The cure for cults that want to deny others
their freedom of speech is more freedom of speech
-- Fredric Rice

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Creationist Cults

Creationism's Dud From Their Arsenal:
Thermodynamics

THE LIE:

"The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that an isolated system can only become less ordered, less organized, less complex. It can never go in the reverse direction. In violation of this natural law, evolutionists[sic] believe[sic] that the universe is an isolated system that began in the state of chaos and disorder of a primeval explosion and converted itself into the incredibly complex universe we have today. This belief[sic] is based on an unscientific[sic], irrational[sic] faith[sic] contrary to natural law." --- Reverend Duane Gish

THE TRUTH:

Evolution, evolutionary scientists, and evolutionary theory do not address the strawman Gish presents above. Rev Gish has somehow confused cosmology, astrophysics, and quantum mechanics with biology. The silly little man should stick to preaching and leave science to scientists.

Since the ICR cult's "Back to Genesis" scam is anti-evolution and anti-evolutionary theory, we will skip a lesson in Big Bang cosmology, and address the laws of thermodynamics as they relate to biology and evolution.

"The first law of thermodynamics holds that the sum total of energy in the universe is constant and neither increases nor decreases; the second-law of thermodynamics holds that in a closed system, energy tends to go from organized states to disorganization in the form of heat. Creationists take these laws of physics to mean that organized living systems could not have evolved from less organized matter, and that complex organisms could not evolve from simpler ones: 'For the evolution of a more advanced organism, however, energy must somehow be gained, order must be increased, and information added. The Second Law says this will not happen in any natural process unless external factors enter to make it happen.'

"But order arises from disorder all around us. A human body arises from the relative formlessness of a fertilized egg; disordered water molecules form ordered ice crystals in our refrigerators. The reason, of course, is that neither an organism nor anything else except the universe as a whole is a closed system: the earth and its organisms are open systems that acquire energy from the sun to build complexity from simple precursors. As Isaac Asimov has said, the creationist argument from the second law is 'an argument based on kindergarten terms [that] is suitable only for kindergartens.'" --- Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution by Douglas J. Futuyma, 1983

"What thermodynamics says is that we can only get useful work out of a physical system if we have a difference in energy levels. For example, if we have a high potential in one place and a low potential in another we can get useful work out of the current flow. Thermo also says we will lose some of the available energy along the way; increased entropy is a way of saying that we have lost usable energy.

Now the Earth is constantly radiating energy into empty space which has a very low energy level. It is intercepting energy from the Sun which has a very high energy level. This flow of energy through the Earth is available for useful work; biological life is a small ripple in this energy flow.

In a closed system where there is nothing coming in or going out everything goes to equilibrium, i.e. the energy level everywhere is the same; this is know as heat death. In an open system where there is energy constantly flowing through system you can have local complex perturbations that are not in equilibrium. Life is a local complex perturbation.

The important thing to understand from the viewpoint of thermodynamics is that evolution is irrelevant to the thermodynamics of life. Each cell is a little island of reduced entropy. If we are calculating the reduction in entropy due to life, it doesn't matter how the cells are arranged; all that matters is the total volume of cells. It is also important to realize that life is really a very small perturbation in the over all energy flow." --- Richard Harter

"As a professor who taught thermodynamics to engineering students for many years, I first entered the creation / evolution controversy in 1978. I was motivated to combat what I then considered -- and still consider -- to be the promotion of grossly erroneous if not deceitful arguments concerning entropy and the second law. I viewed this as being particulary serious, not only because thermodynamics is an important engineering science (in fact, it began as an engineering analysis by Carnot) but also because I found that it was engineers in the creationist movement who were shaping thier apologetics based on the laws of thermodynamics. Indeed, I have since found that engineering educators, senior engineers, and registered professional engineers are perhaps the most prominent leaders of the creationist movement. As an engineering professor and a registered engineer myself, I felt it would be professionally irresponsible to let this travesty continue without comment.

This paper attempts to expose the nature of the creationist movement, the role that professional engineers have played in its leadership, and the level of scientific incompetence (particularly in thermodynamics) that these creationist engineers have exhibited both in public speaking and in print. I would hope that similarly revealing exposes will also be forthcoming from such non-engineering perspectives as biochemistry, biology, paleontology, physics, etc. but these I will leave to those professionals whose expertise and teaching responsibilities fall in those areas.

Conclusions and Inferences:

1. The so called "scientific creationism" or "creation science" movement is best characterized as a loosely connected group of fundamentalist ministries dedicated to (A) promoting their notion of Biblical inerrancy and (B) undermining all knowledge and understanding which conflicts with their views on scriptural inerrancy.

2. The leadership of the two most acive "scientific creation" ministries, namely the ICR and CRS, is dominated by professional engineers and engineering educators, many of whom hold professorships and advanced degrees from reputable universities. But the predominance of engineers is not exclusive, and many other professional groups would do well to carry out their own investigations.

3. The arguments which "creation scientists" use to counter the well established facts and theories of science are not at all the scientific arguments they are purported to be. Instead, they are thinly disguised apologetics and polemics directed at many areas of science. Established findings refute tenets which creationists hold to be inerrant.

4. The public utterances of the top creation "scientists" -- together with their published works, which appear in professedly authoritative "creation science" books and journals -- provide unequivocal, documentable evidence that many of these authors are grossly incompetent, not only in the area of science on which they expound without proper credentials, but also in their own professed areas of scientific and technical expertise.

5. Public schools that willfully adopt the educational materials produced by such incompetents deserve to be disaccredited, as do their responsible officials and staff.

6. It is the responsibility of knowledgeable scientists, of professional educators, and of their organizations, to expose the extent to which scientific incompetence and intellectual dishonesty prevail in the "creation science" movement. Only then can school officials be held fully responsible for allowing the forced teaching of creationism as 'science.'"

"An Engineer Looks at the Creationist Movement", by John W. Patterson, published in Proceedings of the Iowa Acadamy of Science 89(2):55-58, 1982, is based on a presentation given at the Iowa Acadamy of Science in 1981.

One may read about the laws of thermodynamics to discover that Rev Gish is vastly confused on the subject. Why Rev Gish has never bothered to study that which he pretends to discourse authoritatively upon is a mystery, though one could postulate that he is posessed by the father of lies (Satan), or one could be charitable and merely conclude that he is abysmally ignorant and incompetent. Perhaps even a bit stupid and senile--- I dunno.



Any text written by the creationist cult which may be quoted within this criticial examination of the creationist cult is provided according to U. S. Code Title 17 "Fair Use" dictates which may be reviewed at http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html


"You can lie about ICR all you want." -- Jason Daniel Henderson

"Thank you for your permission however there's never any need to. Creationist propaganda is already self-debunking." -- Fredric L. Rice

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