The Legend of Granville Sewell

There’s a new post at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog by 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. The last time we discussed him was a few months ago — see Granville Sewell: Why Evolution Is Impossible.

Granville is known for arguing that the Second law of thermodynamics disproves evolution — 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’s new post is titled What Can a Mathematician Contribute to the Evolution Debate? Interesting question. We know that there are uses for math in evolution, e.g., Mathematical and theoretical biology, but the real question is: “What can a creationist mathematician contribute to evolution?” This should be fun. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

My [article published in 2000, link omitted] presented two arguments against Darwinian evolution. The first was the more traditional argument from “irreducible complexity” showing that, contrary to what Darwin believed, major advances in the evolution of life, like major advances in the evolution of software (I focused on my own partial differential equation solving software), cannot be built up through many very small improvements. I have since written several [Discoveroid] posts on this topic, most recently [link omitted].

The second point was that the development of an advanced civilization on a previously barren planet seems to violate — in a most spectacular way — the more general statements of the second law of thermodynamics, at least the basic principle underlying this law, even if the Earth is an open system.

We’re all impressed. Then he says:

Although many other mathematicians and physicists find these arguments persuasive [Hee hee!], the understandable reaction of most biologists seems to be, “How can you possibly say anything important about evolution without even discussing the details of evolutionary theory?” But it is important to remember that this is not a new argument I invented. It is the age-old, intuitive observation that there is something very “unnatural” about advanced civilizations arising spontaneously on barren planets.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! There’s something unnatural — even supernatural — about an advanced civilization that arises spontaneously on a barren body like the Moon, but Earth is a different story. As we’ve remarked before, Granville’s “barren planet” argument is his own version of the tornado in a junkyard argument. After that he tells us:

Since I am not a biologist, my contributions to the debate about intelligent design versus Darwinism have been limited. Nearly everything I have written since the 2000 [link omitted] article has just expanded on one of the two points made there. My latest and clearest such contribution is a video (above) that I produced with the help of my brother Kirk. It presents these same two points, in reverse order: the second law argument is presented in the first 13 minutes.

The video is available at the Discoveroid post. If you care to watch the thing, click over there and go right ahead. Granville concludes with this:

But I believe anyone who takes the time to watch this video will realize that you can indeed draw some important conclusions about evolution without becoming an expert on evolutionary theory. In fact I think he or she will realize that sometimes it helps to step back from the details and look at the bigger picture, which is what I have always tried to do.

So there you are, dear reader. Granville has been making momentous contributions to our understanding of evolution since 2000. Verily, he’s a legend in the history of creationism, and his stature can only increase as time goes by.

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

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21 responses to “The Legend of Granville Sewell

  1. Mike McCants

    Sewell should read about emergence:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence

  2. Michael Fugate

    I wonder if the editor at EN requires everyone to use some form of the word intuition in every post?

  3. He is a delusional nutjob, or worse he knows he is mouthing BS, but also knows there is more money to be had as a delusional nutjob, so would rather be a LIAR4jesus, because no matter how they try it always comes to ‘gawd did it!’

  4. Kirk? Kirk Cameron?

  5. Does anyone have an example of a law of nature which has an exception for intelligent design?
    As far as I know about the history of thermodynamics, the laws were discovered because of the limitations on what the clever engineers of the Industrial Revolution were able to do.
    I was told about the synthesis of urea by Wohler as refuting the distinction between inorganic and organic chemistry, but were there people who pointed out that there was an intelligent designer – Wohler – involved in the synthesis. We don’t have to get into the fancy thermodynamics to prove that that the synthesis of organic chemicals requires intelligent design.

  6. Richard Bond

    Sewell’s big mistake is the usual creationist nonsense of equating “disorder” with”entropy”. One really would wish that a mathematician would consider the maths instead of blundering about by confusing a poor metaphor with reality.

  7. Michael Fugate

    Another problem with living things is they are far from equilibrium – with constant inputs of energy and matter without which they will reach equilibrium aka death.

