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I've never cared for the 'scaffolding' argument because it suffers from the same problem that IDists have when they assert the designer could be natural. My response is: that's great, but if evolution is too complex to make us, then how did it make the designer without supernatural help? (Answer: it couldn't at which point it's clear that ID = supernatural) By the same token, you can say that a simpler form can evolve from a more complex one, but then how did the more complex one get there?

This is not to say that scaffolding has never happened, only that it can't be an ultimate response to the IC argument. Nor is it to say that some structures are IC as evolution theory provides the best answer for how allegedly IC structures arose.


The key word is "irreducible", not "complexity". Behe acknowledges that evolution happens. What he does is argue that some specific systems are unevolvable, not because they are complex, but because there is no evolutionary path to get there. Scaffolding is one way that irreducible things can actually evolve.

For instance, let's say that you have three possible parts, A, B, and C. They go through an evolutionary pathway like this:

A -> AB -> ABC -> BC

Now we find that BC is irreducible. C cannot do its job without B. B cannot do its job without either A or C, but either one will do. A, however, can work independently. It does sort of the same job as BC, but not nearly as well as any of the other versions. So BC is irreducible, but AB is not. That's scaffolding.

To build an arch, you would:
1. Build the scaffold (A)
2. Pile up the sides around the scaffold (AB)
3. Place the top of the arch on the sides, still supported by the scaffold (ABC)
4. Remove the scaffold (BC)
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