I am going to make a bit of a leap here by way of analogy. Finding out what Michael Behe says constitutes “irreducible complexity” and comparing that to my own thinking about the evolution of bipedalism. Bipedalism, with hands or hand-like claws may not be a case of irreducible complexity. But its something close to that unless your ancestors spent time living in the trees. On the open ground, from a starting point of being four-legged, there is no real scope to evolve hands or hand-like claws. Except in tiny critters where the blades of grass become akin to branches. And with tiny critters the gravity is such that having sophisticated little claws isn’t really a hindrance to running on all fours.
Proof that doctrinaire Darwinists have been deceiving us about the state of their own theory.
As soon as your ancestors scurry up into the trees then everything changes. This achieves two things. Firstly the advantages of being better able to grasp branches becomes a 24 hour thing without any downside. Secondly if the trees are spaced out you get the partial but not total separation needed for the same selective pressures to apply to the separated populations. So when they do interbreed, the offspring are conditioned by these selective pressures.
So the ancestors of the dinosaurs were tree-dwellers, and our ancestors also, at least for a time. People object to this conclusion on the weirdest of grounds. They say … ho ho the bear has hand-like claws. Do they really suppose for one minute that the bear didn’t have tree-dwelling ancestors for a time? They say “Ho Ho the Meer cat can stand up straight” But the Meer-Cats ancestors were surely tree-dwellers, they are not bipedal and yet they scurry up trees every other hour to this day.
Limits To Fossil Evidence
Contrary to popular opinion direct ancestry cannot be ascertained by way of the fossil record alone. It would require cross-referencing with genetic information, and the oldest genome we have is from a horse in the Yukon no more than one million years old.
((((See how I accept the criticisms of the intelligent design crowd without being too extremist about it? This characteristic is the scientific attitude in my view. You need three lines of evidence minimum to be sure of something. The fossils on their own tell us almost nothing. But if we could have genetic information to cross-reference with the fossils, three types of dating proxies in every case, and we didn’t throw out the fossils that didn’t conform with the mainstream narrative, then and only then would we have ourselves a serious science. We don’t have these things. So we really cannot be too presumptuous. Its okay to meet the intelligent design crowd halfway on matters of this sort.))))
Setting the precedent of “changing the venue.”
So we can say that the evolution of hands and hand-like claws is something akin to irreducible-complexity-lite on the ground. But nothing of the sort, if we change the venue.
I think this sets a precedent. I think it means that the first thing we do when confronted by ridiculous obstacles to ‘godless evolution’ (shorthand for pure naturalism), the first thing to do is change the venue, when formulating an hypothesis to explain it. Lets put changing the venue aside for one moment while we get a couple of caveats out of the way.
(((((Pure materialism is out of the question now that we have emerged from anti-aether brain-washing. Yet purely blind naturalism is still a respectable point of view and its my preferred hypothesis. The scientific method demands that I must be respectful of parallel hypotheses. I only mention it as a personal prejudice. I think the intelligent design crowd are winning for the moment.
What is not okay is the sort of dimwitted doctrinaire approach of someone like PZ Myers. A fellow so unsound he still sees nothing suspicious about modern vaccines, the big bang, or Keynesian spending sprees. A real twat, and I don’t mean that in a good way. More faith-based and unscientific than any biblical literalist, and far more unpleasant.))))
Its unscientific to rule out intelligent design.
Even though there are some intelligent people around that still take the biblical literalist approach to things I have no patience for it. I think thats entirely outside of science, since its derived by failing to have multiple hypotheses in parallel and ranking and re-ranking them. Like modern doctrinaire Darwinists of the low IQ variety its simple faith-based thinking, with a big bias of working backwards from a preferred conclusion. They are equally as bad as each-other from that point of view, though in the new century the bible literalists are more pleasant and less censorious than PZ Myers is ever going to be. But I cannot take it seriously as science. But less presumptuous versions of intelligent design must be taken seriously. And I can tell you why.
Aether theory allows that consciousness could precede matter.
Any serious understanding of the evolution of the universe implies that aether preceded matter. Since we can see distant stars, this means that there is aether chock-full in the areas in-between and relativity little matter. Since every nucleon that is visible and in the same gravitational network, manifestly connects every other, directly or indirectly, this implies the primacy of aether as the original substance as compared to substance itself. Here we dismiss idiocy in physics and cosmology and we can do that on logical grounds with far more certainty even than dismissing biblical literalism. Even the tendentious biblical literalists rationalise their beliefs rather than rejecting logic outright. So we don’t need to tarry on bad physics for one second.
Since we are very sure that aether precedes matter, and that matter is a kind of sub-aethereal phenomenon, it can never be ruled out that consciousness did not evolve prior to matter. Here I am not talking about a universe wide consciousness. But for example the idea of a solar spirit, or a planetary spirit, this simply cannot be ruled out. I might wish it to be otherwise. You might wish it to be otherwise, but this is science. And we cannot arbitrarily rule things out in science.
Actually I think animism on a technical level is even harder to rule out than a planetary consciousness. Who is to say that an aethereal consciousness could not associate itself with a small grouping of trees attached to a deep mycelial network? The idea could hardly be more primitive, but since aether preceded matter and has been around for trillions to the power of trillions of years, it cannot be ruled out even a little bit.
One annoyance one has with the very idea of intelligent design is akin with the annoying idea of ancient aliens. Its annoying because no matter how well it fits the data, its a blockage to furtherance of the enquiry. If we see large rocks being used in construction and we say “look the aliens probably did it” well thats fits the data fine but it means that the enquiry grinds to a halt, if we are complacent about that one hypothesis. Likewise with intelligent design. So we take the same approach. We cannot rule it out, but on the other hand we must not let intelligent design be the end of the hypothesis formation process.
In the early canonical lectures of Michael Behe he puts forward three examples of irreducible complexity. The first being more of an ambit claim. He explains how complicated eyesight is. Then he goes to a very simple human-invented example of irreducible complexity …… that is to say the old-fashioned mouse-trap. He shows why a mouse-trap in principle has to be conceived as an whole, how each part is useless as to purpose on its own until they all come together. And so traditional Darwinism is unable to bridge that gap. Other kinds of evolution maybe. But certainly not traditional Darwinism.
Than he goes to the best example which is this massively intricate flagellum. This combines the complexity of the eye with the seemingly impossibility of finding an evolutionary path for it.
Now I think that eyesight is hugely complex. But perhaps not irreducibly so once we have gotten past what may be thought of as the chemical and informational hurdles to evolution. But the flagellum still seems to be irreducibly complex at any stage.