Friday, September 2, 2011
Darwinian Orthodoxy and Irreducible Complexity
Charles Darwin had asserted that the only way evolution could possibly work was one step at a time – each step conferring a survival advantage. However, what happens when this survival advantage can only be realized when a particular improvement requires 50 or 100 “steps” all occurring simultaneously? Well, Darwin admitted that this was far more than his theory of “natural selection” could bear.
Meanwhile, intelligent design (ID) theorists have pointed to thousands of examples where one or two or ten incremental steps (mutations) occurring at once couldn’t possibly confer any sort of survival advantage upon its host. They call these structures “irreducibly complex,” since they seem to defy any step by step explanation of their origins. Creationist, Bruce Malone, Search for the Truth Ministries, has described many of them. Here’s a recent one:
• A species of millipede called apheloria has an almost unbelievable defense mechanism. Many millipedes roll up or give off a foul smell when attacked, but not this one. Each segment of this millipede’s body contains special glands that make a chemical for its protection. When the enemy attacks, the millipede mixes this chemical with a catalyst. The resulting reaction produces hydrogen cyanide gas – the same gas used in Hitler’s gas chambers to kill people! Both millipede and the enemy are engulfed in a cloud of this deadly cyanide gas. The enemy dies – while the millipede simply walks away! How did the millipede develop this gas? How did it develop immunity to cyanide gas at the same time? How many millipedes were eaten before they developed this type of defense? How many millipedes died by gassing themselves? Evolution would say all this happened by mutational accidents.
However, the millipede would not only have to have the means to produce the gas, it would also have to have the means of storing it, ejecting it, and having its own defense against the gas – all at the same time. Although evolutionists have faith that they will eventually be able to explain how these incredibly complex systems can arise through natural selection, they lack any reasonable explanation for any of them. Even evolutionists concede that their faith is not without serious problems:
• There is no theoretical reason that would permit us to expect that evolutionary lines would increase in complexity with time; there is also no empirical evidence that this happens. (John Maynard Smith, E. Szathmary—quoted from John Lennox’s book, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God, 107.
Sadly, the man on the street has been so pumped with evolutionary orthodoxy that he doesn’t even consider that there might be another way of looking at things.