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Q: 2nd law of thermodynamics & creationists





Klaw 2
Ok a while since I posted here & I see that I missed quite a lot, anyway.

Uhm I have this strange attraction to people who want to convert me.
Happened three times this year (already),
On was smart and didn't say anyt hing really tupid it was more philosophical, this conversation was actually nice.
On wanted to know why trees "come back to life" after winter I pointed OUT that even if some biologist hadn't found this out yet it wouldn't prove god. He tried to change the subject and then (kinda) abruptly (not quite!?) ran of.
And one said somthing about that evolution violates 2nd law of thermodynamics and I asked him what the three others were. He stared at me blankly and said that that wasn't important, I tried to explain it but he wouldn't listen because "my" thermodynamics seemed to have nothing in commen with evolution and didn't believe me. We went on for another minute and then suddenly remembered some important apointment.

But now heres the question;
I know that "evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics" is wrong but what I don't get how someone thought this up. I roughly know what both are. But completely and utterly don't get what they mean in "evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics".
Sounds to me like big bang didn't happed because the sky is blue (IE something random)

IE what thought process was there involved to conjure this one up?
Hope im clear enough.
Ankhanu
A lack of understanding of the second law? More to the point, life violates the second law, but again, it only does so if you look at life/Earth as a closed system, which it is not. Looking at life and the planet as the open system it is, the second law may seem to be contradicted, in full context it is not. Temporary, localized reduction of entropy is not the same as an actual reduction in total entropy. The apparent reduction of entropy is only sustained by external energy input, with the lack of input, entropy continues its gradual increase... this is true of many systems, living or not; energy can temporarily be harnessed to reduce entropy in small contexts, but in the broader sense, entropy is not prevented.
Indi
Klaw 2 wrote:
On wanted to know why trees "come back to life" after winter pointed that even if some biologist hadn't found this out yet it wouldn't prove god.

This is actually more of a science question than a philosophy question, although there is a philosophical component (which i'll get to in a bit). But it doesn't hurt to have some science answers ready before dropping the philosophical bomb.

There are dozens of answers to why trees "come back to life" after winter - it depends on which type of tree you're talking about. The short answer is "for the same reasons squirrels 'come back to life' after winter: they don't die". The longer answer depends on the tree. Some trees (like maple) change the chemistry of their sap depending on temperature: in the winter, the sap gets more sugary, which makes it harder to freeze. Other trees (like birch or oak) prepare in advance by having buds for new leaves ready before the old leaves die: as it gets colder first they grow new buds then they shut off the nutrient supply (before the nutrients run out, so they maintain a reserve) - which kills the existing leaves - then when it gets warm they restart the nutrient supply with the reserves, which causes the buds to open, and new leaves to form, and then it's back to business as usual with photosynthesis and all. There are even still other methods, all triggered by either temperature or the length of the daylight period.

That's the science answer, which should serve to point out that it doesn't help the case for God for you to be an ignoramus. If you don't know how how something happens - like trees surviving the winter - then look it up... don't just say "i can't be bothered to look this up, so not only am i going to assume God did it, but i am going to try to use this 'anti-evidence' to prove God exists to other people".

Klaw 2 wrote:
And one at somthing about that evolution violates 2nd law of thermodynamics and I asked him what the three others were. He stared at me blankly and said that that wasn't important, I tried to explain it but he wouldn't listen because "my" thermodynamics seemed to have nothing in commen with evolution and didn't believe me. We went on for another minute and then suddenly remembered some important apointment.

But now heres the question;
I know that "evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics" is wrong but what I don't get how someone thought this up. I roughly know what both are. But completely and utterly don't get what they mean in "evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics".
Sounds to me like big bang didn't happed because the sky is blue (IE something random)

IE what thought process was there involved to conjure this one up?

Well, once again let's start with the science answer. The second law of thermodynamics states that for any closed system - any system that does not have energy entering or leaving it - entropy never decreases. It always increases, or, at the bare minimum, stays the same.

Okay, but what is entropy now? Well, a lot of people think entropy means "disorder", but it doesn't. The way i like to describe entropy to people is to use the idea of energy "pressure", and compare it to water pressure. Imagine you have two pools of water. One pool is at very low pressure, and the other is at very high pressure (or one is low and the other is high in the air). If you connect the two pools, what's going to happen is water is going to want to try to flow very forcefully from the high pressure (or high altitude) pool, into the low one. You can use this to drive a water wheel or a turbine of some kind to create power - this is how water wheel mills and hydroelectric dams work. But eventually, enough of the high pressure water is going to flow into the low pressure area to make the pressure equal (or, enough water is going to fall from the high pool into the low one that the water levels of the two pools are equal), and when that happens, you can't get any more power out of it. If you think about it, if you just drop a water wheel or a turbine into a pool where the water pressure or level is the same on both sides of the device... it's just going to sit there, right?

At that point the system is at maximum entropy. All the water is still there - none was taken out or added - but now it is in a state where it is useless for generating power. Whenever some of the water is at a higher pressure, you can use the pressure difference to do useful work, but when you do that, the pressure difference slowly vanishes - this is entropy increasing. There is no way to decrease entropy without either adding more water, or adding energy to raise some of the water back up to high pressure (for example, with a pump, or by lifting some of the water up to a higher level with buckets).

That is entropy, and to understand it completely, all you have to do is replace "water" with "energy". You can only use energy to do work if you have an energy imbalance - if you have some energy at "high pressure" and other energy at "low pressure". And, as you use that energy to do work, the imbalance always decreases - entropy increases - until there is no imbalance anymore - that is maximum entropy. The only way to decrease entropy is to add more energy. That's the second law of thermodynamics.

Okay, so how does all this apply to life or evolution? Well, it turns out that life (or evolution) is a case of extremely "high pressure" energy. Going back to the pool analogy, if you wanted to create life, you would have to bring a metric fuctkton of water to a very high pressure. Now, that can't happen "naturally", because water (and energy) "naturally" tries to flow toward low pressure areas as much as possible. You'd need something massive to cause that much water to flow that far uphill (or to raise it to that high a pressure).

Creationists want to pretend that "something massive" is God, because there is nothing else in nature that can lower entropy that much (that is, there is no natural way to raise the energy pressure that high). But creationists are morons, because they are missing the obvious answer.

Without adding energy, there is no way to raise the energy pressure - that is, to lower the entropy - up to the levels needed to maintain life. So... you need to add energy, dur. And where would you get energy from? Well, how about the massive flaming nuclear fusion reactor in the sky, dur.

Here's the short version: the second law of thermodynamics says that there is no way to lower entropy without adding energy. Life (and evolution) requires very, very, very low entropy. Creationists say "therefore, life violates the second law". It doesn't. It just requires low entropy... which just means it needs energy. And, it can get all the energy it needs - and then some - from the Sun.

