Redundant Complexity: A Critical Analysis of Intelligent Design in Biochemistry

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Biological systems exhibit complexity at all levels of organization. It has recently been argued by Michael Behe that at the biochemical level a type of complexity exists -irreducible complexity - that cannot possibly have arisen as the result of natural, evolutionary processes and must instead be the product of (supernatural) intelligent design. Recent work on self-organizing chemical reactions calls into question Behe's analysis of the origins of biochemical complexity. His central interpretative metaphor for biochemical complexity, that of the well-designed mousetrap that ceases to function if critical parts are absent, is undermined by the observation that typical biochemical systems exhibit considerable redundancy and overlap of function. Real biochemical systems, we argue, manifest redundant complexity - a characteristic result of evolutionary processes.