Re: design: purposeful or random?

Stephen Jones (
Mon, 03 Mar 97 16:49:10 +0800


On Mon, 24 Feb 1997 18:40:01 -0500 (EST), Gene Dunbar Godbold wrote:

>SJ>I am not aware that "Wilder-Smith" or "Gish" actually say that
>"evolution" is "in violation of the second law of thermodynamics".
>I would invite Brian to post where he or Yockey claims they do. In
>his chapter "Creationist Theory: Popular Evolutionist
>Misunderstandings", Ratzsch says:


>BH>Gish, D. T. (1989). In a discussion of the origin of life on
>radio station KKLA, Los Angeles, CA, on 29 June, 1989 with Dr. H.P.
>Yockey, Dr. Gish repeatedly insisted that evolution was in
>contradiction of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in spite of
>my explanation to the contrary.

SJ>Gish does not say in any of his books that I have that "evolution"
>is "in violation of the second law of thermodynamics". He says much
>the same thing as Wilder-Smith above. Here is what Gish said in
>1993: ... (Gish D.T., "Creation Scientists Answer Their
>Critics", 1993, p177)
>Since Yockey got Wilder-Smith wrong, I assume he misinterpreted what
>Gish was trying to say, espcially in the heated atmosphere of a
>radio interview.

GG>I heard Dr. Gish speak at UNC several years ago in a debate with
>a Biology professor from Fayeteville, NC. I remember him saying the
>same thing that Brian is alleging--that the second law of
>thermodynamics prohibits evolution. I remember being rather
>dismayed at the time, because I thought he was doing rather well
>until then.

Thanks to Gene, but this adds nothing new - see above. 1. Ratzsch
points out that when YECs say that "thermodynamics prohibits
evolution" they mean "evolution" is the broadest sense:

"First, when claiming that the Second Law flatly precludes evolution,
major creationists almost invariably have in mind evolution in the
overall cosmic, "evolution model" sense.The clues to that meaning are
the almost invariable use (especially in Morris's writings) of
phrases like philosophy of evolution or cosmic or universal or on a
cosmic scale. " (Ratzsch D.L., "The Battle of Beginnings', 1996,

2. Gish in his writings does not actually say that "thermodynamics
prohibits evolution"; and 3. It is difficult to assess what someone
says in a radio interview as opposed to their actual writings.

I am not really interested in wasting time defending Gish since I am
not a YEC. I suggest that Gene read Chapter 7 of Ratzsch's book:
"Creationist Theory: Popular Evolutionist Misunderstandings"

On Mon, 24 Feb 1997 21:18:24 -0600, Glenn Morton wrote:


GM>I got lost below on who said what so I snipped it. I can't quote
>where Yockey says this but I can quote Gish and Wilder-Smith. Gish
>clearly states that evolution is a violation of the second law. He

>"Contrary to the Second Law, evolutionists believe that the
>universe began with the chaos of the big band

So Gish thinks that big bands are chaos too! That's another strike
against him. ;-)

GM...soon generating a homogeneous mixture of hydrogen and helium
>gases, and this system then transformed itself from the simplicity
>of hydrogen and helium gases into the incredibly complex universe we
>have today, including the human brain with its 120 trillion
>connections, the most complex arrangement of matter in the universe.
>This is a clear violation of the Second Law."~Duane Gish, "Creation
>Scientists Answer Their Critics," (El Cajon: ICR, 1993)p. 161

Thanks to Glenn for actually finding where Gish actually says the
"violation of the Second Law", that I was not aware of, even though I
did have Gish's book. Unfortunately Glenn has chopped of the start
of Gish's sentence where Gish make it clear he is talking about what
Ratzsch calls "evolution in the overall cosmic, `evolution model'...
on a cosmic scale", and not specifically biological evolution. Here
is what Gish actually wrote in full:

"Contrary to the Second Law, evolutionists believe that the universe
began with the chaos of the big bang, ...

