different kinds of biological machines at a cellular level?
“Life is actually based on molecular machines,” Behe stated. “They haul cargo from one place in the cell to another; they turn cellular switches on and off; they act as pulleys and cables; electrical machines let current flow through nerves; manufacturing machines build other machines; solar – powered machines capture the energy from the light and store it in chemicals. Molecular machinery lets cells move, reproduce, and process food. In fact, every part of the cell’s function is controlled by complex, highly calibrated machines.”
“And if the creation of a simple device like this requires Intelligent Design,” Behe said “then we have to ask, ‘What about finely tuned machines of the cellular world?” If evolution can’t adequately explain them, then scientist should be free to consider other alternatives.”
Behe had taken Darwin at his word and demonstrated how these interconnected biological system could not have been created through the numerous, successive, slight modifications that his theory demands.
Behe pointed out there is an alternative that does explain how complex biological machines could have been created. “My conclusion can be summed up in a single word: design,” Behe said. “I say that based on science. I believe that irreducibly complex systems are strong evidence of a purposeful, intentional design by an intelligent agent. No other theory succeeds; certainly not Darwinism.”
All things have been created though him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.