Creationist Wisdom #937: The Second Law

Today’s letter-to-the-editor (it’s actually a column) appears in the La Junta Tribune-Democrat of La Junta, Colorado. It’s titled A Solid Faith to Stand On, and the newspaper has a comments feature.

Unless the letter-writer is a politician, preacher, or other public figure, we won’t embarrass or promote him by using his full name — but today we’ve got a preacher. It’s Tim Muth, associate Pastor at the LaJunta Baptist Tabernacle. We’ll give you a few excerpts from the rev’s column, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]. Here we go!

Trusting the Biblical account of our origins found in Gen 1-3 is not “blind faith.” The universe declares the glory of God and speaks to us eloquently in every language Ps.19:1-3. The Creator designed and established the laws we discover in science that make sense of the physical universe. Laws like the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Every system in the universe tends toward entropy, disorder, and loss of information.

Got that? According to the rev, it’s not blind faith to believe that the laws of nature were created by God. Then he says:

Evolutionists claim that all the complexity we see in the universe [the universe?] has evolved from simple to complex. It also claims that this process takes so long it’s not possible to observe it taking place in our lifetimes, or even in the time span of human history. That means that the assumption must be accepted by faith, not through scientific facts or observations. True science is observable, testable, and repeatable. Blind faith is unscientific.

It couldn’t be more clear than that. Evolution is based on blind faith. Not only that, but it can’t even happen. The rev explains:

This Second Law of Thermodynamics should make the truth seeker hold up a red flag when we are told that organisms eventually evolve from simple to complex. [Gasp, he’s right!] What we observe with the scientific method is that every system, when left to itself, tends toward entropy, not order or complexity.

Everything is falling apart, not evolving. He continues:

Our earth, though designed to be self-sustaining [Hee hee!], ultimately tends toward entropy. Of course, it has been argued that the Earth is not a “closed system”, and the Sun is a good example of an outside source providing new energy.

That’s right — isn’t it? No, it’s wrong! Let’s read on:

Unfortunately, the fact that we receive energy from our sun may be beneficial to us but only at the expense of our sun, which is burning down [Gasp!], as our solar system ultimately tends toward entropy.

Everything is falling apart! Even on the largest scale. The rev tells us:

Any time a system receives new energy, it does so at the expense of the larger system that it belongs to. The whole universe is drifting apart and following the second law of thermodynamics.

So where does evolution fit in? Guess what — it doesn’t! We’re told:

This absolute must be ignored to believe evolution’s simple to complex (therefore “blind faith”) assumptions. Why not trust the infallible word of God instead?

The rev finishes by telling us to read 2Peter 3:3-15, which is about the end of all things. Creepy stuff — especially if you were planning on eternity in heaven. Perhaps, dear reader, you can explain how it all fits together.

Copyright © 2019. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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29 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #937: The Second Law

  1. Michael Fugate

    His real job is welding – does it show? And he attended an unaccredited bible college?

  2. Interesting phrase: “as our solar system ultimately tends toward entropy.” Statements like this make it obvious that he hasn’t a clue when it comes to thermodynamics.

  3. @ Cynic – don’t say that Tim “hasn’t a clue”. As a welder he knows better than you that things fall apart and need to be put together again. He would be out of job otherwise.

  4. I posted there, though I don’t knowif I was successful: I don’t understand the Pastor’s problem. He says, correctly, that the Sun provides the energy (to be technical, the usable energy) that drives processes that increase complexity on Earth. So the increased complexity of living things, as required by evolution, must ultimately be driven by the Sun. True. And Pastor Muth says that in that case the Sun must be running down. Also true, although only a tiny fraction of the Sun’s energy output arrives on Earth or any other planet, and most is just radiated out into space.. In fact, the Sun is about half way through its productive life.

    How is any of this an argument for or against evolution?

  5. “Evolutionists claim that all the complexity we see in the universe has evolved from simple to complex.”
    I try to remember which physicists claim that the Big Bang was a simple event compared to our Universe right now. Either my memory fails me or there is none.

    “as our solar system ultimately tends toward entropy.”
    Correct. It will last another 4 or 5 billion years.

    “Why not trust the infallible word of God instead?”
    That may be a good idea, but the Rev. apparently doesn’t have much clues which words that would be.

    @Cynic: my favourite is “evolution on Earth, which receives energy from the Sun necessary for simple-to-complex processes, is impossible because the total entropy of the entire Universe is always increasing.”

  6. Michael Fugate

    The review of Behe is up – his book dismissed as shoddy scholarship. Surprised?

