Re: [asa] Of Stars and Starfish (divine creative action, from Timaeus thread)

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Fri Sep 26 2008 - 12:39:28 EDT

> Are there measurable objective elements within I.D. that quantify complexity
> and take it beyond subjective opinion?

Well, there's a lot of confusion about complexity in relation to ID.
In reality, randomness is more complex-human design betrays itself by
adherence to particular patterns. Of course, with background
knowledge of the set of natural resources present on earth we also
assume design based on the choice of materials (e.g., aluminum metal
is not naturally occurring) or other aspects, but one of the first
thing that catches my eye in looking out the window is that the
human-made things are mostly rectangles, triangles, and circles,
whereas the "natural" things are much more complex in shape.

There are formulas for calculating complexity. Applying them to
organisms is problematic on several counts. For example, Gould made
a big deal about the level of variation in the early to mid Cambrian.
However, only a biologist or paleontologist is going to really notice.
 To the average person, it's mostly a bunch of worms and shrimps, and
the fact that they have a different set of parts from any other known
organism isn't going to be noticed. On the other hand, the average
person has no trouble telling a butterfly from a beetle from a flea
from a wasp, yet they are all holometabolous insects, and in turn
insects appear to be just one highly specialized group of crustaceans.
 There are some possible approaches. For example, you can try to
think of a set of descriptors that relate to possible body plans and
then see how real organisms match up, as R. D. K. Thomas and
colleagues have done.

In contrast, the various ID formulae such as specified complexity,
irreducible complexity, and the simplified and seriously flawed
versions of those that appear in more popular-level presentations of
ID sound to me like post hoc attempts to devise a formula that will
identify complex biochemical systems as "designed", not like
empirically derived formulas emerging from actual study of human

Because of the occasional copying mistake, almost every individual
organism on earth has a different DNA sequence-quite a lot of
variation, roughly equivalent to entropy. Random variation can
generate significant new features, especially when coupled with
selection for the most functional combinations.

Other complex structures, generally conceeded to be "nondesigned" in
the ID sense, can pass the criteria. For example, a very large and
complex molecule such as clay minerals or polymers obviously form by
ordinary chemical reactions, yet the result is a precise structure of
many parts (atoms). Removing or rearranging the parts can drastically
alter the physical properties and thus the functions of the molecule.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
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Received on Fri Sep 26 12:40:12 2008

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