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God, the Devil, and DarwinA Critique of Intelligent Design Theory$
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Niall Shanks

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195161991

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195161998.001.0001

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The Biochemical Case for Intelligent Design

The Biochemical Case for Intelligent Design

(p.160) 5 The Biochemical Case for Intelligent Design
God, the Devil, and Darwin

Niall Shanks

Oxford University Press

The subject of this chapter is irreducible biochemical complexity, which, according to Michael Behe amongst others, is not susceptible to explanation in evolutionary terms, because the removal of any one of the complex system’s component parts would cause it to cease to function; it must, therefore, be attributed to intelligent supernatural design. The Belousov-Zhabotinski reaction, in which a certain series of chemicals perform a repeating cycle of reactions in each other’s presence, is adduced as an example of chemical self-organization’s giving rise to an irreducibly complex system. It is shown how unthinking evolutionary processes can produce irreducible biochemical complexity by means of redundant complexity, which acts in concert with existing functional systems to produce structures that ultimately exhibit irreducible complexity; natural selection either eliminates the redundant complexity or retains it for further evolutionary elaboration.

Keywords:   Behe, Belousov-Zhabotinski reaction, biochemical pathways, irreducible complexity, redundant complexity

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