A Designed Object’s Entropy often Increases with Its Complexity

[This is an abridged version of a post at UD: A Designed Objects Entropy Must Increase for Its Design Complexity to Increase, Part 2. I post it under a different title at TSZ, because upon consideration, the new title should be above reproach. What I put forward should happily apply to man-made designs. A student recently wanted to challenge his professors regarding the 2nd law and evolution, and I pointed him to my essay. If that student is a creationist, at least I feel I did my job and made him understand science better than he would from most creationist literature. Hence, the rather torturous discussions at TSZ and UD had benefit in furthering this student’s understanding of science. If he is going to reject Darwinism, he should reject it for good reasons, not because of the 2nd law.]

In order for a biological system to have more biological complexity, it often requires a substantial increase in thermodynamic entropy, not a reduction of it, contrary to many intuitions among creationists and IDists. This essay is part II of a series that began with Part 1
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Materialism and Emergentism

At Uncommon Descent, Elizabeth mentioned that she liked what I was calling “emergentism”. Here’s a brief overview, in contrast with dualism and materialism, that perhaps will spark some discussion.

(1) Dualism gives us The Bifurcated World: the world consists of two fundamentally different kinds of substance (mind and matter), each of which is characterized by an essential property (mental and physical), and is constituted by logically and metaphysically distinct substantial particulars (minds and bodies). Nothing is essentially both physical and mental, although some things may exist as temporary unions of mind and body. (How logically and metaphysically distinct things can causally interact (or even appear) to causally interact is a serious problem.)

(2) Materialism gives us The Layered World: the world consists of a series of “levels”, each of which hierarchically imposed on the others, and each level supervenes on the level below it. Mental facts –> biological facts –> chemical facts –> molecular, atomic, and quantum facts. (A major problem with this view is that each ‘level’ has its own conceptual, ontological, and causal integrity — whereas some philosophers hold that biology is irreducible to chemistry for merely epistemological and methodological reasons, I hold the stronger view that biology is irreducible to chemistry for ontological (or metaphysical) reasons.)

(3) Emergentism gives us the Dynamic World: the world consists of processes that are inherently active and reactive, energetic, and operating at all ‘scales’ of temporal and spatial resolution — some processes are vast and slow, others small and fast, and many in-between. Some of these processes are merely physico-chemical, some are biological, and some are mental. The basic elements in this ontology are processes, not substances (as in dualism) or even particles (as in materialism).

As I see it, the frequently-heard allegation (made by dualists and theists) that emergentism is an intellectual fraud depends on whether there is a difference that makes a difference between emergence and supervenience.

What qualifies as science in the wonderful world of Disney

[cross posted at uncommondescent: What Qualifies as Science in the Wonderful World of Disney]

The scientific enterprise entails:

1. observation
2. hypothesis
3. testing

Consider this passage from the class text of an introductory cosmology class I took once upon a time:

galaxies farther than 4300 megaparsecs from us are currently moving away from us at speeds greater than that of light. Cosmological innocents sometimes exclaim, “Gosh! Doesn’t this violate the law that massive objects can’t travel faster than the speed of light?” Actually, it doesn’t. The speed limit that states that massive objects must travel with v < c relative to each other is one of the results of special relativity, and refers to the relative motion of objects within a static space. In the context of general relativity, there is no objection to having two points moving away from each other at superluminal speed due to the expansion of space.

page 39
Introduction to Cosmology
by Barbara ryden

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A resolution of the ‘all-heads paradox’

There has been tremendous confusion here and at Uncommon Descent about what I’ll call the ‘all-heads paradox’.

The paradox, briefly stated:

If you flip an apparently fair coin 500 times and get all heads, you immediately become suspicious. On the other hand, if you flip an apparently fair coin 500 times and get a random-looking sequence, you don’t become suspicious. The probability of getting all heads is identical to the probability of getting that random-looking sequence, so why are you suspicious in one case but not the other?

