# Does São Paulo Cathedral Have More Beaut-Ls than a Dilapidated Shack?

One of our Darwinist friends’ favorite tactics is to insist that if something cannot be precisely quantified in mathematical terms then there is no warrant for believing it exists at all.  For example, ID proponents might point out that Mount Rushmore exhibits complex specified information (“CSI”).  “How much CSI does Mount Rushmore exhibit?” a Darwinist might ask.  “Oh, you can’t give me a figure?  Then CSI obviously does not exist.”

MathGrrl, one of my favorite materialists, put it this way:  “My conclusion is that, without a rigorous mathematical definition and examples of how to calculate [CSI], the metric is literally meaningless.  Without such a definition and examples, it isn’t possible even in principle to associate the term with a real world referent.”

Let us set aside for the moment that CSI is often subject to rigorous mathematical definition and calculation (as Kairosfocus has demonstrated several times).  Let us assume for the sake of argument that sometimes it might be exceedingly difficult or even impossible to quantify a particular example of CSI (like that exhibited in Mount Rushmore).  Does it follow that MathGrrl is right, that the concept of CSI is therefore meaningless?  No it does not for the simple reason that not every phenomenon is precisely quantifiable.

Consider for example the concept of “utility” in economics.  Utility is a representation of preferences.  For example, say I have ten franks and you have ten buns.  If I want to make hotdogs for dinner I might trade you five of my franks for five of your buns.  This means that to me the utility of franks 6 through 10 is less than the utility of buns 1 through 5 and therefore I am willing to give those franks up to get those buns, so we make a trade.

Closely related is the concept of declining marginal utility.  If I am hungry I might place a high level of utility on a frank (extremely high if I am starving).  I might even enjoy a second or third frank.  But surely by the time I have eaten, say, ten franks, the 11th frank is not going to be very appealing to me.  The more franks I eat the less value each successive frank has to me.  So we see that the “marginal utility” (i.e., the utility of the next unit) declines after a certain point.

“Utility” defies precise quantification even though economists sometimes treat it as if it were quantifiable.  There is even a unit of measure for utility called the “util,” and an economist might speak of a certain consumption set (e.g., three apples) as having a utility of say 75 utils.  Clearly, however, the concept of “utils” has meaning only in the context of ranking the consumption set with other consumption sets.  It has no meaning in itself.  Thus, economists say that the number of utils has only “ordinal” and not “cardinal” significance.

Does the fact that utility is not subject to precise quantification mean that it is a meaningless concept?  Obviously not.  Can there be any doubt that people make exchanges because they believe the goods they currently possess have less utility to them than the goods they could acquire by trading them?  Such trades happen billions of times each day.  Similarly, can there be any doubt that I will prefer the first frank that I eat much more than the 30th?   Thus we conclude that “utility” is a real and useful concept even though the exact utility a good has with respect to a particular consumer might defy quantification.

The photographs at the top of this post lead us to another concept that is real but unquantifiable.  Does anyone reading this post doubt that São Paulo Cathedral is more beautiful than the dilapidated shack?  Of course not.

Let me now coin a new term – the “beaut-L.”  Like the economists’ util, a beaut-L is a unit of beauty.

Now that we have a unit by which we may quantify beauty, can anyone tell me precisely how much more beautiful the São Paulo Cathedral is than the dilapidated shack?  Does the cathedral have 500 beaut-Ls while the shack has only 20 (or negative 20) beaut-Ls?

The answer, of course, is that the question is meaningless.  Any attempt to assign precise mathematical quantities to beauty is facile.  Nevertheless, beauty exists and some objects are more beautiful than other objects.

We can conclude from these examples that our Darwinist friends are wrong when they insist that a concept must always be precisely mathematically quantifiable in order for it to be meaningful.  And I further conclude that my inability to assign a quantity of CSI* to Mount Rushmore does not mean that the sculpture does not nevertheless exhibit CSI.

*I hereby coin another term — ceezi (pronounced “seez eye”) for a unit of CSI.  No?  OK.

## 68 Replies to “Does São Paulo Cathedral Have More Beaut-Ls than a Dilapidated Shack?”

1. 1
kairosfocus says:

BA: Serious point. Of course the digitised charts that specify the cathedral or the shack could in principle be used to quantify the CSI involved, especially to show that it is obviously well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits. (The same could be done per a nodes and arcs plot of Mt Rushmore.) So would the shack. But we can rank order the beauty of the shack vs the cathedral without being able to have an interval much less a ratio scale. Somewhere between would be a well designed functional office building, and I think a nice house would be higher than the office but lower than the cathedral.But, I think anyone who denied that there was something real being ranked, would not be taken seriously. To determine that the CSI in a given object is credibly beyond 500 – 1,000 bits and that it is therefore not likely to have arisen by blind chance and necessity, is reasonable. KF

2. 2
scordova says:

MathGrrl, one of my favorite materialists, put it this way: “My conclusion is that, without a rigorous mathematical definition and examples of how to calculate [CSI], the metric is literally meaningless. Without such a definition and examples, it isn’t possible even in principle to associate the term with a real world referent.”

If this is a problem, it is even worse for Darwinists, because they are trying to explain how Darwinian mechanisms create features in biology that Mathgrrl says doesn’t exist except in our minds. 🙂

But the rigorous mathematical definitions for a some examples are within reach. I pointed out some example with lock-and-key systems and coordinated complexity.

That should refute lots of mathgrrls objections.

I plan to intereact with Mathgrrl/patrick (he already publicly outed himself, so I’m not trying to compromise his privacy) over at Skeptical Zone. The critics can be very helpful. His criticism deserve to be addressed, but the situation is not as dire as Mathgrrl supposes, imho.

3. 3
Neil Rickert says:

The answer, of course, is that the question is meaningless. Any attempt to assign precise mathematical quantities to beauty is facile. Nevertheless, beauty exists and some objects are more beautiful than other objects.

This is why beauty is a topic for art and for philosophy, but is not a topic suitable for scientific study.

And I further conclude that my inability to assign a quantity of CSI* to Mount Rushmore does not mean that the sculpture does not nevertheless exhibit CSI.

You have thereby made the case that CSI is a topic for art and philosophy, but is not science.

4. 4
scordova says:

One other thing, there may be metrics that exist in principle but are not tractable as a matter of praticality. Lots of designs fall in that category. However, because DNA and proteins are discrete and digital, tractability is possible in some instances. There are enough of those instances to make a design inference, not the least of which is that life is an instance of a “quine”:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quine_(computing)

Quine’s are known design template. They should have some features that can be analyzed, and in fact, Hofstadter gave some outline in Godel Escher Bach.

This would be a fruitful area of research for ID proponents. Only one peer-reviewed paper by Voie went through and entered into the ID discussion. There could be many, many more such papers.

5. 5
Joe says:

Well Neil, by your “logic” the theory of evolution is a topic for something other than science.

6. 6
Maus says:

“One of our Darwinist friends’ favorite tactics is to insist that if something cannot be precisely quantified in mathematical terms then there is no warrant for believing it exists at all.”

Without regard to any specific topic, I find this position less common then the alternate: I wrote an equation, therefore it exists. (String theorists and other theoretical physicists seem to the be the worst offenders here.) Both are just as loopy, in either case.

“MathGrrl, one of my favorite materialists, put it this way:”

For what it’s worth, MathPrrson is correct here. With the caveat that we are speaking about formalizing recognition tasks and predictive models. In other words, if we are speaking of engineering with respect to a notion. But so long as there is no confusion with a formal description and ‘reality’ then there can be no issues.