Klaw 2 wrote:
Sounds to me like big bang didn't happed because the sky is blue (IE something random)

Well, what he's doing is called - in philosophy - an argument from incredulity (or just "lack of imagination"), but sometimes you hear people incorrectly call it an "argument from ignorance", which is similar, but slightly different. It goes "i can't think of a way for X to be true (or false), therefore X must be false (or true)." In this case, "i can't think of a way for trees to survive winter without God, therefore they don't. (And, since they do survive winter, it must be with God. Therefore, God exists.)"

This happens so often when people try to prove God that it even has a name: the God of the gaps argument. Believers look for gaps in science and say "See that? Science can't explain that. Therefore God exists."

This is not a new tactic of course, and it suffers from the obvious problem that science always advances while religion does not. The gap that exists today probably won't exist tomorrow. Once upon a time they couldn't explain the regular motion of the planets, therefore God must be moving them. Then Newton, Galileo and Kepler came along and poof, gap closed. Then they couldn't explain where life came from. Then Darwin came along and poof, gap closed. Then it was the eye, the bacterial flagellum, etc. etc. poof, poof, poof, gaps keep closing. But until science is complete there are always more gaps, so the believers will keep trying.

All you can do is point out how miserably this tactic has failed in the past, and that science will probably eventually close any gap the believer is exploiting today (and may have already, if the believer is ignorant). Or, of course, you could turn it around and use the problem of evil back on them (say "i can't figure out how God could let an innocent child suffer, yet many do, therefore God doesn't exist. Your move.") and let them deal with their own illlogic for you (when they say, "Well, there are many things we don't understand about God or his purpose (or, God moves in mysterious ways), but he exists," you reply "replace God with science, and you've answered your own challenge.").

Ankhanu wrote:
More to the point, life violates the second law, but again, it only does so if you look at life/Earth as a closed system, which it is not.

That is categorically false, and i am on a mission to get people to stop saying it.

Life does not violate the second law. The second law states that if you don't add energy, you can't decrease entropy. Nothing about life violates any of that.

What you are trying to say is that IF you could treat life as a closed system, then it would violate the second law. BUT YOU CAN'T TREAT LIFE AS A CLOSED SYSTEM, so the whole "if" is moot. It's like saying that i am violating the sharia law that states all women should wear head scarves, but only if you supposed i lived under sharia law and were a Muslim woman. Or it's like saying that addition violates the laws of mathematics, but only you supposed 2 + 2 = 5. The "if" is plain wrong, so even saying the other part is silly, and pointless, and only serves to create confusion.
Ankhanu
Indi wrote:
BUT YOU CAN'T TREAT LIFE AS A CLOSED SYSTEM, so the whole "if" is moot.


Unfortunately, most people don't really get this... sometimes you have to work within other people's frame of reference to show that the frame doesn't fit. I admit my commentary was flippant, but, I believe it got the point across without being too involved for most readers to care about.
Bikerman
Ankhanu wrote:
Indi wrote:
BUT YOU CAN'T TREAT LIFE AS A CLOSED SYSTEM, so the whole "if" is moot.


Unfortunately, most people don't really get this... sometimes you have to work within other people's frame of reference to show that the frame doesn't fit. I admit my commentary was flippant, but, I believe it got the point across without being too involved for most readers to care about.

You obviously haven't dealt with many creationists. The reason we don't make statements like that generally is simple. A google search will pull up this posting. A creationist can then quickly scan down and find the statement "life violates the second law" and repost it as 'truth'. The fact that it is a partial and selective quote doesn't matter to many creationists - that is what they do.
OK, you can say - 'well it doesn't matter because I am no recognised authority so why does what I say matter'? But take a look at a creationist site sometime - most of the quotes come from people who are not particular authorities - they rely on argumenum ad populum a lot.
Now you might say that I am generalising and that most creationists are not so dishonest. I'm afraid that I disagree - most creationists I have dealt with (and that would be hundreds) are entirely dishonest.
Ankhanu
True enough, I suppose. I simply considered that I was talking to someone (the OP) who understood that the violation thing was false and was wondering why the falsity was able to perpetuate. This led to flippancy on ignorance, rather than an apologistic explanation for mass consumption and simply didn't worry too much about creationists.

I'll be more serious in the future regarding such topics Wink
Bikerman
It is a hard lesson learned. I was like you years ago - thought the general message was enough and the actual words were not that important. I helped to run a couple of Usenet groups back in the day, and I began to find my own words repeated on religious forums, but selectively quoted. I cannot tell you how frustrating and enraging that was...I punched a lot of walls Smile
Ankhanu
I bet.
I've also learned about choice of words many years ago; but I also make my choices contextually. There are times (like above) where I still choose to take a more unguarded, almost even dismissive track, but where I think it actually matters, I do choose my phrasing with care.

Where I come from, hardcore creationists aren't really a factor. They're out there, and it was surprising how many of my educated friends are actually creationists... but I live in a fairly moderate part of the planet. While they may feel I'm wrong, I've had very few conversion attempts, and most are, at the least, respectful of my non-religious outlooks. However respectful, however, they are still as firmly against evidence versus faith as the nutbars; no matter how rational, supported or what have you something may be, if it contradicts their interpretation of a translation of a text written nearly two millennia ago in a different language, their minds are just as closed, even if their mouths are closed too Razz

Of course, my wife is from the American Bible Belt (Texas); I'm sure my experience would be much different if we lived there, rather than here in Atlantic Canada.
timothymartin
As a creationist, I see things much differently. Its the destructionists (my word) that mainly rely on old 'science' if even that. Its seems that 'opinion theory' is the law in their minds. There is more scientific proof for creation, and its increasing, than there will ever be for evolution. That is why evolutionists fight so hard for people to believe them, the proof just isnt there. Creationists put out the facts and let people decide for themselves if they want to know the truth or not. Evolutionists, on the other hand, spend lots of time trying to 'convince' other people of their 'opinion'. The problem is that there are bullies on both sides. When the intellect and resources are equal, thats when it gets good and meaningful. Otherwise it is just a fight and whoever is bigger usually wins.
Indi
Ankhanu wrote:
Indi wrote:
BUT YOU CAN'T TREAT LIFE AS A CLOSED SYSTEM, so the whole "if" is moot.


Unfortunately, most people don't really get this... sometimes you have to work within other people's frame of reference to show that the frame doesn't fit. I admit my commentary was flippant, but, I believe it got the point across without being too involved for most readers to care about.

The only correct thing to say to someone that says "life violates the second law of thermodynamics" is:

No it doesn't. You're either a liar or a fool.

You don't have work within their framework. Their framework is wrong. Your framework is right. Their framework is a fantasy built on lies designed to support their religious delusions. Your framework is reality. Just state it as it is.

