In Darwin’s Black Box, Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, proposed bacterial flagellum as examples of irreducible complexity. This complexity of bacterial flagellum works like a spring-loaded mouse trap. A mouse trap consists of a rectangular board, a trigger, a spring, and a bar. When the mouse moves the bait, the bait jogs the trigger, the trigger releases the spring, and the spring causes the bar to snap down on the mouse’s neck. If any one of these pieces are removed from the mouse trap, the entire trap would be rendered useless, and the mouse would run off with the cheese.
In a similar manner, Behe argued, the protein assemblies of a bacterial flagellum are irreducibly complex. The bacterial flagellum is a lash-like appendage that extends from the body of certain bacteria cells. This appendage allows the cell to achieve locomotion. The flagellum consists of multiple parts including the stator, rotor, shaft, bushing, a hook, and a whip. If any one of these parts is removed, the flagellum would no longer work. It is, therefore, impossible for the flagellum to slowly evolve, part by part since no part of the bacterial flagellum could have appeared independently. Such is Behe’s argument.
The complexity of so minute a system as bacterial flagellum is truly marvelous. Because of this flagellum, some bacteria cells can achieve amazing speeds in proportion to their size. Some can go as fast as 60 cell lengths per second. In comparison, the fastest land animal, a cheetah can go about 25 body lengths per second. The design of the bacterial flagellum is proof that there is a Designer.
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About the Author: Dr. Daniel King is a missionary evangelist who has traveled to over seventy nations in his quest for souls. His goal is to lead 1,000,000 people to Jesus every year through massive Gospel Festivals, distribution of literature, and leadership training. Because of his experience and research on evangelism, he is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in mass evangelism. As an evangelist, he has a deep interest in using apologetics to convince skeptics that God is real.