Tuesday, April 17, 2018

North American IDists Screw Up Irreducible Complexity Definition

This post has exactly the same title as a previous post where I criticized de facto Intelligent Design's concept of "irreducible complexity". The original post was here:

Because the ID community have taken on board such a poor definition of irreducible complexity it is no surprise that a serene but sarcistic sounding PZ Myers has a field day:

The de facto ID community don't appear to understand how hard it is to determine if irreducible complexity, when  properly defined, is a feature of the configuration space of our physical regime.  This is how I defined it in this post

Irreducible/reducible complexity: I don’t use these terms in the sense of Micheal Behe’s flawed concept of irreducible complexity. Irreducible complexity and reducible complexity as I conceive them are to do with how stable organic structures are laid out in configuration space. If a set of structures are reducibly complex they form a connected set in configuration space: This means that the diffusional computational process of evolution can bring about considerable change in organic structure. Irreducible complexity, on the other hand, is the opposite. That is, when such structures are widely separated in configuration space it is not possible for evolutionary diffusion to hop from one organism to another. Irreducible complexity, if defined properly (that is, not in the Behe sense), is an evolution stopper.

I'm going do a quick recap of the line of argumentation that I have presented more fully in the following blog posts:


If we take a large collection of "hard" particles like, say, marbles and we imagine them to be agitated so that the particles display a random walk dynamic clearly no organised structures will persist long enough for there to be any hope of self-perpetuating, self-replicating structure forming. For if by chance order should come about it would immediately start to evaporate. But in our real world the component parts aren't just hard particles - the particles interact by attraction as well as repulsion; these interactions are such that particles stick together. This is a bit like taking a set of meccano  parts and then adding "nuts & bolts"; these extra "particles" we call nuts and bolts imply that certain configurations will hold together once formed. Adding particles that act as a kind of "glue" is a way of constraining or limiting the number of possibilities in favor of order. But for standard evolution to work these constraints of "interaction" must:

1. Sufficiently reduce the size of  configuration space.
2. Concomitantly define a sufficiently large set (relative to the size of configuration space) of self-perpetuating, self replicating structure,
3. ...so that the class of self-perpetuating, self replicating structures forms a connected set in configuration space (the "spongeam") allowing for a diffusion dynamic to diffuse through this class.  

My own intuitions are that our physical regime is not constraining enough and therefore the spongeam is too attenuated a structure for it to return a realistic probability for the evolution of life: Hence my speculative Meloncolia I project. But in the absence of strong theoretical treatment I suppose we are rather thrown back on the empirical evidence that the PZ Myers of this world are telling us about.  We also need to remember that they are certainly not claiming that "evolution is just chance": See here for example:


It is because standard evolution must tap into an a priori source of information, a source even acknowledged by atheists, that Christian scientists like Ken Miller, John Polkinghorne and Denis Alexander can not be accused of  claiming that "blind natural forces" (sic) created life. Ironically what scuppers the de facto IDists argument that "blind natural forces" (sic) can't create life is an internal inconsistency in their argument; namely, that "natural forces" created, managed and sustained by an omniscient intelligence are not going to be either "natural" nor "blind"!

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