Sunday, October 03, 2010

Irreducible Complexity Just Won't Go Away...

Some evolutionists have invented the idea of "Co-Option" to counter IC - cell parts that already exist can supposedly be assembled to produce new structures. But Co-option actually supports IC!!

Irreducible Complexity Is Not Refuted! by Jerry Bergman

Marko's Executive Summary: Irreducible Complexity (IC) is the concept that a certain minimum number of parts working together is required in order for life to function. Scientists who study IC have demonstrated that it is at work within organisms, organs, and cells. IC cannot have evolved, but must have been masterminded by a designer. Creation Scientists go further than IC, and recognize that the designer must have been the God of the Bible, who recorded for us that in the beginning, he created all things.

Some evolutionists have said in their peer-reviewed journals that IC is "nonsense", because IC cannot be possible according to the Theory of Evolution's principle of Natural Selection, in which "Nature" experiments with mutations one at a time over thousands or millions of years, and selects them based on the "Survival of the Fittest" mutation. They also say that IC is non-scientific, because it leads directly to the concept of a creator God. They say that modern science must be able to go beyond the old fashioned method of appealing to a God-concept when facing difficult problems. Thus Irreducible Complexity is non-scientific.

But since IC simply will not go away as an issue, some evolutionists have invented the idea of "Co-Option" to counter it. In Co-Option, cell parts that already exist as components in other structures, can then be selected and assembled in a unique way to produce a new complex structure. In this paper, Jerry Bergman  shows that the idea of Co-option does not mean that Irreducible Complexity is "nonsense", indeed, it supports it! Below is an abbreviated digest version of Bergman's paper.

(Full version of the original article was published in Creation Research Society Quarterly Journal, Volume 46, Number 3, Winter, 2010,
{This abbreviated version is digested by Marko Malyj. The original version of this blog post with all pictures is available at Digest comments that are not in the original published version are offset in curly braces.}

The standard evolution theory postulates that multimolecular mechanisms ... "took place, one gene at a time, under the guidance of natural section: each modification conferred at least a small selective benefit" (Harold, 2001, p.204)

Behe (1996)... documented that a certain minimum number of parts is required in order for both living organisms and nonliving things to function. He used the term IC to designate this concept.... A realistic example to explain IC ... is a television system. The first working television must have had a functional camera, a way of converting light variations into electrical signals, a method of broadcasting the signals into the atmosphere, a receiver system to pick up the signal, and a method to convert the broadcast signal into an electron gun signal in a cathode ray tube so as to paint the picture on a fluoresent screen.

The history of the television invention by Philo Farnsworth illustrates that this system would have been useless until every component was invented and perfected, which Farnsworth spent much of his life doing (Stashower, 2002).

A certain amount of complexity is required before life can exist (Anderson, 1989)..... all the components of a cell ... must fit together and be adequately assembled to function as a unit.

Criticism of the Concept of IC

Critics have proposed systems where a part that was originally believed to be required can be removed and the system will still function.... Often removing a part or two results in the unit not functioning as well. But even if it works just as well, this simply means that the number of parts required was really less than first assumed. The item is still irreducibly complex.

Criticism Based on Co-Option

The most common attempt to refute IC involves a concept called co-option. Co-option is said to occur when existing cell parts, such as proteins or glycoproteins can be selected and assembled in a unique way to produce a new structure. The bacterial flagellum, for example, utilizes ten proteins that are also used in the type III bacterial secretory system. Miller concluded from this observation that "irreducile complexity is nonsense" (1999, p. 150). He argued that since ten proteins are found in two very different bacterial devices, IC is nonsense because one structure can be built from parts used in the other structures....

{Flegella on Escherichia coli, from}

The design, selection and assembly of existing parts requires an assembly plan to insure that the parts are designed to fit together properly, that they are assembled correctly, and that they function as a unit. Cellular proteins called "scaffold proteins" are required as sites on which to place the correct cell parts in the proper locations at the correct times. Each part must be manufactured to the required specifications and in the correct number for use at the correct time. The parts also must be moved to the suitable assembly location in the order needed. The many complex enzymes required to install the parts at the correct place are also necessary.

{Function of Scaffold Proteins, from}

Sanford (2005, p. 133) noted, "each part has no value except within the context of the whole functional unit, and so irreducible systems have to come together all at once, and cannot arise one piece at a time." He added that, in the case of a mousetrap, even if all the pieces are sitting neatly next to each other on the inventor's workbench... they must first come together simultaneously as a functioning system in the mind of a designer. It is in the realm of mind that deep complexity first exists and becomes integrated (Sanford, 2005)....

Co-option Supports IC

Co-option in the mechanical and electrical worlds clearly implies intelligent design.... When designing a new product, the engineer often selects parts from the millions that already exist to achieve the required function....

The mechanisms that produce most mutations are well understood, but, conversely, mechanisms that can systematically rearrange structural units in order to produce new functional structures are unknown.... It is difficult to even imagine a "just-so story" that explains how a naturalistic evolutionary mechanism could cobble together different existing parts by co-option to produce new functional structures (Sanford, 2005). Structures such as a bacterial flagellum contain thousands of proteins; each one in turn contains hundreds or thousands of parts; and each gene that produces these parts has about 50,000 component parts (Sanford, 2005)....

A single change often affects many systems. Even if a mutation improves the function of one part in a particular unit, it often will cause dysfunction in other systems. This concept called pleiotropy, is a major reason why a defect in a single gene can result in so many different body alterations, many of which are negative (Bergman, in press)....

Co-option does not change the fact that "there are presently no detailed Darwinian accounts of the evolution of any biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculation" (Harold, 2001, p. 205 italics added)....

No evidence exists for the evolution of any of the original parts that were supposedly co-opted to explain the origin of new structures. "Among these great innovations of design, the crucial inventions of nature, the earliest have left no trace of their development in the fossil record. The organization of living material in a cell with a cell wall and a nucleus, the transmission of the blueprint of its design and its means of self-construction and the very important device of sexual reproduction, all developed in minute organisms which have left little evidence" (French, 1988, p. 19)


The gradualistic co-option model of evolution is accepted because of philosophical constraints, not because of empirical evidence.... To fully understand reality, science must be free to explore all research avenues, including research on IC.

References (selected)

Anderson, K.L. 1989. Prebiotic formation of the first cell. 26:55-60.

Behe, M. 1996. Darwin's Black Box. The Free Press, New York, NY.

Bergman, J. (In press). The pleiotrophy problem for evolution. Creation Research Society Quarterly.

French, M.J. 1988. Invention and Evolution: Design in Nature and Engineering. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.

Harold, F.M. 2001. The Way of the Cell: Molecules, Organisms and the Order of Life. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

Miller, K.R. 1999. Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. Harper Collins, New York, NY.

Sanford, J. 2005. Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome. Ivan Press, Lima, NY.

Stashower, D. 2002. The Boy Genius and the Mogul: The Untold Story of Television. Broadway Books. New York, NY.

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