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3/23/2012 at 12:27:01 PM GMT
Posts: 60
The second law of thermodynamics states that a gas will fill up its container because this is the most probable configuration. To do these calculations, physicists give each one of the identical molecules in the gas a label (No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, etc.). One might say, the model for a gas is a deck of playing cards because the playing cards are identical, non-interacting, and isolated.

Biologists use the English sonnet as a model for a protein. The letters in the sonnet represent amino acids and biologists calculate the probability of getting a sonnet by the random selection of letters and dictionary words. This calculation and the fact that the primary structure of the protein doesn’t even begin to describe the complexity of life is why natural selection explains only adaptation, not common descent. In other words, natural selection explains why giraffes have long necks, but does not explain how giraffes evolved from bacteria. This is the sense in which evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.

The American Journal of Physics articles are nonsense for three reasons:
1)    The articles ignore the correct sense in which evolution violates the second law.
2)    The articles imply that adding heat to a system can decrease entropy.
3)    The articles use Boltzmann’s constant to calculate the entropy of the biosphere. This is like calculating the entropy of a deck of playing cards.

 

The articles may have been written in good faith. However, I recently pointed out the errors in the article. Now, the AJP is acting in bad faith. They are lying about science in order to discourage people from believing in the "Good News of the Bible.” The "Good News of the Bible” is not that we should love our fellow man and not tell lies. It is that we might have to pay for our sins when we die.




David Roemer


3/24/2012 at 6:59:45 AM GMT
Posts: 24

I am familiar with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as well as the logical leap involved in extending the implications of adaptation beyond the confines of each individual species.  I am also familiar with complexity theories in general and the idea of irreducible complexity. There is this general problem we all face in the sciences of sorting out how everything we observe now came from what appears to us to be a Big Bang.  I have done some thinking about these issues but I must admit in the following paragraphs I am going to trespass into territory that I do not have the qualifications to tread.  I am happy to invite those of you with proper credentials to jump in with enhancements and corrections if necessary.

One observable phenomenon that I find to be fascinating from a common origins perspective is the way a number of oxygen atoms and twice as many hydrogen atoms can become constrained to each other in a very particular relationship and become something entirely different than anything suggested by either oxygen or hydrogen.  Only a tiny portion of the properties of water can be induced from the properties of oxygen and hydrogen.  Water is only one such substance that makes life possible.  The relationships in the water molecule create whole new possibilities.

This instantaneous emergence of entirely new possibilities throws an interesting twist into the common origins discussion, because it introduces the notion that a vast range of possibilities that could not be anticipated do occur as a result of a natural process. Presumably some time after the Big Bang water did spontaneously emerge.

As I understand it there are surprisingly small differences in the DNA structures between apes and humans.  If we focus not on the overall complexity but the relatively small number of differences, it begins to resemble the emergence of new possibilities from a few constraints found in the water molecule.  Small differences in the relationships found in the DNA that result in huge differences in the resulting organism. 

I probably would not include this idea as part of evolution, but another observed phenomenon that explains why relatively large increases in possibilities for an organism could happen quite quickly if the process is directed by something.  I'm not sure that natural selection would be the directive mechanism here, or adaptation.  On the other hand I don't think it needs to be a miracle of God as a typical creationist views it. Perhaps a search for such a mechanism would bear some fruit. Or perhaps someone has already discovered something.

Having reviewed one of the articles in AJP, I agree with you that the articles were probably written in good faith.  I still fail to see how refusal to publish a rebuttal directly relates to an attack on the Bible and Christianity.  It still feels like speculation to me.

I would suggest that relegating the Good News of the Bible to salvation from sin does not address the reason God decided to save us, why he decided to create us, or why he gave us the ability to sin in the first place.  My reading of the Bible reveals the story of a God that created us as people to love, gave us the ability to sin so we could love him back, and sent Jesus to pay the penalty for sin, so our ability to love God back could be restored and we could become part of his family.  This love relates to us through the authority of the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of the Son.

Again I fail to see how any discussion of common origins, thermodynamics or complexity theory challenges any part of the Good News. 



