Some members of a newer school of creationists have temporarily set aside the question of whether the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe are billions or just thousands of years old. But these creationists unite in contending that the physical universe and living things show evidence of “intelligent design.” They argue that certain biological structures are so complex that they could not have evolved through processes of undirected mutation and natural selection, a condition they call “irreducible complexity.” Echoing theological arguments that predate the theory of evolution, they contend that biological organisms must be designed in the same way that a mousetrap or a clock is designed — that in order for the device to work properly, all of its components must be available simultaneously. If one component is missing or changed, the device will fail to operate properly. Because even such ”simple” biological structures as the flagellum of a bacterium are so complex, proponents of intelligent design creationism argue that the probability of all of their components being produced and simultaneously available through random processes of mutation are infinitesimally small. The appearance of more complex biological structures (such as the vertebrate eye) or functions (such as the immune system) is impossible through natural processes, according to this view, and so must be attributed to a transcendent intelligent designer.
However, the claims of intelligent design creationists are disproven by the findings of modern biology. Biologists have examined each of the molecular systems claimed to be the products of design and have shown how they could have arisen through natural processes. For example, in the case of the bacterial flagellum, there is no single, uniform structure that is found in all flagellar bacteria. There are many types of flagella, some simpler than others, and many species of bacteria do not have flagella to aid in their movement. Thus, other components of bacterial cell membranes are likely the precursors of the proteins found in various flagella. In addition, some bacteria inject toxins into other cells through proteins that are secreted from the bacterium and that are very similar in their molecular structure to the proteins in parts of flagella. This similarity indicates a common evolutionary origin, where small changes in the structure and organization of secretory proteins could serve as the basis