To throw a bone for social graces it’s worth noting that ‘natural selection’ is no better nor differently described than ‘CSI’. Ah, perhaps not terribly social after all. Take it in a positive light either way.

“Closely related is the concept of declining marginal utility.”

And this is terribly savvy and apropos. It’s worth noting that the problem of utility is that we have actually measured deviation with ‘rational models’ of psychological value assignment. So ‘utility’ is simply an ad hoc measure of relative deviation from some putative ‘rational model’. We cannot, of course, model irrationality other than to say that anything goes. Nor can we do a passing job of what ‘actual rationality’ is. But we can reliably demonstrate the decline in marginal utility in various means and guises.

But it serves the exact same role in economics as do notions in other fields. It’s simply a big parametric flag that denotes ‘here there be quantifiable dragons’. Key emphasis of ‘quantifiable dragons’. And we find such things regularly in actual science as practiced, be it relativistic corrections, Dark Energy, utility, or any other notion of numerical slop in the model.

The shared problem here between Dice and Design is that there is no such accepted model of a ‘rational evolver’ to begin with. And lacking this there’s simply no manner in which to speak sanely about what quantifiable dragons exist in the equations. PopGen is usually held up in defense, but it neither models the problem correctly, nor speaks to the larger issue beyond fixation issues.

There’s simply no obvious and ceteris paribus tautologies such as MV = PQ floating about that we can attach ‘mutatil’ units and curves to. And for this I tip my hat at the ID crowd for continuing to make a good run at that very problem. And I join MathPrrson in disparaging the current anti-formalist approach of the Dice crowd.

Well, I assume that’s MathPrrson’s point. Otherwise is just self-refuting absurdity. But if that’s the case then I’ll just sit back and laugh; social graces be damned.

7. 7
Maus says:

scordova: “Quine’s are known design template.”

In a sense certainly, but I’m not sure I would agree with your notion that it would be a fruitful area of research. After all, to convert a Quine into something resembling a self-replicator then the Quine must describe a self-describing compiler. Which, once compiled, the Quine-as-mechanism is fed a copy of the Quine-as-text and the whole thing repeats.

But noting that is to simply posit a Von Neumann self-replicator absent any discussion of the resource acquisition and machinery to construct an execution environment — beyond chemistry — for a Quine-as-compiler.

Perhaps you have some other distinction in mind, but it would seem that a Von Neumann replicator is really rather what we’re after.

8. 8
GilDodgen says:

I hereby coin another term, Common Sense Information, and a corollary, Common Sense Engineering.

Darwinists live in a bizarre fantasy world which I would describe as irrational, although “irrational” does not quite fit the bill — it’s hyper-irrational.

When confronted with the most sophisticated information and information-processing machinery ever discovered, in living systems, they require: “Give me a mathematical proof that accidents zapping nucleotides in DNA molecules can’t transform a self-replicating molecule into Rachmaninoff and his piano concerti in 10^17 seconds.”

A mathematical proof is not required. Such a proposition is so stupendously stupid that only someone who has been indoctrinated with Darwinian orthodoxy can believe such nonsense.

Of course, Darwinists never advance their claims in these terms, which is what they are actually advocating, because any rational person would obviously ask what phenomenon or experience messed up their minds.

The only rational conclusion that can be reached, in my opinion, is that the laws of physics which govern the universe were designed in advance for the eventual appearance of living things, and that the information and engineering evident in living systems can only be rationally explained by a super-intelligence that purposed the entire thing.

It is for these reasons — in part, but not completely — that I abandoned a lifetime commitment to materialistic atheism.

This, I propose, is what Darwinists fear the most: The science and mathematics that they deify as a foundation of their atheistic-materialistic worldview, when legitimately and rationally considered, can actually lead one to abandon their ideology.

9. 9
Optimus says:

Barry, what a great post! I’ve had some difficulty with discussions that try to assign numerical values to concepts such as CSI. While it may be possible in some cases to quantify this characteristic, I don’t think that every real-world structure is amenable to calculation of CSI. However, I don’t think (as Neil does) that this removes CSI from having scientific legitimacy. As pointed out in the OP, many uncontroversial characteristics that we consider to be absolutely real are stubbornly resistant to calculation. Take ‘functionality’ as an example. How do we calculate that? What units does it have? What is the numerical difference between an object possessing it and one that does not (e.g. a car engine vs. pile of scrap metal)? Does this difficulty in assigning numerical values invalidate application of the concept of ‘funcionality’? I don’t think it does in the least. Even if we can’t compute the numerical value, we still know that there is a profound difference between an engine and a slag heap.

10. 10
groovamos says:

@Neil “You have thereby made the case that CSI is a topic for art and philosophy, but is not science.”

Having worked in systems and board level hardware design, I immediately saw through this. The CDMA processors (Qualcomm) in your cell phone implement a mind boggling and elegant (thank you Dr. Viterbi) method of cramming multiple users onto a channel. Anyone understanding this type of system or who has seen the books that treat the topic can only come away in awe. There just happens not to be a measure of elegance or awe. In fact, mathematicians, engineers and practitioners of the hard sciences use the term elegant all of the time. Maintain that its not science if you want to. Just because you can’t quantify it.

11. 11
Jon Garvey says:

Is not the question about whether science, understood mathematically, is a way of knowing, or the way of knowing?

I’ve just been reading about work by philosopher C A J Coady, demonstrating how “testimony” is a separate epistemological category, based inevitably on trust, which is irreducible to any other kind of knowledge. It’s the truly social epistemic category, and is the source of most of our knowledge, including the area of science.

Testimony can to an extent be doubted or checked, but for the most part is actually taken on trust. A scientist writes that he’s done experiment A with result B. In theory, it could be repeated – in practice, most of the time it isn’t. How many of us, for example, have actually ever seen the planet Uranus (“Please sir, me sir!”)? We take its existence on trust for the most part. A scientist who really believed he could only know what he’d demonstrated scientifically would never even get as far as a school science qualification, let alone achieve anything original.

You can cross-reference, then, individual elements of “testimony” (take the trouble to buy a large telescope and check out Uranus), but you can’t actually reduce testimony to evidence, even in the world of science, let alone in the human non-science world. “The moon was beautiful last night!” I simply believe the testifier, or I don’t.

In the same way, design is perceived, ultimately, not through arcs and maths, but in its own epistemological terms. And that’s true in science as well. As groovamos hints, a theory is likely to be preferred because it’s elegant instead of clunky – it appeals to our innate sense of design. There is no scientific basis for preferring an elegant theory to a messy one that still explains the data – Occam’s razor cannot be quantified.

Design concepts in biology, as we know, are first used to do the heavy lifting of explanation (this mechanism is beautifully designed for that function to improve the goal of survival) before being sidelined as only “the appearance of design”. It’s the same trick as accepting 99% of your scientific knowledge through trust in the testimony of papers and books, and then sidelining that by pretending it’s not “really” testimony, but scientific knowledge.

Science can, of course, point to design by revealing patterns that aren’t immediately obvious – do the maths, and you see it looks elegant, and infer it matches reality. So in the same way the metrics of ID can back up the intuition of design, but not prove it.

Design, then, is not reducible to science – but since no science can manage without the design inference (suitably re-branded as illusory by the naturalists after it’s been assumed practically), or testimony for that matter, you can’t exclude it fom science without abolishing science itself.

