COMPLEX SPECIFIED INFORMATION (CSI) – An Introductory Discussion of Specified Complexity

Definition of Information, CSI, Complex Specified Information:

Intelligence and Information with respect to ID theory:

The scientific method is commonly described as a 5-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, results and conclusion. The Scientific Theory of Intelligent Design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). The basic protest of scientists to ID are the ambiguous definitions of information and complexity. When we see in the biological structure-producing DNA machinery the ability to create some structures, and not others, which perform some specific action and not some other specific action, we can legitimately say that we have complex genetic information. When we specify this information as necessary for some function given a pre-existing pattern, then we can say it was designed. This is called “complex specified information” or “CSI”.

It is the work of William Dembski who was able to quantify information and complexity so that design and information can be studied in molecular biology as their own independent field of study. The quantified versions of these are specified complexity, and complex specified information (CSI). Design theorists hypothesize that if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of CSI. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information. One easily testable form of CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. When ID researchers find irreducible complexity in biology, they conclude that such structures were designed. Irreducible complexity is falsifiable, and therefore a legitimate scientific hypothesis. Quotes taken from: http://www.intelligentdesign.org/whatisid.php

The basic protest of scientists to ID are the ambiguous definitions of information, complexity, specified complexity, and complex specified information (CSI).

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/complex-specified-information-its-not-that-hard-to-understand/

http://www.talkreason.org/articles/eandsdembski.pdf

So, in other words, when we see in the biological structure-producing DNA machinery the ability to create some structures, and not others, which perform some specific action and not some other specific action, we can legitimately say that we have complex genetic information. When we specify this information as necessary for some function given a pre-existing pattern, then we can say it was designed. This is called “complex specified information” or “CSI”.

If a function vital to survival of an organism of a given structure (the pre-existing specified pattern) could occur only if a given set of parts (the complex information) were present, and this complex set of parts were to come into being, then we could justifiably infer it was designed. Because we can observe intelligence being able to manipulate parts in an innovative manner to create novel CSI, the presence of CSI indicates design at some level, and removes the possibility that a chance-law mechanism such as the mutation-selection mechanism was responsible for it. Novel CSI itself cannot be generated by a chance-law based process, but rather can only be shuffled around. As Stephen Meyer says, “Because we know intelligent agents can (and do) produce complex and functionally specified sequences of symbols and arrangements of matter (i.e., information content), intelligent agency qualifies as a sufficient causal explanation for the origin of this effect.” Quote taken from: http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/832

See also http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/09/a_response_to_richard_dawkins004264.html and http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/complexity-specification-design-inference-and-designers/.

Patterns and crystalline formations that are complex design, but involved no ID. We call this “unspecified complexity.”

Wall of Beach Driftwood

Complex patterns can appear by entirely natural processes.

In this image of a wall of driftwood on the beach, we would probably deduce that the formation is complex, but likely derived entirely by natural processes. However, some complexity is more difficult to know with certainty whether it is a product of natural processes (“unspecified”) or was generated by an artificial agent of intelligence. When we can determine complexity is caused by ID, we call this “specified complexity,” or “complex specified information” (CSI).

There are instances where there is enough specificity to impose design.  However, it is not always easy to determine if a complex structure developed entirely out of natural processes, or whether design was involved. 

It is not always easy to determine design

For example, can you be certain as to whether ID was involved in this driftwood formation?  In this image, the driftwood appears to be in more order, showing a higher degree of specificity. But, is it enough specificity to impose design? One person would say it’s intelligently designed, and another would say this structure was  produced entirely by chance. We cannot know until the photographer explains what it is.

Here’s another one:

Beachwood Purposely and Intentionally Beached

When Specificity Is High Enough, We Can Impose Design

This third image appears to be driftwood that was intentionally stacked by an intelligent agent.  This is an example of what an ID advocate would recognize and declare to be “complex specified information,” or CSI. It’s still possible there might be someone that would argue it developed by natural processes (specificity too low, or unspecified complexity).

Patterns of sand are also a great way to understand complex specified information (CSI):

Sahara Desert Sand Dune Pattern

The natural process of wind can generate patterns

Now, here in this picture we have complex UNSPECIFIED sandWind created these patterns.  No one would impose design here.

Now, here’s a photo of complex SPECIFIED sand:

Logic Demands Design When There is a High Degree of Specificity

Because this latter sand castle indicates purposely intended specific design, we call this CSI. CSI assumes intelligent design.

Darwinists often erroneously allege that ID assumes a Creator, or is about creationism.   Assuming ID is detected, it could be impossible to determine the source. For example, there are monuments on Mars, such as a face, pyramid, and layout of a Cydonian city. 

Monuments on Mars

Monuments on Mars Demonstrate Remarkable Specificity

If you observe the pyramid on Mars, you can see that it appears to indicate CSI.

Mars Pyramid Reveals High Specificity

It is not so easy to determine that every time phenomena evidencing high specificity occur that there is a naturalistic explanation for their cause.  In the case of the Mars pyramids, one could argue that these reveal CSI, but there is no simple explanation as to the source or cause of the CSI.  Intelligent Design is not a theory that contemplates the nature of the designing agent, but is focused on examining the information itself, how the information is generated, and studies increase in information (CSI).

The scientific method is commonly described as a 5-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, results and conclusion. Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). The basic protest of scientists to ID are the ambiguous definitions of information and complexity. When we see in the biological structure-producing DNA machinery the ability to create some structures, and not others, which perform some specific action and not some other specific action, we can legitimately say that we have complex genetic information. When we specify this information as necessary for some function given a pre-existing pattern, then we can say it was designed. This is called “complex specified information” or “CSI”.

One easily testable form of biological CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. Irreducible complexity is falsifiable, and therefore a legitimate scientific hypothesis.

The scientific method is commonly described as a 5-step process involving observations, hypothesis, experiments, results and conclusion. Intelligent design begins with the observation that intelligent agents produce complex and specified information (CSI). The basic protest of scientists to ID are the ambiguous definitions of information and complexity. When we see in the biological structure-producing DNA machinery the ability to create some structures, and not others, which perform some specific action and not some other specific action, we can legitimately say that we have complex genetic information. When we specify this information as necessary for some function given a pre-existing pattern, then we can say it was designed. This is called “complex specified information” or “CSI”.

One easily testable form of biological CSI is irreducible complexity, which can be discovered by experimentally reverse-engineering biological structures to see if they require all of their parts to function. Irreducible complexity is falsifiable, and therefore a legitimate scientific hypothesis.

Further information:
* http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/09/a_response_to_richard_dawkins004264.html
* http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/complexity-specification-design-inference-and-designers/

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6 Responses to COMPLEX SPECIFIED INFORMATION (CSI) – An Introductory Discussion of Specified Complexity

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