Specification or Instruction is a subjective measure. Most people intuitively recognize it and draw conclusions from it. Imagine a deck of cards and a conclusion that just about any reasonable person, with or without knowing what specified/instructed complexity is, will recognize and draw the same conclusion based on it. Then I’ll present a like example from a living thing and ask you be the judge of whether there is specification/instruction.
Start with a standard deck of 52 playing cards. You are told that it has been shuffled thoroughly. Upon examination, you find that the deck is perfectly ordered by suit and rank. Will you still believe it was shuffled? Probably not. Do you know you’ve based that conclusion on specified/instructed complexity? Probably not. Our brains are pattern recognition engines. You reach the conclusion intuitively.
Let’s dissect this with a bit of arithmetic. Any arrangement of 52 cards is as statistically likely as any other. A random shuffle has no preferred order as an outcome. One arrangement is just as likely as any other. My windows calculator says there are 8.0658175170943878571660636856404e+67 possible arrangements. That’s 8 followed by 67 zeroes and is calculated by entering 52 and then pressing the n! button which performs the calculation 52x51x50x49x48…x5x4x3x2. That is the complexity part – the number of possible arrangments is huge and there is no physical law that prefers one arrangement over another. Most people intuitively know the number of possible arrangements is a huge number without knowing precisely how huge.
If any one arrangement is as likely as any other why do we conclude the deck was not shuffled if we find it perfectly ordered by rank and suit? Because we intuitively employ the concept of specified/instructed complexity. The perfect ordering is a specification/ instruction. Specification/Instruction can be defined as an independently given pattern.
The problem with this is that specification/instruction is subjective. It is not a product of nature but rather a product of mind. We can’t, or at least I believe we can’t, come up with an objective formula that distinguishes specification/instructions from non-specification/non-instruction. But that doesn’t negate the fact that specification/instruction is tangible and can be practically employed to discriminate between chance and design as we can see with the deck of cards example above.
Now let us look at an example of specified/instructed complexity that exists in all living things. As for example the topoisomerase enzyme. The enzyme is far more complex than a deck of cards. It is a sequence of hundreds of amino acids in a folded chain. Any link in the chain can be any one of 20 different amino acids. The order determines how it will fold and what biological activity (if any) it will possess. Was it required to specify/instruct to get the amino acid sequence to make if functional specification?
Or Aspartate Carbamoyltransferase enzyme, used for pyrimidine synthesis: The entire complex is composed of over 40,000 atoms, each of which plays a vital role. The handful of atoms that actually perform the chemical reaction are the central players. But they are not the only important atoms within the enzyme--every atom plays a supporting pan. The atoms lining the surfaces between subunits are chosen to complement one another exactly, to orchestrate the shifting regulatory motions. The atoms covering the surface are carefully picked to interact optimally with water, ensuring that the enzyme doesn't form a pasty aggregate, but remains an individual, noating factory. And the thousands of interior atoms are chosen to fit like a jigsaw puzzle, interlocking into a sturdy framework. Aspartate carbamoyltransferase is fully as complex as any fine automobile in our familiar world.
Goodsell, Our molecular world, page 24