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  Topic: Elsberry & Shallit on Dembski, Discussion of the criticism< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

Posts: 64
Joined: Dec. 2003

(Permalink) Posted: Aug. 12 2004,21:22   


I'm willing to discuss the paper with you here.  I have taken time to learn the material better.  I took your paper seriously enough to study it.

My mind has changed on a few issues since that time, mostly against the content in your paper.

If you won't come to ARN, I'm willing to come here to your website.

You're a gentleman, Wesley, it's not in my nature to be polemic to gentleman, but I think there are some things seriously wrong with what you wrote.

For starters:


Wesley and Jeffrey wrote:

Dembski also identifues CSI or specified complexity" with similarly-worded concepts
in the literature. But these identifications are little more than equivocation.

For example, Dembski quotes Paul Davies' book, The Fifth Miracle, where Davies uses the term specied complexity", and strongly implies that Davies' use of the term is the same as his own [19, p. 180]. This is simply false. For Davies, the term complexity means high Kolmogorov
complexity, and has nothing to do with improbability.

What Bill wrote on page 180


In The Fifth Miracle Davies goes so far as to suggest that any laws capable of explaining th origin of life must be radically different from any scientific laws known to date. The problem as he sees it, with currently known scientific laws, like the laws of chemistry and physics, is that they cannot explain the key features of life that needes to be explained. That feature is specified complexity. As Davies puts it: "Living organisms are mysterious not for thier complexity per se, but for their tightly specified complexity." Nonetheless once life (or more generally some self-replicator) arrives on the scen, Davies thinks there is no problem accounting for specified complexity...

In this chapter I will argue that the problem of explaining specified complexity is even worse than Davies makes out in The Fifth Miracle

You're free to say what you want Wesley, but I think the way you represented page 180 was a stretch.

Further Bill clarified his position in his latest book with:

Bill clarifies his position versus that of Davies and Orgel in  Design Revolution page 84.

The Term Specified Complexity is about thirty years old. To my knowledge, orgigin-of-life researcher Leslie Orgel was the first to use it.  The term appeared in his 1973 book  The Origins of Life, whre he wrote, "Livign organism are distinguished by their specified complexity..  Crystals such as granite fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; mixtures of random polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity."  More recently, in his 1999 book  The Fifth Miracle, Paul Davies identified specified complexity as the key to resolving the problem of life's origin:

" Living organisms are mysterious not for their complexity  per se, but for their tightly specified complexity.l  To comprehend fully how life arose from nonlife, we need to know not only how biological information was concentrated, but also how biologically useful information came to be specified"

Neither Orgel nor Davies, however, provided a precise analytic account of specified complexity.  I provide such an account int  The Design Inference (1988) and its sequel  No Free Lunch (2002).  Here I will merely sketch that account of specified complexity. Orgel and Davies used the term  specified complexity loosely.

Is Granite K-complex in terms of the composition and the positioning of the molecules?  If so, then even Orgel does not use complexity the way you argue Davies uses it.  

Bottom line is Bill has made an effort to distinguish his definitions from others.  The complaint that Bill "strongly implies that Davies' use of the term is the same as his own" I think has been settled in a subsequent book,  Design Revolution.


  52 replies since Nov. 12 2003,08:26 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

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