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Re: [creationevolutiondebate] The ID Special[was General] Theory [revision 1.2]

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  • Ralph Krumdieck
    ... chance. [ralph] What are these higher forms of life? Can you name one? How can we tell if some organism is a higher form of life? You ve been asked
    Message 1 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
      > OBSERVATION
      >
      > Certain higher forms of life appear to be too complex to have occurred by
      chance.

      [ralph] What are these higher forms of life? Can you name one? How can we
      tell if some organism is a higher form of life? You've been asked this
      twice, by my count. This is the 3rd time. How can we tell if higher forms
      of life appear to be too complex if we don't know what you mean by "higher
      forms of life"?
    • wayfaringman@netzero.net
      ... life as ... http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html ... RM&NS method of how these two irreducible blood clotting systems could have developed?
      Message 2 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
        >
        > wayfaringman writes: "The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of
        life as
        > well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly
        > complex and cannot be explained by NeoDarwinian means."
        >
        > Are you sure? Let's see:
        http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html
        >
        > Funny how each time wayfaringman claims that something "cannot be
        > explained", he is easily shown to be wrong.
        >
        > Drew Smith
        > [Harry]
        > Hello Drew
        >
        > My dear follew you havn't explained anything. Give us the step by step
        RM&NS method of how these two irreducible blood clotting systems could have
        developed? And by the way Drew while you're at it show us some experimential
        evidence to back up the method you give. Ok?

        [ralph] "My dear follew"(sp)? Harry, have you morphed into Morrow, right
        down to an "OK" at the end instead of "yes"? Please don't. I much prefer
        your usual, guy-next-door demeanor. Anyway, you've skipped a step above.
        You posted, saying the blood clotting system, among others, was irreducibly
        complex, meaning it couldn't have come about by NeoDarwinian means.
        [Harry]
        I didn't say it couldn't Ralph only that evolutionists need to supply evidence that it could. Dr. Behe is waiting to see such evidence.

        Sorry,
        but we can't just take your word for it. No offense meant. Please provide
        some evidence. You see, if you could provide some evidence that RM&NS is
        not in the running, that would save a huge amount of time, correct? After
        all, it was your assertion.
      • Gabor Horvath
        wayfaringman writes: The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of life as well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly complex
        Message 3 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
          wayfaringman writes: "The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of life
          as well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly
          complex and cannot be explained by NeoDarwinian means."

          Drew S:
          u sure? Let's see:
          http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html

          Funny how each time wayfaringman claims that something "cannot be
          explained", he is easily shown to be wrong.

          [Harry]
          Hello Drew
          My dear follew you havn't explained anything. Give us the step step RM&NS
          method of how these two irreducible blood clotting systems could have
          developed? And by the way Drew while you're at it show us some experimential
          evidence to back up the method you give. Ok?

          [ralph] "My dear follew"(sp)? Harry, have you morphed into Morrow, right
          down to an "OK" at the end instead of "yes"? Please don't. I much prefer
          your usual, guy-next-door demeanor. Anyway, you've skipped a step above.
          You posted, saying the blood clotting system, among others, was irreducibly
          complex, meaning it couldn't have come about by NeoDarwinian means.

          [Harry]
          I didn't say it couldn't Ralph only that evolutionists need to supply
          evidence that it could. Dr. Behe is waiting to see such evidence.
          Sorry,
          but we can't just take your word for it. No offense meant. Please provide
          some evidence. You see, if you could provide some evidence that RM&NS is
          not in the running, that would save a huge amount of time, correct? After
          all, it was your assertion.

          Gabor:
          Harry, in my former post I described the unabridgeable problem with
          evolutionists. They think their imagination can serve as evidence. It can
          not. The "talkorigin" dumpsite "example" is typical.

          The essayist describes another system with bloodclotting mechanism different
          from man's and says "here is the evience: the bloodclotting system id not
          irreducebly complex".

          That is a pathological lack of elementary logic. You can not reason
          together with them on even a most basic level. They simply do not get it.