...soon generating a homogeneous mixture of hydrogen and helium gases,
and this system then transformed itself from the simplicity of hydrogen
and helium gases into the incredibly complex universe we have today,
including the human brain with its 120 trillion connections, the most
complex arrangement of matter in the universe. This is a clear
violation of the Second Law." (Gish D.T., "Creation Scientists Answer
Their Critics", 1993, p161)

At this cosmic evolution (hydrogen gas + time = people) level I would
agree with Gish that the claimed self-organisation of matter from
"the big bang" to "the human brain" is prima facie a "violation of the
Second Law". Creationists are not alone in seeing a conflict between
the Second Law and evolution in the cosmic self-organisation sense:

"Clausius, who formulated the second law of thermodynamics,
summarizes the laws of thermodynamics in his famous concise
statement: "The energy of the universe is constant; the entropy of
the universe tends toward a maximum." The universe moves from its
less probable current arrangement (low entropy) toward its most
probable arrangement in which the energy of the universe will be more
uniformly distributed...How does all of this relate to chemical
evolution? Since the important macromolecules of living systems
(DNA, protein, etc.) are more energy rich than their precursors
(amino acids, heterocyclic bases, phosphates, and sugars), classical
thermodynamics would predict that such macromolecules will not
spontaneously form. Roger Caillois has recently drawn this
conclusion in saying, "Clausius and Darwin cannot both be right."
(R. Caillois, 1976, Coherences Adventureuses, Paris: Gallimard)
This prediction of classical thermodynamics has, however, merely set
the stage for refined efforts to understand life's origin. Harold
Morowitz4 and others have suggested that the earth is not an isolated
system, since it is open to energy flow from the sun. Nevertheless,
one cannot imply dismiss the problem of the origin of organization
and complexity in biological systems by a vague appeal to
open-system, non-equilibrium thermodynamics. The mechanisms
responsible for the emergence and maintenance of coherent (organized)
states must be defined." (Thaxton C.B., Bradley W.L. & Olsen R.L.,
"The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Lewis &
Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992, pp116-117) [...]

GM>As to Wilder-Smith, he too says evolution is contrary of the
>second law
>"And this is precisely what the second law of thermodynamics
>predicts and requires: order degenerates with passage of time into
>increasing randomness and chaos. this is the universal state of
>things in this universe in any closed (islolated) system, barring
>certain exceptions with which we deal later." "The theory of
>evolution teaches, when all the frills are removed, just the
>opposite to this state of afairs demanded by the second law of
>>thermodynamics."A.E. Wilder-Smith, "Man's Origin, Man's Destiny,
>(Wheaton: Harold Shaw, 1968), p. 57

See above. This is "the second law of thermodynamics" and "evolution"
in the broadest sense. It is not all that Gish and Wilder-Smith say.
They also give quite detailed reasons why the second law is a real
problem for naturalistic evolution. I suggest Glenn read Ratzsch
chapter 7 also.

Ramm points out that "the second law of thermodynamics cannot be
ignored in the construction of evolutionary theory:

"Evolution must reckon with energy and design in Nature. The second
law of thermodynamics cannot be ignored in the construction of
evolutionary theory. Evolution and entropy are headed in opposite
directions. Clark's fundamental thesis is that entropy represents a
random and degenerative process, whereas life represents an ordered
and generative process. Entropy is the gradual equalization of
molecular velocities through random collisions, and it is
degenerative in the sense that the physical state of energy levels is
decreased. Life is possible only if miraculously these two features
of entropy are reversed, and certainly entropy is the more basic and
universal law than evolution." (Ramm B. "The Christian View of
Science and Scripture", Paternoster: London, 1955, p193)

IMHO Gish and Wilder-Smith's are correct. Naturalistic evolution is
contradicted by the second law of thermodynamics, *unless there is a
pre-existing energy-conversion system*:

"For animals, energy flow through the system is provided by eating
high energy biomass, either plant or animal. The breaking down of
this energy-rich biomass, and the subsequent oxidation of part of it
(e.g., carbohydrates), provides a continuous source of energy as well
as raw materials. If plants are deprived of sunlight or animals of
food, dissipation within the system will surely bring death.
Maintenance of the complex, high-energy condition associated with
life is not possible apart from a continuous source of energy. A
source of energy alone is not sufficient, however, to explain the
origin or maintenance of living systems. The additional crucial
factor is a means of converting this energy into the necessary useful
work to build and maintain complex living systems from the simple
biomonomers that constitute their molecular building blocks. An
automobile with an internal combustion engine, transmission, and
drive chain provides the necessary mechanism for converting the
energy in gasoline into comfortable transportation. Without such an
"energy converter," however, obtaining transportation from gasoline
would be impossible. In a similar way, food would do little for a
man whose stomach, intestines, liver, or pancreas were removed.
Without these, he would surely die even though he continued to eat.
Apart from a mechanism to couple the available energy to the
necessary work, high-energy biomass is insufficient to sustain a
living system far from equilibrium. In the case of living systems
such a coupling mechanism channels the energy along specific chemical
pathways to accomplish a very specific type of work." (Thaxton C.B.,
Bradley W.L. & Olsen R.L., "The Mystery of Life's Origin:
Reassessing Current Theories, Lewis & Stanley: Dallas TX, 1992,