In this post I explain how I resolve the paradox. Lizzie makes a similar argument in her post Getting from Fisher to Bayes, but there are some differences, so keep reading.

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Getting from Fisher to Bayes

(slightly edited version of a comment I made at UD)

Barry Arrington has  a rather extraordinary thread at UD right now, ar

Jerad’s DDS Causes Him to Succumb to “Miller’s Mendacity” and Other Errors

It arose from a Sal’s post, here at TSZ, Siding with Mathgrrl on a point,and offering an alternative to CSI v2.0

Below is what I posted in the UD thread.

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Siding with Mathgrrl on a point,and offering an alternative to CSI v2.0

[cross posted from UD Siding with Mathgrrl on a point, and offering an alternative to CSI v2.0, special thanks to Dr. Liddle for her generous invitation to cross post]

There are two versions of the metric for Bill Dembski’s CSI. One version can be traced to his book No Free Lunch published in 2002. Let us call that “CSI v1.0”.

Then in 2005 Bill published Specification the Pattern that Signifies Intelligence where he includes the identifier “v1.22”, but perhaps it would be better to call the concepts in that paper CSI v2.0 since, like windows 8, it has some radical differences from its predecessor and will come up with different results. Some end users of the concept of CSI prefer CSI v1.0 over v2.0.
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Lines of reasoning as opposed to scientific evidence

In a recent comment, Robert Byers said:

Yes lines of reasoning as opposed to scientific evidence is a criticism I strongly make!!

I’m not quite sure what is going on in Robert’s way of thinking.  I am not sure what he means by “scientific evidence”.  Here I want to explore what Robert appears to be arguing.

Let’s take crossword puzzle solving as an illustration.  The puzzle has a grid where one can enter words.  And then there are the clues.  There is a list of “Across” clues and a list of “Down” clues.

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VJ Torley on Order versus Complexity

VJ has written, by his standards, a short post distinguishing order from complexity (a mere 1400 words). To sum it up – a pattern has order if it can be generated from a few simple principles. It has complexity if it can’t.  There are some well known problems with this – one of which being that it is not possible to prove that a given pattern cannot be generated from a few simple principles.  However, I don’t dispute the distinction. The curious thing is that Dembski defines specification in terms of a pattern that can  generated from a few simple principles. So no pattern can be both complex in VJ’s sense and specified in Dembski’s sense.

At the heart of this the problem is that Dembski has written a paper that most IDers would find unacceptable if they took the trouble to understand it.  But they don’t quite have the courage to say they disagree. That is why this comment from  Eric Anderson made me chuckle:

Second, why is it so hard for some people to get it through their heads that the issue is not “order”? Is this really hard to understand, or just that so many people haven’t been properly educated about the issues?

I wonder which one it is in William Dembski’s case?


TJ has written a 4000 word appendix to this post. I haven’t time to read it all but it appears that he accepts that some of his original OP was wrong. It is rare for people to admit they are wrong in heated Internet debates so all credit to him. In particular he appears to accept that there is considerable confusion about order, complexity, and specification within the ID community (why else the need to propose his own definitions?).

What would be really nice would a similar admission from Eric Anderson that the ID community needs to sort out its own definitions before complaining that others are incapable of understanding them.

The eleP(T|H)ant in the room

The pattern that signifies Intelligence?

Winston Ewert has a post at Evolution News & Views that directly responds to my post here, A CSI Challenge which is nice. Dialogue is good.  Dialogue in a forum where we can both post would be even better.  He is extremely welcome to join us here 🙂


In my Challenge, I presented a grey-scale photograph of an unknown item, and invited people to calculate its CSI.  My intent, contrary to Ewert’s assumption, was not:

…to force an admission that such a calculation is impossible or to produce a false positive, detecting design where none was present.

but to reveal the problems inherent in such a calculation, and, in particular, the problem of computing the probability distribution of the data under the null hypothesis: The eleP(T|H)ant in the room

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