When we talk about the irreducible complexity of the human eye or the bacterial flagellar motor, I get all these comments that just say “That’s bogus” because science has disproved the argument for irreducible complexity over the last decade. It’s been proven in a court of law – the Dover trials – and therefore I am clinging to some argument for irreducible complexity that has been proven wrong by mainstream science and there’s nothing else that’s tossed out. But if you dig in, it’s based on this notion of co-option and the co-option theory basically says that when we take the bacterial flagellar motor, there were simpler motors that had protein parts in them that were co-opted by more complex motors at the organic level later.
The bacterial flagellar motor has 40 different protein parts. They basically are the equivalent to a drive shaft or a propeller on an outboard motor. You have 40 different protein parts that all come together perfectly to create this little outboard motor on the back of a bacteria. The argument is that there’s a more simple protozoan-like creatures that have more simple motors. So we take this one with this little pump that has 10 protein parts and each of these 10 protein parts show up in the list of 40 protein parts that make up the bacterial flagellar motor, the more complex one that can turn on a microscopic dime and go a hundred thousand revolutions per second and go the opposite direction in this little primordial world.
First of all, these little protein parts have to go from 10 to 40, which is a huge problem. I have to, from a systemic functionality standpoint, integrate all of these protein parts in an entirely different way, that requires entirely different blueprints, entirely different information and code, to go from a piston engine, a pump engine of 10 parts to a circular engine outboard motor of 40 parts. To say that we’ve now proven irreducible complexity wrong is silly at best. What I would even argue is that it should be the opposite of what we know about genetics; it would make much more sense that the 40-part bacterial flagellar motor dropped down to a 10-part piston or pump motor, it got less complex, we lost protein parts, not went from 10 to 40 in an additive fashion. That doesn’t explain anything. So I think irreducible complexity as an argument for design, an argument that things came into being with at least basic organic components in place, is absolutely still on the table.