Granville Sewell: Why Evolution Is Impossible

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?

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “Granville Sewell: Why Evolution Is Impossible

  1. 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…..
    I agree completely. It doesn’t have anything to do with evolution, but at least it’s correct.

  2. I like when the DI publishes steaming piles like this one. It shows without a doubt they have no idea what their talking about, and more importantly, don’t care. Just keeping up with a quota.

  3. Is there an appeal to a (supposed) principle that “design is not subject to the laws of nature”?
    Can there be a perpetual motion machine if it is intelligently designed?
    Can we explain away the famous experiment of Wohler, when he synthesized an organic compound from inorganic chemicals? After all, he intelligently designed the experiment, so it was not subject to the law of nature that organic only comes from the organic.

  4. Michael Fugate

    DI’s motto: “Misrepresenting evolution, it’s what we do.”

  5. 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.

    Actually Darwinism states precisely that “natural selection is the one natural cause in the universe that can create spectacular order out of disorder” that is why biologists think evolution works

  6. Granpa says “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. ”
    This has the reek of the micro macro mambo.

  7. Someone should explain to Granville that by his argument, his zygote never should have developed into him, unless, of course, his body is as disorganized as his thinking.

  8. Mark Germano

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t ice and snowflakes examples of decreased entropy in the natural world?

  9. Michael Fugate

    not to mention spontaneous…

  10. I have been given the explanation for snowflakes as being OK because they are only minor exceptions to thermodynamics.
    So, as far as experimental evidence for the Creationist Second Law, we have:
    1) It is not a violation if it’s small enough.
    2) It is not a violation if an intelligent designer does it.
    3) It is not a violation if involves a biological process like reproduction.
    In other words, C2L is only meaningful insofar it contradicts evolution.

  11. 4) It is not a violation for the Flood to sort the fossils.

  12. “Isn’t that exactly what physics texts say the second law of thermodynamics is supposed to forbid.”
    No. End of discussion.

  13. @ och will, “This has the reek of the micro macro mambo.”

    Worse, it has the reek of BS.

  14. Richard Bond

    Disorder is a very poor metaphor for entropy. I hereby present Bond’s law: if you base your physics on metaphor, you will be wrong.

    With reference to MG and TomS: entropy increases as snowflakes form; it is removed from the snowflake as the latent heat of fusion dissipates into the atmosphere. In fact, snowflakes comprise an excellent example of an increase in order accompanying an increase of entropy. Star formation is another. A significant proportion of the gravitational energy in a condensing cloud of gas and dust is radiated away as the star forms, carrying off a lot of entropy, and leaving a symmetrical and orderly star as a “source” of relatively low entropy.

  15. Richard Bond, that’s a very clear explanation of how there can be a local decrease in entropy in part of an overall system, provided it is accompanied by an it needs equal (and in practice, invariably greater) increase elsewhere.

    The mystery is why Cornelius fails to see that this is true of living things. A possible explanation is his hopeless muddle between complexity, information, and the absence of entropy.

    Not only does he regard the increase in order associated with evolution as a decrease in entropy (arguable; but even if it were, utterly trivial compared with an ice cube), but he regards this particular kind of decrease as insulated from the compensation argument.

    In other words, a bait and switch between Boltzmann’s statistics, and DI statistics.

  16. I realize that thermodynamics is not violated in the formation of snowflakes. I was speaking of the creationist understanding, by which the world is often violating supposed laws of nature, which violations require divine intervention. The universe is fine-tuned, which means that there is a God. Yet the universe is violating the fine-tuning, which also means that there is a God.

  17. 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.

    “They say” the Earth is not an isolated system?

  18. Doctor Stochastic

    The journey may tend to disorder but there are lots of waypoints.

  19. Describable? Shouldn`t that be describabble? Hey, I invented a new word to describe—um—babble.