googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: 10 Evidences for Biblical Creation: Part 4

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

10 Evidences for Biblical Creation: Part 4

#5: The Second Law of Thermodynamics: In a nutshell, the second law of thermodynamics says that, in any system, the amount of energy available for work will decrease over time. Put another way, the amount of useless energy (entropy) will always increase over time. The result is that systems tend to become more disordered over time. In the secular theories of our origins, the Big Bang created hydrogen, uneven pockets of hydrogen became stars, the stars fused hydrogen atoms into higher elements, the higher elements arranged themselves to become amino acids and proteins, these chemicals became alive, and a “simple” single cell evolved over countless generations to become all the very complex life forms on earth. It all sounds like a very uphill process where as the second law suggests things should run down hill.

Every time a creationist mentions the second law, a chorus of groans rise up from evolutionists. They sigh in frustration, roll their eyes, and attempt to educate the creationists by saying the second law only applies to closed systems. The earth, they say, is not a closed system because it receives energy from the sun. Blah, blah, blah.

I will first remind them that the universe is a closed system! There is no energy being added to the universe (per the first law of thermodynamics). So, strictly speaking, the universe would have been the most ordered at its beginning. From a Big Bang of hydrogen to the grand design we see now still seems to contradict the downhill process we would expect. Furthermore, our solar system would be considered a closed system since there is virtually no exchange of heat from other stars. So for our sun to form, our planets to form, water to form, and life to form in the closed system of our solar system, would also seem to go against what we would expect from the second law.

But here is the dirty secret of the second law – it even applies to open systems. The addition of energy is not some magic ingredient that suddenly creates order out of disorder. If I apply heat to chemicals, for example, the chemicals will tend to break down faster. But you've seen this for yourself; the sun will destroy the roof of your house, fade your furniture, and ruin the paint on your car.

To create order from energy, there must be some mechanism that can convert energy to work – like an engine. Pouring gasoline on my car and igniting it will destroy my car; putting gas in the tank and sending it through a combustion engine will make my car go. But my car is not perfectly efficient. I have to continuously add fuel. I have to maintain it and replace worn out parts. Yet in spite of all my efforts, my car will eventually succumb to entropy and become scrap. In both open and closed systems, the second law wins every time.

Though machines can convert energy into work, adding energy doesn't explain the origin of machines. Plants can convert sunlight to food (photosynthesis) but the sun shining on lifeless chemicals will never create plants. Our bodies convert food into energy. Plants and animals are like machines; we're open systems that can seem to stave off the second law but only for a while. Organized systems like our universe, our solar system, or our bodies argue against mindless, purposeless origins. It is entirely consistent with a universe that was created with order and design but is now running down.

#4: Soft Tissues in Supposedly Ancient Fossils: About a decade ago, Dr. Mary Schweitzer – entirely by accident – discovered red blood cells in a t-rex fossil believed to be 68 million years old. At first, her discovery was met with disbelief by the majority of the scientific community. However, since her initial find, other specimens have been found. From Student Science we read, Researchers from London have found hints of blood and fibrous tissue in a hodgepodge of 75-million-year-old dinosaur bones. These fossils had been poorly preserved. That now suggests residues of soft tissues may be more common in dino bones than scientists had thought.

Think about that quote: soft tissues may be more common in dino bones than scientists had thought. What exactly do you think scientists thought about the possibility of soft tissue being found in dino bones? Obviously they thought it was impossible for soft tissue to be preserved for 65 million years! In an article about Dr. Schweitzer's find, wondered, “If particles of that one dinosaur were able to hang around for 65 million years, maybe the textbooks were wrong about fossilization.” In the same article, paleontologist Thomas Holtz Jr. said that Schweitzer's work is “showing us we really don’t understand decay.” Hmmm. Maybe they were right to believe it's impossible for red blood cells to hang around for millions of years. Maybe they really do understand decay. Maybe they are wrong about the 65 million years! Did they ever think about that?

What about squid ink that was supposedly 150 million years old but was reconstituted and used to paint a picture? What about microbes trapped in salt crystals believed to be 250 million years old yet still revive in a petri dish? Finds like these have caused scientists to question their assumptions about fossilization. Shouldn't more of them question their assumptions about the millions of years?

Even “young-earth” creationists still believe in an earth that's thousands of years old. I'm surprised soft tissue and microbes could survive even that long. Common sense, though, tells us that it's far more reasonable to believe these things are only thousands of years old rather than millions.

Read this entire series


Steven J. said...

The problem is that creationist arguments about the second law of thermodynamics are [a] often not about the 2LoT and [b] prove too much if they prove anything.

For example of the first, your statement that energy will not accomplish work if no mechanism for doing that work exists is irrelevant to the claim that energy available for work (whether or not that work gets done) will remain the same or diminish in any isolated system.

Now, the usual creationist claim about the 2LoT is that it prohibits increases in complexity and order. Therefore, evolution from a single-celled organism to, say, a whale or oak tree is impossible. The problem is, if the 2LoT really means this, then, inter alia, refrigerators cannot keep their interiors cooler than their exteriors (a more complex and ordered arrangement than having both at the same temperature) and trees and whales could not grow in the first place. The usual creationist move when this is pointed out is to argue that this requires "information" or "a mechanism" or something else that is not really the subject of the 2LoT at all. No matter how tempting it is to suppose that one of the most fundamental principles of physics somehow prohibits evolution, but that is not so.

