Re: [asa] Dembski on ID & TE

From: David Campbell <>
Date: Mon Aug 24 2009 - 15:47:36 EDT

> Off the top of my head, I get the feeling that Dembski is wrong about TE. Do
> all TEs believe that "Darwinian processes generate the information required"
> without any outside source of information? I think most TEs would simply
> argue that design cannot be detected scientifically, and that therefore
> "outside sources of information" of the type Dembski's talking about
> (designers, etc) couldn't be detected even if they took place.

There are a couple of complications that make this very difficult to
apply in reality.

First, modern biological evolution holds to an outside source of
information: the environment. Ideas of progress, senility of
lineages, etc. claim something inherent and were quite popular in
evolutionary sources from Darwin's day up to the mid-1900's, but such
ideas do not appear to have any scientific justification. Mutations
provide variation; if these variations conform adequately to the
informaiton from the environment, then the organism can survive and

This is also the basic problem with the extrapolation from information
theory about the impossibility of generating new information not
already present in a system. A computer code cannot _recognize_
information that it does not already have, but it can _generate_ more
information than it contains. For example, the popular pro/anti
evolution programs that try to find or not find a specific string of
letters cannot do so without having the target string included in
their instructions. However, a program generating random strings of
letters, or one with some basic rules about spelling (e.g., limiting
the number of consonants in a row if it's not a Slavic language) can
easily generate a number of genuine words or phrases that a human can

Secondly, Dembski's definition of information is rather problematic.
Basically, genetic information isn't really "new" unless it is
providing some notable new feature. That allows all the new genetic
information produced with each mutation to be ignored.

These are in addition to the questions of outside divine influence
that Ted raised.

Dr. David Campbell
425 Scientific Collections
University of Alabama
"I think of my happy condition, surrounded by acres of clams"
To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Mon Aug 24 15:48:22 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Aug 24 2009 - 15:48:22 EDT