Monday, April 02, 2007


Luskin On The Irreducible Complexity of the Bicycle

The Laufmaschine or "Running Machine."

Casey Luskin, the noted philosopher, historian, geologist, and attorney -- I want to say Renaissance Man, but something tells me that wouldn't be quite right -- lectured students at Boise State recently about the irreducible complexity of the bicycle.

If you don’t have those core parts [two wheels, pedals, a chain, RSR], you won’t have a functioning system… If you knocked out one of those parts, the bike would stop working,” says Luskin.

For Luskin, the bicycle is yet another example of irreducible complexity, the notion that certain objects are too complex to have evolved from simpler, or less complete predecessors. This is a clear indication that while Luskin is willing to take the idea of irreducible complexity from its originator, ID theorist Michael Behe, who uses the mousetrap and the bacterial flagellum to illustrate his theory, he's not willing to recycle the same tired old examples.

Chaffing perhaps from all the attention now directed toward Discovery's new kid on the block, Michael Egnor, Luskin uses the bicycle illustration to showcase is own original thinking and direct the ID spotlight back in his own direction.

Now RSR knows we're no match for Luskin when it comes to the egghead stuff. We'll even concede the bicycle is, as Luskin asserts, a product of intelligent -- if all too human -- design. But as a former amateur bike racer who still rides some 150 miles a week and owns more bikes than we feel comfortable letting Mrs. RSR know about, we know something of bicycles

For example, we know (and you probably do too) that while a bicycle is indeed a two-wheeled vehicle, there nevertheless exists a one wheeled vehicle called a unicycle. We also know that the first bicycle, made by Baron Karl Drais von Sauerbronn, the Laufmaschine or "Running Machine" had no pedals or chain. The rider pushed his or her feet against the ground to make the machine go forward

Could it be that, rather than being a wonderful new example of irreducible complexity, Luskin's bicycle is a better illustration of the ID movement's isolation from the real world, its propensity for jumping to conclusions, and its failure to do the most basic research?

Would it have killed Luskin to do just a little research on the history of the bicycle before using it in a speech?


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