Last edited Saturday, March 24, 2012
3/24/2012 at 11:53:34 AM GMT
Posts: 60
@Sutherland- I think your insight that the properties of water can’t be understood from the properties of hydrogen and oxygen is important. You are asking a scientific question that nobody seems to be interested in trying to answer. Not to boast, I had a similar insight about positronium. We can calculate the binding energy of positronium using quantum electrodynamics, which is a mathematical expansion in the fine structure constant. My understanding is that we can’t prove the expansion converges. If this is true, we don’t completely understand the properties of positronium from the properties of electrons and positrons.

Thank you for agreeing with my criticisms of the AJP articles. The authors of the articles were probably not conscious of the absurdity of what they were writing. They were blinded by their desire to refute creationism and the idea the evolution violated the 2nd law. The Executive Board of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) now knows or should know about the errors in the articles and they should tell the authors and reviewers to undo the damage. The authors should then submit an erratum with apologies.

The AAPT is morally obligated to do this because of their duty to their readers. One of their readers is Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the National Center for Science Education. Glenn Branch cited the AJP articles to prove Richard Dawkins was right about the sun, evolution, and the second law.

I want to ask you to examine your own conscience is this regard. I see in your comments a certain disingenuousness that I suspect is motivated by an unconscious or conscious desire to destroy the good news of salvation. Jesus taught that our purpose in life is to serve God in this world in order to be with Him in the next. We are not guaranteed salvation, but can hope for it with "fear and trembling.”

Your interpretation of Jesus’ message strikes me as being humanistic. You are not preaching the gospel. You are saying that life is good and meaningful even if it ends in the grave in a morally questionable way. What is morally questionable is that you are not admitting it. My guess is that you believe in God in the same way the John Dewey believed in God. Dewey’s idea was that God existed because people, when they behave morally, act as if God existed.




David Roemer


3/25/2012 at 4:00:14 AM GMT
Posts: 24

Interesting that you would bring up John Dewey since ideas derived from his philosophy fall squarely within my field of expertise.  I am known as a critic of Dewey because his emphasis on experience makes meaning a strictly social construction. I have never been labeled a humanist in any respect by those in my field and in my circles.  I am honestly quite interested in your reasons for that label.

I believe that that the work of Jesus Christ on the cross restores the ability of man to love God back.  Put another way, sin separates us from God's love leaving us subject to his judgement, eternal separation from him, hell.  I do not except the notion found in the Westminster Confession that the "Chief end of man is to serve God and enjoy him forever."  The angels were made to serve God. I think God loves us more than that.  I think he made us to share a love relationship with him, to love God back.  To love him we must be able to choose to reject him and his love, to sin.

Man is indescribably valuable to God.  Each one of us is a "pearl of great price."  God is willing to sell all he has so we can be his.  We are so valuable to God that he gave his only son so he could make us part of his family.  Just as Adam and Eve had the choice to obey God and remain in a loving relationship with him, because of Jesus we each have the choice to accept the invitation to join God's family or pursue our own way forever, eternally separated from him.

I think the kingdom of heaven is at hand, that we begin our eternal relationship with God as soon as we accept his invitation to be part of his family, to accept the atoning work of Christ.  If we choose not to accept the invitation we remain under God's judgement for eternity.

For Dewey man's value lies in his relationship to society and the way they experience life.  For me man has intrinsic value not derived from his relationship to society or to experience, but his relationship to God.  I would argue that man's relationship to God separates him from all other creatures in the universe.  Perhaps you can see why I have not been labeled a humanist.



Last edited Sunday, March 25, 2012
3/25/2012 at 2:02:15 PM GMT
Posts: 60
Yes, I can see why you are not labeled a humanist. However, that does not mean you are not a humanist as I understand the term. There are many people who don't believe in the Westminister Confession, but they keep it to themselves and they give religion to their children. Such people are not humanists. When asked about their lack of faith they will say, "God hasn't given me the gift of faith."

A humanist thinks hoping for personal fulfillment based on human experience by being united with a transcendent reality after we die is irrational or unenlightened. In their view, rational people strive for "self-realization" and the welfare of their fellow man. Being a humanist doesn't mean denying that God exists. This quote is from the humanist John Dewey:

"The idea that "God” represents a unification of ideal values that is essentially imaginative in origin when the imagination supervenes in conduct is attended with verbal difficulties owing to our frequent use of the word "imagination” to denote fantasy and doubtful reality. But the reality of ideal ends as ideals is vouched for by their undeniable power in action.

"These considerations may be applied to the idea of God, or, to avoid misleading conceptions, to the idea of the divine. The idea is, as I have said, one of ideal possibilities unified through imaginative realization and projection. But this idea of God, or of the divine, is also connected with all the natural forces and conditions—including human associations—that promote the growth of the ideal and that further its realization. We are in the presence neither of ideals completely embodied in existence nor yet of ideals that are mere rootless ideals, fantasies, utopias. For there are forces in nature and society that generate and support the ideals. They are further unified by the action that gives them coherence and solidarity. It is this active relation between ideal and actual to which I would give the name "God.” I would not insist that the name must be given."

(http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/philosophers/john_dewey.php)

As you said, humans are superior to angels. But, not because we don't have the duty to serve God in the hope of personal salvation. It is because humans possess sanctifying grace and angels don't. My guess is that you try to disabuse people of this belief. To you, humans are superior to angels because we can serve our fellow man.

I think the Executive Council of American Association of Physics Teachers, who I have been contacting, is not taking responsibility for the pseudo-scientific articles because they are humanists. The articles were written with the goal of discrediting belief in Heaven and Hell. If the authors apologize and recant, that will promote religious faith. This will make the American Association of Physics Teachers very unpopular with their fellow humanists.  



David Roemer


3/26/2012 at 8:35:26 AM GMT
Posts: 24

Wow.  I have obviously not been able to clearly communicate my understanding of the Gospel, who God is and what our relationship to him is like, if you still think I know God as a human construction of the imagination, experience or social interaction.  Perhaps I have not understood you well enough.  Also, I do want to clarify mistake I made in a previous post.  The quote from the Westminster confession actually reads: "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."  I substituted the word "serve" in error.

Here are the ideas that I think we agree upon based upon our previous posts:

  1. Humanists believe in some form that God is entirely a product of human imagination, beliefs, etc. 
  2. The AJP article pushes back against creationists that say evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
  3. Man sinned by disobeying God and suffered eternal death (defined as separation from God) as a consequence.
  4. Jesus Christ's death and resurrection paid the penalty of eternal death on our behalf, making eternal life available to all who would receive it.
  5. We receive eternal life by faith and not because of anything we can do to earn it.
  6. Those who reject the free gift are condemned to eternal separation from God, hell.

The confusion seems to lie come from just few differences that I seem to misunderstand.  Perhaps I could better explain my thoughts if I first asked you to respond to a few questions:

Why did God make sin possible?

Can you walk me through how "perfect communication" works without at least two perfect communicators (send and receive)?

Why does our eternal relationship with God have to wait until we physically die?

Who essentially is God?  What is his essence? 

Jesus said, "If you love me you will keep my commandments."  Were Jesus commandments new?  If they were, how did they change things?  If they were not, why did he call them "my commandments" rather than God's commandments?



Last edited Monday, March 26, 2012
3/26/2012 at 5:35:15 PM GMT
Posts: 60
We certainly do not agree about item # 2. The AJP articles give incorrect entropy equations and imply that adding heat to a system can decrease its entropy.

 

To the question, "Why did God make sin possible?, there are three answers depending on who is asking.

  1. There is a higher good that God is achieving, like parents who let their children play outside for the sake of their character development even though they might get hurt. We don’t know what this higher good is, but it must be there. This answer is for people who believe in God and are trying to get to heaven.
  2. Sin has no status in being. Being is good and evil is just the absence of good. For people trying to refute the cosmological argument for God’s existence.
  3. For someone who is explaining why they don’t believe in God, this is a good reason. Most people who don’t believe give bad reasons. When someone gives a good reason, it should be acknowledged.

An example of perfect communication is when God reveals truths to mankind. The communication is perfect because all human beings believe exactly what God wants them to believe.

For people who are not baptized and don’t have mystical experiences, union with God comes after death.

Finite beings are a composition of essence and existence. Our existence is the principle that makes us exist. Our essence is the principle that limits our existence and makes us the particular being that we are. God is a pure act of existence without a limiting essence.



