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Specified complexity characterizes what intelligent agents do (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Specified complexity characterizes what intelligent agents do (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CI111.2:

An intelligent agent is one that chooses between different possibilities. Specified complexity (also called complex specified information) detects design because it detects what characterizes intelligent agency; it detects the actualization of one among many competing possibilities.

Source: Dembski, William A., 2002. No Free Lunch, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 28-30.


CreationWiki response: (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Specified complexity does not indicate intelligence agency; it merely indicates copying. When a pattern matches a specification, that can happen only by coincidence, by the causes of both patterns following the same constraints, or by some kind of copying of information. The specified complexity criterion explicitly rules out the first two possibilities (Dembski 2002, 6-13), leaving only copying.
  1. Talk Origins is wrong in claiming that specified complexity criterion rules out patterns following the same constraints. It only rules out totally natural constraints, not constraints imposed by intelligence.
  2. All known examples of copying outside biology involve intelligence agency, even if it is only in the form device designed by intelligence. So copying itself indicates intelligence agency.
Consider the following scenario: A person accidentally spills some ink and creates a complex inkblot on a page of a report. The spill goes unnoticed until several copies of the report have been made. The inkblot images in the copies of the report exhibit specified complexity, as they are complex, and they match a specification (the original spill). But they achieved specified complexity by copying, not by deliberate choosing.

While the spill would be random there is still intelligence all over this process, even excluding the person who spilled the ink. After all how was the report copied?

  • Did some natural law produce the copies? - No.
  • Were the copies produced by chance? - No.
  • That leaves intelligence agency.

They copies would have been made by a scanner or some form of photo copier. Both of these methods involve the original being placed by intelligence into a devise of some type designed by intelligence. So while the original pattern would have been produced randomly, the specification would be added by intelligence.

2. Nonintelligent processes also select between different possibilities. The machines that select lotto numbers are an example.

It seems that Talk Origins does not know that lotto machines are deigned and produced by intelligence. Intelligence agency includes processes ( like computer programs ) that are designed by intelligence. Furthermore selection by non intelligence agency are never specific, but always random.

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