Complex Specified Information – It’s not that hard to understand
|May 20, 2007||Posted by Dave S. under Intelligent Design|
In another thread there’s a discussion about specified complexity. I think the problem with specification is it’s a subjective measure but it shouldn’t be hard to understand. Most people intuitively recognize it and draw conclusions from it. To explain I’ll use a deck of cards and a conclusion that just about any reasonable person, with or without knowing what specified complexity is, will recognize and draw the same conclusion based on it. Then I’ll present a like example from a living thing and ask you be the judge of whether there is specification.
Start with a standard deck of 52 playing cards. You are told that it has been shuffled thoroughly. Upon examination you find that the deck is perfectly ordered by suit and rank. Will you still believe it was shuffled? Probably not. Do you know you’ve based that conclusion on specified complexity? Probably not. Our brains are pattern recognition engines. You reach the conclusion intuitively.
Let’s dissect this with a bit of arithmetic. Any arrangement of 52 cards is as statistically likely as any other. A random shuffle has no preferred order as an outcome. One arrangement is just as likely as any other. My windows calculator says there are 8.0658175170943878571660636856404e+67 possible arrangements. That’s 8 followed by 67 zeroes and is calculated by entering 52 and then pressing the n! button which performs the calculation 52x51x50x49x48…x5x4x3x2. That is the complexity part – the number of possible arrangments is huge and there is no physical law that prefers one arrangement over another. Most people intuitively know the number of possible arrangements is a huge number without knowing precisely how huge.
If any one arrangement is as likely as any other why do we conclude the deck was not shuffled if we find it perfectly ordered by rank and suit? Because we intuitively employ the concept of specified complexity. The perfect ordering is a specification. Specification can be defined as an independently given pattern.
The problem with this is that specification is subjective. It is not a product of nature but rather a product of mind. We can’t, or at least I believe we can’t, come up with an objective formula that distinguishes specification from non-specification. But that doesn’t negate the fact that specification is tangible and can be practically employed to discriminate between chance and design as we can see with the deck of cards example above.
Now let us look at an example of specified complexity that exists in all living things. The video depicts the purpose and action of an enzyme called a topoisomerase. The enzyme is far more complex than a deck of cards. It is a sequence of hundreds of amino acids in a folded chain. Any link in the chain can be any one of 20 different amino acids. The order determines how it will fold and what biological activity (if any) it will possess. Does it have specification? You must be the judge of that.