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Subject:  Re: My review of Darwin's Black Box Date:  1/12/2006  3:55 PM
Author:  cnaylor Number:  7411 of 27171

Scaffolding may not be exactly what happened in the case of the flagellum. That's not really the point. The point is that Behe defines Irreducible Complexity to have a particular meaning, and then claims that IC structures cannot have evolved in small incremental steps. Scaffolding is simply one example of how an IC structure can evolve, and apparently *does*, in some cases.

There are other examples, such as that a system which serves one function sometimes evolves to perform some totally different function. The specifics don't really matter that much; the point is that Behe claims that IC (as he defined it) precludes evolution. One counterexample is enough to disprove the claim. It may be that there are other definitions of IC that do rule out evolution, but Behe hasn't proposed one, nor has he come up with a test for proving that anything is IC.

I understand that's not the point and for the record, I don't think scaffolding is what occurred in the case of the flagellum. (Ian Musgrave has an excellent chapter in Matt Young/Taner Edis' "Why Intelligent Design Fails" that describes observed intermediates sharing numerous chemical and structural similarities between the secretory flagella which Behe has not labeled IC and the motile flagella which he has.)

There may be cases of scaffolds that have occurred and can be observed. My point is that this doesn't authoritatively dismiss Behe's claim of IC for that instance - it only forces him to back up a step. If I'm Behe, my response when presented with strong evidence of scaffolding would be to drop the IC label from the initial structure and apply it to the scaffold. Thus the initial claimed IC structure may no longer be considered IC, but its precursor is and the concept of IC itself is not harmed. Behe justs jumps to the next 'turtle' and so on, ad infinitum. Saying that a structure was scaffolded only moves the line further back.

On the other hand, if a probable or plausible pathway can be demonstrated whereby a structure can be shown to have evolved (as with the flagella), there is nowhere to back up to.

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