David Roemer


3/26/2012 at 7:51:19 PM GMT
Posts: 24
RE:
D. Roemer said:
We certainly do not agree about item # 2. The AJP articles give incorrect entropy equations and imply that adding heat to a system can decrease its entropy.

 

To the question, "Why did God make sin possible?, there are three answers depending on who is asking.

  1. There is a higher good that God is achieving, like parents who let their children play outside for the sake of their character development even though they might get hurt. We don’t know what this higher good is, but it must be there. This answer is for people who believe in God and are trying to get to heaven.
  2. Sin has no status in being. Being is good and evil is just the absence of good. For people trying to refute the cosmological argument for God’s existence.
  3. For someone who is explaining why they don’t believe in God, this is a good reason. Most people who don’t believe give bad reasons. When someone gives a good reason, it should be acknowledged.

An example of perfect communication is when God reveals truths to mankind. The communication is perfect because all human beings believe exactly what God wants them to believe.

For people who are not baptized and don’t have mystical experiences, union with God comes after death.

Finite beings are a composition of essence and existence. Our existence is the principle that makes us exist. Our essence is the principle that limits our existence and makes us the particular being that we are. God is a pure act of existence without a limiting essence.


These comments help me a great deal. I can now more easily see how we differ and perhaps that will lead to a better understanding of each other, at least for me.

Regarding #2 I would suggest from our previous posts that we both see the AJP article I read as a case being made against the creationist position that evolution violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.  I realize that you see the argument as not only flawed but intentionally misleading.  I can't honestly agree or disagree without investigating it further.  But I still think we agree on #2, that the articles were written with the intent to argue against the typical creationist position.

I find this answer to be most helpful: "An example of perfect communication is when God reveals truths to mankind. The communication is perfect because all human beings believe exactly what God wants them to believe."

It appears to me from this passage that you take a more restricted view of grace than I.  Essentially you seem to me to be saying that man cannot resist God's grace.  If God chooses to make him believe, he will believe.  Those that God does not choose are eternally doomed.  If I am incorrect in this assumption I would appreciate an explanation.  

 If people believe exactly what God wants them to believe, why all the effort to convince the caretakers of AJP to change their position?  Do they really have a choice in the matter?

In your discussion of God's essence, and throughout your most recent message, I see you saying that God is good .  How do you do interpret 1 John 4?  "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8)." and "And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him (1 John 4:16)."



Last edited Monday, March 26, 2012
3/27/2012 at 5:30:39 AM GMT
Posts: 60
I’m criticizing the moral values of the Executive Board of the American Association of Physics Teachers. While the articles may have been written in good faith, they contain egregious errors in physics and an erratum should be published. These errors are promulgated every time someone says evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics, and every time someone says natural selection explains evolution. I’m not criticizing them for being non-believers.
 
I believe that our freedom is before God. When we die our past is some how gathered up and becomes the defining moment of our lives. We can hope for salvation, but we are not guaranteed it. I believe sinners and non-believers may be eternally doomed.

You seem to be asking the question: How can we be free when God knows what we do? Either God knows our actions because God acts upon us, or we act upon God. If we act upon God, then God is contingent upon our actions and is not self-sufficient. If God acts upon us, then in what sense are we free? The solution I got in my metaphysics class in college is this: When we make a decision to do something, we are deciding against the alternative course of action. God know what we decide because it is His power flowing though us that enables us to do what we decide. Our freedom consisted of deciding the direction God’s power will take.

I have no insight into the idea that God is love. All religions teach that we should love our fellow human beings. Humanists also say this, but are in fact a danger to their fellow human beings. Humanists are prone to irrational political causes.



David Roemer


3/27/2012 at 11:05:42 AM GMT
Posts: 130

David,

  I don't see that you have responded to a number of posts several of us made previously about your claim. Let me simply repeat as clearly as I can. It is not an error to say that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. It is an error to say it does. I'd be happy to take you through the details of thermodynamics any time. For an open system, like biological organisms, which imports and exports energy, the second law of thermodynamics does not dictate whether entropy increases or decreases. There is no violation.

  May I also suggest that one of your earlier posts calling into question the Christianity of the members of Christians in Science because they don't agree with your view on this issue, is out of order. In the ASA, we respect each other's diverse opinions in that we do not question each other's spiritual status because of differences in scientific matters.

Randy