  7. Laurettte McGovern

    It’s so obvious–the world is going to hell in a handbasket. As Yeats put it, “. . . things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

    Or perhaps those words of that esteemed scientist, Dr. Peter Venkman, will convince you: “Dogs and cats living together; mass hysteria!”

  8. @Michael Fugate, dreadfully familiar. Like having a boxing match with one of those toys that rights itself whenever you knock it down (what are they called?). But Behe is not without his uses; I first came across Boudry through his critique of ID (Ref 2 in review) that the editor cruelly included in the same issue of Quart Rev Biol (Dec 2010) as the review by Behe that I’ve mentioned on this site earlier

  9. Michael Fugate

    Bop Bag?

    It is worth pasting the abstract of Boudry’s paper:

    The concept of Irreducible Complexity (IC) has played a pivotal role in the resurgence of the creationist movement over the past two decades. Evolutionary biologists and philosophers have unambiguously rejected the purported demonstration of “intelligent design” in nature, but there have been several, apparently contradictory, lines of criticism. We argue that this is in fact due to Michael Behe’s own incoherent definition and use of IC. This paper offers an analysis of several equivocations inherent in the concept of Irreducible Complexity and discusses the way in which advocates of the Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC) have conveniently turned IC into a moving target. An analysis of these rhetorical strategies helps us to understand why IC has gained such prominence in the IDC movement, and why, despite its complete lack of scientific merits, it has even convinced some knowledgeable persons of the impending demise of evolutionary theory.

    Ouch! my bold.

  10. Jeez, what a downer Pastor Tim turned out to be. Remind me not to invite him ’round for any more parties:
    “You’re doomed! Everything is running down, people! Even the sun is dying for us, and when I say “sun” I’m not speaking metaphorically! I mean, it’s literally on the way out! Luckily, we’ve got the infallible word of God!”

    (Embarrassed silence. A few people titter. Guests return to discussing mobile phone plans. Someone cranks the music up. Everyone begins dancing to ‘Stayin’ Alive’).

  11. Has anyone ever addressed the various refutations of Irreducible Complexity that were plublished well before Behe? See the Wikipedia article. In particular, there is this book on the subject published in 1975
    T. H. Frazzetta,
    Complex Adaptations in Evolving Populations,
    Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates, 1975.
    ISBN 0-87893-194-5.

  12. @ Michael Fugate – thanks for the link. Nothing really new since Behe’s 1996 “Darwin’s Black Box”. Twenty three years and no progress. That he still trots out his ‘irreducibly complex’ blood-clotting cascade says it all.

  13. Mark Germano

    So Behe, et. al., are Weebles?

  14. If God made the laws of thermodynamics so that life would not arise, why did he then violate his own laws?

  15. “we’ve got the infallible word of God!”

    The reverend manages to ignore additional obvious things in his rambling science denialism. When the sun evolves into a red giant the Earth and all of the remaining bibles will be turned to ashes, and the reverend’s word of gawd will no longer exist (assuming that any bibles could even last for an additional 5 billion years).

  16. Apparently, some biologist has proposed that the second law of thermodynamics, contrary to creationist claims, makes the emergence of life inevitable, because living systems are so much more efficient at producing entropy than non-living systems.

  17. @Paul D, yes, someone’s been making a big stir with that lately, though I think it’s all there in Prigogine and Eigen (ireversitble thermodynamics and the hypercylce) decades ago

  18. I think that it is interesting that long before there was thermodynamics, or a a theory of evolution, Cotton Mather brought up the point that a perpetual motion machine was impossible as an argument against natural biological reproduction.

  19. @Tom S: do you have a link for that Mather thing? And you say “reproduction”; interesting. You’ve pointed out before; if the 2nd law forbade evolution it would most assuredly forbid reproduction. And growth. And, let me add, water freezing

  20. Cotton Mather wrote a bok on science, “The Christian Philosopher”. One major section, numbered 27, is titled “On Insects”, where he writes:
    ” There is nothing in the animal machine, but an inconceivable number of branching and winding canals, filled with liquors of different natures, going a perpetual round, and no more capable of producing the wonderful fabric of another animal, than a thing is of making itself. There is besides in the generation of an animal, a necessity that the head, heart, nerves, veins and arteries, be formed at the same time, which never can be done by the motion of any fluid, which way soever moved.
    “Great God, thou art the father of all things; even the father of insects, as well as the father of spirits; and thy greatness appears with a singular brightness in the least of thy creatures!”
    This is in page 155 of my edition, where secton 27 covers pages 150-177.

  21. @PaulB perhaps can use my helping hand: “And, let me add, water freezing.”
    And designing houses (design not understood in the correct TomS way, but rather in the ambiguous IDiot way). So it’s either dropping the 2nd Law argument or dropping Paley’s False Watchmaker Analogy. That’s to say, if those apologists cared about consistency.

