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6/19/2013 » 6/21/2013Third Cambridge Consortium for Bioethics Education, Paris, France.
6/19/2013Book discussion group, Lexington, MA
7/5/2013Truth in the Test Tube, Wheaton, IL. Celebrating Dave Fisher’s 50th anniversary with TWR
7/8/2013 » 7/10/2013“The Heavens Declare: What Astronomy Can Tell us about Biblical Creation,” Mequon, WI
7/14/2013 » 7/19/2013Inklings Week, Oxford, England
Evolution does not
violate the second law of thermodynamics because the second law is absolutely
true. It is like saying the odds of getting heads when you flip a coin is 50%.
that proteins or their DNA assemble by random chance when evolving. Biologists do probability calculations that show proteins or DNA could not have
evolved by random processes in 3 billion years. This is why natural selection
explains only adaptation, not the increase in the complexity of life.
It is perfectly
reasonable to say evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics because
they both use probability calculations. The supposedly peer-reviewed article I
am criticizing implies that natural selection explains the increase in the
complexity of life. This is pseudoscience.
My YouTube video at
the top of this post gives the references and quotes from peer-reviewed
articles and scholarly works that explains this in more detail.
David, I think a few clarifications are in order. You said "Entropy always decreases in nature, according to the second law." I think you mean "...always increases in a closed system..." Of course, in open systems with an energy flux, entropy can increase or decrease, according to the second law.
Also, you said "Entropy is another word for order." Yes, the two are related but it isn't always easy to quantify the two. Entropy is really defined by the number of possible states or configurations.
When you say "It is perfectly reasonable to say evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics because they both use probability calculations," I would caution that they use probability very differently and it does not follow that evolution violates the second law. As Chuck rightly points out, no biologist I know thinks that. Probability calculations are useful in assessing various paths for natural processes but none that I know of says that evolution couldn't have or didn't happen.
Your comment that "...natural selection explains the increase in the complexity of life" isn't quite complete. While the selection process is an important part, one must also include the source of variation, in which, usually through energy influx, there is replication with variation as the source of increased information and complexity, with selection as the vital feedback constraint. Rather than being pseudo-science, it's a very successful and thriving area of science, seems to me.
This is confusing to me. Are you sure the statistical approach is restricted to non-interacting particles? That doesn't sound very biological. If we combine helium and oxygen in a gas chamber experiment, similar to the one you described earlier, then try the same experiment with carbon and oxygen, won't we see a significant variance in the results due to variables not considered in a simple statistical gas analysis? As long as a given structure somehow benefits from any change, and the new structure can be replicated, why would statistics claim otherwise? I don't see evolution violating the 2nd law any more than a refrigerator might, though I am neither biologist nor physicist.
[I too think it will be 20 to the power of 600 in possible mathematical combinations.]
The tenet of natural selection is a general term, not a specific process. Indeed, it wasn't until genetics came along that Darwin's hypothesis of natural selection became respected.
A minor nit: Big Bang Theory was not discovered in the 1960s, though the cosmic background radiation was discovered in 1964, which gave huge credence to the original, but less structured, theory by Lemaitre from his 1927 paper. His "primeval atom" was introduced, I think, in 1931 while in England.
To be clear I take you to be saying that AJP, and the portion of the academy it represents, and not a particular author, are specifically targeting the Bible by publishing this article. Again, I am not an expert in the field but it seems to me that they are publishing the view of an author (or perhaps authors) who contends that evolution does not violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. It appears to me that there are folks that are part if ASA, who are Trinitarians, take the Bible to be God's word, are career biological scientists who tend to share the perspective presented in the AJP article.
I'm sorry but I have a hard time jumping to the conclusion that this biological position on the 2nd Law constitutes an attack on the Bible. Seems to me it is an attack on a particular interpretation of the biological implications of the 2nd Law and open for healthy debate regardless of a faith position. Perhaps the problem is that a scientific question like this doesn't make a lot of sense in the context of faith, a little like discussing marriage in heaven. The author obviously takes a position against creationist positions who claim that the 2nd Law is violated by evolution.