          Cheers: Gabor
        • Ralph Krumdieck
          ... have ... experimential ... irreducibly ... evidence that it could. Dr. Behe is waiting to see such evidence. [ralph] Nonsense. You re so used to waffling
          Message 4 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
            > >
            > > wayfaringman writes: "The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of
            > life as
            > > well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly
            > > complex and cannot be explained by NeoDarwinian means."
            > >
            > > Are you sure? Let's see:
            > http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html
            > >
            > > Funny how each time wayfaringman claims that something "cannot be
            > > explained", he is easily shown to be wrong.
            > >
            > > Drew Smith
            > > [Harry]
            > > Hello Drew
            > >
            > > My dear follew you havn't explained anything. Give us the step by step
            > RM&NS method of how these two irreducible blood clotting systems could
            have
            > developed? And by the way Drew while you're at it show us some
            experimential
            > evidence to back up the method you give. Ok?
            >
            > [ralph] "My dear follew"(sp)? Harry, have you morphed into Morrow, right
            > down to an "OK" at the end instead of "yes"? Please don't. I much prefer
            > your usual, guy-next-door demeanor. Anyway, you've skipped a step above.
            > You posted, saying the blood clotting system, among others, was
            irreducibly
            > complex, meaning it couldn't have come about by NeoDarwinian means.
            > [Harry]
            > I didn't say it couldn't Ralph only that evolutionists need to supply
            evidence that it could. Dr. Behe is waiting to see such evidence.

            [ralph] Nonsense. You're so used to waffling that you can't stop. If you
            refuse to say that an "irreducibly complex" system *couldn't* have evolved
            (as Behe says), then you logically leave the door open to the possibility
            that the system *could* have evolved. You don't know the exact steps taken
            and neither does anyone elese, but that doesn't matter since we both agree
            in principle that it could have evolved. Incidentally, that violates Behe's
            key requirement for a system to be "irreducibly complex". Would you like to
            change your position and state, categorically, that it couldn't have
            evolved?
          • Drew Smith
            wayfaringman writes: The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of life as well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly complex and
            Message 5 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
              wayfaringman writes: "The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of life as
              well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly
              complex and cannot be explained by NeoDarwinian means."

              I responded: "Are you sure? Let's see:
              http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html Funny how each time
              wayfaringman claims that something "cannot be explained", he is easily
              shown to be wrong."

              wayfaringman responded: "My dear follew you havn't explained anything. Give
              us the step by step RM&NS method of how these two irreducible blood clotting
              systems could have developed? And by the way Drew while you're at it show us
              some experimential evidence to back up the method you give. Ok?"

              Your claim was that the blood clotting system was "irreducibly complex".
              The talkorigins article points out that dolphins lack one of the factors
              that is part of the blood clotting system. Therefore, the blood clotting
              system cannot be described as "irreducibly complex", and therefore, your
              claim is refuted. Nothing more is needed.

              Drew Smith
            • Drew Smith
              I wrote: Funny how each time wayfaringman claims that something cannot be explained , he is easily shown to be wrong. Gabor responded: It is indeed funny
              Message 6 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
                I wrote: "Funny how each time wayfaringman claims that something "cannot be
                explained", he is easily shown to be wrong."

                Gabor responded: "It is indeed funny how you, Drew, swallow the "talkorigin"
                "answer" to the problem of irreducible complexity. It says that the
                bloodclotting system is not irreducebly complex and then to prove that it
                tells about another system which solves bloodclotting in a somewhat
                different way....That is NOT a reasonable explanation, actually it is
                totally ridiculous."

                If a system claimed to be "irreducibly complex" is able to function without
                part of that system, then either the system under consideration was never
                "irreducibly complex" to be begin with, or the phrase "irreducibly complex"
                has no meaning. Which is it?

                Drew Smith
              • PIASAN@aol.com
                In a message dated 1/1/06 2:49:14 PM Central Standard Time, gabor.horvath@sympatico.ca writes: My dear follew you havn t explained anything. Give us the step
                Message 7 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
                  In a message dated 1/1/06 2:49:14 PM Central Standard Time,
                  gabor.horvath@... writes:

                  My dear follew you havn't explained anything. Give us the step step RM&NS
                  method of how these two irreducible blood clotting systems could have
                  developed? And by the way Drew while you're at it show us some experimential
                  evidence to back up the method you give. Ok?


                  ***********
                  Pi:
                  Gabor, you don't seem to understand. It is not necessary to show how
                  something could have evolved to show it is not irreducibly complex.

                  Irreducible complexity has been described (in simple terms) as a system that
                  will not function if one of its parts is removed. If the system still
                  functions with one part removed, it is not irreducibly complex. Period.

                  Drew demonstrated that the blood clotting systems in dolphins functions
                  without one of the parts that is present in humans. That means the blood
                  clotting system in humans could work (though maybe at reduced capability) with one
                  part missing. It certainly demonstrates that the blood clotting system in
                  mammals isn't irreducibly complex.

                  It follows then, that the blood clotting system is NOT irreducibly complex.


