Jonathan Witt continues his multipart rejoinder to The Corner's John Derbyshire. Six parts so far, and it's an excellent primer on the basics of Intelligent Design. Here Witt explains the concept of "irreducible complexity":
Evolution by mutation and natural selection must proceed by one slight, functional improvement at a time. So how can it build an irreducibly complex propeller motor one step at a time if the motor can't propel at all until all of its parts are in place? It can't. Something else built it.
The "propeller motor" in question is biochemist Michael Behe's famous example of the bacterial flagellum, the little rotary whip that lashes and drives the one-celled critter forward. What's great about this post of Witt's is that it goes much deeper than the oversimplified analogies IDers so often condescendingly toss to skeptics (Mount Rushmore, a mousetrap that won't work if you remove one part), to describe the actual and widely recognized intricacy of these "molecular motors" themselves. Quoting a paper by Scott Minnich and Stephen Meyer:
thirty proteins in the flagellar motor . . . are unique to the motor and are not found in any other living system. . . . To paraphrase the original rendition of the Department of Energy’s Genomes to Life web site, ‘the molecular machines present in the simplest cells, produced by evolution, dwarf the engineering feats of the 20th century’. . . . the elegant structural properties, efficiency, and the highly controlled genetic programming to produce these machines was neither anticipated nor predicted.
Read Witt's post for the very thought-provoking details and more links. What Witt, Behe, Dembski and others are saying is that Darwinists have failed even to begin to explain how these tiny wonders could have been "produced by evolution." Not that Intelligent Design-ers are able to explain when, how, or who designed them. But the assumption that random mutation and natural selection did it has been exposed as no more than an assumption. I think these guys have leveled the playing field. The real challenge now is to design science that can provide real evidence for either theory.
The ultimate question remains about the Origin of Life: