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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2005
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Claim CB200.4:

The human immune system is irreducibly complex, indicating that it must have been designed.


Behe, Michael J. 1996. Darwin's Black Box, New York: The Free Press, pp. 117-139.


  1. The complement system of the human immune system is not irreducibly complex. Urochordates have a functional complement system, yet they lack a component of the cascade.

  2. Common mechanisms, such as gene duplication and co-option of molecules with other roles, allow the immune system to evolve naturally. Much has been written on the subject. (Kasahara et al. 1997; Lindsay 1999; Travis 1998)

  3. Behe gets some of the basic biology wrong. Bacteria are not destroyed, as Behe says (1996, 134), by water rushing in when the cell membrane is punctured, but because their chemical gradients have been destroyed (Ussery 1999).

  4. Irreducible complexity is not an obstacle to evolution and doesn't imply design.


Bottaro, Andrea. 2005 (May 30). The revenge of Calvin and Hobbes. See also: Bottaro, Andrea. 2005 (June 2). Behe's meaningless complexity.

Coon, Mike, 1998. Is the complement system irreducibly complex?

Inlay, M., 2002. Evolving immunity.


  1. Kasahara, M. et al., 1997. Chromosomal duplication and the emergence of the adaptive immune system. Trends in Genetics 13(3): 90-92.
  2. Lindsay, Don, 1999. How could the immune system evolve?
  3. Travis, John, 1998. The accidental immune system. Science News 154: 302-303.
  4. Ussery, D., 1999. (see below).

Further Reading:

Ussery, David, 1999. A biochemist's response to "The biochemical challenge to evolution". Bios 70: 40-45.
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created 2001-2-17, modified 2005-6-28