Discoveroids’ Revised Second Law Argument

The well-known second law of thermodynamics has long been cited by creationists as one of their “scientific” arguments against evolution. The Discoveroids, being closet creationists, have done the same thing — see Discovery Institute Gives Us Their Best Argument.

We wrote that last year about a Discoveroid blog post by Granville Sewell. He’s not a Discoveroid “fellow,” but they publish him, and Wikipedia informs us that Sewell is signatory to the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” petition. In the Discoveroid article we wrote about, he presented what he claimed was “the Simplest and Clearest Argument for Intelligent Design,” and that argument was the second law. He mentioned the scientific objection to the creationists’ argument — that the Earth isn’t a closed system because receives energy from the Sun. Sewell somewhat exaggerated — cough, cough — that objection by saying:

This always seems to be the end of the argument: order can increase (entropy can decrease) in an open system, therefore, ANYTHING can happen in an open system, even the rearrangement of atoms into computers, without violating the second law.

It seems that Sewell has been publishing more of the same, including one paper in the Discoveroids’ vanity journal, BIO-Complexity. To celebrate his accomplishments, Casey Luskin — our favorite creationist — has a new article at the Discoveroids’ blog: In BIO-Complexity and Biological Information: New Perspectives, Granville Sewell Defends his Arguments on the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Casey says, with bold font added by us:

Sewell argues not that the second law of thermodynamics necessarily poses a barrier to Darwinian evolution, but rather that it could pose a problem, provided that the issue is framed properly. As I’ve explained before, this is very different from old, unsophisticated and flawed arguments you may have heard about the second law and evolution.

Ah, Casey assures us that Sewell’s second law argument isn’t the usual raw, primitive creationism that you can read on other creationist websites. It’s much more sophisticated. You see, Sewell is no fool. He knows that the Earth isn’t a closed system. He’s aware that we get energy from the Sun. Okay, let’s read on to see how Sewell “properly” frames the issue:

Sewell’s recent articles address the rejoinder from Darwin-defenders and reframe the issue to show that the second law could potentially be a problem for Darwinian evolution. In his BINP paper, he observes that we have no experience with sunlight producing the kind of order and complexity needed for life:

[Casey quotes Sewell's brilliant argument:] Thus unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that at least the basic principle behind the second law has in fact been violated here.

Hey — Sewell is right! Admit it, dear reader — have you ever seen sunlight create a spaceship? Well, did ya? No, of course not! Then Casey gives another great example from Sewell:

According to this [Darwinist] reasoning, the second law does not prevent scrap metal from reorganizing itself into a computer in one room, as long as two computers in the next room are rusting into scrap metal — and the door is open.

Good stuff, huh? Casey continues with even more wisdom from Sewell:

Sewell shows that all of the arguments commonly employed to claim that evolution did not violate at least the underlying principle behind the second law, could equally well be applied to claim that tornados turning rubble into houses and cars would not violate it either. This is, of course, absurd.

Did he just invoke the tornado in a junkyard? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! But Casey tells us that Sewell’s argument is very sophisticated, and Casey knows what he’s talking about. Doesn’t he?

Sewell has decisively demolished several bizarre arguments that no one ever made. It’s quite an intellectual accomplishment. Does the term straw man fallacy apply here? We’ll let you decide. Anyway, if you want more of the same, click over to the Discoveroids’ blog and study it carefully. If we’ve misunderstood anything, please let us know.

Copyright © 2013. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “Discoveroids’ Revised Second Law Argument

  1. They live in their own little self contained intellectual world, untroubled by evidence they fawn over how brilliant each other are.

  2. And how does “Intelligent Design” solve this problem?

    We all know that the laws of thermodynamics were discovered when the very clever engineers of the industrial revolution came up against limitations on what they could design. For example, they couldn’t design a “perpetual motion machine of the second kind” because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    Thus, if there were a violation of the 2lot, we can feel confident that an appeal to an intelligent designer would be the wrong approach to take.

  3. They sure enjoy taking a trip to the old junkyard don’t they? Do you think it reminds them of the space between their ears?

    Their arguments certainly do suffer from horrific entropy, though. The more they put out, the messier it gets, poor sods.

  4. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    von Gerb bloviates…

    “… Sewell argues not that the second law of thermodynamics necessarily poses a barrier to Darwinian evolution, but rather that it could pose a problem, provided that the issue is framed properly.”

    Ray Comfort knows this tactic very well, hence the Crocoduck.

  5. Perhaps the Discoveroids are unaware of the myriad other laws of nature that might – just might, I say – prevent a random group of atoms from spontaneously arranging themselves into a computer.

    It’s amazing how long they can persist using the 2nd law argument. Even Ken Ham lists a version of the 2nd law on his list of arguments to be avoided.

  6. The hurricane junkyard mess that pops up in various forms,violates another principle. The principle of non contradiction. A hurricane can’t be a non hurricane. So how can any destructive force as such,only demonstrated to tear things apart,also be used to establish any probability toward any other occurrences. I would propose there is zero probability,and it absolutely could not be a hurricane,no matter how small the % is. Backwards photography shows many things being reassembled,after being destroyed. Traveling back in time would bring you back before anything was destroyed. Either case is somewhat akin to disturbing entropy,in theoretical instances. Sewell is intellectually ambiguous,and disengenuous at the same time,but still just adding philosophy to science he doesn’t grasp. Luskin doesn’t grasp philosophy or science.

  7. Closely aligned to the philosophical Problem of Evil, as succinctly captured by the Epicurean Dilemma (still unresolved after more than two millennia), there’s now also the more recent and postmodern Problem of Mealy-mouths:

    “Is God willing to prevent shiftiness, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is shifty. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh shifty BS artists? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

  8. One thing I love about the Discotuters, when I read the crap they write, for some reason I’m reminded of some of my favorite jokes.

    Q: Did you hear about the hurricane (or tornado or earthquake) that hit Alabama (or other state, city or region)?

    A: It did $5 billion in improvements.

    I’ve just realized my sense of humor must have been intelligently designed.

  9. Also, I’m shocked – Shocked! – to find that Granville Sewell is a mechanical engineer.

  10. Hurricanes? Who let all the hurricanes in? It’s TORNADOS!

    For a supplement to the Wikipedia article SC linked, see the Dysovary Institute’s article: a href=””>Tornado in a Junkyard Experiment

  11. Actually, it’s TORNADOES!

    Memo to self: stop using the Dan Quayle Spell-Checker…

  12. Ceteris Paribus

    Megalonyx Whew, that link to the Dysovary Institute article was some kind of a sockdolager of entropy inflation.

    But I printed it out, cut it up in shreds, and mixed it into a can of cat food. When she puked it up on my keyboard it said:

    You want to believe in the power of the 2nd law, you gotta deal with a deity that has 9 lives.

  13. @ Ceteris Paribus: humble thanks, amigo!

    Further memo to self: Do NOT attempt to write posts from a tablet, it only ends in tears…

  14. The rearrangement of atoms in an open system by inputting energy exactly how the laptop I’m typing on was made.

  15. Sewell (and Waltie Brown) are MEs, as am I. But an ME has no excuse for not understanding thermo,

  16. Sewell is an Nth Order Crank. No other way to put it. He’s been on this SLoT jag for a decade and everybody just ignores him which makes him crankier.