Irreducible complexity

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Irreducible complexity (IC) is a pseudoscientific argument by proponents of intelligent design that certain biological systems are too complex to have evolved from simpler, or "less complete" predecessors, through natural selection acting upon a series of advantageous naturally-occurring, chance mutations.[1] The argument is central to intelligent design, and is rejected by the scientific community,[2] which overwhelmingly regards intelligent design as pseudoscience.[3] Irreducible complexity is one of two main arguments intended to support intelligent design, the other being specified complexity.[4]

Biochemistry professor Michael Behe, the originator of the term irreducible complexity, defines an irreducibly complex system as one "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning".[5] These examples are said to demonstrate that modern biological forms could not have evolved naturally. Evolutionary biologists have shown that such systems can in fact evolve,[6] and Behe's examples are considered to constitute an argument from ignorance.[7]

In the 2005 Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial, Behe gave testimony on the subject of irreducible complexity. The court found that "Professor Behe's claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large."[2] Nonetheless, irreducible complexity continues to be cited as an important argument by creationists, particularly intelligent design proponents.


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