Friday, April 04, 2008

Specified complexity

Possible targets with complexity ranking and probability not exceeding those of attained target T. Probability of set-theoretic union does not exceed φ(T) × P(T)Specified complexity is an argument proposed by American mathematician, philosopher, theologian, and neo-creationist William Dembski, and used by him in his works promoting intelligent design. According to Dembski, the concept is intended to formalize a property that singles out patterns that are both specified and complex. Dembski states that specified complexity is a reliable marker of design by an intelligent agent, a central tenet to intelligent design which Dembski argues for in opposition to modern evolutionary theory. The concept of specified complexity is widely regarded as mathematically unsound and has not been the basis for further independent work in information theory, complexity theory, or biology. Specified complexity is one of the two main arguments used by intelligent design proponents, the other being irreducible complexity.

In Dembski's terminology, a specified pattern is one that admits short descriptions, whereas a complex pattern is one that is unlikely to occur by chance. Dembski argues that it is impossible for specified complexity to exist in patterns displayed by configurations formed by unguided processes. Therefore, Dembski argues, the fact that specified complex patterns can be found in living things indicates some kind of guidance in their formation, which is indicative of intelligence. Dembski further argues that one can rigorously show by applying no free lunch theorems the inability of evolutionary algorithms to select or generate configurations of high specified complexity.


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