12. 12
A Gene says:

And I further conclude that my inability to assign a quantity of CSI* to Mount Rushmore does not mean that the sculpture does not nevertheless exhibit CSI.

But if I were to deny that Mt Rushmore had CSI, what evidence would you show me to persuade me that I’m wrong? Is the assignment of CSI to an object just subjective?

13. 13
Jon Garvey says:

A Gene

If you denied Mount Rushmore had CSI, you’d self-evidently be a fool. So the question would be, what kind of fool?

Would you be a fool because you couldn’t see, or didn’t know about, certain scientific evidences of its design?

Or would you be a fool because you failed to see that, though science provides inadequate tools to demonstrate its CSI, it’s blindingly obvious through other epistemological methodologies?

By the way – I’ve never seen Mount Rushmore. Should I not doubt its existence until I have?

14. 14
Gregory says:

“Any attempt to assign precise mathematical quantities to beauty is facile.” – Barry Arrington

What ID boils down to then is an exercise in trying to quantify information, while accepting that not all information allows “precise quantification” – how many bits and bites or units of information (e.g. in the new one world trade centre 1WTC)?

UD Editors: The quotes below are not from Barry Arrington. We point this out because Gregory cites only one source for his quotes, and then makes several quotes that are not properly attibutable to that source leading possibly to confusion.

“the metrics of ID can back up the intuition of design, but not prove it.”

Doesn’t ID theory claim design can be proven scientifically, i.e. using a metric that it is more than just intuition (subjective), but is real (objective)?

“Design, then, is not reducible to science”

Most IDers seem to think ‘design’ needs to be ‘(re-)elevated’ in order to become science. Whereas a lot of scholarship already goes on in the name of ‘design,’ just not with origins of life, origins of biological information and origins of mankind focus.

The difference between Mt. Rushmore and a bacterial flagellum: the difference between studying design process and designers and not studying them.

4 new coined terms (attempted neologisms) in one thread! Is that a (quantifiable) new record at UD? What about rather than ‘quantity,’ speaking about ‘quality,’ nowhere in the post to be found? Is beauty not a quality as much or more than it is a quantity?

The label ‘Darwinist’ seems to just be an add-on for opposition sake. Is your ‘opponent’ here also your ‘friend’?

15. 15
timothya says:

GilDodgen posted this:

“I hereby coin another term, Common Sense Information, and a corollary, Common Sense Engineering.”

Just asking, what is your working definition of “common sense”? The reason that I am asking is that science often turns up verifiable explanations for the causes of natural effects that run counter to “common sense” (quantum mechanics, for example, is evidently not a common-sensical explanation of physical experience on a human scale).

Why should we believe that “common sense” is a reliable guide to selecting between competing explanations of reality?

16. 16
Starbuck says:

This thread does a good job of pointing out the obvious. The reason why you you cannot calculate csi for mt Rushmore is because it is subjective. You cannot objectively measure rationality.

17. 17
bornagain77 says:

timothya claims:

(quantum mechanics, for example, is evidently not a common-sensical explanation of physical experience on a human scale).

Actually quantum mechanics in only ‘not a common-sensical explanation’ from a materialistic point of view, but for someone of Theistic leanings, i.e. a theistic point of view, it makes perfect ‘common sense’:

What blows most people away, when they first encounter quantum mechanics, is the quantum foundation of our material reality blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. Most people consider defying time and space to be a ‘miraculous & supernatural’ event. I know I certainly do!

Predictions of Materialism compared to Predictions of Theism within the scientific method:
Excerpt: 5. Materialism predicted at the base of physical reality would be a solid indestructible material particle (atom) which rigidly obeyed the rules of time and space, Theism predicted the basis of this reality was created by a infinitely powerful and transcendent Being who is not limited by time and space – Quantum mechanics reveals a wave/particle duality for the basis of our reality which blatantly defies our concepts of time and space. –

The Electron – The Supernatural Basis of Reality – video
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5312315/

How can an Immaterial God Interact with the Physical Universe? (Alvin Plantinga) – video

This ‘miraculous & supernatural’ foundation for our physical reality can easily be illuminated by the famous ‘double slit’ experiment. (It should be noted the double slit experiment was originally devised, in 1801, by a Christian polymath named Thomas Young). Though I’ve listed this preceding video before, it is well worth revisiting it here:

Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579

This following site offers a more formal refutation of materialism from th quantum mechanic perspective:

Why Quantum Theory Does Not Support Materialism – By Bruce L Gordon:
Excerpt: Because quantum theory is thought to provide the bedrock for our scientific understanding of physical reality, it is to this theory that the materialist inevitably appeals in support of his worldview. But having fled to science in search of a safe haven for his doctrines, the materialist instead finds that quantum theory in fact dissolves and defeats his materialist understanding of the world.
http://www.4truth.net/site/c.h.....ialism.htm

As to the implication that quantum mechanics does not hold for the common sense ‘human scale’:

LIVING IN A QUANTUM WORLD – Vlatko Vedral – 2011
Excerpt: Thus, the fact that quantum mechanics applies on all scales forces us to confront the theory’s deepest mysteries. We cannot simply write them off as mere details that matter only on the very smallest scales. For instance, space and time are two of the most fundamental classical concepts, but according to quantum mechanics they are secondary. The entanglements are primary. They interconnect quantum systems without reference to space and time. If there were a dividing line between the quantum and the classical worlds, we could use the space and time of the classical world to provide a framework for describing quantum processes. But without such a dividing line—and, indeed, with­out a truly classical world—we lose this framework. We must ex­plain space and time (4D space-time) as somehow emerging from fundamental­ly spaceless and timeless physics.
http://phy.ntnu.edu.tw/~chchan.....611038.pdf

Double-slit experiment
Excerpt: In 1999 objects large enough to see under a microscope, buckyball (interlocking carbon atom) molecules (diameter about 0.7 nm, nearly half a million times that of a proton), were found to exhibit wave-like interference.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D.....experiment

18. 18
Axel says:

“This is why beauty is a topic for art and for philosophy, but is not a topic suitable for scientific study.”

Oh, really, Neil? Einstein stated that the criterion he resorted to, when selecting his hypotheses was aesthetic. And like mindless myrmidons, your materialist fraternity happily trot out their fondness for the elegance of some hypothesis or theory. Have you ever respected the elegance of a hypothesis or a theory?

Note that loopy, atheist scientism was the order of the day in which the great paradigm-changers of the last century, also, had to operate. Even at that early juncture, while he was still alive, Einstein could see the humour in it, pointing out that that beauty and elegance didn’t obviate the need for scientific rigour.

In Einstein, Planck and Bohr, you can see in their writings over the years, how increasingly bitter and sarcastic they became at the obdurate obtuseness of their atheist colleagues; Bohr, perhaps a little more amused than bitter about their fathomless nescience in the very face of meticulously-calculated truths that contradicted their world-view.

No wonder you people were left behind in the early part of the last century! You can’t even choose apt hypotheses. QM left you behind, didn’t it? You are a mill-stone weighting down science to the inane moorings of scientism. If you must do science, please confine yourselves to the routine and the mundane, and stop presuming yourselves to to be competent to theorize.

