Irreducible complexity and Darwinian gradualism: A reply to Michael J. Behe

Faith and Philosophy 19 (1):3-21 (2002)
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In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael J. Behe argues that, because certain biochemical systems are both irreducibly complex and very complex, it is extremely unlikely that they evolved gradually by Darwinian mechanisms, and so extremely likely that they were intelligently designed. I begin this paper by explaining Behe’s argument and defending it against the very common but clearly mistaken charge that it is just a rehash of William Paley’s design argument. Then I critically discuss a number of more serious objections to the argument. I conclude that, while Behe successfully rules out some Darwinian paths to the biochemical systems he discusses, others remain open. Thus, his argument against Darwinian gradualism (and ipso facto his argument for intelligent design) is at best incomplete.



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Paul Draper
Purdue University

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