You see, the people who parrot this line have been lied to. They have been fooled by cynical, manipulative sons of bitches who are using them to advance their own religious and ideological agendas. i understand that you don't want to be an ******, but the moment you start your response with "well, life does violate the second law..." before you even get to the "but", you've given credibility to the bastards who are boondoggling this poor victim. Yes, then you go on to correct the misunderstanding, but it's too late; you've given these guys the appearance of being at least partially right, and allowed the seed of doubt - that they intended for in the first place - to take root.

Look, we can't treat the people that create and spread these kinds of things like we would treat other scientists, thinkers and reasonable people. They are thugs, liars and ignorant savages. They need to be treated as such. They need to be put down.

When another scientist, thinker or reasonable person says something we know is wrong, we can safely assume that they at least tried to find the truth, but maybe they stumbled along the way. For those people, we can be gentle and polite, acknowledge how they may have been close, and then correct them back onto the right path. But not so for the ****** who are deliberately lying to people for their religious ends. Those guys are playing an entirely different kind of game, and so should we to deal with them.

i know you still chafe at the idea of putting your foot down and being gruff, rather than coddling the person by first acknowledging that they came close before correcting them. But the hard fact is that you do everyone a lot more good when you treat these blatant lies for what they really are. If you don't want to trust my experience, then try this for yourself: the next few times someone presents you with this lie, try alternating between your method - working within their framework before correcting it - and my method - just saying "you've been lied to, that's completely false". Here's what you're going to observe - but again, don't take my word for it if you don't want to:
  • The people that you coddle first will press on, trying other creationist propaganda (or, if they've exhausted their stock, will end the debate with, something like "i don't think you have all the facts", or "well, you've bought into the hype, i guess i can't reach you" or something else that basically says they still believe what they walked in with).
  • The people that you simply correct will simply stop. What you will have done is shaken them - really scared the shit out of them. They will now be unsure, no longer confident. They may not say anything to you (at least, not right away), but they will be seriously questioning the things they have been told. They may try to press on, but you will probably be able to notice a substantial drop in their confidence in what they've been told.
There are few teachers quite as effective as a sharp slap to the face with the admonition to "grow up and don't be so stupid". Yes, it's not the nicest thing to do, but a good shock to the system really does make people reevaluate things much more effectively than indulging their misconceptions. You have to decide whether it matters more to you that they like you, or that you help them get off the intellectual crack. And, of course, if there's no hope for the person you're talking to, the harsh slap really does work to capture the attention of others.

Watch and learn. ^_^

timothymartin wrote:
There is more scientific proof for creation, and its increasing, than there will ever be for evolution.

This is a lie. There is not one single item even of scientific evidence - let alone proof - for creationism. Not one. None. Zero. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar or a fool. That fact is easy to check if anyone really cares to know the truth.

timothymartin wrote:
Creationists put out the facts and let people decide for themselves if they want to know the truth or not. Evolutionists, on the other hand, spend lots of time trying to 'convince' other people of their 'opinion'.

No, creationists just make claims without evidence. "Evolutionists" make claims, then back those claims up with evidence and good science.

Creationists don't argue for their position because they have no position, and no argument. They know - the smart ones - that all they have is lies, and that if they actually have to make a protracted defence of their position, they will be exposed as the liars they are. So what they do is stand on the sidelines and pretend they have these killer questions that shake the foundations of evolutionary science, then they, like the snivelling cowards that they are, accuse the real scientists of being conspirators or deluded because they allegedly won't answer those killer questions. Of course, the truth is that most of those questions have been answered since the 1920s, and scientists, like most people, are not fond of repeating themselves to idiots that aren't really listening to them anyway.

timothymartin wrote:
The problem is that there are bullies on both sides.

There are no "evolutionist" "bullies", because there is no need for them. It's the same reason there are no "bullies" beating on people to convince them that 2 + 2 is 4. Either you follow the evidence and reason to the only logical conclusion - that 2 + 2 is 4 or that evolution happened - or you're an idiot. Saying that does not make me a bully, it makes me honest. Supporters of evolutionary theory - scientists, basically - believe that it is true because it is what all the evidence and reason point to. You can choose to ignore reality, but when people call you delusional and ignorant, they are not being rude and they are not "bullying" you, they are being factual.

timothymartin wrote:
Otherwise it is just a fight and whoever is bigger usually wins.

No, in science, whoever is right wins, not whoever is bigger. That is, whoever has the most parsimonious theory, with the most supporting evidence, wins.

Evolution wins. Creationism doesn't even get to play because it's not science. You can whine about that all you want, or accuse scientists of conspiracies or groupthink... the facts remain. Evolution is science. Creation is not.
Ankhanu
We should try to separate the idea of "evolution" from the idea of "origin"... these are very different concepts and the actual contention lay with the former, rather than the latter.

That evolution, change within a population over time, is fact is pretty indisputable. I've never met a nay-sayer who could honestly say that organisms never change; it's too plainly observable in the world all around us, even in urban environments where people are as disconnected from nature as they can get.

The actual debate is on the origin of life; where did it come from. The scientific evidence and theories are still pretty decent, but not as solid as for evolution itself... we're still not certain how life began (though we have some really good ideas with lots of support from evidence). Creationists, on the other hand, are certain of how life began... though the only evidence they have is "someone told me so." Evolution itself presents very few issues to creationists; hell, the Catholic Church, amongst other religious organizations, accept religion and don't find it in conflict with their beliefs at all. It's the origin that they tend to hold on to, that life could not come in to being without some divine spark and/or imagination.

When referring to creation, as well, one would do well to also note which version of creation they are referring to; it's usually the Judeo-Christian version, but not always. It would also be reasonable and kind to explain why the other religious creation stories are not as valid as your own chosen one. As far as I can tell, there is no reason, other than circumstance, to choose one as valid over another.

Some of us prefer to look at the origin of life based on evidence, rather than stories created several thousand years ago through a rather limited understanding of how the universe worked. I understand that creationists feel this is foolish, but, honestly, it has merit.
LittleBlackKitten
So, perhaps most creationists are immovable, impossible, stubborn, selfish pigs that try and blot out the sun with one finger. I can't stand those who turn off their ears and do not converse with reason and try to learn. I also can't stand those who take ONE rule and go "SEE? SEE? YOUR GOD IS FAKE!" because you just can't do that, just as we can't go "Look, the sun is warm, therefore evolution doesn't exist.

Pay attention herein, Bikerman...

I SUPPORT EVOLUTION, AND YES I AM A CHRISTIAN/CREATIONIST!

Why? Some have called me a liar, a sellout, ect.

I fully believe that there is MACRO evolution. It's FACT. A finch can develop various beak shapes in order to accommodate natural habitats. A deer can become smaller or taller depending on the need of the region. As a matter of fact, there are so many sub species that exist because they've adapted or changed over the years. 6000 years ago, I bet you ANYTHING the species we have now, some of them didn't exist then.