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Drew Smith
                  Gabor writes: in my former post I described the unabridgeable problem with evolutionists. They think their imagination can serve as evidence. It can not. The
                  Message 8 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
                    Gabor writes: "in my former post I described the unabridgeable problem with
                    evolutionists. They think their imagination can serve as evidence. It can
                    not. The "talkorigin" dumpsite "example" is typical. The essayist describes
                    another system with bloodclotting mechanism different from man's and says
                    "here is the evience: the bloodclotting system id not irreducebly complex".
                    That is a pathological lack of elementary logic."

                    On the contrary, it's the application of logic to refute the claim that the
                    human blood clotting system is "irreducibly complex". If one can
                    demonstrate a similar blood clotting system that functions without part of
                    the human system, then one is demonstrating that, in fact, the human system
                    is *not* "irreducibly complex". No imagination is required. The existence
                    of the simpler system isn't "imagined".

                    Drew Smith
                  • Ralph Krumdieck
                    ... by ... we ... forms ... heart comes to mind as well as irreducibly complex by Dr. Behe s definition of IC. [ralph] Are you saying that any organism with a
                    Message 9 of 30 , Jan 1, 2006
                      > > OBSERVATION
                      > >
                      > > Certain higher forms of life appear to be too complex to have occurred
                      by
                      > chance.
                      >
                      > [ralph] What are these higher forms of life? Can you name one? How can
                      we
                      > tell if some organism is a higher form of life? You've been asked this
                      > twice, by my count. This is the 3rd time. How can we tell if higher
                      forms
                      > of life appear to be too complex if we don't know what you mean by "higher
                      > forms of life"?
                      > [harry]
                      > Man for one. Any creature that has a blood clotting system. The biological
                      heart comes to mind as well as irreducibly complex by Dr. Behe's definition
                      of IC.

                      [ralph] Are you saying that any organism with a blood clotting system is a
                      "higher" form of life? Is that your definition? Why does blood clotting
                      place one in the "higher" designation?
                    • mtong5@juno.com
                      wayfaringman writes: The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of life as well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly complex and
                      Message 10 of 30 , Jan 6, 2006
                        wayfaringman writes: "The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of life
                        as
                        well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly
                        complex and cannot be explained by NeoDarwinian means."

                        Drew: Are you sure? Let's see:
                        http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html

                        Funny how each time wayfaringman claims that something "cannot be
                        explained", he is easily shown to be wrong.

                        Michael: The Musgrave link mentions how the knockout mice can clot cuts
                        although the mice cannot carry a pregnancy through midterm. But this
                        would show that there is something wrong with the mice. Why can't the
                        mice carry a pregnancy through midterm? Perhaps the mice bleed
                        internally.

                        It also mentions that whales and dolphins lack the Hageman factor, a part
                        of the clotting cascade. But how many mutations are required to get the
                        Hageman factor? If the probability of getting the Hageman factor is very
                        low, then the clotting cascade is irreducibly complex.
                      • Drew Smith
                        wayfaringman writes: The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of life as well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly complex and
                        Message 11 of 30 , Jan 6, 2006
                          wayfaringman writes: "The blood clotting subsystem in these forms of life as
                          well as other subsystems of these higher forms of life are irreducibly
                          complex and cannot be explained by NeoDarwinian means."

                          I responded: Are you sure? Let's see:
                          http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html

                          Michael responded: "It also mentions that whales and dolphins lack the
                          Hageman factor, a part of the clotting cascade. But how many mutations are
                          required to get the Hageman factor? If the probability of getting the
                          Hageman factor is very low, then the clotting cascade is irreducibly
                          complex."

                          You miss the point. If "irreducibly complex" means that a system cannot
                          function if it is minus one of its components, then it is sufficient to show
                          that blood clotting cannot be "irreducibly complex" by demonstrating how the
                          system functions without the Hagemann factor. (And this was part of the
                          system that Behe originally claimed could not be removed, was it not?)

                          Drew Smith
                        • mtong5@juno.com
                          I responded: Are you sure? Let s see: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html Michael responded: It also mentions that whales and dolphins lack
                          Message 12 of 30 , Jan 13, 2006
                            I responded: Are you sure? Let's see:
                            http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html

                            Michael responded: "It also mentions that whales and dolphins lack the
                            Hageman factor, a part of the clotting cascade. But how many mutations
                            are
                            required to get the Hageman factor? If the probability of getting the
                            Hageman factor is very low, then the clotting cascade is irreducibly
                            complex."

