2LoT trouble

Granville Sewell has a video up on YouTube:

Mark Chu-Carroll has a take-down of the argument here, but I’d be interested to know what the ID proponents who post here make of it.  It seems to me so self-evidently wrong, that I’d expect ID proponents to be rather keen to point out the errors, but it gets a shout-out at UD.

The reason it seems to me so evidently wrong is nothing to do with intelligent systems versus non-intelligent systems, but that quite simply, biological organisms do not violate the second law of thermodynamics, which states, as Flanders and Swann ineradicably taught me: you can’t pass heat from a cooler to a hotter:

In order for biological organisms to develop, reproduce, populate an environment, and evolve, they must utilise energy.  And they do. Plants store sunlight energy as sugar, and then use that to grow and reproduce.  Animals eat plants – or other animals, in order to gain energy, and grow and reproduce.  As a result, the heat is dissipated, the universe as a whole gets slightly cooler (though there might be temporary local rises, as when I tried to climb a little mountain in Anglesey yesterday), and will continue to do so, as far as we know, until the whole universe is a uniform temperature and no heat can pass from one region to another.

So the apparent argument that biological organisms violate the second law of thermodynamics, therefore intelligent design, is based on a completely false premise.  They don’t. There may be be perfectly good arguments for an ID but biological organisms violating the 2LoT isn’t one of them.  Do any of our ID-supporting members disagree with this?  If so, can you say why?

183 thoughts on “2LoT trouble

  1. The boast at UD of 2000 views is after Sandwalk and perhaps other blogs advertised the existence of this piece of folly.

  2. I guess I’m curious about what ID proponents make of it. It always annoys me when people make a bad argument for something I happen to think there are good arguments for, and this argument has nothing to do with CSI or Irreducible Complexity, or even The Ontological Argument for God.

    It’s just fallacious physics!

  3. This paper is so bad that I have often entertained the suspicion that it is basically a taunt. The intention would be to drag a few scientists into a debate from which ID/creationists can leverage “respectability” and get a free ride on some scientist’s coattails.

    This is one of the hackneyed techniques of getting attention that Morris and Gish used in their attempts to get attention back in the 1970s and 80s.

    They have had nearly 50 years to get it right; yet they drag out the same old misconceptions over and over after they have been dormant for a period of time. Apparently ID/creationists are operating on a presumed forgetfulness in the transmission of knowledge from generation to generation.

    I also suspect that there is not one follower of ID/creationism that can read or dissect this paper. In that regard it is the sam as Abel’s stuff.

  4. Well his paper here, is quite “mathy”, but that video is really straightforward, and by the same token, straightforwardly wrong!

    Obviously a tornado will wreck a house, but that doesn’t mean that re-building houses after a tornado violates the second law. Or if it did, you’d think that Newton would have noticed!

  5. And we are still waiting on the positive evidence that blind and undirected chemical processes can produce a living organism from non-living matter- or construct any new, useful and functional protein complex.

    For all of this “blah, blah, blah”, you guys still lack supporting data.

    Strange that you never consider that.

    The sure way to demonstrate that we are wrong is to demonstrate that you are right as the way to our design inference is through your position- directly through, as mandated by Newton’s First rule and the explanatory filter.

  6. Elizabeth:
    Well his paper here, is quite “mathy”, but that video is really straightforward, and by the same token, straightforwardly wrong!

    Obviously a tornado will wreck a house, but that doesn’t mean that re-building houses after a tornado violates the second law. Or if it did, you’d think that Newton would have noticed!

    Yes agencies can rebuild- that is pretty much the point.

  7. For those who haven’t read the comments on Mark Chu-Carroll’s blog, Mike Elzinga’s description of entropy in both classical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics is the most concise, clear, and complete summary I’ve seen. I wish it had been at the beginning of every one of my thermo textbooks.

    His concept test is also excellent. No one who can’t pass it should feel themselves qualified to discuss the topic even casually.

  8. Joe G: Yes agencies can rebuild- that is pretty much the point.

    No, the point is Granville Sewell’s claim that by doing so they violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. They don’t. They have to consume energy to do the building and they are less than 100% efficient at using it. He is simply, and obviously, wrong.

  9. Sewell’s paper discussed in the video (the one that almost made it to Applied Mathematics Letters) can be found here. We can discuss the paper, which is not too technical. It’s mathy bits are there just for show.

    It would be fun if Sewell himself showed up here. Would Elizabeth or Joe like to invite him?