But, I DO NOT, will not, and will NEVER believe a tomato plant evolved into a hamster. I will not believe humans came from apes. I will not believe pond scum became amphibians. I will not believe that birds came from reptiles. I WILL however fully support that all modern birds came from the ORIGINAL bird; that all cats of prey came from the sabertooth tiger. That is MACRO evoution; that is, that a species can adapt and change based on the needs of the regions it is in. As numbers grow, the terrain they cover grows, and the needs change; in a matter of a few hundred years or a few generations, you can see the changing adaptations within same-species animals. Even HUMANS have adapted; in the start, we were all "african" for lack of a better term. But then, as the human race moved and adapted on the supercontinent, stuff happened and needs became different. Now there are differences in the human race to mark the grains on the beach. But we're all human, and we're not going to evolve wings or massive lungs just because we might NEED them; we will always be HUMAN, no matter what. (Unless fallout3 comes true and some of us turn to ghouls or mutants).

That being said, I also am open to the idea that God created these things TO evolve, TO change, TO adapt on PURPOSE. Why are creationists so opposed to the though that "God said let there be light and the whole universe exploded" idea? Maybe God DID trigger the big bang. Maybe He DID make the sabertooth evolve into every cat we now have, Maybe He DID cause things to evolve like that. What's so wrong about that? It's still CREATIONISM; it just means God made things change on their own, without His intervention.
Bikerman
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
I fully believe that there is MACRO evolution. It's FACT. A finch can develop various beak shapes in order to accommodate natural habitats. A deer can become smaller or taller depending on the need of the region. As a matter of fact, there are so many sub species that exist because they've adapted or changed over the years. 6000 years ago, I bet you ANYTHING the species we have now, some of them didn't exist then.

But, I DO NOT, will not, and will NEVER believe a tomato plant evolved into a hamster. I will not believe humans came from apes.
As Indi says you are just wrong..end of story.
You can believe whatever you like but it is based on ignorance and therefore not worth consideration.

Of course a tomato plant did not evolve into a hamster - that just reveals your basic ignorance of evolutionary theory. Humans did, however, evolve from a common ape ancestor.
Believe what you wish - why you think your belief should be taken seriously is beyond me. You give the game away with your choice of language - 'I WILL NOT believe'....there you have it...a position of blind faith immune to evidence....
Quote:
So, perhaps most creationists are immovable, impossible, stubborn, selfish pigs that try and blot out the sun with one finger. I can't stand those who turn off their ears and do not converse with reason and try to learn.
LOL...irony meter just went off the scale...
You seem to think that you are somehow different from those who buy into creationism. Here's the news - you aren't, you are just the same, only you think that your belief is somehow superior. You think you accept evolution but you don't - that is abundantly clear from your posting. You are no different from those you regard as 'immovable, impossible, stubborn, selfish pigs'.

It is hard to take, I know. I could have made it more palatable for you by blaming others, but I suspect that would have no effect.

The simple truth is that you have a choice. You can continue to believe your halfbaked nonsense, or you can, with proper humility, accept that you know almost nothing about the matter and ask. If you ask then there are people who will go out of their way to bring you up to date and give you the actual facts. If not...well that is your choice...

You, I believe, are not beyond hope. Timothymartin is, to me, an example of someone not worth bothering with - the mix of lies and self-assurance is all too familiar. It is your choice - be a timothymartin or join the real world.
Klaw 2
Indi wrote:
There are dozens of answers to why trees "come back to life" after winter - it depends on <<....>> period.

That's the science answer, which should serve to point out that it doesn't help the case for God for you to be an ignoramus. If you don't know how how something happens - like trees surviving the winter - then look it up... don't just say "i can't be bothered to look this up, so not only am i going to assume God did it, but i am going to try to use this 'anti-evidence' to prove God exists to other people".

Ah biology that takes me back to the good ol days...
I actually didn't say this on purpose because he could keep asking questions from how the eye evolved to how evolution it self works. At some point I wouldn't know the answer so I decided to cut a few corners and speed the thing up.


Indi wrote:
Well, once again let's start with the science answer. The second law of thermodynamics states that for any closed system - any system that does not have energy entering or leaving it - entropy never decreases. It always increases, or, at the bare minimum, stays the same.

Okay, but what is entropy now? Well, a lot of people think entropy means "disorder", but it doesn't. The way i like to describe entropy to people is to use the idea of energy "pressure", and compare it to water pressure. Imagine you have two pools of water. One pool is at very low pressure, and the other is at very high pressure (or one is low and the other is high in the air). If you connect the two pools, what's going to happen is water is going to want to try to flow very forcefully from the high pressure (or high altitude) pool, into the low one. You can use this to drive a water wheel or a turbine of some kind to create power - this is how water wheel mills and hydroelectric dams work. But eventually, enough of the high pressure water is going to flow into the low pressure area to make the pressure equal (or, enough water is going to fall from the high pool into the low one that the water levels of the two pools are equal), and when that happens, you can't get any more power out of it. If you think about it, if you just drop a water wheel or a turbine into a pool where the water pressure or level is the same on both sides of the device... it's just going to sit there, right?

At that point the system is at maximum entropy. All the water is still there - none was taken out or added - but now it is in a state where it is useless for generating power. Whenever some of the water is at a higher pressure, you can use the pressure difference to do useful work, but when you do that, the pressure difference slowly vanishes - this is entropy increasing. There is no way to decrease entropy without either adding more water, or adding energy to raise some of the water back up to high pressure (for example, with a pump, or by lifting some of the water up to a higher level with buckets).

That is entropy, and to understand it completely, all you have to do is replace "water" with "energy". You can only use energy to do work if you have an energy imbalance - if you have some energy at "high pressure" and other energy at "low pressure". And, as you use that energy to do work, the imbalance always decreases - entropy increases - until there is no imbalance anymore - that is maximum entropy. The only way to decrease entropy is to add more energy. That's the second law of thermodynamics.

Okay, so how does all this apply to life or evolution? Well, it turns out that life (or evolution) is a case of extremely "high pressure" energy. Going back to the pool analogy, if you wanted to create life, you would have to bring a metric fuctkton of water to a very high pressure. Now, that can't happen "naturally", because water (and energy) "naturally" tries to flow toward low pressure areas as much as possible. You'd need something massive to cause that much water to flow that far uphill (or to raise it to that high a pressure).

Creationists want to pretend that "something massive" is God, because there is nothing else in nature that can lower entropy that much (that is, there is no natural way to raise the energy pressure that high). But creationists are morons, because they are missing the obvious answer.

Without adding energy, there is no way to raise the energy pressure - that is, to lower the entropy - up to the levels needed to maintain life. So... you need to add energy, dur. And where would you get energy from? Well, how about the massive flaming nuclear fusion reactor in the sky, dur.

