Theistic Arguments: Argument from Complexity

The Argument from Complexity is little more than a rephrasing of the First Cause argument with a hint of the Argument from Design mixed in. It is in fact far weaker than any of these because it's fundamental axioms are very doubtful, but it is still used sometimes (though as far as I know not by any theologians or philosophers). The basic reasoning is, or is implied to be:

1. Every system has a certain amount of complexity. (Axiom)
2. If a system A has a complexity CA and a system B has a complexity CB, then system B can only 'come from' system A if CA is greater than CB. (Axiom)
3. The Universe has a complexity, CU (From 1).
4. At some point the Universe 'came from' something. (Axiom)
5. Hence, there must be a system G with a complexity CG that is greater than CU, from which the Universe came. (From 2, 3 and 4)
6. This system G can be identified with God.

With the phrase 'come from' any number of things are implied, including, but not necessarily limited to, 'evolved from', 'caused by' and 'created by'. The reasoning is okay, so any attack on the argument must be an attack on it's premises. Axiom 4 is readily accepted by present day science, and I will not dispute it here. The Axioms 1 and 2, on the other hand, I will attack.

The first axiom claims that every system has a certain amount of complexity. And this is in fact a pretty unclear statement, for what is complexity? I've asked a number of people, but no-one could give me a satisfactory definition. Is it the amount of information a system carries? The number of possible microstates or macrostates of a system? The energy of the system? The intelligence of the system? Is it measured by the intelligence or space needed to comprehend or describe a system? What is complexity? Until and unless a good definition is coming forth, I declare myself to be a complexity-noncognitivist.

But continuing with a certain 'intuitive' definition of complexity, we can look at the second premise. It doesn't really seem to make sense, does it? By some definitions simple thermodynamic processes would increase complexity. By other definitions I myself would be perfectly able to increase the complexity of things with a complexity just a little less than my own, so that by increasing this complexity I would create a system more complex than me. And so forth. The second premise, despite being pretty meaningless because of the use of the word 'complexity' also seems to be false as far as it can be comprehended.

My personal guess is that those theists who claim that 'the Universe is just to complex to have come about by chance' are in fact trying to talk about the Argument from Design. The argument as stated here is useless.

As an additional feature one could use the 'Gods ad infinitum'-argument here to refute the claim, but it's not really necessary.

Victor Gijsbers