Re: design: purposeful or random?

Pim van Meurs (
Mon, 03 Mar 1997 21:14:16 -0400

---------------------- Forwarded by Pim van Meurs on 03-03-97 09:12 PM

Pim van Meurs
03-03-97 09:12 PM

>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:

Evolution in the broadest sense is also a statement in the vaguest
sense. If one claims that evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics
one would expect some concrete evidence.

>"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,

Contradicted by Morris' own statements in scientific creationism.

"there is no way of modifying the basic evolutionary model to accomodate
second law"

>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"

I understand you distancing yourself from Gish.

>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

On the contrary, the far-equilibrium, dissipative nature of DNA
makes evolution all but inevitable as shown by Prigogine for instance.
If this argument were to hold, we would be breathing O instead of

>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

The appeal to far-equilibrium thermodynamics is neither vague nor an
It is an observed fact and far better supported in observation and
theory than the statement that 'evolution in some broad sense violates the
second law of thermodynamics"

>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) [...]

Mechanisms need not be defined for something to be true. Example: Gravity.
But the emergence of complexity and order at far-equilibrium states is
well-understood due to the bifurcation nature. Similar patterns show up
in chaos and fractals, non-linear dynamical systems, limit cycles,
frequency doubling etc.

>"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

Nope, evolution and entropy can be headed in the same direction.

>random and degenerative process, whereas life represents an ordered
>and generative process. Entropy is the gradual equalization of

But it isn't degenerative under all circumstances.

>universal law than evolution." (Ramm B. "The Christian View of
>Science and Scripture", Paternoster: London, 1955, p193)

1955: A bit more recent would better reflect the present knowledge on
this issue.

>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*:

And since there is such a system, there is no problem for evolution.

>"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

Yep, so where is the problem ?

>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

Indeed, since there is such a source where lies the problem ?

>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

Indeed, so where lies the problem since such means and mechanisms
exist plentiful. UV radiation, electric discharge, increased temperature to
mention but a few.

>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

A useless question to ask about motives when there are none other
than basic thermodynamics.

>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"!

Since far simpler naturalistic explanations work why resort to
a supernatural explanation ? After all we observe that chemicals
form more complex chemicals, why look for a purpose ?

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

Evolution does not care where it came from. But similarly a supernatural
explanation causes even more problems as it requires an explanation of the
origin of the supernatural.

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".

Explain what is how violated when then ?