Pirsig asks:

"Why, for example, should a group of simple, stable compounds of
carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years
to organize themselves into a professor of chemistry? What's the
motive? If we leave a chemistry professor out on a rock in the sun
long enough the forces of nature will convert him into simple
compounds of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen, calcium,
phosphorus, and small amounts of other minerals. It's a one-way
reaction. No matter what kind of chemistry professor we use and no
matter what process we use we can't turn these compounds back into
a chemistry professor. Chemistry professors are unstable mixtures of
predominantly unstable compounds which, in the exclusive presence
of the sun's heat, decay irreversibly into simpler organic and inorganic
compounds That's a scientific fact The question is: Then why does
nature reverse this process? What on earth causes the inorganic
compounds to go the other way? It isn't the sun's energy. We just saw
what the sun's energy did. It has to be something else. What is it?"
(Pirsig R.M., "Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals", Bantam: London, 1991,

The answer to Pirsig's question is "intelligent design"!

On Mon, 24 Feb 1997 22:38:56 -0600, Glenn Morton wrote:

JH>Actually..any system can organize mater and not run afoul of the
>2nd Law of Thermo as long as it causes more randomness overall in
>the universe by doing so.

Yes, The key word is "system". Where does "the system" that "can
organize matter" come from in the first place?

JH>Example, humans can build a car.. an orderly thing.. but in
>doing so we expend so much energy that the entropy of the universe
>actually increase far beyond the small bit of orderlyness we create
>in the car.

No one would disagree with this. Certainly not Gish or Wilder-Smith.

GM>You are preaching to the choir here. I fully agree with you and
>do not think evolution is contrary to the second law.

It all depend on what Glenn means by: 1. "evolution"; 2. "contrary
to"; and 3. "the second law".

GM>I was responding to Steves note that said that Gish and
>Wilder-Smith had never used the 2nd law argument.

If this means me, I never said that "Gish and Wilder-Smith had never
used the 2nd law argument". This is self-evidently false as both Gish
and Wilder-Smith have quite detailed arguments against evolution
using "the 2nd law argument".

GM>As a point of fact, a randomly chosen sequence has more
>information in it than an ordered sequence. In this, evolution
>requires the second law for the generation of complexity and

It all depends how one defines "information". If it is defined as
"less descriptive length", then it is indeed true that "a randomly
chosen sequence has more information in it than an ordered sequence".
But if "information" is defined as specified complexity, then the
overwhelming probability is that "a randomly chosen sequence"
would have *zero* "information", as indeed would an "ordered
sequence" too.

Interestingly I found where Bradley and Thaxton had already claimed
that the essential characteristic of "infomation" is contraints
on choice (as claimed recently by Dembski):

"Scientists can synthesize proteins suitable for life. Research
chemists produce things like insulin for medical problems in great
quantities. The question is, How do they do it? Certainly not by
means of chance or natural causes. Only by highly constraining their
experiments can chemists produce proteins like those found in living
things. Placing constraints on the experiment limits the "choices"
at each step of the way. That is, it adds information. If we want
to speculate on how the first informational molecules came into
being, the most reasonable speculation is there was some form of
intelligence around at the time. We cannot identify that source any
further from a scientific analysis alone. Science cannot supply a
name for that intelligent cause. We cannot be sure from the
empirical data on DNA whether the intelligence is within the cosmos
but off the earth, as asserted by Hoyle and Wickramamasinghe.96 Note
that they do not argue per se for intelligent cause but against
natural causes. The agency might be beyond the cosmos, as historic
theism maintains. All we can say is that given the information in a
DNA molecule, it is certainly reasonable to posit that an intelligent
agent made it. Life came from a "who" instead of a "what." (Bradley
W.L. & Thaxton C.B., "Information & the Origin of Life", in Moreland
J.P. ed., "The Creation Hypothesis", 1994, p209)

God bless.


| Stephen E (Steve) Jones ,--_|\ |
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