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

From: Randy Isaac <randyisaac@comcast.net>
Date: Wed Dec 17 2008 - 21:32:16 EST

Almost, George. Except I can't really go along with extending the analogy to scientific theory. Specified complexity is not like a specific prediction from a theory. There may be a few similarities but I don't think it is really justified. Specified complexity operates in systems where there are large numbers of possible states and a particular state is singled out in advance in some way. This isn't true for theories where predictions are made as logical consequences of certain observations.

Randy
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: George Cooper
  To: asa@calvin.edu
  Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2008 4:42 PM
  Subject: RE: [asa] EIC (Evolutionar[il]y Informed Christian)

  Randy: In the vernacular we say the meteorite contains information about its age or that we "extract information from the meteorite." Yes and no. That's ok informally speaking but, technically speaking, information is human knowledge based on the complexity. It isn't the case that "information" is stored in the meteorite and we pull it out or read it. Rather, we quantify the complexity and interpret it to generate information about its age.

   

  Coope: So information requires an intelligent agent that uses or adds complexity in order to store that information. A computer hard drive, or any memory unit, would be an obvious example of this. Also, an intelligent agent may be able to derive new information from complexity, as would be the case in the aging of our example meteorite.

   

   

  Randy: As for specified complexity, note that the specification is done by an intelligent agent in an a priori fashion. For example, we might say that meteorites of a given age could have their grains oriented in a million different ways. Suppose we say, we'd like to find a meteorite of that age with the grains oriented in one particular way out of those million. Then if the first one we look at has that orientation, it matched our specified complexity and we would be justified in looking more closely at what factors might have influenced this remarkable one-in-a-million orientation. If we had to look at a million meteorites to find it, there's no surprise at finding the specified complexity.

   

  Coope: Ok. So, scientific theory would, hopefully, make specific predictions (explicit) about certain things of some degree of complexity. Certain radioisotopes, for example, should be found in meteorites to match a given Solar system formation model.

   

  Randy: By implicit specified complexity, I really mean significance that has been generated by intelligent agents in another context and is common knowledge. Back to the example of the deck of cards. Long ago a significance was attached to the numerals 1, 2, 3, etc. and to the values of the various face cards. That is now common knowledge and is implicit in any discussion of cards. An explicit specification would be to define a new particular configuration of significance. Let's say I want a 3, 5, 6, 9, J, Q. There was no other value to that sequence other than I just established it. But other sequences like, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or A,A,A,A have implicit specification because in the past the values of those cards have been given significance that we all understand and take for granted.

   

  Coope: The difference seems to be in recognized significance, though both are a priori. Explicit is specifying new significance and implicit is simply recognizing established significance. In the theory analogy, a new theory might introduce new predictions that are explicit, where established theories would embody more of the implicit specifications.

   

  Coope

   

   

   

   Randy

     

    Hi Randy,

     

    Very interesting topic.

     

    I am curious how you might classify something like the information we get from a meteorite that reveals its age? Would this be implicit specified complexity?

     

    Coope

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Received on Wed Dec 17 21:32:44 2008

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