No materialist is, at least, in any discursive manner, and certainly without recourse to the work of the great non-atheist paradigm-changers of the early part of the last century, competent to theorise at this juncture of the development of empirical science. Why don’t you all try to work out how conjuror’s tricks are performed, rather than to understand the magic of the quantum world. That would be perfectly appropriate for your materialist persuasion.

19. 19
CentralScrutinizer says:

Firstly, the number of bits the faces could be reduced to, in this case it is not relevant, since other natural formations can be reduced to approximately the same number of bits. Therefore such a metric is useless in determining the level intelligent agency involved.

We intuit that the faces on Mt Rushmore are not simply caused by natural forces because of the extremely high correspondence they have with information in our brains with respect to human faces in general, and four human faces in particular. Some of us look at the “machinery” within cells and experience the same sort of intuitive recognition response, since what is going on has a high degree of correspondence with what human engineers have come up. Is this intuition valid as a detection of intelligence? I think it’s a valid philosophical question.

What I would like to ask is this: when confronted with such a high level of correspondence such as we see in cells, why shouldn’t the default position (until demonstrated otherwise) be that it is the product of intelligence? What good reason is there to quash the intuition? Intuition based on recognition is not always correct, but why shouldn’t the default position be that it is correct? Or at least that it is most likely to be correct.

The anti-ID crowd cannot give us a good reason to quash our intuition. All they can say is that “blind natural processes could have done it” without providing a scintilla of evidence that such a conjecture is true. They expect us to override our powers of recognizing correspondences. In the case Mount Rushmore, it is very high. In the case of cellular machinery it is very high. Sure, there are cases where such recognition turns out to be false. But why should we assume it is false when no contravening evidence is forthcoming?

20. 20
Joe says:

A Gene:

But if I were to deny that Mt Rushmore had CSI, what evidence would you show me to persuade me that I’m wrong?

The work required to make it.

21. 21
Joe says:

starbuck:

The reason why you you cannot calculate csi for mt Rushmore is because it is subjective.

OR it could be because objects are not easily amendable to CSI- IOW CSI is not the best tool to use to determine if an object is designed or not- counterflow or work are the tools to use to determine if an object was designed.

Ya see the way to use CSI on an object is to first determine what it would take to duplicate the feat and then try to capture that as bits. That is because the information flows from designer/ artist to artifact.

And then all you need to do is see if the 500 bit threshold has been reached. IOW there isn’t any need for an exact number.

22. 22
timothya says:

CentralScrutinizer posted this:

“Sure, there are cases where such recognition turns out to be false. But why should we assume it is false when no contravening evidence is forthcoming?”

Don’t you see the contradiction between the first sentence and the second?

23. 23
CentralScrutinizer says:

timothya,

No

24. 24
Upright BiPed says:

For whatever its worth, beauty has been mathematically measured in regards to human response; in this case, the beauty of the human face. A program was conducted several years ago where facial construction/composition of persons from cultures around the world were measured. Images of those facial structures were shown back to persons (again) from cultures around the world. The responses to differing facial composition were compiled and analyzed for comparative values. This was done on order to distinguish if there are any features that might be universally accepted as “beautiful” in the human family, regardless of the culture of origin. It was found that the appeal of the “Golden Ratio” was indeed ubiquitous among varying cultures by several degrees of magnitude.
Secondly: Mathgrl’s “conclusion” simply assumed what it was to be determined. His program was no more than to close his eyes and argue – regardless of data. When faced with the conditions of the “I” in CSI, he simply refused to engage.

25. 25
Joe says:

And what “Mathgrrl” fails to realize is that by using its logic the theory of evolution is literally meaningless…

26. 26
Barry Arrington says:

UB @ 24: Yes, I remember that study and found it very interesting. Still, the numbers are ordinal and not cardinal.

27. 27
bornagain77 says:

Of a barely related note to mathematics, detecting design, and the ‘mysterious’ nature of quantum mechanics that timothya had brought up earlier. I just remembered that higher dimensional mathematics had to be elucidated before the 4-D space time of General Relativity could be elucidated by Einstein, and also higher dimensional mathematics is even found to have played a foundational role in the elucidation of Quantum Mechanics:

The Mathematics Of Higher Dimensionality – Gauss & Riemann – video
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/6199520/

3D to 4D shift – Carl Sagan – video with notes
Excerpt from Notes: The state-space of quantum mechanics is an infinite-dimensional function space. Some physical theories are also by nature high-dimensional, such as the 4-dimensional general relativity.

Higher dimensional 4-D space time is very intriguing to think about:

4-D space time ‘expands equally in all places’!:

Where is the centre of the universe?:
Excerpt: There is no centre of the universe! According to the standard theories of cosmology, the universe started with a “Big Bang” about 14 thousand million years ago and has been expanding ever since. Yet there is no centre to the expansion; it is the same everywhere. The Big Bang should not be visualized as an ordinary explosion. The universe is not expanding out from a centre into space; rather, the whole universe is expanding and it is doing so equally at all places, as far as we can tell.
http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/.....entre.html

Thus from a materialistic 3-dimensional (3D) perspective, any particular 3D spot in the universe is to be considered just as ‘center of the universe’ as any other particular spot in the universe is to be considered ‘center of the universe’. This centrality found for any 3D place in the universe is because the universe is a 4D expanding hypersphere, analogous in 3D to the surface of an expanding balloon. All points on the surface are moving away from each other, and every point is central, if that’s where you live.

Centrality of Earth Within The 4-Dimensional Space-Time of General Relativity – video
http://www.metacafe.com/w/8421879

And although materialists claim that they don’t believe in any transcendent objects, or beings, that they can’t see with their naked eye, the ‘flatland’ thought experiment shows that objects which reside in a higher dimension are necessarily invisible to any ‘naked eye’ observation:

Dr. Quantum in Flatland – video

to add a bit a credence to the flatland thought experiment:

It is also very interesting to point out that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, reported in many Near Death Experiences(NDEs), is also corroborated by Einstein’s Special Relativity when considering the optical effects for traveling at the speed of light. Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences: (Of note: This following video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.)

Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

Thus mathematics, as far as its formulation in describing reality itself to us, as best we can determine, confirms the theistic postulation that this universe was created, and is sustained, from a higher dimension, and even lends strong support to the Theistic contention that we (our souls) may very well go to a higher dimension upon the death of our physical bodies.

28. 28
Joe says:

The causal tie between an artifact and its intended character — or, strictly speaking, between an artifact and its author’s productive intention — is constituted by an author’s actions, that is, by his work on the object.- Artifact

When discussing information some people want to know how much information does something contain?

If it is something straight-forward such as a definition, we can count the number of bits in that definition to find out how much information it contains.

For example:

aardvark: a large burrowing nocturnal mammal (Orycteropus afer) of sub-Saharan Africa that has a long snout, extensible tongue, powerful claws, large ears, and heavy tail and feeds especially on termites and ants

A simple character count reveals 202 characters which translates into 1010 bits of information/ specified complexity.

Now what do we do when all we have is an object?

One way of figuring out how much information it contains is to figure out how (the simplest way) to make it.

Then you write down the procedure without wasting words/ characters and count those bits. The point is that you have to capture the actions required and translate that into bits. That is if you want to use CSI. However by doing all of that you have already determined the thing was designed Now you are just trying to determine how much work was involved.

But any, that will give you an idea of the minimal information it contains- Data collection and compression (six sigma DMAIC- define, measure, analyze, improve, control).

