Let me preface this by saying this blog doesn’t argue that there is no god, but rather refutes a poor mathematical argument that there is a god (without using complex formulas). I’m not trashing religion on christmas or anything so put down your torches and pitchforks : P
There are only two creationist/ID arguments I know of that have been put forward by actual, credentialed scientists. One is the argument from irreducible complexity (debunked), and the other is a mathematical argument – both are not actually arguments that support the existence of a creator, but rather they attack evolution and then claim that there is a creator “by default”, which is not scientific. Einstein didn’t just trash Isaac Newton’s ideas and then declare relativity proven by default, he actually came up with a way to test his idea. But gods are apparently invisible if they exist and can’t be subjected to experimentation or observation or prediction and thus are kaput as a scientific idea. Which isn’t to say they necessarily aren’t real – just not science.
So anyway, the specified complexity argument put forward by William Dembski as I understand it goes something like this – if I buy a lottery ticket, I’m aiming at a particular sequence of numbers (specified beforehand, thus “specified” complexity), so the odds are very small that I will hit my target – thus if I win the lottery I can attribute it to a “design” because the odds were so shrinkingly small that I would hit the target number and I only had one ticket. Another way to look at it is if I shoot an arrow at a wall then the odds of it hitting a particular spot are very small and it has to hit somewhere so it’s easy to beat the odds wherever it lands – but if I’m aiming for a particular spot then mathematically it’s “specified” complexity according to dembski, and thus if the arrow hits that target we can conclude it was intended to. This argument is applied to the formation of life on earth – the idea is that the odds of an organism like human beings evolving in the specific way we did are so shrinkingly small that we must be the product of intelligence. Now we actually are the product of a sort of intelligence, but it’s the creative destruction and trial and error process of natural selection though that’s neither here nor there. Anyway, the main flaw in the argument is that it ignores the fact that if you buy a lottery ticket and it’s a losing ticket the odds of you getting that particular losing sequence are identical to the odds of you getting any other sequence including the winning number- you beat the same odds with a losing ticket as you do with a winning ticket. If I flip a coin ten thousand times the odds of me getting that particular sequence of heads and tails are so slim I will never be able to repeat it, but that doesn’t matter because a) I wasn’t aiming for any particular sequence, and b) it’s easy to do improbable things when you’re not aiming for a particular outcome and there has to be an outcome, and whatever it is it will be very improbable. So if we look at the information as “specified” (ie we’re aiming for it), then it’s mathematically unlikely and is hard to achieve – but if it’s not specified (not aiming for anything in particular) then achieving an extremely unlikely outcome is literally child’s play.
So here’s where this logic gets crazy. The complexity of life is only “specified” if it’s “aimed for”, and it’s only “aimed for” if there’s a god or planner or designer who set the whole thing in motion. So dembski assumes there’s a god, then based on that assumption interprets the complexity of life as “specified” complexity, and therefore concludes based on that interpretation that there is a god. It’s circular reasoning. His argument is chasing it’s own tail. The conclusion that there is a god is entirely based on the assumption that there is a god.
This argument is so bad I almost want to apologize for wasting your time, lol.