No. of Recommendations: 3
Behe's definition of Irreducible Complexity:
"By irreducibly complex I mean 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 functioning. . .An irreducibly complex system is one that requires several closely matched parts in order to function and where removal of one of the components effectively causes the system to cease functioning."

One of his better examples was the flagellum which we discussed some time back. Here's just an animated picture of it:

"A functioning flagellum requires about 30 gene products (components). So what does the co-option hypothesis predict? That prior to the existence of the flagellum, these 30 gene products (or their duplicates) all existed doing something else. Then, they just happened to all fit together by chance to create a flagellum. And afterwards, the other 30 or so hypothetical functions of these original gene products disappeared. Does this really sound like a general solution to IC?

"The brilliance of Darwin was to minimize the role of chance in apparent design. But once we turn to the co-option explanation, we leave this explanatory appeal behind, as chance reasserts itself into a place of prominence. For it is chance that determines whether the 30-or-so gene products just happen to come together to form a functioning flagellum, as selection was pruning these gene products in accord with 30-or-so different functions. Thus, the co-option explanation is really a return to using chance as an explanation for apparent design, and just as it was not convincing in pre-Darwinian days, it is not convincing today.

"One seeming way around this problem is to imagine 5 or 6 subsystems, each composed of 6 or 5 gene products, all conducting different functions. Thus, we need only imagine that by chance, 5 or 6 subsystems could happen to come together to form a well-matched whole that generates a new function. . .In this case, the non-teleologist must now explain the origin of 5 or 6 different IC systems and why they too disappeared after the origin of the new IC system."--Michael Behe

"We might think that some of the parts of an irreducibly complex system evolved step by step for some other purpose and were then recruited wholesale to a new function. But this is also unlikely. You may as well hope that half your car's transmission will suddenly help out in the airbag department. Such things might happen very, very rarely, but they surely do not offer a general solution to irreducible complexity."--H. Allen Orr

I'd get Behe's book.
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