Here's the short version: the second law of thermodynamics says that there is no way to lower entropy without adding energy. Life (and evolution) requires very, very, very low entropy. Creationists say "therefore, life violates the second law". It doesn't. It just requires low entropy... which just means it needs energy. And, it can get all the energy it needs - and then some - from the Sun.

Hmm okay I quess I get it now... they just don't get that we got Sol in the sky.

--------------

Bikerman wrote:
Ankhanu wrote:
Indi wrote:
BUT YOU CAN'T TREAT LIFE AS A CLOSED SYSTEM, so the whole "if" is moot.


Unfortunately, most people don't really get this... sometimes you have to work within other people's frame of reference to show that the frame doesn't fit. I admit my commentary was flippant, but, I believe it got the point across without being too involved for most readers to care about.

You obviously haven't dealt with many creationists. The reason we don't make statements like that generally is simple. A google search will pull up this posting. A creationist can then quickly scan down and find the statement "life violates the second law" and repost it as 'truth'. The fact that it is a partial and selective quote doesn't matter to many creationists - that is what they do.
OK, you can say - 'well it doesn't matter because I am no recognised authority so why does what I say matter'? But take a look at a creationist site sometime - most of the quotes come from people who are not particular authorities - they rely on argumenum ad populum a lot.
Now you might say that I am generalising and that most creationists are not so dishonest. I'm afraid that I disagree - most creationists I have dealt with (and that would be hundreds) are entirely dishonest.


I think there are two kinds of creationist the ones liars and sheep. The liars obviously make up stuff and quote-mine. The sheep Don't know better they just follow "their shepard/liar". However when the sheep get involved in some kind of debate they either don't believe in creationism anymore (doesn't happen too often). Or turn dishonest themselves, because they want to believe it regardless the evidence and thus become part liar themselves.

--------------

timothymartin wrote:
As a creationist, I see things much differently. Its the destructionists (my word)

uhm what is a "destructionist" are those the scientist who accept evolution who use it to understand how lethal bacteria evolve and thus can create a vaccin or cure more faster looks more like helpfull. Don't use make-up words it makes whatever you say look dumb.

timothymartin wrote:
that mainly rely on old 'science' if even that.

This "old science" gets updated everyday. Everyday there are new additions new papers, new discoveries etc. more and more info is added to the theory of evolution.

While the book you get the original idea from (i take that you are a christian) the bible, this book hasn't been updated since the 500's AD.

timothymartin wrote:
Its seems that 'opinion theory' is the law in their minds.

It's not an opinion it's a fact. About 99 % of the biologist accept evolution based on it's facts. There are no multiple interpretations of evolution just one.

timothymartin wrote:
There is more scientific proof for creation, and its increasing, than there will ever be for evolution.


A blatand lie there is NO evidence for creationism about 99 % of the biologist accept evolution based on it's facts. There are very few biologist that believe in creationism and they have trouble getting proper jobs at university's. Or research centers why? Because they are viewed as dishonest and who wants to employ some dishonest?

timothymartin wrote:
That is why evolutionists fight so hard for people to believe them, the proof just isnt there. Creationists put out the facts and let people decide for themselves if they want to know the truth or not. Evolutionists, on the other hand, spend lots of time trying to 'convince' other people of their 'opinion'.

Scientist let people decide for themselves and creationist too (except in A LOT of mainly muslim nations). The difference is there is only evidence for evolution. And the fact that there are people explaining evolution because whe hope that some people might learn something from it.

timothymartin wrote:
The problem is that there are bullies on both sides. When the intellect and resources are equal, thats when it gets good and meaningful. Otherwise it is just a fight and whoever is bigger usually wins.

The problem is that there are LIARS are on one side, the creationist side.
When the resources are equal, it depends on the intelect. Usually people who accept evolution are smart or honest while creationists aren't. So basically evolution wins.

But if you want to try go ahead start a topic where you will post you creationist "proof" and we will do our best to debunk it. The resources are practically equal all of us have acces to the internet.

--------------

Ankhanu wrote:
We should try to separate the idea of "evolution" from the idea of "origin"... these are very different concepts and the actual contention lay with the former, rather than the latter.

They are seperate ones evolution other is abiogenesis or biopoesis. for more info klick the link;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

Ankhanu wrote:
That evolution, change within a population over time, is fact is pretty indisputable. I've never met a nay-sayer who could honestly say that organisms never change;
well there are people who DO think that thankfully you haven't met them... YET......
Ankhanu wrote:
it's too plainly observable in the world all around us, even in urban environments where people are as disconnected from nature as they can get.

The actual debate is on the origin of life; where did it come from. The scientific evidence and theories are still pretty decent, but not as solid as for evolution itself... we're still not certain how life began (though we have some really good ideas with lots of support from evidence).


That's true, abiogenesis or biopoesis are compared to evolution ver young and research into those things hasn't been going on for long.


Ankhanu wrote:
Creationists, on the other hand, are certain of how life began... though the only evidence they have is "someone told me so." Evolution itself presents very few issues to creationists; hell, the Catholic Church, amongst other religious organizations, accept religion and don't find it in conflict with their beliefs at all. It's the origin that they tend to hold on to, that life could not come in to being without some divine spark and/or imagination.

When referring to creation, as well, one would do well to also note which version of creation they are referring to; it's usually the Judeo-Christian version, but not always. It would also be reasonable and kind to explain why the other religious creation stories are not as valid as your own chosen one. As far as I can tell, there is no reason, other than circumstance, to choose one as valid over another.

Indeed there is none.

Ankhanu wrote:
Some of us prefer to look at the origin of life based on evidence, rather than stories created several thousand years ago through a rather limited understanding of how the universe worked. I understand that creationists feel this is foolish, but, honestly, it has merit.


--------------

LittleBlackKitten wrote:
So, perhaps most creationists are immovable, impossible, stubborn, selfish pigs that try and blot out the sun with one finger. I can't stand those who turn off their ears and do not converse with reason and try to learn. I also can't stand those who take ONE rule and go "SEE? SEE? YOUR GOD IS FAKE!" because you just can't do that, just as we can't go "Look, the sun is warm, therefore evolution doesn't exist.


Most people don't do that we say that god doesn't exist when a book that describes him has many, many, many bull**it stories in it, earth is flat, earth is fixed, earth is 6000 years old etc. etc. etc.

LittleBlackKitten wrote:
Pay attention herein, Bikerman...

I SUPPORT EVOLUTION, AND YES I AM A CHRISTIAN/CREATIONIST!

Why? Some have called me a liar, a sellout, ect.

I fully believe that there is MACRO evolution. It's FACT. A finch can develop various beak shapes in order to accommodate natural habitats. A deer can become smaller or taller depending on the need of the region. As a matter of fact, there are so many sub species that exist because they've adapted or changed over the years. 6000 years ago, I bet you ANYTHING the species we have now, some of them didn't exist then.