  10. Elizabeth: No, the point is Granville Sewell’s claim that by doing so they violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.They don’t.They have to consume energy to do the building and they are less than 100% efficient at using it.He is simply, and obviously, wrong.

    I will have to look into that but I doubt you are correct as ID is the answer to the law.

  11. Joe G: Elizabeth- The whole point of ID is that agencies can get around the law by rebuilding

    What agents get around the 2nd law? Not humans for sure. They create massive amounts of entropy as living organisms.

  12. oleg- my explanation was in the post you responded to.

    Humans can and do rebuild- humans can and do maintain equipment that would break-down if they didn’t.

  13. Joe G:
    Elizabeth- The whole point of ID is that agencies can get around the law by rebuilding

    But what makes you think they “get around the law” at all? The law does not state that you cannot rebuild unless you are an “agency”. It says nothing at all about whether you can “rebuild or not”. It merely says that you can’t do it without any breakfast!

  14. Joe G: oleg- my explanation was in the post you responded to.

    Humans can and do rebuild- humans can and do maintain equipment that would break-down if they didn’t.

    I don’t doubt that humans can rebuild what is destroyed by a hurricane. However, they do not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics in the process of doing so. That was my point.

  15. Joe G:
    oleg- my explanation was in the post you responded to.

    Humans can and do rebuild- humans can and do maintain equipment that would break-down if they didn’t.

    Yes, of course they can. But they do not violate the 2LoT when they do.

  16. I’ve invited Dr Sewell, although obviously I made it clear that I myself consider his argument and conclusions obviously wrong! But I also said, which is true, that I’d be delighted and honoured if he’d stop by. That’s what this place is for – respectful discourse.

    *stares hard at Joe*

  17. Exactly- I never said we violate it- we get around it.

    What would violate the law is if our houses were rebuilt without agency involvement.

  18. Joe G: Exactly- I never said we violate it- we get around it.

    Do you know what entropy and the second law are?

    What is it that you think “agencies” are “getting around?” This has no meaning in physics.

  19. Joe G: What would violate the law is if our houses were rebuilt without agency involvement.

    That’s an unorthodox statement of the 2nd law. Can you show that it is equivalent to either Kelvin’s or Clausius’s statement?

  20. Mike Elzinga: Do you know what entropy and the second law are?

    What is it that you think “agencies” are “getting around?” This has no meaning in physics.

    Mike, we can do things with nature that nature, operating freely cannot do.

  21. olegt: That’s an unorthodox statement of the 2nd law. Can you show that it is equivalent to either Kelvin’s or Clausius’s statement?

    Well anytime you want to demonstrate nature, operating freely building houses, I will take it back

  22. Can we please have this thread NOT be all about Joe G?

    ETA: moved some OT posts to Guano. If you want to discuss them further, feel free to do so in the Penguin Colony.

    Cheers

    Lizzie

  23. I thought the Sewell video was wonderfully ironic.

    He uses a tornado to tell the story. Yet a tornado is a region of lower entropy than the surrounding environment, yet formed by entirely natural processes.

    Sewell’s argument, if valid, would prove that a tornado could not form by itself and could only have resulted from an intelligent tornado designer.

  24. My point about agencies is that humans can and do maintain equipment- we can prevent rust or do something about it when it appears- we counter the effects of entropy.

  25. Energy in living systems rolls down a gradient of potential energy largely carried by electrons, and this gradient is closely analogous to gradients of electical potential, or a gravitational incline. You can only stay level or go down unless you add energy. But you can release energy by going down.

    The whole system is like a giant game of Mousetrap – energetic electrons are fed in at the top (energised by sunlight or present in molecules already at a higher chemical potential than the next link in the chain). Then they are passed down an electron transport chain, and the free energy released as they ‘roll’ pumps protons against an electrochemical gradient – a tiny pumped storage scheme. The gradient is one of both charge and concentration (hence electrochemical). The energy is stored in the disequilibrium of both these quantities across a membrane, and can be released by allowing the protons to fall back down, utilising the energy to make ATP.

    This ATP goes everywhere in the cell (not least to be used as one of the building blocks of RNA or, deoxygenated, of DNA). Wherever energy is required, ATP (or one of the other nucleic acid monomers) is there to supply it. You want to make glucose? You need energy – carbon dioxide and water are already at the bottom of the energy gradient, and you need to put some in to make the chemical bonds of glucose from these units. In doing so, part of the ATP energy is stored as chemical energy in the bonds of the glucose. This can be released on demand and passed down another electron transport chain, again to pump protons and generate (a bit less) ATP.

