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Irreducible Complexity.


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#1 Ryyker

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 03:22 AM

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.
Darwin's Black Box, page 39.

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I am often amazed at how little agreement there is in the origins debate even over issues that can be completely separated from origins (I have my suspicions why but choose not to share them). I am sure many have heard the definition of irreducibly complex (IC) above and the example of the mouse trap being an IC system. This definition says nothing about origins and can be isolated from it and be tested to see if it describes something that actually exits.

I believe that the mouse trap is an IC system and so proves that IC is a real concept that accurately describes something and I would be very interested to hear arguments against that belief.

I am sure many can figure out where I would ultimately like to go with this thread but I wonder if we can get some agreement from everyone on this forum that IC is a real concept or arguments showing the definition does not describe a mouse trap or any system.

#2 jason78

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 10:26 AM

If you removed the trigger from the mousetrap, it would make quite a good paper clip. It's only irreducibly complex if your test for fitness is the ability to trap mice.

#3 Isabella

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 12:13 PM

Although irreducible complexity may apply to man-made machines, I think it gives a false perspective of how evolution works. I’ll use the eye as an example. If you were to remove the lens or the retina from the eye, it would no longer work the way it does now. Depending on the part you take out, it might not function at all. This could suggest that all the complex parts needed to evolve simultaneously in order to produce a functioning eye, which obviously sounds impossible. However this isn’t how evolution works.

It may be true that our modern eyes are irreducibly complex, but that doesn’t mean a primitive, less complex eye served no purpose. An organism with a single light-sensitive cell would be able to navigate its surroundings more efficiently than a completely blind organism (I’m not talking about the complex cone and rod cells in our eyes. I simply mean a neuron that is able to relay information to the brain regarding whether it is light or dark). And an organism with several of these cells would do even better. If the cells could detect color as well as light and dark, even better. And so on.

This brings us to the idea that while our eyes require all the parts they now have, a primitive eye could function with very primitive versions of these parts... And would not necessarily need all of the parts. The lens is only required if the eye needs to focus on details. And the pupil is only necessary if the organism needs to adjust to both very bright and very dark conditions. Therefore it’s not hard to imagine an intermediate stage: an organism with some control over focusing and some control over how much light enters the eye.

So irreducible complexity may be true in the sense that the biological machine could no longer function at its former capacity. But as long as it still functions, it’s providing an advantage to the organism. And these advantages are the basis of natural selection.

#4 CTD

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 05:08 PM

If you removed the trigger from the mousetrap, it would make quite a good paper clip.  It's only irreducibly complex if your test for fitness is the ability to trap mice.

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Who cares what different uses can be invented for different parts? The issue here is not physical irreducibility.

(And one might note that intelligence is required to invent new uses for junk, removing junk utilization from the category of things that happen randomly in the first place. Not so much intelligence, but some.)

"Only irreducibly complex"? Left is only the opposite of right if you're talking about orientation. Wrong is the opposite of right if you're talking about validity. 2 + 2 only = four if you stick to proper definitions of 'two' and 'four'. What business "only" has in a discussion of is/isn't could stand some explaining.

#5 CTD

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 05:46 PM

Although irreducible complexity may apply to man-made machines, I think it gives a false perspective of how evolution works.

I don't think IC is intended to explain how you imagine "evolution works". It helps one appreciate certain aspects of reality; but as a tool to promote random fantasies, I suspect it has limited potential.

I’ll use the eye as an example. If you were to remove the lens or the retina from the eye, it would no longer work the way it does now. Depending on the part you take out, it might not function at all. This could suggest that all the complex parts needed to evolve simultaneously in order to produce a functioning eye, which obviously sounds impossible. However this isn’t how evolution works.

If you want to see an irreducibly complex eye, take a look at the starter eyes presented by evolutionists. They never start with nothing when they suppose they're explaining how eyes came to be; they always start with minimal "eyes".