But, I DO NOT, will not, and will NEVER believe a tomato plant evolved into a hamster.

Never happened

LittleBlackKitten wrote:
I will not believe humans came from apes.

We did evolve from apes. More details.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_evolution

LittleBlackKitten wrote:
I will not believe pond scum became amphibians. I will not believe that birds came from reptiles. I WILL however fully support that all modern birds came from the ORIGINAL bird; that all cats of prey came from the sabertooth tiger. That is MACRO evoution; that is, that a species can adapt and change based on the needs of the regions it is in. As numbers grow, the terrain they cover grows, and the needs change; in a matter of a few hundred years or a few generations, you can see the changing adaptations within same-species animals. Even HUMANS have adapted; in the start, we were all "african" for lack of a better term. But then, as the human race moved and adapted on the supercontinent, stuff happened and needs became different. Now there are differences in the human race to mark the grains on the beach. But we're all human, and we're not going to evolve wings or massive lungs just because we might NEED them; we will always be HUMAN, no matter what. (Unless fallout3 comes true and some of us turn to ghouls or mutants).

That being said, I also am open to the idea that God created these things TO evolve, TO change, TO adapt on PURPOSE. Why are creationists so opposed to the though that "God said let there be light and the whole universe exploded" idea? Maybe God DID trigger the big bang. Maybe He DID make the sabertooth evolve into every cat we now have, Maybe He DID cause things to evolve like that. What's so wrong about that? It's still CREATIONISM; it just means God made things change on their own, without His intervention.

some small side notes; to make clear what is creationist misunderstanding
Pond scum =?
Birds did become reptiles
Humans didn't move acros a supercontinent there were multiple they got to America because you could walk from siberia to alaska, the ocean levels used to be lower. And got to Australia using canoes. As for "human evolution" ie change of skin color;Read here
Humans are themselves also a transitional species "humans" in the far future won't look like us. Evolution doesn't stop. At some point our "children" aren't homosapiens anymore. But the next step.
Scientist now concluded that quantumn fluctuations created the big bang;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo
The video is long but it explains it very well and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand it.

Now back to micro and macro... these are the WRONG creationist versions
Macroevo is evolution means that from one species one other or more evolve.
Microevo is small evolution this explains say the difference between dogs.
EDIT as bikerman pointed out below;
Copy from wikipedia;
Wikipediapage on macro wrote:
Macroevolution is a scale of analysis of evolution in separated gene pools. Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution, which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population.


Accepting one and not the other is foolishnes, they have the same mechanics and are the same the only difference is time.
Both have been observed, some species have evolved into enterly different species. And there is als DNA evidence, like every human has a family tree, all species have too, everything alive on this planet can be traced back to a single ancestor.

Accept evolution or not, it's your choice, it does have have all the evidence in favour of it.
Bikerman
@Klaw,
careful here. Understand that when biologists talk about macro-evolution they mean something specific. It is the context for studying different species. Creationists use the term to mean 'evolution of species'. That is simply wrong. In real life speciation results from micro-evolution. Build-up sufficient small changes and you have a different species. The notion that there is some huge leap (what creationists call macro-evolution) is simply wrong.
I am sure you know this, and I don't mean to sound patronising, but accepting ceationist terms in any debate is normally a mistake.
Klaw 2
@bikerman
thx I got a bit sloppy to the end I should have pointed out that those were the wrong creationist versions, I fixed it now.
Bikerman
No problem....making mistakes is human. Admitting that we are sometimes wrong is the sign of a person open to new ideas..its one of the things that separate the science literate from the numpties Smile
Ankhanu
I never understood why the idea that humans are apes is so repugnant to creationists... other than silly pride, what's the issue here?
(Yeah, we didn't just evolve from an ape ancestor, we still are an ape)
Bikerman
I think the problem that fundamentalists have with it is that it doesn't fit well with the 'made in God's image' theology...
Ankhanu
*shrug*
Does it demean God to insinuate from the fact that we're apes, that God's image is that of an ape? It really changes nothing. But, that's staunch tradition for you, I suppose.

I also don't understand how one can be satisfied answering the questions like "where did the universe come from" or "how did life begin" with a simple "God did it"... and then leave it at that. This falls in with the whole concept of parsimony, as the natural next question is then "Where did God come from," adding additional questions to the original question, rather than wrapping it up in an actual conclusion. Saying "God did it" answers nothing; it simply generates a child-like chain of response, where every answer is followed by "Why?" as it's clear that the whole question has not yet been addressed.

When one answers with such a trite answer as "God did it", one then must be willing to tackle the question of "why," or to address the origin of god. So far, I've yet to encounter anyone, personally, or in my forays into various forms of research (net-based, reading, some university courses, discourse with others interested in religion, etc) who espouses such belief or response who has been willing to enter that line of discussion with any kind of evidence beyond tautologies or simple faith. Why not simply answer with "it just did" and skip the whole God line to save a couple steps in the ultimate destination of grief?
Bikerman
That is, of course, the answer to the 'first cause' objection often raised by theists. Ultimately their faith doesn't answer the first cause question, except by special pleading. It is therefore an added (infinite) complexity for no information/predictable outcome and with no evidential basis at all...Ockam is clear about such things Smile
Bikerman
Klaw 2 wrote:
I think there are two kinds of creationist the ones liars and sheep. The liars obviously make up stuff and quote-mine. The sheep Don't know better they just follow "their shepard/liar". However when the sheep get involved in some kind of debate they either don't believe in creationism anymore (doesn't happen too often). Or turn dishonest themselves, because they want to believe it regardless the evidence and thus become part liar themselves.
It is easy to underestimate the effect of constant propoganda. Many kids are brought up in households and communities where evolution is a dirty word. They are never exposed to the real theory - only make believe versions they hear from their parents, their friends, their pastor/preacher and sometimes even their teachers.
It takes some degree of personal integrity and honesty to face the fact that everything you have been taught on the matter is most probably wrong....
LittleBlackKitten
I really honestly don't care what you guys have to say about my religion and belief system, guys. I've learned that everything you say is a giant ball of assumptions, "science" misunderstood, and atheism surrounded by that little "safety wall" that some people tend to get when they don't want anything else to be true. I didn't even bother reading your replies, since I know it was mostly a huge knot of accusations, you're wrong's, and twisted facts that skew the general knowledge that I have based on my own beliefs. I will never be shaken from my beliefs, even if you toss a so called "scientific fact" at me, that's simply been misunderstood by you and the others out there. MOST of science, if not all of it, is a THEORY, that can deviate at any moment from the norms. Just because we see the sun, and know the sun, and know the sun is always there, doesn't mean it isn't gonna rain.

