Respectful Insolence

Here’s the finale of my audience participation project for today. I’ve saved the “best” for last. This short video, called Science Refutes Its Own Laws?, is the target. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to answer the questions contained therein and/or demonstrate why they represent typical creationist canards, and do it without reference to Talkorigins.org. It’s pretty easy, but it’s also depressing that this crap persists. Also, don’t be too depressed. There’s one more of these coming, but it’s an antidote.

It’s also amusing how confident the tone of the video is. Forgive me, though, for subjecting you to some truly insipid “Christian” music.

Comments

  1. #1 Fred
    March 1, 2007

    These creationists truly understand the concept of a closed system, don’t they?

  2. #2 FhnuZoag
    March 1, 2007

    It’s not really a close system problem. Rather, it’s an entropy problem – i.e. one of confusing thermodynamic ‘disorder’ with actual disorder. The current state of the universe is hell of a lot more disordered, thermodynamically speaking, than the unstable and fairly uniform low atomic number soup we started off with. Someone needs to be shown what real randomness looks like, and how cellular automata work.

    As for the first law, meh. Intelligent design disobeys the same law.

  3. #3 Godless Geek
    March 1, 2007

    The video seems to be committing the same tired fallacy of rolling three theories into one: namely, big bang cosmology, abiogenesis, and evolution from a common ancestor, none of which posit anything that remotely violates the first law of thermodynamics. Big bang isn’t the something from nothing straw man that creationists like to push, it simply says that all matter and energy were compressed into a singularity approximately 13.7 bya. It posits nothing about where that matter or energy came from.

    As for the second law, FhnuZoag hit it dead on.

  4. #4 Todd Adamson
    March 1, 2007

    How come creationists never mention the Third Law of Thermodynamics? I always ask them their opinion about the Third Law but all I get is dumb looks.

    What’s sad is they don’t even recognize the unassailable power of the Third Law. In the hands of a creationist, the Third Law could be their silver bullet.

    The fools.

  5. #5 Paul Schofield
    March 1, 2007

    First up, that music was truly horrific. I actually muted it and put on some Who just to get it out of my head.

    Anyway, a few counters I would love to throw at the videos makers.

    First up, regarding the first law of thermodynamics, prove that this law holds in the conditions being discussed. This requires them to actually know the conditions discussed, and so to do some homework on cosmology. Cosmology being as cool as it is, you tend to get them interested in finding out about some real science and much more ready to listen to boring old geology and biology after a dose of stellar scale fun.

    Point them to some of Hawkings books and work for the science, and maybe some of Greenes or Feynmans as well, because they do wonders in getting people to actually understand and enjoy science and accept not knowing the answers as opposed to taking the easy solutions. The cure to the song in this video infact.

    As for the second law, you really have to explain what the second law actually says and what it means. People see these laws as somehow the basis for how our universe works, dictating reality, rather than documented trends within it. Ask them if a car that is ranked at 30 mpg always goes 300 miles on a 10 gallon tank.

    How the universe ordered itself? Well, this being me, I enjoy riffing on the subject of self-organised criticality, but that may not be for everyone. Being able to explain the ideas of gravitational accretion helps a lot. Beyond there, it is all chemistry.

    Sorry, that was talking more about tactics for refuting this stuff. But frankly, rational debunking of such arguments are simply ignored. You have to make the other person think and disprove it themselves. Force them to realise that what they are saying is nonsense. If you call it nonsense then you accomplish nothing, even if you have proof.

  6. #6 Adam Cuerden
    March 2, 2007

    Right. Dealing with each law in turn:

    1. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. I find it significant that they show a sun after this one, so I’m going to start by pointing out that Energy and mass are intracontrevertible, by way of E=mc2: Energy = mass times the speed of light squared. Beyond that, the question is pointless, since we’re being asked to evaluate Intelligent Design, and, according to its founder, Phillip Johnson: “The defining purpose of the IDM is to advance the argument that neo-Darwinism has failed to explain the origin of the highly complex information systems and structures of living organisms, from the first cells to new body plans.” ( http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=3914&program=DI%20Main%20Page%20-%20Article&callingPage=discoMainPage ) Hence, the question isn’t germaine to the issue beyond nuclear fusion.

    That said, there are perfectly reasonable explanations: If a universe and an anti-universe are created at the same time, no net creation of mass/energy is made, and it’s equivilent to the virtual particles known, on a small scale, to be created in vacuums.

    2. “Every system left alone always moves from order to disorder.” Two points: Entropy isn’t exactly the same as disorder. LEt’s look at it in terms of Gibbs free energy: The amount of energy available to do work in a closed system:

    δG = δH + – TδS

    δG is change in Gibbs free energy, δH is change in enthalpy, more or less a measure of total energy available, T = temprature (in Kelvin), and δS = entropy.

    A negative δG means that the amount of free energy available is being reduced, hence the reaction is taking free energy and using it to do work. Note, however, that changes in entropy aren’t the only factor that matters – you can also decrease the total amount of energy available, making the change in enthalpy negative, and this may allow even reactions that decrease entropy, if the decrease in enthalpy is great enough, and if the temprature is favourable.

