One of the many peculiarities of creationists is that they never abandon an argument, no matter how absurd it may be. A classic example involves the Second law of thermodynamics.
The argument probably originated with Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) — the fountainhead of young-earth creationist wisdom. We’re not sure when old Henry first wrote about it, but it’s been around for a very long time — see Entropy and Open Systems from 1975. The TalkOrigins Index to Creationist Claims has several rebuttals — for example: The second law of thermodynamics says that everything tends toward disorder, making evolutionary development impossible.
The Discovery Institute, like all creationist outfits, embraces and promotes the 2nd Law argument. Their “expert” on this is Granville Sewell. He’s not a Discoveroid “fellow,” but they publish him, and Wikipedia informs us that he’s a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s “A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism” petition.
Granville has appeared at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog on the subject before — see Discovery Institute Gives Us Their Best Argument, and we’ve written about some of his other creationist arguments in The Genius of Granville Sewell.
Granville makes another appearance at the Discoveroids’ creationist blog with his newest offering: Darwinists Take Refuge in Logically Invalid “Compensation” Argument.
What’s the Compensation Argument? Be patient, dear reader. You’ll soon find out. After mentioning a few things he’s published, including something that a journal refused to publish, Granville says, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
The layman looks at what evolution is said to have accomplished and observes that there seems to be something very unnatural about an advanced civilization arising from the dust of a barren planet. Isn’t that exactly what physics texts say the second law of thermodynamics is supposed to forbid — at least the more general statements of this law, such as “In an isolated system, the direction of spontaneous change is from order to disorder”?
BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Then he says:
If natural selection of random mutations can accomplish all this, it must be very different from all other natural causes, which destroy order rather than create it. Darwinists don’t want to have to argue that natural selection is the one natural cause in the universe that can create spectacular order out of disorder, even though that is what they really believe. So they have invented the “compensation” argument. They say the Earth is not an isolated system. Instead, it receives energy from the sun, and order can increase in an open system — it happens all the time.
What’s wrong with that? The Earth isn’t an isolated system. And again we ask: What’s the Compensation Argument? Granville tells us:
Well, no, what has happened here doesn’t happen all the time: order can increase in an open system, but in all other cases it is because order is imported, not created.
Huh? Granville continues:
More precisely, in all other cases where order increases in an open system, there is not something macroscopically describable happening that is extremely improbable from the microscopic point of view. Something is just entering the open system that makes the increase in order not extremely improbable.
Does anyone understand what Granville is saying? He attempts to explain:
The fact that order can increase in an open system does not mean that atoms can spontaneously rearrange themselves into computers on a barren planet as long as this decrease in entropy (increase in order) is compensated by entropy increasing outside. Something must be entering the open system that makes the appearance of computers not extremely improbable — for example, computers.
[*Groan*] It’s the tornado in a junkyard argument — a creationist refutation of an argument no one ever makes. Let’s read on:
As I have always acknowledged, if you want to make the argument that the influx of solar energy really makes the rearrangement of atoms into computers and spaceships and Apple iPhones not extremely improbable, then, yes, this is just like the other cases of order increasing in an open system. But Darwinists know this is a much harder sell, because it sure seems impossibly improbable.
Tragic, isn’t it? Another excerpt:
So they prefer to avoid the issue of probability by using the logically invalid compensation argument. They say, “Nothing to see here, folks, just entropy decreasing in an open system. Happens all the time.”
Ah, so that’s Granville’s “Compensation Argument.” For his conclusion, he links to a few of his earlier articles at the Discoveroids’ blog and then says:
I believe these and other articles I have written deal effectively with the two reasons Darwinism remains popular despite the mounting evidence against it.
So there you are, dear reader. Now you know that only the Intelligent Designer — blessed be he! — can overcome the insurmountable barrier of the second law of thermodynamics. Don’t you feel foolish?
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