Re: design: purposeful or random?

Brian D Harper (
Tue, 04 Mar 1997 09:39:20 -0500

At 04:49 PM 3/3/97 +0800, Steve Jones wrote:


>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.
>SJ>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,

I haven't had a chance to read Del's book yet but it's definitely
on my list of books I want to read. Anyway, Chapter 6 of
<Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics> opens as follows:

=====begin quote of Gish==================================

The science of thermodynamics is critical to the question
of origins and has thus been one of the main battlegrounds
where the the intellectual war between creation scientists
and evolutionists has been waged. Creation scientists
maintain that the science of thermodynamics, more
particularly, the Second Law of Thermodynamics (henceforth
referred to as the Second Law) is the Achilles heel of
all naturalistic, mechanistic evolutionary theories on
origins. Although there are no absolute proofs in science,
the proper understanding of the science of thermodynamics
and the theory of evolution from the origin of the universe
through the origin of life to the origin of man comes as
close as is possible to providing proof that the theory of
evolution is scientifically untenable. ...

============end quote===================================

While it is certainly true that Gish is talking about evolution
in a broad sense it is also clear that he is talking about
specific theories of evolution including biological evolution
since he says "...all naturalistic, mechanistic evolutionary
theories on origins".

>SJ>2. Gish in his writings does not actually say that "thermodynamics
>prohibits evolution";

I also have not seen where he says "thermodynamics prohibits evolution",
but I've just skimmed the chapter so far. He does say "...comes as
close as is possible to providing proof that the theory of
evolution is scientifically untenable", which is pretty close.

>SJ>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
>SJ>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:

Taken in context with the opening paragraph, Glenn's quote of
Gish seals the case as far as I'm concerned. For example, in
the introductory paragraph Gish has the cosmic evolution type
statement "...theory of evolution from the origin of the universe
through the origin of life to the origin of man", and immediately
preceding this he writes "...all naturalistic, mechanistic
evolutionary theories on origins." And so it's pretty clear that
in the quote Glenn provided that Gish is talking specifically
about biological evolution.

Brian Harper
Associate Professor
Applied Mechanics
The Ohio State University

"Should I refuse a good dinner simply because I
do not understand the process of digestion?"
-- Oliver Heaviside