  8. ‘Intuition’ seems to be their ‘theme-of-year’. It’s like every year they pick a theme and demand nearly all posters mention it at least once, particularly when they arguments fail any sort of reality test. “Can’t find a valid argument, call your argument ‘intuitive’ and call it a day!” New Discovery Institute Key Word: “Intuition”

  9. docbill1351

    Sewell’s delusion about thermodynamics has been explained to him many times. If it is possible for a person to be willfully stupid, Sewell is it.

    Check out this Minute Physics series on YouTube. So simply explained a child could understand it, but not Sewell. Note his publication date of 2000. He hasn’t done anything since except wash the same argument and hang it out to dry.

    And, of course the Purpose of Life

  10. Michael Fugate

    docbill, that’s a great little video, thanks!

  11. Eric Lipps

    Does anyone have an example of a law of nature which has an exception for intelligent design?
    As far as I know about the history of thermodynamics, the laws were discovered because of the limitations on what the clever engineers of the Industrial Revolution were able to do.
    I was told about the synthesis of urea by Wohler as refuting the distinction between inorganic and organic chemistry, but were there people who pointed out that there was an intelligent designer – Wohler – involved in the synthesis. We don’t have to get into the fancy thermodynamics to prove that that the synthesis of organic chemicals requires intelligent design.

    Tom, if all you do is provide raw materials and conditions which indisputably occur in nature, you’re simply “intelligently” replicating what nature does without need of intelligence.

    Your argument is essentially the same as saying that if you can grow sugar crystals on purpose, that proves that every sugar crystal in the universe was grown on purpose by somebody–or Somebody.

    And if we do get into “the fancy thermodynamics,” it turns out that creationists’ hoary argument regarding entropy is bogus, since entropy always increases only in a closed system–and there is no truly closed system smaller than the entire universe. (And perhaps not even that, if some physicists’ ideas are correct.)

  12. Mark Germano

    “there is something very “unnatural” about advanced civilizations arising spontaneously on barren planets.”

    It’s almost like intelligent design proponents are open to the idea that, about 6,000 years ago there was nothing, then after about six days, there was everything. I wonder where they get that idea?

  13. Tom Bannister

    “We don’t have to get into the fancy thermodynamics to prove that that the synthesis of organic chemicals requires intelligent design.”
    Organic compounds have been found in comets and meteorites since the 1960’s and 1970’s. What purpose would an intelligent designer have for putting organic chemicals in space? Sounds random to me.

  14. @Eric Lipps & @Tom Bannister
    Once again I fail to write clearly.
    What you argue is exactly what I wanted to say.
    No one today would say that Wohler did not make a good argument against vitalism (in the form that there is a difference between the organic and the inorganic). No one today would say that the Wright brothers showed that intelligent design is an explanation for flight. So, too, no one should be able to make the argument that intelligent design is a way beyond the laws of thermodynamics. (If there were something in life which is violating the 2nd law of thermo.)

  15. Since Sewell can’t even get the units right in his diffusion equation, why should anyone take *any* calculation that he does seriously.
    https://pandasthumb.org/archives/2017/04/Does-Granville-Sewells-entropy.html
    http://scienceblogs.com/goodmath/2006/10/09/second-law-slop-from-granville/

  16. Oops [blunder description deleted]. Can the omniscient Curmudgeon fix that, since I cannot? Thanks.

    [*Voice from above*] All is well.

  17. The first video Docbill links to also makes nicely clear that entropy and order are not the same. Perfectly mixed coffee and milk are very orderly.

  18. Until you spill them over your clothes.

    *gets kitchen towel*

  19. @TomS

    I was told about the synthesis of urea by Wohler as refuting the distinction between inorganic and organic chemistry, but were there people who pointed out that there was an intelligent designer – Wohler – involved in the synthesis.

    You were told about the synthesis of urea by Wohler himself?!>

    Wow! Neat.

  20. I have been informed that it’s wrong – the story of the downfall of vitalism.

  21. Ross Cameron

    Step back and look at the bigger picture??? When did a creo ever do that, pullling their nose out of their bible? Delusion rules. Except when a medical emergency arises where NO cure can be found in their book of answers.