RE: response to an antitheist on thermodynamics (fwd)

Allan Harvey (
Thu, 28 Aug 1997 12:52:02 -0600

At 04:58 PM 8/27/97 -0700, Allen Roy, channeling for dp, forwarded:

>[AH wrote: 27 Aug 1997:
>2) The statement that the condensation of the solar system violates the
>2nd law would be surprising to those who have run computer models showing
>that this is roughly what should happen according to basic physical laws.
> The writer should try spritzing some oil drops into a random arrangement
>on the surface of water -- he might be surprised when they condense into
>one blob contrary to his (mis)understanding of the 2nd law.
>[dp] If its contrary to the 2nd law, then it WON'T happen, will it? If it
>does happen, which it will of course, then it is fully in line with the 2nd
>law (and I won't be surprised). But then, is surface tension now the great
>defining force for the evolution of the universe? I thought it was
>gravity. Or now is it both gravity and surface tension?

What's the world coming to when one can't argue by analogy? The point is
that systems can spontaneously condense into a more "ordered" state due
to accepted physical mechanisms. Gravity, surface tension, whatever. I
won't comment further on the cosmology aspects of this post, since George
Murphy has done so effectively.

> [dp] How can you agree to my first statement that the 2nd Law
>applies to all systems, yet then state that the 2nd Law has nothing direct
>ot say with regard to the validity of the theory of evolution (from which
>all systems are supposed to arise)? Is your keyboard hinged in the middle?
> Are these kind of logical loopty-loops expected of everyone on this list?

This part rates two comments:

1) In answer to the "How can" question, let me risk another analogy. The
first law of thermodynamics also "applies" to all systems. Yet there is
nothing in the theory of evolution that violates the first law.
Therefore, all we can say is that this particular law permits the
hypothetical process of evolution. That does not really count as
testimony for or against, which is what I meant by "has nothing direct to
say". The situation is the same with the 2nd law (and gravity, to pick
another example): they do not (contrary to the ill-informed assertions of
some) render evolution impossible, nor do they entail that evolution must
have happened.

2) On "logical loopty loops" and similar comments. Something we all
(myself included) need to remember is that we are addressing our brothers
and sisters in Christ here. Disagree with somebody's reasoning or
interpretation of the evidence (though I think it unwise to presume to
know more about cosmological physics than Murphy), but don't accuse us of
prevaricating or acting in bad faith. Fewer personal insults and less
use of unhelpful labels like "evolutionist", and more respect and
attention to factual issues, would make this list more edifying.

| Dr. Allan H. Harvey | |
| Physical and Chemical Properties Division | Phone: (303)497-3555 |
| National Institute of Standards & Technology | Fax: (303)497-5224 |
| 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80303 | |
| "Don't blame the government for what I say, or vice versa." |