Response to Scordova
|July 4, 2012||Posted by Granville Sewell under Intelligent Design|
UPDATE: In his comment #9 below, Sal Cordova says he doesn’t believe that a backward running tornado, turning rubble into houses and cars, would violate the second law either (more precisely, he says the burden of proof is on me to show mathematically that it would, as though I were the first to claim this). So, no, if you don’t think the second law should be used in any application that isn’t quantifiable, and there are others with this point of view, you aren’t going to think it has anything to do with evolution either, that’s about all you need to know about our disagreement. My point of view, and that of most general physics textbooks (thermodynamics texts, on the other hand, tend to avoid difficult to quantify applications), is that some things are obvious even if they aren’t easy to quantify. END OF UPDATE
Here is my response to scordova:
Obviously the origin and evolution of life do not violate the second law as stated in the early formulations you quote, but there are many formulations of this law, some more general than others. For example, Kenneth Ford in “Classical and Modern Physics” writes “There are a variety of ways in which the second law of thermodynamics can be stated, and we have encountered two of them so far: (1) For an isolated system, the direction of spontaneous change is from an arrangement of lesser probability to an arrangement of greater probability. (2) For an isolated system, the direction of spontaneous change is from order to disorder.” The early formulations are just applications of this more general principle to thermal entropy. Even many adamant opponents of ID recognize that the second law can be applied much more generally than you apply it, for example Isaac Asimov, in the Smithsonian Magazine, wrote “we have to work hard to straighten a room, but left to itself, it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily… How difficult to maintain houses and machinery, and our own bodies in perfect working order; how easy to let them deteriorate. In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out—all by itself—and that is what the second law is all about.”
So let me ask you, Scordova: if you saw a video of a tornado running backward, turning rubble into houses and cars, would you consider that violated the second law? Obviously it would not violate the early formulations you quote, but most physics textbooks agree that a tornado running backward, if it really happened, would violate the second law, in its more general form. And if that would violate the second law, why does the rearrangement of atoms into brains, computers, nuclear power plants and libraries not violate it? This recent post on ENV pursues this point further, and addresses several of Scordova’s arguments. I would urge readers to please see that post, since they will not find links to anything I have actually written on this topic in Scordova’s attack. Or for a more general discussion, this.