Thank you, Mr Jack! Yours is the first truly helpful post I have ever found anywhere for getting a better of understanding ID. And the reference you cited provides exactly the kind of official, authoritative and (dare I hope?) complete exposition of the theory. Surely others have pointed to the seminal paper by Dembski, but why has this been so seldom done?
Well, it's clear that the issue of discerning the presence/absence of design for the rock in question is in fact not so simple, and there are some details to be considered carefully. To wit, in determining whether the rock may have been the result of chance, there is this vital subtletly (italics as per the original):
Invariably, what is needed to eliminate chance is that the event in question conform to a pattern. Not just any pattern will do, however. Some patterns can legitimately be employed to eliminate chance whereas others cannot.
A bit of terminology will prove helpful here. The "good" patterns will be called specifications. Specifications are the non-ad hoc patterns that can legitimately be used to eliminate chance and warrant a design inference. In contrast, the "bad" patterns may be called fabrications. Fabrications are the ad hoc patterns that cannot legitimately be used to eliminate chance.
The rock could be "fabricated" (e.g. a piece of concrete or a mosaic tile having a particular shape, size and color), but that's not the right sense of "fabrication" here, I gather. Still, those are bound to be very useful terms.
And then there is this very crucial caveat about the whole exercise:
When the Explanatory Filter fails to detect design in a thing, can we be sure no intelligent cause underlies it? The answer to this question is No. For determining that something is not designed, the Explanatory Filter is not a reliable criterion. False negatives are a problem for the Explanatory Filter. This problem of false negatives, however, is endemic to detecting intelligent causes.
Well, I suppose this would be the time to appeal to something like Pascal's wager... Might as well play it safe, and chalk everything up to design. There now, we have successfully applied ID to the problem, and it really wasn't so very complicated after all!
But wait... Isn't ID only supposed to apply to living things? You know (we all know), it's really just a refutation Godless evolution, which has nothing at all to say about rocks, so maybe ID isn't supposed to apply to rocks either, which would mean that rocks can't be designed!
Heck, I'm still confused. But thanks anyway -- this has been a moving experience for me (even if the movement has been circular).
Edited by Otto Tellick, : grammar repair
autotelicadj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.