29. 29
Collin says:

Here is another example I hope will help. Take “color.” We can quantify color, but for most of history, humans could not quantify color. A person would just say, “that looks red.” Someone else may say, “that’s more orange than red.” It has a subjective element, but it is a real phenomenon in nature. Maybe one day our technology will be able to quantify CSI. But for now, we’ll need to be content with approximations based on our perceptions.

30. 30
kairosfocus says:

CS: Pardon, it is not just bits, it is bits that do a specific job [which is true of engineering designs in general], i.e a reasonably representative portrait of four specific historical figures of note in the US. It is not just complexity but specification AT THE SAME TIME. That’s what puts you into a special zone of a config space that the only credible way to get to, is by intelligent, active info. KF

31. 31
kairosfocus says:

BA: The ordinal/nominal thing brings out that we have various kinds of scales, each of which is valid and useful. I like to think in terms of RION: Ratio > Interval > Ordinal > Nominal. Digital hi/lo on/off, true/false etc values are nominal. That does not make them less useful, valuable, important or valid. KF

32. 32
Joe says:

On Shannon Information:

The word information in this theory is used in a special mathematical sense that must not be confused with its ordinary usage. In particular, information must not be confused with meaning.- Warren Weaver, one of Shannon’s collaborators

Is what Weaver said so difficult to understand?

Kolmogorov complexity deals with, well, complexity. From wikipedia:

Algorithmic information theory principally studies complexity measures on strings (or other data structures).

Nothing about meaning, content, functionality, prescription. IOW nothing that Information Technology cares deeply about, namely functional, meaningful, and useful information. Not only Information Technology but the whole world depends on Information Technology type of information, ie the type of information Intelligent Design is concerned with.

And both Creationists and IDists make it clear, painfully clear, that when we are discussing “information” we are discussing that type of information.

And without even blinking an eye, the anti-IDists always, and without fail, bring up the meaningless when trying to refute the meaningful. “Look there is nature producing Shannon Information, you lose!”- ho-hum.
Moving on-

Biological specification always refers to function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. In virtue of their function, these systems embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the same sense required by the complexity-specification criterion (see sections 1.3 and 2.5). The specification of organisms can be crashed out in any number of ways. Arno Wouters cashes it out globally in terms of the viability of whole organisms. Michael Behe cashes it out in terms of minimal function of biochemical systems.– Wm. Dembski page 148 of NFL

In the preceding and proceeding paragraphs William Dembski makes it clear that biological specification is CSI- complex specified information.

In the paper “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories”, Stephen C. Meyer wrote:

Dembski (2002) has used the term “complex specified information” (CSI) as a synonym for “specified complexity” to help distinguish functional biological information from mere Shannon information–that is, specified complexity from mere complexity. This review will use this term as well.

In order to be a candidate for natural selection a system must have minimal function: the ability to accomplish a task in physically realistic circumstances.– M. Behe page 45 of “Darwin’s Black Box”

With that said, to measure biological information, ie biological specification, all you have to do is count the coding nucleotides of the genes involved for that functioning system, then multiply by 2 (four possible nucleotides = 2^2) and then factor in the variation tolerance:

from Kirk K. Durston, David K. Y. Chiu, David L. Abel, Jack T. Trevors, “Measuring the functional sequence complexity of proteins,” Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling, Vol. 4:47 (2007):

[N]either RSC [Random Sequence Complexity] nor OSC [Ordered Sequence Complexity], or any combination of the two, is sufficient to describe the functional complexity observed in living organisms, for neither includes the additional dimension of functionality, which is essential for life. FSC [Functional Sequence Complexity] includes the dimension of functionality. Szostak argued that neither Shannon’s original measure of uncertainty nor the measure of algorithmic complexity are sufficient. Shannon’s classical information theory does not consider the meaning, or function, of a message. Algorithmic complexity fails to account for the observation that “different molecular structures may be functionally equivalent.” For this reason, Szostak suggested that a new measure of information—functional information—is required.

Here is a formal way of measuring functional information:

Robert M. Hazen, Patrick L. Griffin, James M. Carothers, and Jack W. Szostak, “Functional information and the emergence of biocomplexity,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, Vol. 104:8574–8581 (May 15, 2007).

Jack W. Szostak, “Molecular messages,” Nature, Vol. 423:689 (June 12, 2003).

33. 33
mphillips says:

kairosfocus@1

Serious point. Of course the digitised charts that specify the cathedral or the shack could in principle be used to quantify the CSI involved, especially to show that it is obviously well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits. (The same could be done per a nodes and arcs plot of Mt Rushmore.)

This is of some interest to me as I have dealt with computer models previously so know exactly what you mean. There are converters available that can turn one format into many others, so in essence they are all really describing the same data. And it’s obvious from looking at the (sometimes) text that describes the data that some charts are more complex then others.

As there are plenty of three dimensional object descriptions available would it be possible for you to describe, in pseudocode, the algorithm for how you would go about converting a given set of these “digitized charts” into a specific value of CSI?

File formats that may be of interest here include MD3 and VRML.

I’d be interested to attempt to program such a utility, if you could describe a potential in principle implementation.

34. 34
mphillips says:

kariosfocus@30

CS: Pardon, it is not just bits, it is bits that do a specific job [which is true of engineering designs in general]

Joe@32

Nothing about meaning, content, functionality, prescription. IOW nothing that Information Technology cares deeply about, namely functional, meaningful, and useful information.

Are you both describing the same metric?

35. 35
mphillips says:

kariosfocus@30

CS: Pardon, it is not just bits, it is bits that do a specific job [which is true of engineering designs in general], i.e a reasonably representative portrait of four specific historical figures of note in the US.

I’m unsure then what is represented by the actual “bits” themselves if those bits alone are insufficient on their own to describe the totality of the situation.

If the “CSI” of Mt.Rushmore is “less” because society has forgotten who the faces represent (in 10,000 years say) then CSI is not measuring values solely present in the object being examined, additional data – the “specific job that we know in advance that the bits do” is required to determine CSI, at least as I am understanding you describe it here.

karirosfocus, would Mt.Rushmore have more CSI if 1 person remembered the names and history behind the faces then if nobody did?

36. 36
mphillips says:

Joe,

As I noted above, I’m interested in building a tool that will measure the CSI, if possible, in 3d representations of real buildings.

In this thread you go into some detail regarding the specifics, using the “baking a cake” analogy. As the thread is quote old I hope you don’t mind if I continue the conversation here, it seems relevant to the OP.

http://intelligentreasoning.bl.....ified.html

The recipe itself carries with it all the definitions of the words it contains.

Could you give me an example of such a thing? This is new to me and I’ve some objections to you claim as I note below.

The more information it takes the farher it is away from being reducible to matter, energy, chance and necessity.

An interesting idea for a metric. But could you not have two different recipes that ended up with the same cake?

And that is why 500 bits of specified information constitutes CSI- it is far enough away, no ifs ands or buts about it.

Do you have a worked example of this in action? It sounds fascinating!

So if you really wanted to know the SI of a something all you have to do is to figure out how to make one, write down the instructions, and count the bits.

Again, same question. If two people “reverse engineer” your cake and re-bake it, will they always get teh same number of bits?

One final note- the point of CSI is to know whether or not it is present. Its presence is a signal of intentional design. Getting an exact number, although good for parlor games, may or may not be of any use scientifically.

kariosfocus indicates that schematics can have the CSI determined, at least in principle. I’m willing to give it a go.

My point is the cake that is baked contains all the information that was used in baking it.

