Dissecting Intelligent Design Number 2: “The Shakespeare Sonnet”
Specified complexity states that information that is “specified” can just be characterized as just a single informational unit. The example that is given is the one of the single letter of the alphabet. It could also be a bit or a pixel. A phrase, a novel or an article could also be regarded as units. By complex I understand “a group of single informational units”. A sequence of random letters would be complex, but not specific. A Shakespearean sonnet would be specified and complex, because it can be regarded as a unit on its own and it is composed of smaller units (letters of the alphabet). When something is specified and complex, ID says, it has to be designed by intelligence. The creator of the concept even defines specified complex information as anything with a less than 1 in 10150 chance of occurring by (natural) chance. So, the Shakespearean sonnet, by being specified and complex, would have a less than a 1 in 10150 chance to occur in nature without the intervention of a designer.
ID states that the DNA base sequences of living beings are specified and complex. According to it, they have a less than 1 in 10 to the power of 150 chance of being a consequence of random mutations aided by natural selection. ID implies that 4.6 billion years of molecular history is not enough to produce the genetic code of a bacteria or a human being.
First of all, this theory is not taking into account the actual nature of DNA. DNA is made by protein-coding exons and non protein coding introns. The introns, are located in between exons, interrupting coding sequences. Since their genetic code is not transformed into protein, mutations that locate in them are not subject to natural selection so they remain part of the DNA of any given species. This has given rise to a genetic tool called the molecular clock, which attempts to establish the temporal relationship between different species and their hypothetical common ancestor. This makes the DNA look more like puerile writing, corrected by a teacher than a Shakespearean sonnet.
Secondly, the creator of this theory has chosen the power of 150 to define when we are in front of creation by intelligence. He probably did some math, taking into account the mutation rates and the proofreading mechanisms; however, the theory cannot be tested by experiment, cannot generate any predictions, and cannot propose new hypotheses of their own.
My third argument against specified complexity is logical. If we take the statement: “Complex specified information does not occur without the aid of a designer, or the chances of it occurring without that aid are less than 1 in 10 to the power of 150”. The statement seems correct, so now we have to determine if it is a validity or a tautology. The definition of complex specified information involves what is mentioned in the second sub-statement. It is the same as saying that “oranges are not cubes, or they are spherical”, i.e., a tautology.
As a conclusion, I must say that it is clear that specified complexity cannot be counted as an argument against evolution by natural selection or for the existence of a designer. It fails the biological and the logical sense. In addition, it cannot be tested, like all other scientific theories, by the scientific method.