Sunday, 27 November 2011

Irreducible complexity explained with a mousetrap

This nice short video explains one of the faults in the concept of irreducible complexity - a concept used by creationists to 'explain' why evolution doesn't work.



The idea that the mousetrap is no use with any single one of its parts missing is examined.  Creationists often use the mousetrap as an example of a machine that must have been designed as a complete machine - not evolved from a simpler machine.  Of course it was designed that way!  Its a machine!

This is an analogy of course, and as I explained recently, analogies are useful teaching aids but they do not really explain anything about the truth.

However, extending this particular analogy as a tool for real learning, the truth is that a mousetrap-like device has other uses. 

Evolution cares little for intentions and cares a lot about opportunity.  The mousetrap idea explains perfectly how seemingly impossible features arise from one useful feature which accidentally becomes useful in another way.

Hoisted by your own petard?

12 comments:

krissthesexyatheist said...

Also, if you are skilled enuff, you can throw the base at the poor mouse, thus killin' it.

Kriss

Hilary said...

Just out of interest P.E, what exactly do you mean by Evolution? Or do you simply mean Darwinism? The two are of course not the same at all.

RosaRubicondior said...

Hilary

What exactly do you mean by 'Darwinism'?

Would it be the equivalent of calling the Theory of Gravity 'Newtonism' or 'Einsteinism' or the Theory of Plate Tectonics 'Wegenerism'?

Plasma Engineer said...

@Hilary Your question only really makes any sense at all within the framework of Creationism.

To most other people the term 'Darwinism' is not as pejorative as you imply. However, you might say that I embrace neo-Darwinian Evolution - that being the brilliant concept that Darwin and Wallace arrived at independently, followed by over a century of consistent scientific progress established using findings that Darwin himself could never have been aware of.

Science progresses - not infallibly - but steadily.

billwalker said...

Great posts, many thanks.

Hilary said...

Ah you need to do some more reading my friends of the theories you embrace so readily...you have not dug deep enough...

Plasma Engineer said...

Erm????

I suggest that the opposite view has some merit too.

Shall we go into a competition to name organisations which we consider to be irrational?

I will open with the "Institute for Creation Research". That is http://www.icr.org/ for those who don't use Google.

Plasma Engineer said...

@bill Many thanks. I hope you will join the commenting community at Something Surprising. :)

Derby Sceptic said...

@Hilary: It is not enough to tell people to do more reading on evolution, you need to say why you think we have not dug deep enough and with examples.

Hilary said...

D.S I will return with references and examples...but there are other sorts of evolutionary theories as well as Darwins...although I disagree wtih them all, it is interesting to note, and also to note that Darwin was a convinced atheist long before he came up with his idea...which of course wasn't exactly wholly his idea was it...

RosaRubicondior said...

Hilary.

If you are about to show us how your theology disagrees with science, we already know that. That's how we know that theology is wrong.

Science is basically the method we employ to tell right ideas and hypotheses from wrong ones.

Derby Sceptic said...

@Hilary: Did I state that evolution was purely Darwin's thinking - no, and neither did P.E. earlier in this blog.

Are you saying that Darwin's atheist position influenced his scientific work. If so that is bold without any evidence!

Furthermore, in 1879 he wrote that "I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God. – I think that generally ... an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind"

This contradicts your view that he was a convinced atheist.