That includes the recipe and all that entails.

It also includes all of the prep.

As I mentioned to kariosfocus, it seems to me that yet more information is needed. What is “heat”. What is an “oven”. What is the ambient temperature. -100?

So in reality you have to describe a large amount of human culture and technology before a “cake recipe” can be said to contain everything needed to bake that cake with no further referents.

the only time I can see the exact number of bits woulod be required is to determine which object(s) have the most information.

But I don’t see any value in that.

Then I guess you disagree with the OP.

It cannot have CSI and be less than 500 bits of SI.

It can be designed and have less than 500 bits of SI.

As for a “useful threshold”- I don’t even know if that is what Dembski was after, but CSI is greater than all the probabilistic resources in the universe.

Do all cakes have more then 500 bits of SI? CSI? that was not clear to me from reading the thead.

What about the natural “cakes” that some animals “bake”? Do they have CSI?

37. 37
Joe says:

mphillips @34-

Yes, KF’s “specific job” = my function, meaning etc

38. 38
Joe says:

But could you not have two different recipes that ended up with the same cake?

It’s possible. What’s the relevance?

Then I guess you disagree with the OP.

In what way do I disagree with the OP?

Do all cakes have more then 500 bits of SI?

I don’t know.

What about the natural “cakes” that some animals “bake”?

Eat one and let me know.

39. 39
mphillips says:

Joe @ 37,
Right, I get that. But when you look at a “string of bits” how do you determine in advance if it has meaning or not as once you’ve done that you’ve already determined it was designed? Seems circular to me.

It’s possible. What’s the relevance?

I was just wondering if the values were complex enough to be unique.

In what way do I disagree with the OP?

Well it seems to me that determining which object(s) have the most of one thing over another was the point. And you wondered where the value was in that, no?

I don’t know.

What does that mean in terms of cake overall then? Are there “undesigned” cakes out there?

Eat one and let me know.

What happens to the CSI in a cake when you eat it, now you mention it. Where does it go?

40. 40
kairosfocus says:

MP: Shannon info is a general metric of info carrying capacity. FSCI or more broadly CSI, is about bits in configs that do something in particular and so are constrained to come from particular narrow zones in spaces of possible configs. Not all possible strings of ASCII characters will be contextually responsive posts in this thread. But, a random string will have a certain number of bits worth of capacity. In fact, for a given string length, as all real codes have some redundancy, a truly flat random string will have the highest bit value. KF

41. 41
Joe says:

But when you look at a “string of bits” how do you determine in advance if it has meaning or not as once you’ve done that you’ve already determined it was designed?

How do I know in advance if something I am going to observe later has meaning or not? I ask my magic 8 ball.

Well it seems to me that determining which object(s) have the most of one thing over another was the point.

OK.

And you wondered where the value was in that, no?

Yup, to me it’s an “apple v oranges” comparison.

Are there “undesigned” cakes out there?

Never seen one. However there may be a way to make a cake using only SI.

And by eating the cake you are consuming the information- some stays with you and the rest is waste.

42. 42
Maus says:

mphillips: “As I noted above, I’m interested in building a tool that will measure the CSI, if possible, in 3d representations of real buildings.”

I think this is a marvelous idea. But there’s no need to await a formal notion of CSI from the ID crowd. After all, CSI and Natural Selection are contrary to one another. So simply ask the scientists for the amount of Natural Selection present in a building and go from there.

43. 43
mphillips says:

kairofocus @ 40,

MP: Shannon info is a general metric of info carrying capacity. FSCI or more broadly CSI, is about bits in configs that do something in particular and so are constrained to come from particular narrow zones in spaces of possible configs. Not all possible strings of ASCII characters will be contextually responsive posts in this thread. But, a random string will have a certain number of bits worth of capacity. In fact, for a given string length, as all real codes have some redundancy, a truly flat random string will have the highest bit value. KF

Thanks for that, but I’m not sure what relevance “strings have lengths” is to be honest.

Perhaps you missed my original request, I’ll recap:

As there are plenty of three dimensional object descriptions available would it be possible for you to describe, in pseudocode, the algorithm for how you would go about converting a given set of these “digitized charts” into a specific value of CSI?
I’d be interested to attempt to program such a utility, if you could describe a potential in principle implementation.

This is directly in response to your claim that:

Of course the digitised charts that specify the cathedral or the shack could in principle be used to quantify the CSI involved, especially to show that it is obviously well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits.

I’d like to attempt that, can you describe a potential in principle implementation in pseudocode?

44. 44
mphillips says:

Joe,

How do I know in advance if something I am going to observe later has meaning or not? I ask my magic 8 ball.

Not quite. Kariosfocus says:

Pardon, it is not just bits, it is bits that do a specific job

What I’m asking is if you don’t have the knowledge that the bits do a specific job then that changes the value of CSI, right?

So how do you tell a string of bits with no function apart from a string of bits that has a function but you just don’t know it?

And by eating the cake you are consuming the information- some stays with you and the rest is waste.

In what way does the “information” stay with you? can this be measured?

45. 45
mphillips says:

Maus @ 42,

I think this is a marvelous idea.

Thanks! I’m surprised nobody has done it before TBH.

But there’s no need to await a formal notion of CSI from the ID crowd.

My understanding from reading here is that there is such a formal notion and I’m asking kariosfocus who make the claim that it can be applied to architecture to support that claim and help me implement it.

After all, CSI and Natural Selection are contrary to one another.

I don’t understand what you mean. CSI is a metric, NS is a process. In what way are they “contrary”?

So simply ask the scientists for the amount of Natural Selection present in a building and go from there.

It’s not my claim that CSI can be quantified in a building, it’s kariosfocus

. Of course the digitised charts that specify the cathedral or the shack could in principle be used to quantify the CSI involved, especially to show that it is obviously well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits. (The same could be done per a nodes and arcs plot of Mt Rushmore.)

So if you have a problem with it, perhaps you could discuss it with him, I’m only interested in obtaining some pseudocode that shows how it can be done “in principle”.

As I have a sneaky feeling that the shack will have more CSI then the Cathedral…….

46. 46
mphillips says:

kariosfocus,

Pardon, it is not just bits, it is bits that do a specific job [which is true of engineering designs in general], i.e a reasonably representative portrait of four specific historical figures of note in the US. It is not just complexity but specification AT THE SAME TIME. That’s what puts you into a special zone of a config space that the only credible way to get to, is by intelligent, active info. KF

I’d like to come back to this, if I may.

When you look at a string of bits, how do you know that they have specification?

E.G. If I give you two strings of bits of equal length, one representing Mt.Rushmore and one representing a mountain of similar size, will you be able to tell the difference?

It seems to me that you cannot.

Of course, you could use those bits to reconstruct the mountain and then recognize the faces that appear, but then you are using “extra bits” not present in the string (what the faces look like) to make that determination so whatever it is that you are measuring cannot soley reside in those bits alone.

In any case,

Of course the digitised charts that specify the cathedral or the shack could in principle be used to quantify the CSI involved, especially to show that it is obviously well beyond 500 – 1,000 bits. (The same could be done per a nodes and arcs plot of Mt Rushmore.)

I’d like to attempt this.

Here you can find a 3D model of São Paulo in Google Sketchup format:

I’m not familiar with this file format but I’m sure it won’t take long to work out. You’ll probably need some time to work out the pseudocode in any case.

