Irreducible Complexity - examples?

I’ve read it said that the essence of Intelligent Design is the principle of Irreducible Complexity, with Michael Behe often being brought up.

But it seems to me every example he’s brought up has been impressively refuted with examples from real life and evolutionary history.

Has anyone ever provided an example of a genuinely Irreducibly Complexity System?


Does “ID” in its formal christian reading demand a willful ignorance and refusal to absorb new information?

Not that I’m aware of. Besides the flagellum discussed extensively in the Kitzmiller v Dover trial one of the favorite examples is the human eye. I don’t believe that one was brought up in the trial because horses and squid both have variations of the eye which are exactly like humans, but with different parts missing in each. They don’t work to see “like we do”, but they work very well for the particular purpose of the animal.

The concept itself is seriously inherently flawed. It is unscientific. It is trying to prove a negative. It is saying that there is no possible use in the universe for a given thing unless that thing is complete. That is not scientific, it is jumping to a conclusion. Imagine anything you like which you think of to be “useless” and I bet there’s a use for it. Even a yard full of dog feces can be used for compost, tanning hides and fuel for a fire, even though I consider it “useless”. It’s just arrogant to think that you know so much about the universe to be able to say that if YOU can’t think of a use for it then there is no possible use for it.

Yes, as @Widdershins says, the ones that come to mind are the flagellum and the eye. But they’re just wrong.


EVOLUTION OF THE EYE... Charles Darwin admitted in Origin of Species that the eye’s evolution by natural selection would seem, at first glance, “absurd in the highest possible degree.” But he admitted this just before proceeding to outline the possible steps in the evolution by natural selection, stages that reasonably parallel those revealed by later research in evolutionary biology.

…In fact, a quite plausible evolutionary pathway for eyes can be constructed from examination of light sensitivity across a wide range of living organisms. Light sensitivity is important even to single-celled organisms, where it would have been naturally selected during very early stages of the tree of life, in order to support the use of photosynthesis in the organisms’ metabolic processes…

ID has a narrow, perhaps vanishingly narrow, needle to thread in its ambition to be treated as science and taught in public schools as an alternative theory to evolution.

…In an attempt to avoid the same fate, ID advocates systematically avoid reference to the Bible, and are thus reduced to claim that at least some aspects of life development on Earth represent the work of an intelligent designer whose identity and purpose they pretend not to know.

Right, and those two have been demonstrated to be wrong dozens of time - and of course ‘they’ never absorb a god damned lesson.

My question: Are those two examples really the best they have for “Irreducible Complexity”???

Wait a minute are they the only examples Creations can conjure? Where’s Holmes when you need him?

(I believe that comes from the NOVA production, “Judgment Day.”)

The Evolution of the Flagellum

BEHE CONCEDES IC SYSTEMS CAN EVOLVE Here I present a theory first published in 2003 by Nicholas Matzke. For more details one can view his work at This theory is derived from a wealth of data regarding protein homologies. It shows that a fully functional flagellum could evolve through multiple functional intermediates.

Creationists: Evolution has NO EXPLANATION for :x:!!

Science: Actually, we do. The explanation for :x: is: ??:no_entry:.

Creationists: As we said, evolution has NO EXPLANATION for :x:!! Not one bit!!

Science: Um ?? …??:no_entry:.

Creationists: NO EXPLANATION for :x: at all! Science is TOTALLY SILENT on this issue!

Science: Yo, guys: ?? …??:no_entry:, ??:no_entry:, ??:no_entry:, ??:no_entry:, ???. See? Get it now…?

Creationists: Science is still IGNORING the problem of :x: !!!


They never accept the explanations because they are contrary to what their church teaches them. I have a Jehovah’s Witness friend that tries to convert me occasionally, though less and less frequently lately. After years of this he still believes that even scientists doubt evolution, that there is a real movement in the scientific community against the theory. I have explained the science to him repeatedly. I have taken the quotes he has given me from his reading and shown him that his church just puts “…” in there whenever the person they are quoting says something they don’t like, which is usually exactly the opposite of what the church is claiming that person said. But you just can’t get past the religious mindset. Every time I show him where he is wrong, he “knows” I am wrong. He doesn’t know how I’m wrong, but he is absolutely certain that I am wrong. I’m pretty sure he looks into it now and then. But I tend not to talk too much about things I don’t know unless I’m making idle speculations which I make clear are speculations, so he has never come back with “evidence” that I am wrong except for more church propaganda with more misquotes.

I was just asking if those were the only two examples Christian have.

Guess that’s a tentative yes.

So how is it that fact based rationalists always seem to lose the public discussions, popularity contests?

Perhaps lose is the wrong word, give in … gotta run, Maddy

thank you :wink:

I am not aware of any other “examples” of irreducible complexity. And, as with all pseudoscience, it is meant to be brought directly to the public, not the scientific community, so I would guess that if there were other examples we would easily know about them.

Here’s a brand new fun informative video from Jackson Wheat

The comments are a hoot -

How I’d love to do a Spock mind meld for only a moment - taste the emptiness and get a clue about how they fill it up with a comic book story. Because lordie knows going at it rational does not work.