It may be true that our modern eyes are irreducibly complex, but that doesn’t mean a primitive, less complex eye served no purpose. An organism with a single light-sensitive cell would be able to navigate its surroundings more efficiently than a completely blind organism (I’m not talking about the complex cone and rod cells in our eyes. I simply mean a neuron that is able to relay information to the brain regarding whether it is light or dark). And an organism with several of these cells would do even better. If the cells could detect color as well as light and dark, even better. And so on.

This brings us to the idea that while our eyes require all the parts they now have, a primitive eye could function with very primitive versions of these parts... And would not necessarily need all of the parts. The lens is only required if the eye needs to focus on details. And the pupil is only necessary if the organism needs to adjust to both very bright and very dark conditions. Therefore it’s not hard to imagine an intermediate stage: an organism with some control over focusing and some control over how much light enters the eye.

So irreducible complexity may be true in the sense that the biological machine could no longer function at its former capacity. But as long as it still functions, it’s providing an advantage to the organism. And these advantages are the basis of natural selection.

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You left out the part about the eyelid and associated reflexes only being necessary if the eye is expected to be preserved. Anyhow, now that you're done advocating starter eyes (lending inadvertent support to their irreducible complexity), would you care to tackle the respiratory/circulatory system? Which functions of the blood are optional? I think strategically that makes a good starting point.

#6 AFJ

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 07:15 PM

Actually I do applaud the comeback of evolutionists on IC and the mousetrap. Good job. However...

This all started with Michael Behe and the bacterial flagellum. There's a good video explaining it, because I don't have time right now. Anyway it follows all the mechanical principles of an electric motor, only it is proton driven, and it has unbelievable RPM ability.

Flagellum

Behe

Ken Miller rebuts Michael Behe with a pump injector on another bacteria as a precursor to the flagellum (along with Behe's mousetrap illustration). This is quite a very weak overated rebuttal.

Miller basically finds the same proteins in the base of the pump as the base of the flagellum. The rest of the two appurati are different. So where is the other 9/10 of the flagellum Mr. Miller?

The mousetrap rebuttal takes intelligence to designate usage at every level, including the full mousetrap. The point is that the mousetrap is an illustration to show the concept, it is not the essence of the point which Isabella touched upon. That in order for there to be a flagellum things had to evolve together in order for it to become what it became. Obviously if one of the parts had not evolved together with the other parts it would not be a flagellum.

There are definite appurati that would not have worked for anything and so would have been useless deformation. The bottom line is the flagellum is there and it is defined not by our ideas as much as it is by it's function. Remove one of the parts and it's over. So technically yes IC exists--and it is a concept that states that present functional biological appurati would require an evolution of multiple parts whether it happened in functional stages or not, so that it could continue to be selected for.

P.S. There's a quite funny video on utube that purports to show the evolution of the flagellum. He was doing well starting with a protein selecting pore, then sticks an ATP synthase in there (quite a machine in itself) with the proteins going through it the wrong way--proteins don't go through the synthase anyway-- atomic particles do which become different molecules but never proteins--they would be too big.

#7 Bruce V.

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Posted 08 September 2009 - 08:43 PM

Actually I do applaud the comeback of evolutionists on IC and the mousetrap.  Good job.  However...

This all started with Michael Behe and the bacterial flagellum.  There's a good video explaining it, because I don't have time right now.  Anyway it follows all the mechanical principles of an electric motor, only it is proton driven, and it has unbelievable RPM ability.

Flagellum 

Behe

Ken Miller rebuts Michael Behe with a pump injector on another bacteria as a precursor to the flagellum (along with Behe's mousetrap illustration).  This is quite a very weak overated rebuttal.

Miller basically finds the same proteins in the base of the pump as the base of the flagellum.  The rest of the two appurati  are different.  So where is the other 9/10 of the flagellum Mr. Miller?

The mousetrap rebuttal takes intelligence to designate usage at every level, including the full mousetrap.  The point is that the mousetrap is an illustration to show the concept, it is not the essence of the point which Isabella touched upon. That in order for there to be a flagellum things had to evolve together in order for it to become what it became.  Obviously if one of the parts had not evolved together with the other parts it would not be a flagellum.

There are definite appurati that would not have worked for anything and so would have been useless deformation.  The bottom line is the flagellum is there and it is defined not by our ideas as much as  it is  by it's function.  Remove one of the parts and it's over.  So technically yes IC exists--and it is a concept that states that present functional biological appurati would require an evolution of multiple parts whether it happened in functional stages or not, so that it could continue to be selected for.

P.S.  There's a quite funny video on utube that purports to show the evolution of the flagellum.  He was doing well starting with a protein selecting pore, then sticks an ATP synthase in there (quite a machine in itself) with the proteins going through it the wrong way--proteins don't go through the synthase anyway-- atomic particles do which become different molecules but never proteins--they would be too big.

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This is Ken Millers rebuttal.

He suggest that TTSS was injected into the bacteria by a process called horizontal (or lateral) gene transfer. The problem is that the virus is a like parasite in that it needs another life to survive. So the host had to evolve prior to the parasite. Therefore, it is probable that TTSS migrated, via devolving, to the virus from flagellum and not visa verse.

#8 de_skudd

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 07:56 AM

If you removed the trigger from the mousetrap, it would make quite a good paper clip.  It's only irreducibly complex if your test for fitness is the ability to trap mice.

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And, I suppose the model of evolution would make a good paper weight if it didn't lack substance it would take to hold down a single sheet of paper. The fitness of a mouse trap is of no other use than that of a mousetrap, it has no comparison to the simplistic yet effective usefulness of a paper clip.

#9 Yorzhik

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 11:58 AM

This is Ken Millers rebuttal.

He suggest that TTSS was injected into the bacteria by a process called horizontal (or lateral) gene transfer. The problem is that the virus is a like parasite in that it needs another life to survive.  So the host had to evolve prior to the parasite.  Therefore, it is probable that TTSS migrated, via devolving, to the virus from flagellum and not visa verse.

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Dembski response to Miller

#10 CTD

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 12:12 PM

This is Ken Millers rebuttal.

He suggest that TTSS was injected into the bacteria by a process called horizontal (or lateral) gene transfer. The problem is that the virus is a like parasite in that it needs another life to survive.  So the host had to evolve prior to the parasite.  Therefore, it is probable that TTSS migrated, via devolving, to the virus from flagellum and not visa verse.

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Thanks for the link. I've seen similarly weak pieces withdrawn from the internet, but I don't think we have much to worry about on that count in Miller's case. Following the links, I'm getting ready to read his pro- Häckel and Peppered Moth spiels. This cat isn't embarrassed easily. He do love his goddess.

#11 Isabella

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 04:28 PM

I don't think IC is intended to explain how you imagine "evolution works". It helps one appreciate certain aspects of reality; but as a tool to promote random fantasies, I suspect it has limited potential.

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I guess what I meant was that it’s misleading, because “irreducibly complex” is often used as another way of saying “there’s no way this could have evolved”. But as I just explained, this isn’t true.

If you want to see an irreducibly complex eye, take a look at the starter eyes presented by evolutionists. They never start with nothing when they suppose they're explaining how eyes came to be; they always start with minimal "eyes".

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In my example, I started with a single light sensitive cell.

You left out the part about the eyelid and associated reflexes only being necessary if the eye is expected to be preserved.

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The first functioning eyes would have likely evolved on marine organisms. They wouldn’t need eyelids because there would be no risk of drying out.

Anyhow, now that you're done advocating starter eyes...

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Again, I used single cells as my example. Not starter eyes.

...would you care to tackle the respiratory/circulatory system? Which functions of the blood are optional?

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Some organisms have an open circulatory system. This means that they have no blood vessels, and blood flows freely around their internal organs with each heart pump. Our circulatory system evolved from a system much like this. And you make it sounds like blood is a necessary component for life, but single celled organisms lack blood and are still alive. They’re small enough to get oxygen through diffusion alone.