For me the Trinity boils down to the passage in 1 John 4 "God is Love." For God to be Love, there must be the authority and will to love, the power to love, and a physical presence express it to the beloved. Love is fundamentally relational and the Trinity flows from the relationship between the Father, Holy Spirit and the Son. That God would choose to invite us to be part of that family and make it possible through Jesus Christ is the Good News of the Bible. Quite frankly, I'm not sure what any of that has to do with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, except to say that the 2nd Law expresses God's amazing love for us because it makes life, consciousness and breath possible.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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?
To the question, "Why did God make sin possible?, there are three answers depending on who is asking.
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)."
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.
@Dave Roemer - The Bible happens to be the only scripture that I know of that asserts that "God is Love." Not that God is loving, but God actually is in His essence love. Based upon my lay person's knowledge Christianity is unique amongst all religions in this assertion. Ernest Valea explains it well on his comparative religions website:
"Likewise, when the Apostle John proclaims that "God is love" (1 John 4,8) this should not be interpreted as an expression of the impersonal primordial energy, but as form of expressing the supreme unity of the tri-personal communion. It doesn't just mean that God has love, as a quality, but that he is love, which is the way of being in the Trinity, each person existing not for himself, but for the others, in a perfect communion of love." http://www.comparativereligion.com/god.html#10
My conception of the Trinity begins with the notion that "God is Love." God made man in His own image. It makes sense to me that He would want man to experience that love. Love desires the beloved to love in return. I lean toward C. S. Lewis conception in this regard. I think God gave man real choice, the kind that changes its mind. Without choice it wouldn't be possible to love God back. So God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden so humans could have a choice. God knows all the possible outcomes, but He leaves the choice up to us. Quite a bit like indeterminacy in physics.
I've decided to do a little investigating so I have a question. I know something about atmospheric conditions, currents, weather, etc. Activity in the atmosphere starts with energy from the sun that enters from outside the influence of the gravitational field of the earth. Uneven heating of the surface of the earth leads to air masses that differ in temperature, moisture, density and pressure. Some energy is also lost from the earth's atmosphere via light emissions, and reflected light. Does uneven heating of the atmosphere lead to increased or decreased entropy? Does the heat move the atmosphere toward order or away from order?
The second law of thermodynamics is not limited to a gas of non-interacting particles. It is a much broader, all-encompassing law that applies to all physical systems. The law says, quite simply, that the Gibbs free energy is minimized in every event. That applies everywhere. In the general case, adding heat to a system may or may not decrease the entropy. For a non-interacting system of molecules, the entropy would increase but in the general case of more complex systems, it may lead to a lower entropy. The second law doesn't preclude that.
As for probability, I think it is important to note that biologists do not calculate the probability of a protein in the manner you suggest. Proteins do not assemble that way. As in every complex multi-step chemical reaction, the detailed steps in formation of any molecule must be considered when assessing probabilities. We simply do not know all those steps adequately to be able to calculate any probability at all. We do know, however, that they are not assembled in one step of amino acids condensing into a chain, a la a deck of cards. Hence, the probability you suggest is not relevant.
You are right that in science we can do the study and analysis and usually determine what is the correct answer. Many scientists have considered this issue in detail and it is rather clear that evolution is not at all precluded by the second law of thermodynamics. Again, your extrapolation to the assessment of spiritual status is unwarranted and out of order, as well as inaccurate.
Kirscher and Gerhart reduced the "millions of years” to a "short time” by taking into consideration natural selection and facilitated variation. However, they never told us how long it would take a computer to generate a sonnet. The reason is that nobody cares. Only laymen think that natural selection explains the complexity of life.
I'v attached the first article. The second article is just a note about the first.