  22. There is a Wikipedia article on “Entropic force”.

  23. @Tom S: Mather was using an irreducible complexity argument against reproduction even of an insect as a natural process.

    Everyone: Behe’s self-defence is now up at telling us he’s a better giologist than Lenski, he argues from his banal “The First Rule of Adaptive Evolution: Break or blunt any gene whose loss would increase the number of offspring” by way of “The rule summarizes the fact that the overwhelming tendency of random mutation is to degrade genes, and that very often is helpful” which may well be true; it’s called “purifying selection” and indeed most mutations if not neutral are harmful, to the blatantly false and not entirely coherent ” Thus natural selection itself acts as a powerful de-volutionary force, increasing helpful broken and degraded genes in the population. And they had no response! That’s because there is in fact nothing that can alleviate that fatal flaw in Darwinism” and the dreaded “Much more to come soon.”

    How do you puncture a lead balloon?

  24. Michael Fugate

    Notice the weasel words in that short passage:
    Overwhelming tendency, very often, may well, most. That he has hedged everything means he is hiding what actually happens.

  25. About Cotton Mather.
    I made a mistake, This passage I saved as an early example of Irreducible Complexity. The Perpetual Motion argument appears later, near the end of section “On Insects”, page 176 in the edition I had access to:

    “For first, the blood is by the force of the heart squeezed from the left ventricle, through the arteries, to the extremities of the body, and is thence returnedby the veins into the right ventricle thence by the arteria pulmonalis into the lungs; from the lungs by the vena pulmonalis again into the right ventricle. The motion of the heart is caused by the nervous juices mixing with the blood, in the muscular part thereof; and these nervous juices are both derived from the blood, and forced into the muscular part of the heart, by by the motion of the heart itself, the texture of the containing vessels, and perhaps by the pulsation of the arteries upon the nerves of the brain. Here now, the heart is the cause of the motion of the blood in the arteries; and the motion of the blood in the arteries urging their juices through which is a plain circulation of mechanical powers, a perpetual motion, a thing unknown to nature! An epicurean cannot contrive a water machine, wherein the water should move the machine, and the machine move the water, and the same water continually return in a circle to move the machine.

    “Great God, it is thy immediate influence on the powers of nature in me that keeps my heart in motion. Oh, that I may love thee and serve thee with all my heart! In thee I live! to glorify thee, should be the business of my life.”[deuteronomy 10:12 acts 17:28]]
    “Epicurean” was the old word for “atheist”.

  26. @Tom S: “Epicurus” is still the Yiddish word for atheist. Mather is saying, correctly, that the circulation of the blood requires some kind of driver, but seems to infer from this that every heartbeat requires divine intervention. Have I understood him correctly?

  27. As I understand hhis reasoning, he is introducing a principle of nature. (Let us not quibble about whether he describes it clearly.) If he wants to defend that novel principle, he should give either some experimental/observational evidnece for it, or argue that it is a logical/mathematical theorem.
    As far as I am acquainted with the discussion, no one has offered experimental/observational evidence for the impossibilty of IC by natural means. He rather offers examples in nature of the results of IC, and challenges others to show that they are possible. Rather, the burden on him,
    in order to defend his novel principle, is to show that they are not possible. In brief, he is “Begging the Question”.
    On the other hand, to show that IC is logicaly true. Well, what can one say, other than “good luck”.I am tempted to question whether Intelligent Design can bypass a logical principle. But, rather, I just would ask for that logical proof.
    BTW, the fact that the principle of IC has been a failure failure in the history of biology, there is some major lifting to be done in defending the principle. Of course, while we are waiting for it to be cast in a definitive form.

  28. @Paul Braterman
    That is the way that I read this. It has been a long time since I read this, and I am not aware of scholarly studies of Cotton Mather’s biilogy. (The unfortunate lack of being out of contact with a community of scholars.) The only thing that mst people know about Cotton Mather is his involvement in the Salem witch trials. But he did promote vaccination for small pox. He was no “dark ages dummy”

  29. That’s a great link, PaulB, if only for the title!

    “Lenski Has No Response to My Main Argument”
    To paraphraze a well known Dutch proverb: “One IDiot can bring up more silly arguments than a dozen scientists can refute.”

    Indeed, why Behe’s law would be a “fatal flaw for Darwinism” and hence should demand a response from any sane mind is something only IDiots seem to understand.

    Let’s try if I can do this better.
    Another fatal flaw for Darwinism: the magnetic monopole has never been observed. Take that, athiests.