Irreducible Complexity and Flagella - Deconstructing ID

Part 2 of a 7-part series with Dr. Eugenie C. Scott.: Debunking Intelligent Design. Dr. Scott criticizes claims by creationists that flagellated bacteria (flagellum) are an example of irreducible complexity. She concludes that examples of irreducible co

John Connolly: So what you’re getting at here is the concept of irreducible complexity, isn’t it? Eugenie Scott: That’s one of the main concepts; in fact it’s arguable the only real scientific component of intelligent design, this idea that in a structure like the bacteria flagellum, which has kind of become the poster child for intelligent design, you’ve got about 50 proteins, about 50 components of this structure, and the claim is that if you take even one of them away you don’t have a flagellum that works anymore; the motor doesn’t work, the bacterium just lies there in the water and it’s downhill from there. That’s just empirically wrong; you can take away lots of proteins and still get a functional flagellum. Number one, there’s no such thing as ‘the’ bacteria flagellum; there are lots of different flagella, and there’s bacteria flagella, there’s eukaryotic cell flagella, there’s lots of structures like flagella in nature, there’s not ‘a’ flagella and the model doesn’t really work when you look at the whole range of stuff. But in a sense the idea of irreducible complexity is kind of true by definition; if I took enough parts of you away, you’d stop working, so it’s not that it’s impossible to think of something that at some level is irreducibly complex but the problem with intelligent design is that they want to argue that there’s a whole class of phenomena in nature that we just take off the table for science to explain. Now, what scientist wants to say ‘this is unsolvable’; there [are] a lot of problems in nature, there [are] a lot of problems that scientists have that we haven’t yet explained, but not having yet explained something doesn’t make something unexplainable, and that’s the mistake that the intelligent design folks make.

creationism, intelligent design, creation science, henry morris, darwinism, evolution, darwin, Genesis, eugenie, scott, dnalc, cshl

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