- The question is: Is information content a reliable indicator of
design? I say no, how about you?
Here is what I see as a major flaw with Dembski's CSI:
1) His idea that design can be detected via information content. It
can only be detected given a priori metaphysical assumptions.
a. You have to assume that low probability (or high information
content) is only due to design.
Consider his analogy of the archer from his paper: "Intelligent Design
as a Theory of Information"
"Suppose an archer stands 50 meters from a large blank wall with bow
and arrow in hand. The wall, let us say, is sufficiently large that
the archer cannot help but hit it. Consider now two alternative
scenarios. In the first scenario the archer simply shoots at the
wall. In the second scenario the archer first paints a target on the
wall, and then shoots at the wall, squarely hitting the target's
bull's-eye. Let us suppose that in both scenarios where the arrow
lands is identical. In both scenarios the arrow might have landed
anywhere on the wall. What's more, any place where it might land is
highly improbable. It follows that in both scenarios highly complex
information is actualized.... third scenario in which an archer
shoots at a wall. As before, we suppose the archer stands 50 meters
from a large blank wall with bow and arrow in hand, the wall being so
large that the archer cannot help but hit it. And as in the first
scenario, the archer shoots at the wall while it is still blank. But
this time suppose that after having shot the arrow, and finding the
arrow stuck in the wall, the archer paints a target around the arrow
so that the arrow sticks squarely in the bull's-eye. Let us suppose
further that the precise place where the arrow lands in this scenario
is identical with where it landed in the first two scenarios."
To begin with I'd like to make some general comments. In Dembski's
analysis of this story he states two things that simply are not true.
The first error is the fact that he sees patterns where none exist.
"The obvious difference between the two scenarios is of course that
in the first the information follows no pattern whereas in the second
The truth is that even in the second example there is no discernible
pattern. A single arrow fired into a target does not form a pattern.
Should the archer fire a volley of two or more arrows, then a pattern
would emerge. In all three scenarios there is information, but only
in the second and third is it specified (one before the fact and one
after.) However, none of the three scenarios show a pattern.
Pattern 1.(n) A systematic arrangement or design
The second error lies in Dembski's analysis of the first and third
scenarios. He states "in either case chance is as good an explanation
as any for the arrow's flight." This is wholly untrue!
chance: something that happens unpredictably without discernible
human intention or observable cause.
The implication that the flight of an arrow could in any way be
unpredictable runs contrary to well established physics. Using simple
mechanical laws one could (given initial conditions) predict where
the arrow would land. Assuming the archers were aiming, it would not
be correct to say that the arrow had an equal probability of hitting
everywhere on the wall. Given the scenario that Dembski set up, his
statement that "any place where the arrow might land is highly
improbable" Really isn't true. Given the statement that "The wall,
let us say, is sufficiently large that the archer cannot help but hit
it." We know that the probability of the archer hitting the wall is
100%, also given the fact that the archer is aiming we know that
there will be a region on the wall where there is a greater chance of
hitting than on other sections of the wall ( a zone of maximum
probability if you will.) The size of this area, on the wall, is
determined by the skill of the archer and not by chance as dembski
seems to think.
Now it turns out that this failed attempt to explain his complex
specified information (CSI) is simply a blatant attempt to fill in the
gaps in his ideas (i.e. that the connection between high information
content and design is only assumed) Dembski suggests that specifying
the target must occur prior to the event. Going back to Dembski's own
analogy, where he says that the finding of an arrow in the middle of a
target is only remarkable if the target was there prior to the event
of the arrows firing, is where we find Dembski's whole procedure for
detecting design. The fact is that this procedure for detecting design
is most certainly not reliable (as advertised), nor is his method for
determination of specification at all rigorous. His procedure reduces
down quite nicely to. Is the object complex? do I believe the object
was designed? If the answer to both questions is yes then the object
must have been designed.
What is Dembski's evidence that the specification was there before
life formed? How do we know that it wasn't Dembski that just now
walked up and painted a circle around where the arrow landed and
proclaimed "intelligent design"?
Irregardless of whether or not life was designed, it is clear that
Dembski's explanatory filter does no such thing. Information content
is by no means an indicator of design.
I have not rigorously tried to prove my above claims, personally I
thought I would let someone disagree with my assertions above and let
them try to prove me wrong.
- --- In OriginsTalk@yahoogroups.com, "Daniel Edington"
> --- In OriginsTalk@yahoogroups.com, atfsoccer@a... wrote:God
> > Dan writes:
> > However, my question was about the definition of
> > design, as creationists use it. This is something that has never
> been explained to my satisfaction. I suspect that they intentionally
> leave the concept vague. My basic concept of the YEC idea is that
> poofed a set of objects into existence (poofed: one instant theobject
> in question didn't exit, the next instant it did) then he waited aIf
> whole day to make the next set of objects. Under this concept of
> creation ven six days is far to long a period of time for creation.
> God was going to poof stuff into existence he would have needed onlyall
> one day.
> > Andrew responds: As a YEC I would say that we do believe that God
> created everthing over a period of 6 days. We do not really use the
> word "poof" no more than you would say that the Big Bang was a poof.
> (although by your above definiition I can see how it would fit into
> the Big Bang) Somehow Genesis seems mystical and magical to
> nonbelievers but on the other hand it is "scientific" to say that
> the universe was at one time compressed into a small dot.to
> > What is your definition of design? I do not think that YEC tries
> be vague about it. We do not have a special elusive, definition.complexity
> Something which is designed would simply show elements of pupose and
> intellect behind its creation. It could be something as complicated
> as desinging a space shuttle or computer or something as simple as
> desinging a button for a shirt. Perhaps the key is in purpose and
> underlying intelligence. Thus we see "design" of God in the
> of life and in the simplicity of His natural laws such as gravity.what
> Purpose and intelligence. Please tell us your definition of design?
> > Andrew
> Andrew let me first start off by saying that I have already began to
> offer up my definition of design. Please refer to the following post
> if you are interested in what I had to say. I intend to continue
> I started, here in this post.that
> Then let me tell you that your answer is just the type of evasion
> I am talking about. Your answer gives me the impression that youmust
> think that I am trying to lure you into a trap or some other suchand
> nonsense. You seem to think that a precise definition is somehow
> unnecessary, when one advances a hypothesis. I can offer you my
> definition of design, but then again it is my definition of design
> not yours. I am aware that YEC has no "special elusive, definition"pk4
> YEC has no definition, which is the problem.
The idea that intelligent design can be detected empirically is a
central tenet of the ID theory but the same cannot be said of ID's
relationship to Christianity. In other words Christians, including
YECs, are not defined by the design concept. The Bible does indicate
that what God has created reveal divine qualities- "For since the
creation of the world God's invisible qualities- his eternal power
and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what
he has made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20 NIV.
However, this does not encompass the ID concept to which Dembski and
other advocates of that position would agree. The point I am
stressing is that while IDers are obligated to define design
Christians who are not advocates of ID can maintain an approach that
is in accord with the above passage but not necessarily with ID.
Design was popularised by Paley as I'm sure you're aware. It still
makes for interesting theological discussions and I believe that, as
design is part of God's creation, it reveals his invisible
qualities. That however, is my view and need not to be considered