                            Drew: You miss the point. If "irreducibly complex" means that a system
                            cannot
                            function if it is minus one of its components, then it is sufficient to
                            show
                            that blood clotting cannot be "irreducibly complex" by demonstrating how
                            the
                            system functions without the Hagemann factor. (And this was part of the
                            system that Behe originally claimed could not be removed, was it not?)

                            Michael: Incorrect. Some organisms may require the Hageman factor. If
                            the probability of acquiring the Hageman factor from a clotting cascade
                            without it is very small, then the clotting cascade is irreducibly
                            complex for those organisms that require it.
                          • Randy Raymond
                            ... ********************************************************************** Randy: You realize Michael that the argument you just gave is circular.
                            Message 13 of 30 , Jan 14, 2006
                              --- In creationevolutiondebate@yahoogroups.com, mtong5@j... wrote:
                              >
                              > I responded: Are you sure? Let's see:
                              > http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CB/CB200_2.html
                              >
                              > Michael responded: "It also mentions that whales and dolphins lack the
                              > Hageman factor, a part of the clotting cascade. But how many mutations
                              > are
                              > required to get the Hageman factor? If the probability of getting the
                              > Hageman factor is very low, then the clotting cascade is irreducibly
                              > complex."
                              >
                              > Drew: You miss the point. If "irreducibly complex" means that a system
                              > cannot
                              > function if it is minus one of its components, then it is sufficient to
                              > show
                              > that blood clotting cannot be "irreducibly complex" by demonstrating how
                              > the
                              > system functions without the Hagemann factor. (And this was part of the
                              > system that Behe originally claimed could not be removed, was it not?)
                              >
                              > Michael: Incorrect. Some organisms may require the Hageman factor. If
                              > the probability of acquiring the Hageman factor from a clotting cascade
                              > without it is very small, then the clotting cascade is irreducibly
                              > complex for those organisms that require it.
                              >


                              **********************************************************************

                              Randy:

                              You realize Michael that the argument you just gave is circular.
                            • Drew Smith
                              I wrote: If irreducibly complex means that a system cannot function if it is minus one of its components, then it is sufficient to show that blood clotting
                              Message 14 of 30 , Jan 19, 2006
                                I wrote: "If "irreducibly complex" means that a system cannot function if it
                                is minus one of its components, then it is sufficient to show that blood
                                clotting cannot be "irreducibly complex" by demonstrating how the system
                                functions without the Hagemann factor. (And this was part of the system
                                that Behe originally claimed could not be removed, was it not?)"

                                Michael responded: "Incorrect. Some organisms may require the Hageman
                                factor."

                                We're discussing irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity is claimed
                                to apply to *systems* (such as the blood clotting system), not to *species*.

                                ***

                                Michael continues: "If the probability of acquiring the Hageman factor from
                                a clotting cascade without it is very small, then the clotting cascade is
                                irreducibly complex for those organisms that require it."

                                Then you apparently disagree with Behe over the definition. Let's see what
                                Behe says: "By irreducible complexity I mean a single system which is
                                composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function,
                                and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to
                                effectively cease functioning."

                                Behe is saying that the removal of a part (such as the Hageman factor) would
                                cause the system (such as the blood clotting system) to cease functioning.
                                Yet we know, via observation, that the blood clotting system can function
                                without the Hageman factor. Therefore, the blood clotting system, according
                                to Behe's own definition of "irreducible complexity" cannot be considered
                                "irreducibly complex".

                                Drew Smith
                              • wayfaringman@netzero.net
                                I wrote: If irreducibly complex means that a system cannot function if it is minus one of its components, then it is sufficient to show that blood clotting
                                Message 15 of 30 , Jan 20, 2006
                                  I wrote: "If "irreducibly complex" means that a system cannot function if it
                                  is minus one of its components, then it is sufficient to show that blood
                                  clotting cannot be "irreducibly complex" by demonstrating how the system
                                  functions without the Hagemann factor. (And this was part of the system
                                  that Behe originally claimed could not be removed, was it not?)"

                                  Michael responded: "Incorrect. Some organisms may require the Hageman
                                  factor."

                                  We're discussing irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity is claimed
                                  to apply to *systems* (such as the blood clotting system), not to *species*.

                                  ***

                                  Michael continues: "If the probability of acquiring the Hageman factor from
                                  a clotting cascade without it is very small, then the clotting cascade is
                                  irreducibly complex for those organisms that require it."

                                  Then you apparently disagree with Behe over the definition. Let's see what
                                  Behe says: "By irreducible complexity I mean a single system which is
                                  composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic function,
                                  and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to
                                  effectively cease functioning."