If you could indicate your interest in this then I’ll make a start. I’m happy to do the heavy lifting, i.e. programming, to make this happen.

47. 47
Maus says:

mphillips:

I don’t understand what you mean. CSI is a metric, NS is a process. In what way are they “contrary”?

Bricklaying is a process. And it’s part of the process of constructing a building, is it not? And CSI and NS are defined as contrary to one another. Such that if CSI is the case then NS is not and vice versa. (Or that’s my understanding of Dembski on the matter.)

So it really matters not at all if kairosfocus can produce here or not.

So if you have a problem with it, perhaps you could discuss it with him …

My only problem has been trying to get a usable notion of CSI out of anyone for ages. Which is why I support your project. As I said, it’s a fantastic idea and can be accomplished by simply making an end run around the idea of CSI in toto. All we need is to quantify the Natural Selection in an object. And for this we only need ask a biologist as to how to recognize and quantify it.

Nothing could be simpler. After all, Evolution is a real science with a 150 year track record of adults getting work done.

48. 48
mphillips says:

Maus,

And CSI and NS are defined as contrary to one another.

No, I don’t believe that’s the case. Can you provide a citation?

Such that if CSI is the case then NS is not and vice versa.

Well, ID’s position is that NS does not and cannot produce anything other then minor variations (or wobbling stability). So NS can change (presumably) the amount of CSI. Or can it? I don’t know tbh, do you?

All we need is to quantify the Natural Selection in an object. And for this we only need ask a biologist as to how to recognize and quantify it.

Are biologists making the claim that the “amount of natural selection” in “an object” can be determined then?

Whereas there are people on this actual thread making the same claim for CSI and building schematics.

Nothing could be simpler. After all, Evolution is a real science with a 150 year track record of adults getting work done.

And ID has a 2000+ year history and we’re still here asking how to calculate CSI.

But regarding the “amount of natural selection” there are some metrics that may be of interest.

Suppose that a character has been measured at two times, t1 and t2 ; t1 and t2 are expressed as times before the present in millions of years.

The time interval between the two samples can be written as:Dt = t1 – t2,

which is 1 million years if t1 = 15.2 and t2 =14.2 The average value of the character is defined as x1 in the earlier sample and x2 in the later sample; we then take natural logarithms of x1 and x2 (the natural logarithm is the log to base e where e = 2.718, and it is symbolized by ln ).

The evolutionary rate (r) then is

r = (ln(x2) – ln(x1)) / Dt

The rate of evolution is measured in ‘darwins’.

http://www.blackwellpublishing.....ution2.asp

The measure is most useful in palaeontology, where macroevolutionary changes in the dimensions of fossils can be compared. Where this is used it is an indirect measure as it relies on phenotypic rather than genotypic data. Several data are required to overcome natural variation within a population. The darwin only measures the evolution of a particular trait rather than a lineage; different traits may evolve at different rates within a lineage. The evolution of traits can however be used to infer as a proxy the evolution of lineages.
Genetic information cannot be obtained from fossils, but modern (post-Haldane) techniques on extant organisms now rely on genetic data (q.v. phylogenetics).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_(unit)

So plug your numbers in for the building and you’ll get, well, nothing useful. Whereas I hope the same won’t be said for Kariosfocus’s CSI generation pseudocode.

49. 49
Maus says:

Can you provide a citation?

Allow me to repeat myself: “(Or that’s my understanding of Dembski on the matter.)” You can check Wiki for it if you like.

I don’t know tbh, do you?

Dunno, ask an ID guy or gal.

Are biologists making the claim that the “amount of natural selection” in “an object” can be determined then?

Wait, are you saying that they cannot? [Citation needed]

So plug your numbers in for the building and you’ll get, well, nothing useful.

Well, of course not. If you read your source you’d see that it is only for measuring given traits from multiple samples over time. This is why I said you need to ask a biologist for how to calculate these sorts of things.

50. 50
mphillips says:

Maus

Allow me to repeat myself: “(Or that’s my understanding of Dembski on the matter.)” You can check Wiki for it if you like.

please do repeat yourself as much as you like. If you are unwilling to provide backup or citations for your claims they remain just that, empty claims.

Dunno, ask an ID guy or gal.

Whatever.

Wait, are you saying that they cannot?

No, it’s you that is saying that they can. So prove it!

All we need is to quantify the Natural Selection in an object. And for this we only need ask a biologist as to how to recognize and quantify it.

Nothing could be simpler. After all, Evolution is a real science with a 150 year track record of adults getting work done.

Yes, I’ll get right on that and ask a biologist to calculate the amount of evolution in non-biological objects.

On what basis do you say that can be done? I’m not making that claim but the claim that CSI can be calculating for buildings has been made. If I were you I’d worry about that first rather then saying “I know what I am, but what are you”.

Well, of course not. If you read your source you’d see that it is only for measuring given traits from multiple samples over time. This is why I said you need to ask a biologist for how to calculate these sorts of things.

If you say that it can be calculated then why don’t you just explain how to do it then?

If you don’t know that it can be then why are you asking me to ask a biologist if it can be?

Perhaps you can give an example of how to calculate the amount of evolution in a building?

51. 51
mphillips says:

Maus,

But there’s no need to await a formal notion of CSI from the ID crowd.

It’s been around a while now, but given that kariosfocus claims it can be applied to building schematics “in principle” I’m going to take him up on that and attempt to do it in practice.

Awaiting pseudocode.

52. 52
mphillips says:

Perhaps the CSI of a cathedral (or even a shack) is too much as a starting point.

I wonder then if perhaps the Platonic solids would be a better starting point? If the digitised charts that specify the cathedral or the shack could in principle be used to quantify the CSI involved, then I’m certain the Platonic solids would be amenable to that in practice.

Would you oblige Kariosfocus? Of course, I’d be interested in anybody’s answer.

53. 53
Joe says:

What I’m asking is if you don’t have the knowledge that the bits do a specific job then that changes the value of CSI, right?

Totally clueless- science operates via observations. So we would be observing the specific job and then we would be trying to figure out how that came to be. And if our investigation shows that CSI is present then we know it came to be by design.

Ya see we observe that living organisms are full job specific functional systems. And via our knowledge of cause and effect relationships we infer they were designed.

And via Newton’s 4 rules of scientific reasoning your position can come along and demonstrate necessity and chance candoit and wipe out our design inference. However you can’t so all you do is attack ID and science.

In what way does the “information” stay with you?

You don’t understand how eating works?

54. 54
CentralScrutinizer says:

KF,

CS: Pardon, it is not just bits, it is bits that do a specific job [which is true of engineering designs in general], i.e a reasonably representative portrait of four specific historical figures of note in the US. It is not just complexity but specification AT THE SAME TIME.

Specification of something humans already know. The specification has to be in our heads first before the complexity has any meaning.

For example, the alleged “face on Mars.” There are plenty of formations on Mars that have the same amount of complexity, but it’s the particular shape of this object that corresponds with patterns that humans already have in their noggins, which leads to an intuitive inference. (Turns out, when we obtained higher resolution, the specificity did not match our notion of what a face is, and the intuitive inference was lost.)

Point is, CSI is a meaningless metric unless the “S” corresponds to something we already possess in our minds as a pattern, whether static (as in a face) or dynamic (as in a process.)

55. 55
Joe says:

Well, ID’s position is that NS does not and cannot produce anything other then minor variations (or wobbling stability).

