Creationist Wisdom #813: Fact-Theory-Law

Today’s letter-to-the-editor appears in the Statesman Journal of Salem, Oregon. It’s titled Christian writer defends entropy and Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Because the writer isn’t a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote her by using her full name. Her first name is Christine. Excerpts from her letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

This letter is in response to a Letter to the Editor that Laurel Hines sent to the Statesman Journal on Nov. 1.

This is what she’s talking about: Newspaper can’t be faulted for decline in respect for God. Christine doesn’t like it. She says:

I am a Christian. She implies that Christians believe in “myths.”

That’s outrageous! Christine tells us:

I believe in entropy, which is a part of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. says: “The idea of entropy comes from a principle of thermodynamics dealing with energy. It usually refers to the idea that everything in the universe moves from order to disorder and is the measurement of that change.” This is a law, not a myth.

Entropy isn’t a law, but it’s certainly not a myth, so Christine is partly right. Let’s read on:

The decline of my body over the years proves that entropy is true. If it is declining, how can it be evolving, thus getting better? Entropy proves that evolution is not true.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Christine’s increasing decrepitude disproves evolution! Another excerpt:

A friend believes in the theory of evolution. I told him that the Second Law of Thermodynamics implies that evolution is not true. He replied, “I know.”

Wow! And now we come to the end:

Laurel Hines [the earlier letter-writer] states “the newspaper is merely keeping up with the times and focusing on fact versus fiction.” She later implies that evolution is a fact. It is a theory, entropy is a law. Get your facts straight.

Discussing laws, theories, and facts with Christine is like playing a game of Rock–paper–scissors with someone who doesn’t know what rock. paper and scissors are.

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

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10 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #813: Fact-Theory-Law

  1. Christine misheard. What her friend actually replied was “I know you believe that nonsense.”

  2. And she obviously does not understand science or most likely not much of anything else either!

  3. Would love to ask the writer “What is thermodynamics?”

  4. To borrow her own example: How is it that a baby grows to an adult? A zygote becomes a baby? An acorn becomes an oak and an oak produces many acorns?

  5. I guess she feels her body started to decline immediately after conception. I mean if it increased in complexity for a few decades before this decline began her claims wouldn’t make much sense.

  6. Curmy’s closing sentence is a keeper!!

  7. Groan. Not this spavined old nag of an argument again : “Entropy disproves evolution.”

    By that logic, entropy also disproves the existence of life of any kind. Humans, to use an example which for some reason interests people, develop from a single cell into complex organisms with an estimated 100 trillion cells differentiated into many different types. If Christine’s understanding of the second law of thermodynamics were correct, this should be impossible. But as readers here know, negative entropy is perfectly possible in systems which can exchange matter, energy, and, yes, information with their environment.

    Since this is true of just about anything short of the entire universe, the entropy argument falls flat. As for the universe as a whole, most cosmologists believe its entropy is increasing, but this doesn’t preclude entropy decreases in limited parts of it at the expense of the rest.

    None of this is new, but creationists either don’t know it or choose to ignore it. I suspect it’s the former in Christine’s case.

  8. ‘A friend believes in the theory of evolution.’ I guess that clinches it.

  9. Just as a river needs a gravity gradient to exist, specifically a potential energy gradient, life would not exist without an entropy gradient. In fact, nothing in the universe would happen without the operation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics: no conveniently near-spherical planets in near-circular orbits, in fact, no formation of stars and planets anyway. True, there are systems in equilibrium in which entropy never increases, diamonds, for example, but their entropy never decreases either, so nothing happens (“diamonds are forever” was one of those rare advertising slogans that was nearly accurate). True, Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle seems to allow microscopic deviations from the 2nd law, but not really; the 2nd law is a statistical law that is true for macroscopic systems, and microscopic fluctuations are irrelevant. True, the 2nd law seems to go the “wrong” way: while the potential energy in a river decreases with time, for mathematical convenience entropy increases (the highly educated but ignorant Arthur Koestler once complained about the arrogance of physicists coining the term “negentropy”), Despite all these caveats, the tendency of entropy to increase remorselessly is fundamental to existence.

    Creationists, please repeat after me: entropy is not disorder.

  10. Many of the prominent young Earth creationists make a point of accepting as much evolution so that all of the feliines are related by evolution – the saber-toothed smilodon (“saber tooted tiger”), cheetah, lion, tiger, domestic cat, etc.
    Somehow or other, entropy doesn’t stop that.
    How about the tadpoles and frogs, cterpillars and butterflies?