I won't be filling my mind with your lies, I just wanted you to notice I did say I believe in species evolution, not mass scale evolution.
Klaw 2
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
I really honestly don't care what you guys have to say about my religion and belief system, guys. I've learned that everything you say is a giant ball of assumptions, "science" misunderstood,

No its not I can't speak for all atheist but most of us think about what we accept and not. We are are challenge by people who think differently every day just by being on this forum. If you really want to convince me you need to bring some proof. Obviously you always need to asume stuff in your life, unfortunatly you can't learn everything. Sad. As for ""science" misunderstood". No we don't misunderstand it's mostly creationist who don't understand science or misportray it.
(I take you life somewhere in the western world)
The computer you use is a symphony of scienc, the knowledge used by pc manufacturers is obtained through the scientific method . You don't question wheter the science behind it is real you can see the prodcut.

When you need surgery all the knowledge used by the surgeon is obtained through the scientific method. You don't question wheter the science behind it is real you can see the prodcut.
Same goes for yor car or bus. All knowledge the make the bus work is obtained through the scientific method. You don't question wheter the science behind it is real you can see the prodcut.
I have never seen any religious person question the theory of gravity. All knowledge obtained through the scientific method can explain how it works, explains why the solar system looks as it looks. You don't question wheter the science behind it is real.
I can go on and on about more things, fridges, pfonees, medicines, planes and all other kinds of transportation those things work because of the scientific method. like this all facts about the theory of evolution are obtained through the scientific method

And then according to creationist it suddenly fails and gives a complete wrong answer you can see the products of other sciences why is this just the one exception (and possibly other parts of science that show that the universe is 14 bil years old and the earth 4,5 bil years old)?

Because you learned that god exists, because you want that god exists. You chose to believe the bible/koran etc, and it conflicts with science.

LittleBlackKitten wrote:
and atheism surrounded by that little "safety wall" that some people tend to get when they don't want anything else to be true.

What safety wall? I would LOVE if there was a good and generous god, but there isn't one. The only ones who can make our lifes better are WE?

LittleBlackKitten wrote:
I didn't even bother reading your replies, since I know it was mostly a huge knot of accusations, you're wrong's, and twisted facts that skew the general knowledge that I have based on my own beliefs. I will never be shaken from my beliefs, even if you toss a so called "scientific fact" at me, that's simply been misunderstood by you and the others out there. MOST of science, if not all of it,



This picture pretty much sums it up.

LittleBlackKitten wrote:
is a THEORY, that can deviate at any moment from the norms. Just because we see the sun, and know the sun, and know the sun is always there, doesn't mean it isn't gonna rain.


wikipedia wrote:
In the sciences, a scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable [[pheer with rules (called scientific laws) that express relationships between observations such concepts. A scientific theory is constructed to conform to available empirical data about such observations, and is put forth as a principle or body of principles for explaining a class of phenomena.



LittleBlackKitten wrote:
I won't be filling my mind with your lies, I just wanted you to notice I did say I believe in species evolution, not mass scale evolution.

Wich is just stupid as you COULD HAVE READ ABOVE.
Bikerman
So, you aren't willing to learn; you think you have a decent general knowledge; you don't understand what the word theory means; you assume those who know a lot more than you are liars; and you don't understand basic terms such as macro, micro, speciation etc.

I obviously misjudged you....I thought there was some hope that you weren't a dishonest idiot, with delusions of adequacy. Actually, I must be slipping - that's two creationists I have credited with basic honesty in 2 days (in both cases wrongly). Clearly I am being too generous in my old age.

I do wonder why you keep playing this silly trick of posting and then saying you aren't going to read the replies...it seems a very odd thing to do. Typing practice? Practicing spelling? I presume there is some purpose other than just typing nonsense....who knows....

BTW - No lies are contained in my postings, or the postings of Ankhanu, or Klaw2. There were a couple of questionable statements but we have those sorted out now. The thing is that these postings are read by quite a range of people, including professional biologists and geneticists. Any mistakes or lies would be pretty quickly picked up by my colleagues and I would be given a very hard time for it, so I can't affort to mislead people, even if I had the inclination to do so. What you read in my postings is a simplified but largely accurate reflection of how it actually is. The fact that you don't understand that, and actually don't want to understand it, well that is your problem. It simply means you will remain totally ignorant of the subject, convinced that you have something intelligent (or even coherent) to say, whilst spouting incoherent tripe. That is your choice.

I suggest you would be happier sticking to the chat forum where you can tell tales of your psychic powers and amuse the readers. I think philosophy and science are probably out of your reach.

It is fine by me, btw, no problem at all. In fact it saves me the effort of trying to give you a basic education (by which I mean the sort of thing I would normally be teaching to 12-14 year olds). Its a bugger being a teacher - can't resist teaching, even when it takes hours and is free...
Actually it always astonished me, however, that people like you are prepared to pass on free education, provided more or less one to one, in your own time. People pay damn good money for the sort of course in evolutionary biology that you could have got for free (and no, not from only my own knowledge. I help to run the science forums (uk) which has quite a few experts in evolution - be it genetics, palaeontology, molecular bio-chemistry or whatever. Between us there is enough knowledge and experience to teach evolutionary theory from primary school to doctorate level).

Alternatively you could go over to the Language forums and learn how to construct similes and metaphors with a bit more 'bite'.

Quote:
I've learned that everything you say is a giant ball of assumptions, "science" misunderstood, and atheism surrounded by that little "safety wall" that some people tend to get when they don't want anything else to be true.
It doesn't really work, does it? A 'ball' of assumptions isn't a very good image to start with. Too small - it underplays the message. Then having used that metaphor you swich to a wall, but you make it 'little'...which again is a poor choice. So not only is it a mixed metaphor, it doesn't really say what you want it to say. Much better to stick with one central metaphor : For example:
Quote:
I've learned that your words are patchworks of assumptions and half-truths, which you stich into a comforting quilt to hide under, safe from the cold truth and harsh realities which make you shivver.

That's a much better way of saying it Smile
liljp617
"The greatest orator, save one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversary's case with great, if not still greater, intensity than even his own. What Cicero practiced as the means of forensic success requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either option. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment."

- John Stuart Mill
Bikerman
Indeed. Mill had a keen mind - he was pushing falsification as the demarcation of science before Popper was born. He was also arguably one of the first feminists (back in the mid 19th century), and I still have a copy of his 'On Liberty' somewhere on one of my bookshelves - required reading for any liberalist thinkers...
Indi
Ankhanu wrote:
*shrug*
Does it demean God to insinuate from the fact that we're apes, that God's image is that of an ape? It really changes nothing. But, that's staunch tradition for you, I suppose.