                                  Behe is saying that the removal of a part (such as the Hageman factor) would
                                  cause the system (such as the blood clotting system) to cease functioning.
                                  Yet we know, via observation, that the blood clotting system can function
                                  without the Hageman factor. Therefore, the blood clotting system, according
                                  to Behe's own definition of "irreducible complexity" cannot be considered
                                  "irreducibly complex".

                                  Drew Smith
                                  [harry]
                                  Dr. Behe wasn't talking about "The" blood clotting system. He was talking about "A" blood clotting system. I believe you are missing this very important point Drew.
                                • Drew Smith
                                  I wrote: Let s see what Behe says: By irreducible complexity I mean a single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the
                                  Message 16 of 30 , Jan 20, 2006
                                    I wrote: "Let's see what Behe says: "By irreducible complexity I mean a
                                    single system which is composed of several interacting parts that contribute
                                    to the basic function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes
                                    the system to effectively cease functioning." Behe is saying that the
                                    removal of a part (such as the Hageman factor) would cause the system (such
                                    as the blood clotting system) to cease functioning. Yet we know, via
                                    observation, that the blood clotting system can function without the Hageman
                                    factor. Therefore, the blood clotting system, according to Behe's own
                                    definition of "irreducible complexity" cannot be considered "irreducibly
                                    complex".

                                    Harry responded: "Dr. Behe wasn't talking about "The" blood clotting system.
                                    He was talking about "A" blood clotting system. I believe you are missing
                                    this very important point Drew."

                                    Let's again see what Behe says: "An irreducibly complex system cannot be
                                    produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function,
                                    which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive
                                    modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly
                                    complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional."

                                    Note that Behe is making a claim about *any precursor system* (to the system
                                    being described as "irreducibly complex"). In other words, if Behe is
                                    claiming that the human blood clotting system is "irreducibly complex", then
                                    he is claiming that *any* hypothetical precursor system to the human blood
                                    clotting system (in this case, any blood clotting system lacking a part
                                    found in the human blood clotting system) would be necessarily
                                    nonfunctional. Yet we observe blood clotting systems that lack the Hageman
                                    factor (a part of the "irreducibly complex" human blood clotting system) and
                                    yet *function* as blood clotting systems. Therefore, using Behe's own
                                    definition, the human blood clotting system cannot be considered
                                    "irreducibly complex".

                                    Drew Smith
                                  • mtong5@juno.com
                                    Michael continues: If the probability of acquiring the Hageman factor from a clotting cascade without it is very small, then the clotting cascade is
                                    Message 17 of 30 , Jan 20, 2006
                                      Michael continues: "If the probability of acquiring the Hageman factor
                                      from
                                      a clotting cascade without it is very small, then the clotting cascade is
                                      irreducibly complex for those organisms that require it."

                                      Drew: Then you apparently disagree with Behe over the definition. Let's
                                      see what
                                      Behe says: "By irreducible complexity I mean a single system which is
                                      composed of several interacting parts that contribute to the basic
                                      function,
                                      and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to
                                      effectively cease functioning."

                                      Behe is saying that the removal of a part (such as the Hageman factor)
                                      would
                                      cause the system (such as the blood clotting system) to cease
                                      functioning.
                                      Yet we know, via observation, that the blood clotting system can function
                                      without the Hageman factor. Therefore, the blood clotting system,
                                      according
                                      to Behe's own definition of "irreducible complexity" cannot be considered
                                      "irreducibly complex".

                                      Michael: But the blood clotting cascade would be irreducibly complex for
                                      those organisms which require the Hageman factor.
                                    • Drew Smith
                                      I wrote: Behe is saying that the removal of a part (such as the Hageman factor) would cause the system (such as the blood clotting system) to cease
                                      Message 18 of 30 , Jan 21, 2006
                                        I wrote: "Behe is saying that the removal of a part (such as the Hageman
                                        factor) would cause the system (such as the blood clotting system) to cease
                                        functioning. Yet we know, via observation, that the blood clotting system
                                        can function without the Hageman factor. Therefore, the blood clotting
                                        system, according to Behe's own definition of "irreducible complexity"
                                        cannot be considered "irreducibly complex".

                                        Michael responded: "But the blood clotting cascade would be irreducibly
                                        complex for those organisms which require the Hageman factor."

                                        Not according to Behe, as Behe's notion of "irreducible complexity" refers
                                        to the nature of any hypothetical *precursor* system to the system under
                                        consideration.

