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Irreducible complexities

  1. Oct 9, 2006 #1
    we had a lecture on intelligent design (or should I say - one against ID). the lecturer went into great detail as to how some complex systems that are apparently irredicubly complex can actually be taken apart, and the system still works. e.g. the blood clotting system.

    what I don't appreciate is that how does one explain the design of a watch - obviously without any composite part the watch becomes dysfunctional. Any ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 9, 2006 #2
    actually I've got some ideas but have work for tomorrow.. will post later
  4. Oct 9, 2006 #3


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    A watch is a simple device with only a couple subsystems, which can still perform their functions independently.

    The primary complexity of a watch is simply cutting out the pieces accurately.
  5. Oct 11, 2006 #4


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    Trying to prove irreductable complexity using analogies is wrong, whether you do it in one direction or the other.

    Why is it wrong? Analogies are just illusions created by your brain; something that appears to be another thing, when there's only incidental resemblence.
  6. Oct 17, 2006 #5


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    A watch is not a biological organism. Just because you can pull a piece off a human invention to make it stop working does not mean that everything complex is irreducably so. Like SF said, don't take an analogy too literally. Anyway, there are some parts of watch that you can remove and it can still function to tell time.

    Biological systems are dynamic. Things are added/changed/removed over time. There could have been additional biochemical supports that helped the emerging biological system along which were later lost. So the current system superficially appears to be irreducable. Check out this link for an explanation...
    http://pharyngula.org/index/weblog/comments/flap_those_gills_and_fly/#continue [Broken]

    The point your instructor should have made is that ID's claims of IC have not been demonstrated. (i.e., ID has cited some examples of IC systems, like blood clotting, but further inspections of each of their claims have shown that they are not IC)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Oct 23, 2006 #6
    Take the minute hand out of the watch (one part). Stick it into the ground where it can form a shadow from the sun. Time emerges from the movement of the shadow. Watch is not a IC system, its function is to tell time, this can be done with one part from the watch plus energy from sun.

    Consider virus--if you define life as a system having ability to reproduce using nucleic acids (as I do) then virus is a living system, but it not what I would call IC, since it only has two major functional parts (membrane & nucleic acid)--but perhaps virus, seen as a very simple "cell" is as close to the "concept" of an IC system in biology that we can find.
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