#12 CTD

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 04:41 PM

Those who say Irreducible Complexity isn't scientific display an astonishing lack of imagination. So astonishing, and so utterly lacking compared to their other displays of imagination, that it would be quite difficult to conclude it is anything other than selective.

One of the primary methods of science is the experiment. Irreducible Complexity says "if even one part is removed from certain devices, they will fail to function." The experiment is suggested right there !!! Remove a part, and see what happens.

I have an aversion to employing the term 'duh', which I believe is justified; but DUH !

It doesn't get any more scientific than that, and it doesn't get any more obvious, and it doesn't get any simpler to see.

One of the things I truly do love about evolutionism is how fundamentally flawed it is. It is consistently at odds with the very first things we learn when we're small. We take it for granted that everyone knows them. These people artificially don't know them. Because it is flawed at the most basic levels possible - so basic we're reluctant to believe anyone can make such mistakes - even young children can see through it. I seriously doubt any formal education at all is required.

#13 Bruce V.

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 05:00 PM

I guess what I meant was that it’s misleading, because “irreducibly complex” is often used as another way of saying “there’s no way this could have evolved”. But as I just explained, this isn’t true.

In my example, I started with a single light sensitive cell.

The first functioning eyes would have likely evolved on marine organisms. They wouldn’t need eyelids because there would be no risk of drying out.

Again, I used single cells as my example. Not starter eyes.

Some organisms have an open circulatory system. This means that they have no blood vessels, and blood flows freely around their internal organs with each heart pump. Our circulatory system evolved from a system much like this. And you make it sounds like blood is a necessary component for life, but single celled organisms lack blood and are still alive. They’re small enough to get oxygen through diffusion alone.

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Hi Isabella,

fuselage + wings = airplane

Machines, like eyes, are not created by blind natural laws because they require forward-looking thought. Assembly is required, and there is no payback until the final step. Evolution’s natural selection will not do the job because the machine does not help the organism until the machine is complete. Natural selection lacks the foresight required to construct such machines.

With evolution, life simply happens. Parts arise on their own, ready for the right time and place to work their magic. They are recruited, modified as needed, and configured with other such parts that have arisen via a similar process.


The problem with evolution is a story is good enough. You don't need a biological pathway or fossil evidence demonstrating that something happened. All you need is a good story that sounds reasonable.

Evolution is true because it is assumed to be true.

#14 AFJ

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 05:25 PM

Hi Isabella,

fuselage + wings = airplane

The problem with evolution is a story is good enough.  You don't need a biological pathway or fossil evidence demonstrating that something happened.  All you need is a good story that sounds reasonable. 

Evolution is true because it is assumed to be true.

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Yes. and what is sad is that our kids continue to hear only evolutionary stories. We find heme and blood vessels inside of a "65 million year old" T-Rex, ink inside a soft ink sack of a "168 million year old" squid, a a man-made bell in coal, upside down vertical logs in coal and associated sedimentary layers, mass kills with fish and mammals found together in the layers, ancient sculptures dug up of men riding on dinosaur like animals, and carvings of stegosaurus in ancient buildings. And more.

But everything that would at the very least be worthy of mention is cast out as "irrelevant" or "can not be admitted as evidence" because it is "religion."

It should be noted by this nation that the subject of origins is controversial and that there are a minority of legitimate scientists, atheists and religious that do not accept evolution as a viable explanation.

Yet here is a list of scientists that believe the Biblical account. I personally know two chemical engineers, a retired medical doctor, a geologist, and a sixth grade science teacher who are creationist. They don't have to worry about how it will affect their careers.

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* Prof. Keun Bae Yu, Geography
* Dr. Henry Zuill, Biology



#15 CTD

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 09:59 PM

I guess what I meant was that it’s misleading, because “irreducibly complex” is often used as another way of saying “there’s no way this could have evolved”. But as I just explained, this isn’t true.