    Secondly, it says it itself: “Every system left alone always moves from order to disorder.” The system of the earth isn’t being left alone, it’s having energy thrown into it from the sun. This isn’t leaving the system alone.

  7. #7 Adam Cuerden
    March 2, 2007

    (I made a minor typo in my last post, using a small delta instead of capital. Here’s a corrected one)

    Right. Dealing with each law in turn:

    1. Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. I find it significant that they show a sun after this one, so I’m going to start by pointing out that Energy and mass are intracontrevertible, by way of E=mc2: Energy = mass times the speed of light squared. Beyond that, the question is pointless, since we’re being asked to evaluate Intelligent Design, and, according to its founder, Phillip Johnson: “The defining purpose of the IDM is to advance the argument that neo-Darwinism has failed to explain the origin of the highly complex information systems and structures of living organisms, from the first cells to new body plans.” ( http://www.discovery.org/scripts/viewDB/index.php?command=view&id=3914&program=DI%20Main%20Page%20-%20Article&callingPage=discoMainPage ) Hence, the question isn’t germaine to the issue beyond nuclear fusion.

    That said, there are perfectly reasonable explanations: If a universe and an anti-universe are created at the same time, no net creation of mass/energy is made, and it’s equivilent to the virtual particles known, on a small scale, to be created in vacuums.

    2. “Every system left alone always moves from order to disorder.” Two points: Entropy isn’t exactly the same as disorder. LEt’s look at it in terms of Gibbs free energy: The amount of energy available to do work in a closed system:

    ΔG = ΔH + – TΔS

    ΔG is change in Gibbs free energy, δH is change in enthalpy, more or less a measure of total energy available, T = temprature (in Kelvin), and ΔS = entropy.

    A negative ΔG means that the amount of free energy available is being reduced, hence the reaction is taking free energy and using it to do work. Note, however, that changes in entropy aren’t the only factor that matters – you can also decrease the total amount of energy available, making the change in enthalpy negative, and this may allow even reactions that decrease entropy, if the decrease in enthalpy is great enough, and if the temprature is favourable.

    Secondly, it says it itself: “Every system left alone always moves from order to disorder.” The system of the earth isn’t being left alone, it’s having energy thrown into it from the sun. This isn’t leaving the system alone.

  8. #8 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    March 2, 2007

    At 00:42 (counting down), they post this question:

    How did the universe create itself into orderly systems?

    Bit of a leading question, that. The image immediately preceding that (00:56) is of the solar system, so I’ll toss them a link to the nebular hypothesis, which was mostly worked out in the 18th century by the likes of Kant and LaPlace. Maybe they’re behind on their reading.

    Anyway, they seem to offer a possible solution late in the video (00:06):

    Created by Andrew Parks
    July 7 2006

    Now that’s good educational story telling; they ask a question, and they give an answer. The recent date does tend toward “Last Thursdayism” (actually that was a Friday), but it’s good that they offered something. Science is about answering questions.

  9. #9 Nes
    March 2, 2007

    There’s also what I believe is called the Anthropic Principle to take into account: if the universe didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be here to ask why!

  10. #10 JS
    March 4, 2007

    CF001

    Come on… Surely these guys must have some argument that hasn’t been in the Index for half a decade…

    - JS

  11. #11 Peter Barber
    March 5, 2007

    Hmm…

    1st Law of Thermodynamics says: Energy can be neither created nor destroyed.
    Me: Then how did our universe begin?
    Creationist: God created it!
    Me: Including all the energy in it?
    Creationist: Yes, of course.
    Me: And God created all the physical laws?
    Creationist: Yes…
    Me: Including the one which says that energy can be neither created or destroyed?
    Creationist: Yes!
    Me: Which he promptly broke in Genesis 1. And you’re complaining that evolution breaks it?

  12. #12 Will
    March 9, 2007

    1st Law of Thermodynamics says: Energy can be neither created nor destroyed.
    Me: Which [God] promptly broke in Genesis 1. And you’re complaining that evolution breaks it?

    This does not seem to be a persuasive argument against Creationism. Maybe the problem here is not breaking the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. Maybe it is in how you explain the “breaking” of it. Mr. Barber, if I understand you correctly, you are pointing to a problem with God breaking a law which he established. But if God does not have the authority to override the law he established then the law which he established would usurp his power and replace him as God. It would be the determining cause in the universe. So if God established the 1st Law of Thermodynamics then it would naturally only apply to his creation and not to himself. How would anyone rationally conclude that a “god” would be restrained by the same laws which restrain humans which he created in the first place? By definition no law can be above God and restrain or compel his actions. He is God. The ultimate law of the universe is himself. Therefore he is only restrained or compelled by his own character which causes him to act in accordance with himself and not an outside law.

    There doesn’t seem be an inherent problem at this point with the Creationist view. The discussion would then naturally return to the evolutionist who would be asked to present either a reason and cause by which the law was “broken” in their model of understanding or an admission that we have reached the end of human understanding in this area.

    Am I misunderstanding something you said? Because it actually appears the Creationists have the upper hand on his point.

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