Nope, that is what ALL observations say- natural selection doesn’t do anything. Sure, it exists, but existing doesn’t mean it actually does something.

You need evidence and you don’t have any.

And ID has a 2000+ year history and we’re still here asking how to calculate CSI.

And you have been told how- so there must be other issues, personal issues, that keep you from understanding the how.

56. 56
Joe says:

Specification of something humans already know. The specification has to be in our heads first before the complexity has any meaning.

Nope, we can observe an object doing smething, some function, and infer that is the specification, ie the thing the object is supposed to be doing.

57. 57
CentralScrutinizer says:

Joe #56, Nope, we can observe an object doing smething, some function, and infer that is the specification, ie the thing the object is supposed to be doing.

Please cite an example of what you have in mind.

58. 58
Joe says:

Biological specification always refers to function. An organism is a functional system comprising many functional subsystems. In virtue of their function, these systems embody patterns that are objectively given and can be identified independently of the systems that embody them. Hence these systems are specified in the same sense required by the complexity-specification criterion (see sections 1.3 and 2.5). The specification of organisms can be crashed out in any number of ways. Arno Wouters cashes it out globally in terms of the viability of whole organisms. Michael Behe cashes it out in terms of minimal function of biochemical systems.- Wm. Dembski page 148 of No Free Luch

In the preceding and proceeding paragraphs William Dembski makes it clear that biological specification is CSI- complex specified information.

In the paper “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories”, Stephen C. Meyer wrote:

Dembski (2002) has used the term “complex specified information” (CSI) as a synonym for “specified complexity” to help distinguish functional biological information from mere Shannon information–that is, specified complexity from mere complexity. This review will use this term as well.

In order to be a candidate for natural selection a system must have minimal function: the ability to accomplish a task in physically realistic circumstances.- M. Behe page 45 of “Darwin’s Black Box”

With that in mind it is easy to see that the purpose of a bacterial flagellum is for motility, and it could also be for latching on (wrapping around something). So we would test these ideas to see which is the better fit. And the specification would be a subsystem that performs job X (eg motility/ wrapping) utilizing nanaoscale rotary technology, etc.

59. 59
CentralScrutinizer says:

Joe: With that in mind it is easy to see that the purpose of a bacterial flagellum is for motility,

I agree. However, this plays into my assertion that “CSI is a meaningless metric unless the “S” corresponds to something we already possess in our minds as a pattern, whether static (as in a face) or dynamic (as in a process.)”

We, as humans, already have the notion that “motility can provide a beneficial function” and we discern this when we look at flagella. Without that discernible function, the CSI that the flagella possesses would be a meaningless metric.

60. 60
Joe says:

Yes, if all bacterial flagella did nothing I don’t know if we would care if they were designed or not. It is usually because something happened or is happening, that we investigate.

We observe bacterial flagella functioning and we want to know why and how. Perhaps if all flagella were non-functioning we would also want to know why and how.

However I understand your point and yes, we use our knowledge of cause and effect relationships to form any given design inference, which means it corresponds to something we already possess in our minds as a pattern, whether static (as in a face) or dynamic (as in a process).

However, even if it didn’t correspond to known cause and effect relationships, in our attempt to figure out how it came to be we should also be able to discern some specification.

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Maus says:

If you are unwilling to provide backup or citations for your claims they remain just that, empty claims.

Allow me to repeat myself again: “Allow me to repeat myself: “(Or that’s my understanding of Dembski on the matter.)” You can check Wiki for it if you like.”

First, it was stated as a personal understanding and nothing more. If you know a way, with a scalpel and Miner’s Lamp, to peer inside my skull and see my thoughts? Then I’m going to need a citation for that.

And, of course, I mentioned Wiki. A source you have used and are obviously familiar with. I should hardly think that you are so sheltered and incapable at life that you cannot sort out how to use a site address that you have already used.

No, it’s you that is saying that they can. So prove it!

This is descending into farce. There are exactly two options here. (1) You are requiring proof of completely obvious definitional things such as ‘apples’ and ‘tapeworms’ or (2) you are making a claim that Evolution has no testable model of its central claims.

In the first case you would be a Sophist spokeshole or mental deficient of such strength that you would likely spend your time arguing the finer points about the timing of eschaton with road signs. And I do not accept that you are such an animal. If you are, I’ll need your claim that your are first.

But if that’s not the case the your are, by your query, asserting your disbelief that the discipline of Evolution, as practiced for over 150 years, has absolutely to testable or descriptive formality of its — functionally — sole and central claim. That it is pure religious bunkum. That would be an extraordinary claim and contrary to the knowledge received by every small child while attending school. So this one is your onus: [Citation needed]

Or, to crib Sagan: “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”

On what basis do you say that can be done?

On the basis that Evolution is an actual scientific discipline. We need only know the mathematical descriptions and ensure they are properly applied. Basic stuff.

But as you seem to hold that Evolution is some sort of anti-science nonsense then I could see why you might not understand my perspective.

As I said though, if you hold that this is the case then we’re all going to need some proof that Evolution is cultist nonsense in a lab coat. And if it is not then the idea that you should bristle at asking the experts for their own equations is a little bit stupid.

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mphillips says:

Joe,

However, even if it didn’t correspond to known cause and effect relationships, in our attempt to figure out how it came to be we should also be able to discern some specification.

Can you give an example of such an attempt and what that specification would look like?

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Joe says:

Can you give an example of such an attempt and what that specification would look like?

Any time something new was being investigated- you know the stuff science is all about. OK Stonehenge, we are still trying to figure out what it was for, what it’s specifications were and the mechanisms used to get it into place.

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Joe says:

One of our Darwinist friends’ favorite tactics is to insist that if something cannot be precisely quantified in mathematical terms then there is no warrant for believing it exists at all.

That’s funny because evolutionism cannot be quantified, not precisely in mathematical terms. And not in any way I am familiar with.

So according to evolutionists their “theory” is junk…

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David W. Gibson says:

Nope, we can observe an object doing smething, some function, and infer that is the specification, ie the thing the object is supposed to be doing.

One of the tests for childhood creativity is to ask the children how many different things they can think of to do with a brick. Some children think up quite a long list of uses. Let’s say we find bricks put to a dozen uses. Which of these is the specification?

Just from where I’m sitting, I can see a shoe being used as a doorstop, a chair being used as a guitar stand, stereo speakers being used as bookeneds, a sculpture being used as a paperweight. A Martian following “Joe’s rule of inference” would be sincerely misdirected.

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David W. Gibson says:

That’s funny because evolutionism cannot be quantified, not precisely in mathematical terms. And not in any way I am familiar with.

So according to evolutionists their “theory” is junk…

If a theory were required to be a metric, then no theory would qualify and all would be junk.

But CSI was designed for the express and stated purpose of BEING a metric. The whole point of creating the concept of CSI was to get around the “looks designed to me” subjective assessment.

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Joe says:

David- YOUR position is the subjective “it looks evolved to me” or “it looks like a transitional to me” or “it looks like common ancestry to me”.

CSI is quantified at 500 bits off specified information. And guess what? Your position can’t even account for 100 bits of SI.

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Joe says:

David:

One of the tests for childhood creativity is to ask the children how many different things they can think of to do with a brick.

When children are scientists that example will have some merit. Until then it is nothing but a strawman.

A Martian following “Joe’s rule of inference” would be sincerely misdirected.

What Martian? Is it as stupid as you or as ignorant as a child?