You combine issues. A thing is either irreducibly complex or it isn't. If it is, one way for it to evolve would be some sort of magic. The luck goddess has been claimed to overcome totally ridiculous odds too. Why not just say all the components showed up at once?

If you want to see an irreducibly complex eye, take a look at the starter eyes presented by evolutionists. They never start with nothing when they suppose they're explaining how eyes came to be; they always start with minimal "eyes".

In my example, I started with a single light sensitive cell.

Your non-functional example is atypical. Generally an optic nerve and a portion of the brain with the capacity to process the information are included for the obvious reason that if the system be incomplete, Darwinism categorizes it as a liability which should be eliminated quickly.

I guess I shouldn't have assumed you intended to posit something partially plausible. Now that you've made it clear, we can classify it as a non-starter-eye.

The first functioning eyes would have likely evolved on marine organisms. They wouldn’t need eyelids because there would be no risk of drying out.

I didn't know the water was considered a better environment for the project. The reasoning still escapes me.

Again, I used single cells as my example. Not starter eyes.

Some organisms have an open circulatory system. This means that they have no blood vessels, and blood flows freely around their internal organs with each heart pump. Our circulatory system evolved from a system much like this. And you make it sounds like blood is a necessary component for life, but single celled organisms lack blood and are still alive. They’re small enough to get oxygen through diffusion alone.

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I did not intend to make it sound as if single-celled lifeforms require blood. Perhaps next time I'll successfully manage not to say things I don't say. I understand I'll have to try really hard, because I sure can't count on any help.

I see you don't list many components. What is blood, exactly, to your thinking? What is a heart, for that matter? Is it just luck that organs in some creature should be arranged to allow blood to freely circulate without a network of vessels? Surely any bad luck at all, and some area would be cut off.

Your problem is that when things truly are irreducibly complex, and you try to posit a minimal beginning, you either get something non-functional or something with complexity from the very start. This may satisfy those who dearly desire to believe, but it won't cut it for anyone else.

#16 Isabella

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 10:05 PM

Machines, like eyes, are not created by blind natural laws because they require forward-looking thought. Assembly is required, and there is no payback until the final step. Evolution’s natural selection will not do the job because the machine does not help the organism until the machine is complete.

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Did you even read the example I wrote about the eye? The machine absolutely helps the organism, even in its earliest stages! It’s the first thing I wrote on this topic, please go back and read it if you have a chance. An incomplete eye, perhaps one that only sees light and dark rather than objects, is more advantageous than being completely blind.

#17 Adam Nagy

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 04:19 AM

Did you even read the example I wrote about the eye? The machine absolutely helps the organism, even in its earliest stages! It’s the first thing I wrote on this topic, please go back and read it if you have a chance. An incomplete eye, perhaps one that only sees light and dark rather than objects, is more advantageous than being completely blind.

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Hi Isabella,

You should consider joining this thread:

http://www.evolution...?showtopic=2089

This will do two things. It will show that people here, and creationists who are interested, will have no problem understanding the story associated with 'eye evolution'. Second, it shows why this story telling is unscientific and bogus.

Enjoy.

#18 de_skudd

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 05:04 AM

Did you even read the example I wrote about the eye? The machine absolutely helps the organism, even in its earliest stages! It’s the first thing I wrote on this topic, please go back and read it if you have a chance. An incomplete eye, perhaps one that only sees light and dark rather than objects, is more advantageous than being completely blind.

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Yes, but there is no evidence that any eye has evolved from a simpler eye, let alone a spot. So, a closed eye is as bad as no eye at all.

#19 Bruce V.

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 08:25 AM

Did you even read the example I wrote about the eye? The machine absolutely helps the organism, even in its earliest stages! It’s the first thing I wrote on this topic, please go back and read it if you have a chance. An incomplete eye, perhaps one that only sees light and dark rather than objects, is more advantageous than being completely blind.

