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Science Evolution and Creationism
for flagellar proteins. Thus, flagellar proteins are not irreducibly complex.
Eyes in living mollusks. The octopus eye (bottom) is quite complex, with components similar to those of the human eye, such as a cornea, iris, refractive lens, and retina. Other mollusks have simpler eyes. The simplest eye is found in limpets (top), consisting of only a few pigmented cells, slightly modified from typical epithelial (skin) cells. Slit-shell mollusks (second from top) have a slightly more advanced organ, consisting of some pigmented cells shaped as a cup. Further elaborations and increasing complexity are found in the eyes of Nautilus and Murex, which are not as complex as the eyes of the squid and octopus.
Evolutionary biologists also have demonstrated how complex biochemical mechanisms, such as the clotting of blood or the mammalian immune system, could have evolved from simpler precursor systems. With the clotting of blood, some of the components of the mammalian system were present in earlier organisms, as demonstrated by the organisms living today (such as fish, reptiles, and birds) that are descended from these mammalian precursors. Mammalian clotting systems have built on these earlier components.
Existing systems also can acquire new functions. For example, a particular system might have one task in a cell and then become adapted through evolutionary processes for different use. The Hox genes (described in the box on page 30) are a prime example of evolution finding new uses for existing systems. Molecular biologists have discovered that a particularly important mechanism through which biological systems acquire additional functions is gene duplication. Segments of DNA are frequently duplicated when cells divide, so that a cell has multiple copies of one or more genes. If these multiple copies are passed on to offspring, one copy of a gene can serve the original function in a cell while the other copy is able to accumulate changes that ultimately result in a new function. The biochemical mechanisms responsible for many cellular processes show clear evidence for historical duplications of DNA regions.
In addition to its scientific failings, this and other standard creationist arguments are fallacious in that they are based on a false dichotomy. Even if their negative arguments against evolution were correct, that would not establish the creationists’ claims. There may be alternative explanations. For example, it would be incorrect to conclude that because there is no evidence that it is raining outside, it must be sunny. Other explanations also might be possible. Science requires testable evidence for a hypothesis, not just challenges against