Black Box

Posted by on Feb 9, 2013 in Knowing for Sure Blog, Teleological Argument | 0 comments

Black Box

For many of you, when you hear the term Black Box, you think of the flight data recorder, (FDR) that records the cockpit conversations and flight data of all commercial aircraft. When there has been an accident, one of the first clues to what caused the accident that investigators look for is the aircraft’s black box. Australia became the first country to make the FDR required in all commercial aircraft, which is fitting because it was invented by Dr. David Warren, who was a researcher in Melbourne, Australia in the 1950’s. Since then, the black box has been adopted by countries all over the world. I might add that the FDR is not really black, but a bright orange color so that it can be easily spotted in wreckage. For obvious reasons, they are designed to be very durable, since the data would be lost in weak or flimsy containers. FDR’s are wrapped in titanium or steel, with a shock resistant insulation that enables them to survive impacts of over 300 mph and continue to transmit for up to a month. They can also endure temperatures of over 1000 degrees and still operate at -55 degrees. FDR’s are also equipped with underwater locator beacons that can transmit at depths of 20,000 feet. It is pretty amazing if you think about what those black boxes can take, and still provide valuable information to help solve some aircraft accidents that happen every year.

Dr. Michael Behe wrote a book titled Darwin’s Black Box, which has nothing to do with the black boxes we find in commercial aircraft, but simply the biological cell. Back in Darwin’s day, the cell was a black box to scientists. They could see it do some amazing things, but had no idea how. The cell and its inner working parts and functions, was a black box to science in the 1850’s. Science could not peer into and see its marvelous design, let alone understand what parts molecules or atoms played in the world of microbiology. Michael Behe and others also contributed to Intelligent Design 101, and together these books look at, among other things, the problems with Darwinian evolution. Dr. Behe coined the term “irreducible complexity”. In Darwin’s Black Box, he explained it this way, “By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively case functioning.” In other words, all the parts are needed for the system to work. For example, should an aircraft’s FDR fail to survive the impact, then all the data is lost. Should an FDR fail to resist the high temperatures of a crash, the data is lost. Should the FDR locator beacon fail, the data could be lost. Should the FDR fail to resist water pressures, the data is lost. The point I am trying to make is if any of the systems that are designed to keep the data safe fail in the event of an accident, the data is lost. That is what Dr. Michael Behe is talking about in a irreducibly complex system. Should any of the parts not work, the whole system will not work. He gave another, even better, example that is even more suitable than an aircraft’s black box; a mouse trap. The mousetrap has a base, hammer, spring, (to move the hammer), a holding bar, and a catch, (where you put the cheese).

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Each of these parts are necessary for the mousetrap to function. Should you lack the base, you have nothing to mount the other parts on. Should you lack the hammer, you have nothing to kill the mouse with. Should you lack the spring, you have nothing to give the hammer its force. Should you lack the holding bar, you have nothing to hold the hammer back in its position to strike. Should you lack the catch, you have nothing to trigger, or even to attract the mouse to the trap. Each and every part is necessary for the mouse trap to work.

You might be asking what this has to do with the teleological argument, or argument by design. Dr. Behe found quite a few irreducibly complex biological systems, and one of them he focused on was the bacterial flagellum. The bacterial flagellum uses an outboard motor system to move about and it has quite a few different parts, but if even one of these parts is missing or not functioning, it will not work. Studies have shown that about 40 different protein parts are needed for the flagellum to function in the cell. Not only are all the protein parts required for the flagellum to function, they have to be added in the correct order, otherwise it will not function. So like the mousetrap, the bacterial flagellum is irreducibly complex, and science has a hard time explaining this in an evolutionary fashion.

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Jumping tracks for just a second, let me take a moment to explain the important difference between microevolution and macroevolution. The difference is important because the experiments designed to confirm evolution always involve microevolution, not macroevolution. An example of microevolution is the house sparrows which were introduced to North America in the 1850’s. Over the last 150 years, they have become larger and darker in North America, due in part by the fact that a larger bodied bird can survive cold climates better than smaller bodied birds. In fact, if you were to look at a climate map of the U.S., you would see a significant correlation between where the larger sparrows live in the colder areas of Montana, the Dakota’s, and Minnesota, compared to many of the Gulf states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida. Another example would include mosquitoes’ resistance to DDT, and of course the famous Galapagos finches that you see in just about every public science book in America. Microevolution is not in question by even the most conservative or Christian scientists today, but how some use microevolution to show that macroevolution is true is very misleading.

Microevolution, no problem, plenty of documented evidence. Macroevolution, which creates new species over a very long period of time, is very much in question to many scientists today. In Intelligent Design 101, Michael Behe said, “The bacterial flagellum is a major headache for the very gradual Darwinian evolution that is proposed for most biochemical systems.” He also said, “The conclusion of intelligent design is not based on philosophical, theological, or scriptural concerns. It is a logical deduction, based simply on the empirical evidence.”

If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.
– Charles Darwin.

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