DrREC is not just any Darwinist. He holds a doctorate and has published on complex matters of biology in peer reviewed journals. He is not stupid. That’s why I like to use his examples in my posts. I am not picking on a defenseless layman. He’s among the Darwinists’ best and brightest. So let’s get to his latest pronouncement from on high:
Pulsars often have a complex behavior. But is it specified? If we took the pattern of pulses we detect as the ‘design specification’ — the pattern we search for, we would conclude yes. Totally and undeniably circular. Prove me wrong.
Here’s the problem with DrREC’s reasoning. He seems to assume (despite being told the contrary numerous times), that any “pattern” can be designated post hoc as “specified.” He does not seem to understand the most basic concepts of design theory. The answer is that not any pattern can legitimately be called a specification.
In a comment to my prior post Bruce David explains the concept nicely as follows:
Dembski’s work builds on that of earlier probability theorists’ who were wrestling with the problem that, for example, any pattern of heads and tails obtained by tossing a coin 100 times is equally improbable, yet intuitively, a pattern of 50 heads followed by 50 tails is in some sense far less probable than a ‘normal’ random pattern. In order to solve this conundrum, they came up with the idea of specification—if the pattern of heads and tails can be described independently of the actual pattern itself, then it is specified, and specified patterns can be said to be non-random. And note, the pattern does not have to be described ahead of time; the requirement is just that it is capable of being described independently of the actual pattern itself. In other words, a normal ‘random’ pattern can only be described by something equivalent to ‘the first toss was heads, the second heads, the third tails,’ and so on, whereas the example above is specified because it can be described as I already have, namely, ’50 heads followed by 50 tails’.
Back to DrREC’s question. The pulses from the pulsar are indeed highly complex (i.e., improbable). But they are never specified because they cannot be, as Bruce says, “described independently of the actual pattern itself.” Therefore if we “took the pattern of pulses we detect as the ‘design specification'” even though that pattern could not be described independently of the actual pattern itself, we would simply be wrong. That pattern does not conform to the definition of a specification.
DrREC basically says, “If we call any pattern we find a “specification” then any pattern we find will be a “specification,” and that gets us nowhere. Well, of course he is right as far as it goes. But at a deeper and more meaningful level he is wrong, because no one says you can call just any pattern you find a specification. The pattern must conform to a strict criterion before it can be considered a specification.
So DrREC, I answered your question. While we are on the issue of pulses you can answer mine. Suppose researchers detect a repeating series of 1,126 pulses and pauses of unknown origin. The pulses and pauses start like this (with one’s conforming to pulses and zero’s conforming to pauses): 110111011111011111110 . . . After analyzing the series they determine that the zero’s are spaces between numbers and the one’s add up to numbers. Thus, the excerpt I reproduced would be 2, 3, 5 and 7, the first four prime numbers. The researchers suddenly realize that the 1,126 pulses and pauses represent the prime numbers between 1 and 100. (Obviously, this was the series in the movie Contact).
My question for you DrREC is this: Would you join Arch-atheist, uber-materialist, Darwinist Carl Sagan and conclude that this series is obviously designed by an intelligent agent? If so, why? After all, it is a hard fact that this series of 1,126 pulses and pauses is NO MORE IMPROBABLE than any other series of 1,126 pulses and pauses.