Creationist Wisdom #1,057: The Physics Professor

Today’s letter-to-the-editor was found in the Waco Tribune-Herald, of Waco, Texas. It’s titled Creator knows all, and it’s the second letter at that link. The newspaper has a comments section — with no comments yet. [Addendum: try Creator knows all.]

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’s author qualifies for full-name treatment. It’s Don Hardcastle, described at the end as “Emeritus Professor of Physics, Baylor University.” Baylor, as you know, is a Baptist university in Waco, Texas.

Here are some excerpts from the Professor’s letter, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

With the pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus, the massive destruction in the American West caused by the forest fires and the tremendous flooding and damage from a series of hurricanes, we are continually advised to study and follow the science behind these happenings.

Nothing wrong with that — or is there? The Professor says:

One of the major laws of science is that you cannot create something from nothing. [That seems reasonable!] Thus the earth and the magnificent universe of which it is a part had to have been created by something bigger than it. [Huh?] And science was just one of the entities of this creation.

Wow — science is an entity of creation! The Professor is amazing. After that he tells us:

Another law of science states that a system, like things on the earth, if left isolated, will move to a state of more disorder. Thus, man could not have evolved from some organism coming out of an ancient warm pond into the semi-intelligent beings we now are without some outside intervention.

That’s a rather clumsy description of the Second law of thermodynamics. Creationists are always claiming it makes evolution impossible — see Discovery Institute Gives Us Their Best Argument. The Professor ends his brief letter with this:

Is it now time we put our faith and trust in the Creator rather than just one entity of the creation? Science can be helpful; however, many of our needs go beyond science.

Do your needs go beyond science, dear reader? If so, only Oogity Boogity can help you.

Copyright © 2020. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

24 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #1,057: The Physics Professor

  1. Michael Fugate

    A creator has to be bigger than its creation? Why are there termite mounds?

    Is solar energy an outside intervention? This also means development violates the second law, no?

  2. Does creation violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics?

  3. Michael Fugate

    If intelligence can violate the 2nd law, then does mean humans aren’t intelligent? That humans can’t do intelligent design?

  4. chris schilling

    “…things on the earth, if left isolated, will move to a state of more disorder.”

    So true, Professor. Look at the Discovery Institute.They’re reduced to embracing has-been 90’s rappers and men who wear two sweaters at once as members of the increasingly entropic fold.

  5. @Michael Fugate
    Humans are subject to all of the laws of nature. For example, the laws of thermodynamics were discovered as limits on what the intelligent engineers could design. Whatever we know about intelligent design is derived from human (and other intelligent animal) activity.
    There is no basis for expecting that intelligent design could be free of natural law.

  6. Chris Schilling: a time backwards a bit, verzel hen mir, of a reference to having gotten your surname wrong, the always tragic transient S and C of the alphabet but a beg of apology with Schiller, Friedrich Von 1759-1805 German dramatist, poet, historian who lived in later life in Weimer,Germany with friend Goethe with whom he edited a literary periodical. He also translated Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and Racine’s Phedre. He himself was the author of Die Rauber, and later in life, Don Carlos, a cry for political liberty. And don’t forget Wilhelm Tell. But most notable is his unfinished novel Ode to Joy, which Beethoven read, and used it in the finale of his world famous and immortal Ninth Symphony. If indeed you are historically related to Friedrich, your writing ability supports it.

  7. “you cannot create something from nothing”
    A peculiar statement from a prof physics like Donny. It’s totally possible to create (if we allow random events) something from physical nothing. The typical example is positron-electron pair production. It’s easy to google. Then prof Donny might find something like “A process in which an electron and a positron are simultaneously created in the vicinity of a nucleus or subatomic particle. Electron-positron pair production is an example of the materialization of energy predicted by special relativity and is accurately described by quantum electrodynamics.”
    Prof Donny might object that energy is not nothing – that mass is created from energy. Then regarding the origin of our Universe he should have considered the very possible option that the total amount of mass-energy is exactly zero ….. Quantum fields might accurately describe the Big Bang. Prof Donny might point out that quantum fields are not nothing either, though they can be a physical nothing (all values equalling 0).
    Then we’re back at the Cosmological Argument, albeit adapted for quantum randomness. The first crucial question becomes: why should a god be the First Cause (or whatever we prefer to call it) and not quantum fields? Why should quantum fields have a cause and not prof Donny’s god? The second crucial question is: what does a god creating quantum fields add to our understanding? Finally: when quantum fields are the First Cause indeed we will be able to test it, at least in principle. How will we test a divine act of creation?
    As always inferring divine intervention only makes things unsurmountably complicated. The theological bonus is: how will prof Donny square the randomness of quantum fields with his directly intervening christian god from the Bible?
    Of course all this flies way beyond the heads of almost all creacrappers, including the IDiots from Seattle. Lo! Christian apologetics is just a mix of all kinds of logical fallacies.

    Our dear SC is stunned: “[Huh?]”
    It’s just the good old question: why is there something rather than nothing? WIth the typical answer ‘cuz goddiddid – it’s the only option;. Prof Donny formulates it in a rather clumsy way.

    “…. without some outside intervention”
    Now this makes me doubt prof Donny’s qualifications. The source of that outside intervention has been identified since a long time. The intervention is called Sunlight; the source fortunately is clearly outside the system we call Earth.

  8. A university professor of physics wrote that? You didn’t tell us which century he lived in.

  9. I second hans435. The mathematics aside – and I know that is absolutely essential, but I can’t hack it – I know more about thermodynamics than this bloke.

  10. Michael Fugate

    He has been retired for 15 years so maybe he has forgotten a few things?

  11. chris schilling

    @MichaelF
    Yeah, like how to put a coherent argument together. This is flimsy, pitiful stuff even by the usual low creationist standards.

  12. You can’t get anything from nothing.
    OK. Evolution does not get into that, but lets see where this goes.
    So you can’t explain where the universe comes from.
    And where do you say it comes from?
    God made it from nothing.
    So the universe comes from God?
    No. God made the universe from nothing. The universe comes from nothing by God’s creation.
    But you said that you can’t get something from nothing.
    Yes.
    Why am I talking with you?

  13. For some crazy reason, the editor won’t let me post a link to the professor’s letter. This ought to work: Creator knows all. Or this: Creator knows all.

  14. @ Our Curmudgeon: First ‘Creator knows all’ link doesn’t do anything, second one takes me back to the top of this page. I’m using Firefox, maybe other browsers behave differently?

    Have you considered humbly praying for divine intervention from The Great Hand of Correction? That generally works for me…

  15. Eddie Janssen

    Chrome, IE, Edge and Brave give the same results.

  16. So does Opera.
    For Dutchies like me it doesn’t matter, because the Waco Tribune-Herald isn’t accessible anyway (I googled it).

  17. The maddening thing that I always check the links in “preview” mode, and it was working before I posted. Now, after several attempts, I can’t post a link that works. I don’t know if that particular newspaper is the problem, or something really horrible is going on. I’ll find out soon enough.

  18. Nothing worse than a sloppy physics prof and I don’t mean the tweed jacket and rumpled shirt. There is no law about “something from nothing.” The conservation law of energy is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Of course, he also misrepresented the 2nd Law of Thermo because that’s what creationists do.

  19. Michael Fugate

    If things like energy, matter, information, moral values, etc. are conserved then how are they created? Take so called “traditional” marriage, what was it before it was traditional – non-traditional? And which traditions, did it replace?

    I like how Mike Lee R-UT decided we should revert back to the founders and only let white males owning property vote and that may need to be revised if they aren’t social conservatives. I imagine church membership would also be a requirement… maybe marriage to an XX too.

  20. Michael Fugate

    https://www.genealogy.math.ndsu.nodak.edu/id.php?id=79289&fChrono=1
    Interesting that he became head of Baylor IT in 1981 – the end of research apparently.

  21. Visiting the Waco Tribune-Herald’s letter-to-the-editor page:
    https://wacotrib.com/opinion/letters/
    reveals no such letter. Could it be the WordPress editor is smart enough to check a link for validity and remove it, but stupid enough to not give you an error message?

  22. Others here pointed out that quantum physics indicates that at least things like electron positron pairs are being created and destroyed all the time in the “nothing” of empty space. Perhaps the professor didn’t read much about that before he retired from research (although I think the ideas were around before 1981). Maybe he just doesn’t accept science that disagrees with what he thinks his favorite god did.

  23. FrankB, with your anonymous descriptive appellation of identity that in this scrum of so-called intellectual discourse we all falter to reveal who we really are, it makes me think of the trite, the trembled speak, the trendy fictions of tortured inquiries of the meaning of life thrown out there like so much slop in the streets where we all walk and talk and that falls on our necks as we huddle our ears to hear on our cell phones the latest disquisitions of the latest imposition of our respective lives.
    Things abstruse and remotely thoughtful of the slenderest of scientific inquiries that change all too quickly in the world of a today already shaped by the discoveries of tomorrow should be borne with at least a small grace of a comedic gift that would make it all a bit more tolerable. The past remembers only the slights that engage our memories.

  24. Just remember, ‘The flesh is bruckle, the fiend is slee, timor mortis, perterbat me.’ William Dunbar.