Re: [asa] EIC (Evolutionar[il]y Informed Christian)

From: David Clounch <david.clounch@gmail.com>
Date: Sun Dec 14 2008 - 23:50:03 EST

I have a question for Randy. Given the described difference between
complexity and information, would information then be roughly the same as
Dembski's "specified complexity"? I mean, it always seemed to me that
specification, not complexity, was what Dembski was getting at.

I heard you say that information is something that only intelligent beings
recognize. Is this equivalent to specification is something that only
intelligent beings recognize?

2nd subject:
Information surely happens in nature. But it is only meaningful to
intelligent beings. OK, I am thinking about the arrangement of that hedge at
the waterfront in Victoria. The plants might have just blown in with the
wind to form letters in the English language. That is complexity. It could
be all natural. But the fact that they say "Welcome To Victoria"....that
is information. It is the context sensitive aspect that makes it true
information. No amount of arranging of the letters could ever make the
sentence correlate with the knowledge that the city surrounding the hedge is
Victoria. Indeed, due to political upheaval, perhaps next week the city
will be New Mumbai. The point is, we can tell the hedge isnt natural.

The key to detecting an artifact of intelligence, then, is being able to
tell when some arrangement is natural and when it isnt. We might stare
right at it, and if we dont know the city is Victoria, we might think its a
natural arrangement.
Beautiful in its complexity. Completely devoid of information. But does
that mean there isnt information there? Would we have an ability to say
with certitude there is no information? No intelligence visited here? Or
would we merely be lacking a tabla rosa?

Thanks,
Dave

On Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 9:18 PM, Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net> wrote:

> Greg wrote:
> "That said, I think it only fair to say how important such thinkers as
> Daniel Bell, Manuel Castells, and most importantly imo, Marshall McLuhan are
> to our understanding of 'information.' These thinkers include intelligence
> 'by nature' or 'by the character of' being human-social thinkers. Claude
> Shannon may be a significant figure for some people with his mathematical
> theory of communication and information for others (cough, sputter) William
> Dembski. But these two both pale in comparison to any of the three names
> listed above with respect to understanding our present *environment* in an
> 'information-electronic age.' Sometimes when discussing information the cart
> is easily put before the horse."
>
> Information and how we use it are indeed important to our society. And for
> once I would agree with you that the sociological understanding of the
> importance of information and its impact to our lives is paramount. But
> let's not make a category error here and try to compare Shannon's
> contributions with those of Bell, McLuhan, etc. To say that one pales with
> respect to the other confuses the categories within which each is speaking.
> The latter speak of the role of information in our culture while Shannon and
> his successors speak of the technical definition and characteristics of
> information. Landauer was perhaps the most influential, after Shannon, in
> understanding the technical nature of information and he helped move
> information theory into the realm of physics. That study has mainly been
> interested in quantum information in the last couple of decades with Charles
> Bennett and Peter Shor being among the leaders. All that technical stuff has
> little direct impact on society and that's why I agree with you that the
> social sciences are of far more practical value here. But when it comes to
> assessing the accuracy of the ID claims of whether or not DNA represents
> information, the societal studies are of little assistance and we need the
> technical insight.
>
> Randy
>

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Received on Sun Dec 14 23:50:18 2008

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