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Although irreducible complexity may apply to man-made machines, I think it gives a false perspective of how evolution works. I’ll use the eye as an example. If you were to remove the lens or the retina from the eye, it would no longer work the way it does now. Depending on the part you take out, it might not function at all. This could suggest that all the complex parts needed to evolve simultaneously in order to produce a functioning eye, which obviously sounds impossible. However this isn’t how evolution works.

It may be true that our modern eyes are irreducibly complex, but that doesn’t mean a primitive, less complex eye served no purpose. An organism with a single light-sensitive cell would be able to navigate its surroundings more efficiently than a completely blind organism (I’m not talking about the complex cone and rod cells in our eyes. I simply mean a neuron that is able to relay information to the brain regarding whether it is light or dark). And an organism with several of these cells would do even better. If the cells could detect color as well as light and dark, even better. And so on.

This brings us to the idea that while our eyes require all the parts they now have, a primitive eye could function with very primitive versions of these parts... And would not necessarily need all of the parts. The lens is only required if the eye needs to focus on details. And the pupil is only necessary if the organism needs to adjust to both very bright and very dark conditions. Therefore it’s not hard to imagine an intermediate stage: an organism with some control over focusing and some control over how much light enters the eye.

So irreducible complexity may be true in the sense that the biological machine could no longer function at its former capacity. But as long as it still functions, it’s providing an advantage to the organism. And these advantages are the basis of natural selection.

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Hi Isabella,

The story is very compelling and conceivable however, the facts are not. This is what we call hand waving: A logical compelling story is all you need. But the 7 step process of that text books provide as proof of evolution is nothing but a convincing story. There is no supporting fossil evidence or logical biological pathways that proves any of the claims. For example.

1. Convergent evolution: The has appeared on the tree of life several times without any fossil evidence. Again, convergent evolution means that homology failed. That they just stick something in the tree of life and label the change as convergent evolution as some sort of scientific explanation. The problem is the eye is too complex to evolve even once let alone multiple times.

If you want we can discuss this article that provides some logical support for convergent evolution of the eye. But is full of assumptive language that is most interesting. convergent evolution Two interesting quotes from the article:

    Understanding how eyes evolved into what Darwin called an “organ of extreme perfection” requires analysis of evolutionary constraints, key selective forces, and possible origins.  The evolution of photodetection, giving rise to eyes, offers a kaleidoscopic view of selection acting at both the organ and molecular levels.  The repeated exploitation of some regulatory gene sequences in eye development and lens formation raises questions about why certain transcription factors have been regularly recruited to build eyes.  The ease with which we can now analyze the evolution of structural gene sequences across species belies the difficulties in tracing the selective forces that shaped regulation of gene expression.

...

In using vision to extract information about the environment, all animals exploit the same properties of light: intensity differences to produce contrast and wavelength differences to produce hue.  However, no unique solutions exist, and specializations that evolved to process intensity and wavelength differ among species; these differences reflect how similar problems are solved via diverse mechanisms through natural selection.  For example, mammals and bees use long wavelength photoreceptors for intensity and color vision, whereas flies and birds have evolved separate sets of photoreceptors for these two purposes.  The genetic substrates that supported such different evolutionary paths are unknown.  Even though blowfly and monkey photoreceptors evolved independently and use different molecular mechanisms, signal processing, and other physiological steps, the information about the world delivered to the nervous system is nearly identical.  These few examples reveal the different routes natural selection has taken during the evolution of eyes in response to the information available in light.



2. Very complex eyes existed in Cambrian; http://www.trilobites.info/eyes.htm This is a very complex eye.

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In both Trilobites and convergent evolution examples, sophisticated eyes are found in the fossil record without any logical precursors.

#20 CTD

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:47 AM

Topic!

Topic Topic Topic!

Eye evolution stories are trash, but the aspect we're discussing is whether or not they can weasel around the problem of irreducible complexity. Even if they could, they're polywrong enough on other issues.




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