Your argument seems to be mainly about abiogenesis rather than evolution per se (since, of course, once life exists -- once we already have self-replicating systems undergoing natural selection, we have an obvious mechanism for converting energy to work.

But to some extent we have such a mechanism in the very laws of chemistry themselves. The original Miller-Urey experiments did not produce living cells, but they did produce chemical compounds significantly more complex than they started with. Your argument implies that even this is impossible. As I think I've noted before, research at the UK's University of Manchester has shown that repeated cycles of wetting and drying (not exactly hard to come up with on this planet) can produce the basic components of RNA from ubiquitous and much simpler molecules. It is not, I think, entirely to the point to point out that these experiments involved designed experimental equipment, since the equipment was designed to produce simplified versions of systems that could arise in the natural world without design or intention.

Steven J. said...

One critic of Robert Gentry's book, Creation's Tiny Mystery (about polonium halos in granite), pointed out that Gentry's argument depended on the assumption that decay rates of all radioactive elements could vary over multiple orders of magnitude -- except that the argument also required that polonium decay rates had to be invariant.

More generally, a frequent retort to young-earth creationist arguments about the age of the Earth is that they assume that processes known to vary in rate are invariant, while processes whose rates, when tested, appear invariant can somehow vary by multiple orders of magnitude. This is, frankly, an unpromising assumption if you're really trying to understand how the universe works.

Decay rates or complex molecules and tissues varies widely. Yes, it is astonishing that recognizable proteins, or compounds such as squid ink, or bacteria, should survive for scores of millions of years -- but as far as current understanding of physics goes, it is impossible that radioactive decay rates should vary to the extent that they need to for young-earth creationism to be right. And, of course, faunal succession in the fossil record is a real thing: if the Hell Creek fossils are really less than 6000 years old, where are the modern families, genera, and species among its animal fossils?

RKBentley said...

Steven J,

Um, yes. I guess I am talking about abiogenesis. But before we get to abiogenesis, I'm also talking about the formation of the higher elements necessary to create the ingredients for life. Before even that is the formations of stars where the fusion of the higher elements would take place. So from the Big Bang, hydrogen would need to create stars, which could fuse hydrogen atoms into higher elements, which could then combine to make molecules, which could then combine to make biological machines, which could then direct energy. A living, reproducing, first life form is necessary for evolution. Once you have that, we can talk about evolution in theory. But before you get to that first life form, you have to believe the history of the universe is from an expansion of hydrogen that continuously organizes into more and more complex systems until it eventually produces that living machine. Yeah, right!

The Miller-Urey experiment was cute. I understand that crude arrangements are possible, even under the second law. Of course, any organization that occurs within a system must be at the expense of greater disorder somewhere else because the total entropy in the system will always increase.

Let me see if I offer an analogy that puts the experiment in perspective: Suppose I dump 200 toothpicks onto a large tray. By sheer coincidence, some toothpicks land in the shape of a “T.” Then I give the tray a shake. The “T” goes away but now I see an “N.” Do you think if I shook the tray a really long time, the toothpicks might spell out HELLO? That's how I see in the Miller-Urey experiment. You might get a couple of amino acids; you'll never get a DNA molecule.

And let me remind you again that the point of my series is to point out evidence for the creation theory. You've heard me say that evidence really silent and not truly for any theory but some theories seem to explain the evidence better than others. When we find red blood cells in dinosaur bones, I believe it better supports the creation model which says the bones are really only thousands of years old. It seems much more reasonable than the evolutionary model which says....? Well, it says nothing really except, “we know these bones are millions of years old so there must be some mechanism that we don't understand that makes red blood cells not decay after 65 million years and lets bacteria live 350 million years.”

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!


Steven J. said...

Evolutionary theory does not, of itself, say that dinosaur bones from the Hell Creek formation are seventy million years old. That is the task of geology and paleontology (ask an old-earth creationist, if you like). Now, granted, knowing what we know about the fossil record and having the ideas we have about how evolution works, it would be very strange to find a tyrannosaur skeleton that was only a few thousand years old. Complex species aren't expected to stay unchanged that long. But if stratigraphy and other dating methods actually indicated it was that young, well, that young it would have to be.

Again, the young-earth creation "model" (note: models, in science, are constructions that yield useful predictions even though we have no real confidence in the mechanisms they use to yield those predictions; creationism, which assumes supernatural action but is consistent with any observation -- since God might have miraculously made things with any sort of appearance -- is a sort of anti-model) implies that we ought to find those dinosaur bones with soft tissue alongside modern mammal and bird bones; quite possibly alongside human artifacts. To seize on proteins and blood stains and ignore faunal succession is cherry-picking of the grossest nature.

And of course the point is that the second law of thermodynamics is consistent with things that your argument demands that it be inconsistent with. In that case, you should have no confidence whatsoever that it supports your case.