important person to bring the concept of irreducible complexity
to the forefront of the scientific agenda is the biochemist
Michael J. Behe of Lehigh University in the United States.
In his book Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge
to Evolution, published in 1996, Behe examines the irreducibly
complex structure of the cell and a number of other biochemical
structures, and reveals that it is impossible to account for
these by evolution. According to Behe, the real explanation
of life is intelligent design.
Behe's book was a serious blow to Darwinism.
In fact, Peter van Inwagen, Professor of Philosophy at the
University of Notre Dame, stresses the importance of the book
in this manner:
If Darwinians respond
to this important book by ignoring it, misrepresenting it,
or ridiculing it, that will be evidence in favor of the
widespread suspicion that Darwinism today functions more
as an ideology than as a scientific theory. If they can
successfully answer Behe's arguments, that will be important
evidence in favor of Darwinism.349
One of the interesting examples of irreducible
complexity that Behe gives in his book is the bacterial flagellum.
This is a whip-like organ that is used by some bacteria to
move about in a liquid environment. This organ is embedded
in the cell membrane, and enables the bacterium to move in
a chosen direction at a particular speed.
Scientists have known about the flagellum for
some time. However, its structural details, which have only
emerged over the last decade or so, have come as a great surprise
to them. It has been discovered that the flagellum moves by
means of a very complicated "organic motor," and not by a
simple vibratory mechanism as was earlier believed. This propeller-like
engine is constructed on the same mechanical principles as
an electric motor. There are two main parts to it: a moving
part (the "rotor") and a stationary one (the "stator").
||An electric motor-but not one in a household appliance
or vehicle. This one is in a bacterium. Thanks to this
motor, bacteria have been able to move those organs known
as "flagella" and thus swim in water.This was discovered
in the 1970s, and astounded the world of science, because
this "irreducibly complex" organ, made up of some 240
distinct proteins, cannot be explained by chance mechanisms
as Darwin had proposed.
The bacterial flagellum is different from all
other organic systems that produce mechanical motion. The
cell does not utilize available energy stored as ATP molecules.
Instead, it has a special energy source: Bacteria use energy
from the flow of ions across their outer cell membranes. The
inner structure of the motor is extremely complex. Approximately
240 distinct proteins go into constructing the flagellum.
Each one of these is carefully positioned. Scientists have
determined that these proteins carry the signals to turn the
motor on or off, form joints to facilitate movements at the
atomic scale, and activate other proteins that connect the
flagellum to the cell membrane. The models constructed to
summarize the working of the system are enough to depict the
complicated nature of the system.
The complicated structure of the bacterial flagellum
is sufficient all by itself to demolish the theory of evolution,
since the flagellum has an irreducibly complex structure.
If one single molecule in this fabulously complex structure
were to disappear, or become defective, the flagellum would
neither work nor be of any use to the bacterium. The flagellum
must have been working perfectly from the first moment of
its existence. This fact again reveals the nonsense in the
theory of evolution's assertion of "step by step development."
In fact, not one evolutionary biologist has so far succeeded
in explaining the origin of the bacterial flagellum although
a few tried to do so.
The bacterial flagellum is clear evidence that
even in supposedly "primitive" creatures there is an extraordinary
design. As humanity learns more about the details, it becomes
increasingly obvious that the organisms considered to be the
simplest by the scientists of nineteenth century, including
Darwin, are in fact just as complex as any others.
van Inwagen, Review about Michael Behe's Darwin's Black Box.