    Plants lock in solar energy by turning carbon dioxide and water into complex compounds, cattle come along and eat them, using the stored plant energy to drive their own lives, we eat the cattle, and ultimately, carbon dioxide and water are regenerated. And throughout this system, the initial solar energy captured by the plants is falling down a gradient of potential, from transport chain to proton gradient to ATP bond energy to glucose bond energy to cow to 2nd proton gradient to ATP again to ‘cow-stuff” to us to 3rd proton gradient … All 2LoT means for Life is that we can never go UP the ‘mousetrap’ gradient without the input of energy.

    We can use the released energy to alphabetise our cd’s (create order), but we can also carry buckets of water uphill to drive a small turbine, or crank an old-style gramophone, or walk, or make love, or replicate DNA, or translate DNA into protein. There is no free lunch – we cannot hook a giraffe up to the mains and use it to generate energy unless we feed it.

  26. Joe G:
    My point about agencies is that humans can and do maintain equipment- we can prevent rust or do something about it when it appears- we counter the effects of entropy.

    I know that is your point, Joe, and no-one is disputing that humans maintain equipment. All we dispute is the idea that by doing so we violate the second law of thermodynamics. We don’t increase entropy when we polish our cars. We might get rid of some rust, but in so doing we increase the entropy of the sausage we ate for breakfast. As Allan puts so beautifully :)

  27. Joe G:
    Who says we violate the law by doing so?

    Is it your interpretation?

    Well, that’s what Granville Sewell seems to be saying. And we are disagreeing.

    He seems to be saying: look, life violates the 2LoT, therefore we need to look at life differently from the rest of nature. Here he is, in Mark C-C’s transcription:

    Now imagine a professor describing the final project for students in his evolutionary biology class. Here are two pictures,” he says.

    “One is a drawing of what the Earth must have looked like soon after it formed. The other is a picture of New York City today, with tall buildings full of intelligent humans, computers, TV sets and telephones, with libraries full of science texts and novels, and jet airplanes flying overhead. Your assignment is to explain how we got from picture one to picture two, and why this did not violate the second law of thermodynamics.

    Then he ends up:

    Evolution is a movie running backward, that is what makes it so different from other phenomena in our universe, and why it demands a very different sort of explanation.

    No, it doesn’t, because evolution – and living things whether evolving or not – do not violate the 2LoT.

    In other words, however mysterious life may be, there’s nothing mysterious about its thermodynamics. It obeys the 2LoT like everything else.

  28. I’ll put these up here for quick reference in case they are needed.

    These are the basic methods for computing entropy.


    Classical thermodynamics :

    ΔS = ΔQT

    If an amount of heat ΔQ leaves a system at temperature Thigher and enters the environment at a temperature Tlower, then the change in entropy is

    ΔS = – ΔQ/Thigher + ΔQ/Tlower.

    Dividing the same amount of heat by a smaller temperature gives a larger number. Therefore the entropy lost by the system is smaller than the entropy gained by the environment. In other words, the overall entropy has increased.

    This expression can be summed continuously (integrated) in more general cases.

    Where are the order/disorder and “information” in that? Creationists need to explain where Clausius’s coining of the word entropy means that everything tends to disorder and decay.

    Heat flows from higher temperatures to lower temperatures.

    Creationists need to explain this fact. Why does that happen? What is temperature?


    Entropy in statistical mechanics :

    S = k ln Ω

    Where Ω is the number of accessible energy microstates consistent the macroscopic state of the system. Boltzmann’s constant, k, converts between the units of energy and the units of temperature, both of which were established independently as conventions before temperature was understood from statistical mechanics. This expression is for an isolated system that has come to equilibrium.

    It comes down basically to a process of enumeration; counting those microscopic mechanisms that actually participates in “soaking up” the total energy flowing into or out of the macroscopic system. For relatively homogeneous systems, this is not difficult; but for heterogeneous systems it can become very difficult. One ultimately wants this calculation of the entropy to agree with the classical calculation. So one doesn’t count the nuclei of atoms if only the vibrations or translational motions of the atoms are carrying the energy, or if the electrons are simply changing levels on the order of a few electron volts but the nuclei are not participating in these energy exchanges.

    More generally, in the case of a system in contact with a much larger heat reservoir, the probabilities of each energy microstate are not equal. The expression for entropy is then

    S = – k Σ p(i)lnp(j)

    where p(j) is the probability that the system is in the jth microstate, and the sum on j goes from 1 to Ω, the number of microstates consistent with the macroscopic state of the system. Note that this formula is the average of the logarithms of the probabilities.

    If all microstates are equally probable, p(j) = 1/Ω and this formula reduces to the one above.

