What if we DID find irreducibly complex biological features?
|August 30, 2007||Posted by Granville Sewell under Intelligent Design|
In any debate on Intelligent Design, there is a question I have long wished to see posed to ID opponents: “If we DID discover some biological feature that was irreducibly complex, to your satisfication and to the satisfaction of all reasonable observers, would that justify the design inference?” (Of course, I believe we have found thousands of such features, but never mind that.)
If the answer is yes, we just haven’t found any such thing yet, then all the constantly-repeated philosophical arguments that “ID is not science” immediately fall. If the answer is no, then at least the lay observer will be able to understand what is going on here, that Darwinism is not grounded on empirical evidence but a philosophy.
To make the point more concretely: In my 1985 Springer-Verlag book ( here ) I gave as an example of irreducible complexity (though I didn’t use the term, of course) a carnivorous plant which catches small animals like this: an animal touches a trigger hair, which causes a double-sealed, valve-like door to open, and a water-tight vacuum chamber suddenly expands, sucking the victim into the trap, where it is digested, then the trap is reset for the next victim. Now, any reasonable person would say: this trap couldn’t have evolved through a single random mutation, and none of the parts seem to have any use whatever until all are in place, and until the vacuum chamber is water-tight, and the abilities to digest insects and to reset the trap are functional. A gradual development of this trap through useless stages toward usefulness would be no easier to explain–through natural selection or any other natural mechanism–than a sudden development. (See also the section “The origin of carnivorous plants” in the reference here )
Naturally, any Darwinist can come up with some far-fectched senario whereby the trigger hair had some earlier use, the vacuum chamber had some function before it became water-tight, etc.
My question is: what if we found another example, even more spectacular, so spectacular that every reasonable person would be forced to admit it could not have evolved through small improvements. Then would you consider the design inference justified? If you say yes, then you are admitting that design is a possible, even if currently unjustified, scientific hypothesis. If you say no, then everyone will finally understand that, as W.E.Loennig has stated, today’s evolutionary theory is completely unfalsifiable.