Nah, i gotta disagree with Bikerman here, Ankhanu, and say you've sniffed out the stench of the real problem there. Religious people have no problems believing in any number of lunatic beliefs, so why would this one be that one step too far? The real Abrahamic belief is that people came from dirt, so i don't see the mere fact that we came from apes as the sticking point. In fact, the way i see it, it's entirely possible that the religions involved may even have insisted we came from apes, and if they had, the believers today would be cheerfully asserting that that was not only a fact, it's a virtue; they would be using that belief to make statements about how their religion shows a link between all life, or using it to add religious justification to animal cruelty laws, or maybe even worshipping apes as sacred cows (or, maybe all of the above). i don't think the idea of coming from apes per se violates the "God's image" theology - it could quite easily be reworked as "everything in the universe from the smallest pebble to galaxies are all in God's image (in some vague metaphorical sense of the type theologists love)... humanity is just that one special step closer... so they have an obligation to care for the rest of God's creation, because it's all sacred."

But it's not simply a matter of tradition being different either. Religions are nothing if not chameleon-like in nature. They will scream and fight like spoilt children when their traditional beliefs are disproven, but only at first. After a generation or two, they will not only accept the new truth, they'll claim they had it all along! Look at the history of flat Earth theory, geocentrism... everything in modern science pretty much. Modern apologists pick apart the sacred ramblings and find proof that atoms were mentioned... completely forgetting that their religions violently suppressed atomism for centuries. If it were really simply a matter of evolutionary theory contradicting the blatant letter of the religion, there would, of course, be pockets of cranks that outright deny it, but most religious people would accept evolutionary theory as fact and do some kind of mental gymnastics to make it work. Some are trying, yes - that's where you get such bizarre chimera as "theistic evolution" - but there is simply just way too much rancour over evolution. Something else is afoot.

No, it's not the theory of evolution that gets the rankles of the religious, it's the philosophy. The mere fact that animals evolve from a common ancestor was not new to Darwin; Darwin's "dangerous idea" (as it is often called, either insultingly or endearingly) was what underlay his theory of evolution: a philosophical notion to explain the spontaneous genesis of complexity from base simplicity.

Rewind back before Darwin's dangerous idea, and the number one justification for religion was, basically, the teleological argument: an argument which takes many specific forms, including arguments from design, complexity, inter-functionality and even anthropic principles. Thing was, everyone knew the argument was just plain broken - Hume is one of the most famous people to completely trash it - but there was simply no other game in town - again, Hume himself said something to the tune of, "yes, it's a bullshit argument, but i've got nothing better, so i'm forced to concede it". Even Darwin was a firm believer in it! Darwin bought into what is now the most famous version of it: Paley's watchmaker analogy. That was the real reason for his voyage.

Darwin's dangerous idea showed that not only was it theoretically possible for something of Paley-watch-like complexity to come into being without an intelligence at hand, it was easy! In fact, it's so blatant, it's practically tautological. Taken out of the biological context, Darwin's dangerous idea was this:
  1. Only those elements of a system that survive effectively can create offspring.
  2. Slight variations in offspring will result in successive generations adapting more effectively to the environment.
That's all there is to it. And these are not even "rules" in the traditional sense, they are facts made tautological by the nature of the system. The first one has to be true whenever you have things that produce offspring of some sort of another, so long as those things are not invincible or omnipotent (which is not an unreasonable requirement). The second one follows from the first but also has to be true if there is some small variation in the offspring process. You can't argue that either of these two things are false; they're inescapable.

And from this simple, dangerous little idea, you can create systems of unlimited complexity and infinite functional elegance - all you need is a source of randomness and a little time - starting from the barest and most basic starting points one can conceive of with only the simplest and most reasonable of constraints, all without the need for a guiding intelligence. Put another way, Darwin's dangerous idea didn't just refute the entire family of teleological arguments... it DESTROYED them. It was such a massive philosophical bombshell that in less than 50 years what was once considered by all learned people to be perfectly reasonable, became a joke.

Darwin applied his dangerous idea to biological systems and came up with the answer to the question of the origin and diversity of species. Others have used his idea in a myriad of other domains. Evolutionary algorithms are powerful tools in computing, and Lee Smolin has even suggested that UNIVERSES evolve! Darwin's dangerous idea is so mighty that it can even be applied back to the original teleological claims! (That is what Dennett has done with his "crane" analogy that Dawkins loves to repeat. Remember, the logic of the philosophy of evolution is inescapable - so when it gets applied to God and God is found lacking... ouch. You're left with one solution: the picture in Klaw 2's post.)

You see, you're not seeing the forest for the trees here, Bikerman. When creationists try to poke holes in evolutionary theory by questioning the dating of fossils or making up stupid narratives about sedimentation only being possible with Noah's flood, it's not the theory they're really after. More likely than not, the average creationist is too dimwitted to realize that, but the leaders of the movement know - you can see the fear in their words in things like their wedge strategy document, and all of the books they have written, like Dembski's Design Inference (that may not be the full title, but i don't have it with me and can't be bothered to look it up). They are desperate and floundering. They attack the biological theory of evolution simply because they have no other practical strategy. They can't go after the core philosophical belief - it's just too obviously true, so much so that they even claim to accept it in a partial way (this being their "microevolution" farce). They've tried to smear Darwin, but the idea was bigger than the man. They've got nothing: the philosophical justification that their religion has rested on for centuries has not only been shown to be a joke, it has been thoroughly replaced by a better philosophy that is not only sturdier philosophically but is clearly evident empirically, and they... have... nothing to respond with. All they can do is take the last refuge of the fool who realizes his philosophy has become obsolete: stand to the side and jeer at the new age, trying to mask their ignorance and fear by lamely attempting to affect the wry observations of a cynic.

There's an element of tragedy in it all, that almost makes one want to pity the creationists. It's over for them. They've lost. All creationism and its bastard spawn "Intelligent" Design really are, is the horrible wailing sound a wounded animal makes as it dies slowly, scared. Their entirely philosophy has no future, and to make things worse they have to deal with the fact that all of their past was a lie as well. It's sad, really. It almost makes you feel emotionally moved because of their seemingly stolid nobility, where they intend to stick it out to the end, regardless of anything, rather like a proud old English ship captain choosing to go down with his ship with melancholy and dignity. But then, of course, you remember the precise nature of the lying shitbags you're dealing with, and the emotion passes.
Bikerman
Yes, I must say that my brief suggestion doesn't really hold up when considered more thoughtfully - I do have to agree.
In fact it is something I should be well aware of as a 'Catholic' since it seems to me that Catholics are the undisputed heavyweight champion believers of crazy propositions amongst the major sects. There again, even Catholics have to tip their hats in respect to the Mormons, who have clearly taken the idea of blind faith and decided to test it to destruction. They decided to see just how far it is possible to run with that idea before people actually die because their brain is holding so many contradictory and nonsensical beliefs that, in a desperate search for release, it persuades itself that Jesus was actually from the Bronx and gets the owner stabbed whilst trying to erect a makeshift shrine to the 13th Tribe of Israel in the Harlem Opera house during a James Brown concert.
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