                                        Drew Smith
                                      • mtong5@juno.com
                                        Drew: I wrote: Behe is saying that the removal of a part (such as the Hageman factor) would cause the system (such as the blood clotting system) to cease
                                        Message 19 of 30 , Jan 27, 2006
                                          Drew: I wrote: "Behe is saying that the removal of a part (such as the
                                          Hageman
                                          factor) would cause the system (such as the blood clotting system) to
                                          cease
                                          functioning. Yet we know, via observation, that the blood clotting system
                                          can function without the Hageman factor. Therefore, the blood clotting
                                          system, according to Behe's own definition of "irreducible complexity"
                                          cannot be considered "irreducibly complex".

                                          Michael responded: "But the blood clotting cascade would be irreducibly
                                          complex for those organisms which require the Hageman factor."

                                          Drew: Not according to Behe, as Behe's notion of "irreducible complexity"
                                          refers
                                          to the nature of any hypothetical *precursor* system to the system under
                                          consideration.

                                          Michael: Following is an excerpt from the article "In Defense of the
                                          Irreducibility of the Blood Clotting Cascade," July 31, 2000 by Michael
                                          Behe in www.discovery.org

                                          VI. An Evolutionary Perspective on Irreducible Complexity

                                          In Darwin’s Black Box I defined the concept of irreducible complexity
                                          (IC) in the following way.

                                          By irreducibly complex I mean a single system which is composed of
                                          several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic
                                          function, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system
                                          to effectively cease functioning.
                                          (Behe 1996, 39)

                                          While I think that’s a reasonable definition of IC, and it gets across
                                          the idea to a general audience, it has some drawbacks. It focuses on
                                          already-completed systems, rather than on the process of trying to build
                                          a system, as natural selection would have to do. It emphasizes “parts,”
                                          but says nothing about the properties of the parts, how complex they are,
                                          or how the parts get to be where they are. It speaks of “parts that
                                          contribute to the basic function”, but that phrase can, and has, been
                                          interpreted in ways other than what I had in mind (for example, talking
                                          about whole organs that contribute to complex functions such as
                                          “living”), muddying the waters in my view. What’s more, the definition
                                          doesn’t allow for “degree” of irreducible complexity; a system either has
                                          it or it doesn’t. Yet certainly some IC systems are more complex than
                                          others; some seem more forbidding than others.

                                          While thinking of Keith Robison’s scenario, I was struck that irreducible
                                          complexity could be better formulated in evolutionary terms by focusing
                                          on a proposed pathway, and on whether each step that would be necessary
                                          to build a certain system using that pathway was selected or unselected.
                                          If a system has to pass through one unselected step on the way to a
                                          particular improvement, then in a real evolutionary sense it is
                                          encountering irreducibility: two things have to happen (the mutation
                                          passing through the unselected step and the mutation that gives a
                                          selectable system) before natural selection can kick in again. If it has
                                          to pass through three or four unselected steps (like Robison’s scenario),
                                          then in an evolutionary sense it is even more irreducibly complex. The
                                          focus is off of the “parts” (whose number may stay the same even while
                                          the nature of the parts is changing) and re-directed toward “steps.”

                                          Envisioning IC in terms of selected or unselected steps thus puts the
                                          focus on the process of trying to build the system. A big advantage, I
                                          think, is that it encourages people to pay attention to details;
                                          hopefully it would encourage really detailed scenarios by proponents of
                                          Darwinism (ones that might be checked experimentally) and discourage
                                          just-so stories that leap over many steps without comment. So with those
                                          thoughts in mind, I offer the following tentative “evolutionary”
                                          definition of irreducible complexity:

                                          An irreducibly complex evolutionary pathway is one that contains one or
                                          more unselected steps (that is, one or more necessary-but-unselected
                                          mutations). The degree of irreducible complexity is the number of
                                          unselected steps in the pathway.

                                          That definition has the advantage of promoting research: to state clear,
                                          detailed evolutionary pathways; to measure probabilistic resources; to
                                          estimate mutation rates; to determine if a given step is selected or not.
                                          It allows for the proposal of any evolutionary scenario a Darwinist (or
                                          others) may wish to submit, asking only that it be detailed enough so
                                          that relevant parameters might be estimated. If the improbability of the
                                          pathway exceeds the available probabilistic resources (roughly the number
                                          of organisms over the relevant time in the relevant phylogenetic branch)
                                          then Darwinism is deemed an unlikely explanation and intelligent design a
                                          likely one.

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