Past Meetup

Skeptics Supper Central - Irreducible Complexity: The "Best" Argument for ID

This Meetup is past

20 people went

Every 3rd Wednesday of the month

Location image of event venue


This month, let's use a FB troll's "infiltration" of our Facebook Group as a jumping off point for a more intelligent discussion of his "best" argument for God: the concept of irreducible complexity.

Link to the FB post which led to this topic (if you want to justify why you're beating your head on the wall)

What is irreducible complexity (IC)? A special mixture of special pleading, argument from ignorance, god of the gaps, false premises, denying a conjunct, equivocation, divine, false dilemma, and begging the question fallacies. I'm sure there are more, this was just off the top of my head.

Michael Behe has been the primary proponent of IC. Here is his definition:

"... 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."

Stupid on several levels, but we can discuss just why at our meeting.

The basic assertion is that some biological (or, less often, cosmological/physical/intellectual) system or process is so complicated that it could not have occurred through evolutionary / natural processes and therefore must have been designed.

Three of the most commonly referenced examples are the eye, the way blood clots, and microbial flagellum. All three systems/processes are very complex, and on the surface it can be hard to figure out how to get their naturally. But in IC / ID, there are an awful lot of questions begged, a priori assumption thrown in, and denial of what time and natural selection can accomplish. Proponents of ID misuse analogy (a tornado going through a junk yard can't produce a fully-function airplane,) terminology ("perfect forms" and "intelligently designed",) and ignore evidence which shows the flaws in their logic, such as how there is a big difference between human-designed systems and items (where we know there are intelligent creators: architects, woodworkers, designers, engineers, etc) and naturally-occurring things like trees and frogs and galaxies (where we have no direct knowledge of such creators and must therefore first establish that such an intentional designer is even necessary. Scientists across multiple disciplines have been building a strong case for more than 150 years that we can explain natural systems without a supernatural force in the mix. Evolution by natural selection is one of the most strongly supported theories ever developed. Does it answer every question or account for every detail? No. But you know what we've found every time we do answer a question or define a detail? We never find that "God did it."

Let's discuss irreducible complexity and the broader subject of "science" and "logic" in the intelligent design hypothesis.


An ID proponent's explanation of IC:
A skeptical view of IC:
Wikipedia is a great jumping off point to find more sources: