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March 06, 2014

"Answers for Creationists"

I would hope that none of my readers need this. But maybe you know some people who do. Short, effective, and good-natured.

(That the "Second Law of Thermodynamics" question persists is a serious indictment of our educational system. It's also another reminder that a little learning is a dangerous thing.)


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Che is dead

"In some sense, the genetic code is a fossil or perhaps an echo of the origin of life, just as the cosmic microwave background is a sort of echo of the Big Bang. And its form points to a process very different from today's Darwinian evolution." - Carl Woese, Microbiologist

Che is dead

About two-thirds of scientists believe in God, according to a new survey that uncovered stark differences based on the type of research they do.

Maybe you can explain things to them.

William Newman

The second law of thermo argument is at least doubly demented.

First, entropy like various conserved quantities in physics (energy, momentum...) gets passed around. It's stupid to say that soup can't be boiled because of the First Law of Thermodynamics; if you put in energy from some outside source, you can boil it. Similarly, you can figure out how much entropy must be disposed of when making a rabbit, then look to see whether turning a moderate number of carrots and O2 back into CO2 at room temperature can make the scales balance.

Second, entropy is additive, so if the second law of thermodynamics forbade going from a state with zero rabbits to a state with one hundred rabbits, it would also forbid going from a state with two rabbits to a state with one hundred and two rabbits.

There are valid unlikeliness arguments against evolution but (1) they are not nearly as simple and elegant and well-understood as entropy and (2) they are tied up with processes we don't understand very well. E.g., how unlikely was it to make the first rudimentary lifeform that's needed to kick off the process? Good, important question! And unfortunately there's no one around who's qualified to design a rudimentary lifeform, or even sensibly critique a design, and thus qualified to give you even an approximate answer. Even fairly simple catalysts are advanced research topics in chemistry; a rudimentary lifeform is beyond that.

(I might also try an appeal to authority. Lord Kelvin is famous for persistently attacking evolution on first law of thermodynamics grounds --- quite a sound argument until the discovery of radioactivity showed how the scales could be balanced. (See "Age of the Earth" on his wikipedia page.) How come he never attacked on second law grounds, then? Hint: he understood thermo pretty well...)

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