From: "Wesley R. Elsberry" <>
Date: 1998/11/26
Message-ID: <199811261107.DAA21334@CX33978-A.DT1.SDCA.HOME.COM>#1/1
Subject: Dembski's Agency Triad


The actualization of one among several competing
possibilities, the exclusion of the rest, and the
specification of the possibility that was actualized
encapsulate how we recognize intelligent agents.
Actualization-Exclusion-Specification - this triad - provides
a general scheme for recognizing intelligence, be it animal,
human, or extraterrestrial. Actualization establishes that
the possibility in question is the one that actually occurred.
Exclusion establishes that there was genuine contingency
(i.e., that there were other live possibilities, and that
these were ruled out). Specification establishes that the
actualized possibility conforms to a pattern given
independently of its actualization.

Now where does choice, that defining characteristic of
intelligent agency, figure into this criterion? The problem
is that we never witness choice directly. Instead, we witness
actualizations of contingency that might be the result of
choice (i.e., directed contingency), but that also might be
the result of chance (i.e., blind contingency). Now there is
only one way to tell the difference - specification.
Specification is the only means available to us for distinguishing
choice from chance, directed contingency from blind contingency.
Actualization and exclusion together guarantee that we are dealing
with contingency. Specification guarantees we are dealing with
a directed contingency. The Actualization-Exclusion-Specification
triad is therefore precisely what we need to identify choice and
therewith intelligent agency.

[End Quote - WA Dembski, TDI, pp.63-64]

Dembski has either shown in the above that natural selection
is intelligent, or that there is no conceivable test that will
distinguish the action of natural selection from the action of
an intelligent agent. That is, the process of natural
selection fits the triad listed. Actualization - heritable
variation arises. Exclusion - some heritable variations lead
to differential reproductive success, so that some heritable
variation increases in representation and other heritable
variation decreases in representation in the population.
Specification - environmental conditions specify which
variations are preferred, and thus yields directed

Wesley R. Elsberry, Student in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences, Tx A&M U.
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