I start with you, because at least I have not to show meteorologic abilities that I do not posses! Art’s tornadoes will be more of a challenge.
I am not sure if the problem here is a big misunderstanding of what FI is. Maybe, let’s see.
According to my definition, FI can be measured for any possible function. Any observer is free to define a function as he likes, but the definition must be explicit and include a level to assess the function as present. Then, FI can be measured for the function, and objects can be categorized as expressing that function or not.
An important point is that FI can be generated in non design systems, but only at very low levels. The 500 bit threshold is indeed very high, and it is appropriate to really exclude any possible false positive in the design inference.
I think that I must also mention a couple of criteria that could be important in the following discussion. I understand that I have not clarified them before, but believe me, it’s only because the discussion has been too rushed. Those ideas are an integral aprt of all ID thinking, and you can find long discussions made by me at UD in the past trying to explain them to other interlocutors.
The first idea you should be familiar with, if you have considered Dembski’s explanatory filter. The idea is that, before making a design inference, we should always ascertain that the configurations we observe are not the simple result of known necessity laws. For the moment, I will not go deeper on this point.
The second point is about specification, not only functional specification, but any kind of specification. IOWs, any type of rule that generates a binary partition in the search space, defining the target space.
The rule is simple enough. If we are dealing with pre-specifications, everything can work. IOWs, let’s take the simple example of a deck of cards. If I declare in advance a specific sequence of them, and then I shuffle the cards and I get the sequence, something strange is happening. A design inference (some trick) is certainly allowed.
But if we are dealing with post-specifications, IOWs we give the rule after the object had come into existence and after we have observed it, then the rule must be independent from the specific configuration of bits observed in the object. Another way to say that is that I cannot use the knowledge of the individual bits observed in the object to build the rule. In that case, I am only using an already existin generic infomration to build a function.
So, going back to our deck of cards, observing a sequence that shows the cards in perfect order is always a strange result, but I cannot say: well, my function is that the cards must have the following order, and then just read the order of a sequence that has already been obtained and observed.
This seems very trivial, but I want to make it clear because a lot of people are confused about these things.
So, I can take a random sequence of 100 bits and then set it as electronic key to a safe. Of coruse, there is nothing surprising in that: the random series was a random series, maybe obtained by tossing a fair coin, and it had no special FI. But, when I set it as a key, the functional information in that sequence becomes 100 bits. Of course, it will be almost impossible to get that sequence by a new series of coin tossing.
Another way to say these things is that FI is about configurations of configurable switches, each of which can in principle exist in at least two different states, so that the specific configuration is the one that can implement a function. This concept is due to Abel.
OK, let’s go back to your examples. Let’s take the first one, the other will probably be solved automatically.
The configuration of stars in the sky.
OK, it is a complex configuration. As it is the configuration of grain of sands on a beach.
So, what is the function?
You have to define a function, and a level of it that can define it as present or absent in the object we are observing.
What is the object? The starry sky? You mean our galaxy, or at least the part we can observe from our planet?
What is the function?
You have to specify all these things.
Frankly, I cannot see any relevant FI in the configuration of stars. Maybe we can define some function for which a few bits could be computed, but no more than that.
So, as it is your example, plese clarify better.
Fior me, it is rather obvious that none of your examples shows any big value of FI for any possible function, And that includes Art’s tornado, which of course I will discuss separately with him.
Looking forward to your input about that.