    If all the constituents of the system are allowed to interact and exchange energy with each other (matter interacts with matter), then in an isolated system, those probabilities will become equal and the expression will become maximized.

    This is a little exercise everyone should do to demonstrate to themselves the meaning of entropy tending toward a maximum in an ISOLATED system, provided that the constituents can exchange energy.

    I won’t spoil the fun by telling you how to do this little exercise just yet. Some may want to use calculus; others may want to just fiddle with the numbers. Figure it out according to your level of mathematical ability.

    Creationists need to explain where the order/disorder and “information” are in this calculation; especially in the light of that specific example with the two-state system.

    Creationists also need to learn the significance of

    1/T = ∂S/∂E

    where E is the total energy of the system.

    This is the definition of temperature from statistical mechanics. This expression also holds in classical thermodynamics.

    Creationists need to learn that entropy and the second law of thermodynamics are absolutely nothing like what Henry Morris and ID/creationist leaders have told them.

  29. Joe G: My point about agencies is that humans can and do maintain equipment- we can prevent rust or do something about it when it appears- we counter the effects of entropy.

    No. Entropy still happens, local decreases are paid for in the bigger system.

  30. I’m not convinced there is even much of a local decrease. If I build a house, I’m not decreasing entropy, I’m just building a house. It doesn’t have more usable thermal energy at the end than the materials did at the beginning. And I certainly have less. I will need my dinner.

  31. Rich: No. Entropy still happens, local decreases are paid for in the bigger system.

    I never said nor implied entropy doesn’t still happen-

    Elizabeth your dogs are running loose again…

  32. Joe G:
    OK Elizabeth so it is all your interpretation- thanks, got it

    Well, how are you interpreting Granville Sewell’s words? Do you think he is saying that life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics?

  33. Joe, here is the abstract from Granville Sewell’s paper:

    It is commonly argued that the spectacular increase in order which has occurred on Earth does not violate the second law of thermodynamics because the Earth is an open system, and anything can happen in an open system as long as the entropy increases outside the system compensate the entropy decreases inside the system. However, if we define ‘‘X-entropy’’ to be the entropy associated with any diffusing component X (for example, X might be heat), and, since entropy measures disorder, ‘‘X-order’’ to be the negative of X-entropy, a closer look at the equations for entropy change shows that they not only say that the X-order cannot increase in a closed system, but that they also say that in an open system the X-order cannot increase faster than it is imported through the boundary. Thus the equations for entropy change do not support the illogical ‘‘compensation’’ idea;
    instead, they illustrate the tautology that ‘‘if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it not extremely improbable’’. Thus, unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that the second law has in fact been violated here.

    (my bold)

  34. Sewell’s confusion has more to do with logic than with physics.

    Here is my distillation of his argument:

    1. The SLOT forbids phenomena that violate the SLOT.
    2. The SLOT allows phenomena that don’t violate the SLOT.
    3. According to physicists, Darwinists and other reality-based eggheads, a tornado constructing a house doesn’t violate the SLOT as long as the increase in the entropy of the surroundings compensates for any local decrease in entropy.
    4. We can see that the idea of a tornado constructing a house is ridiculous.
    5. Therefore the eggheads are wrong about the SLOT. It does forbid the construction of a house by a tornado, regardless of any compensatory increase in entropy of the surroundings.
    6. If tornados constructing houses violate the SLOT, then evolution producing humans who produce skyscrapers, computers and 747s also violates the SLOT.
    7. Therefore God.

    Sewell’s mistake is to implicitly assume that anything allowed by the SLOT is possible or even likely. But this is ridiculous. The SLOT allows a marble block sitting in the sun to form itself into a sculpture, but there are a lot of other reasons why this won’t ever happen. A phenomenon has to conform to all of the laws of physics in order to be possible.

    Sewell is asking more of the SLOT than it can deliver. The SLOT forbids violations of the SLOT, and nothing else.

  35. Sewell’s math in his Equations (1) through (5) is not relevant to anything he argues. The equations have extremely limited validity in thermodynamic systems. They make the assumption that the temperature field (a scalar field) and the heat flux (a vector field) are spatially continuous and spatially differentiable. This is a severe restriction on the kinds of systems he is discussing. This type of calculation is not appropriate for large classes of systems (such as two-state systems, for example). Sewell is borrowing from an engineering application.

    And Sewell is simply misusing these equations when he plugs in his “X-entropy” in what amounts to “cooking the books” to argue against his own misconceptions about the second law and “entropy compensation.” There is also no such thing as “entropy compensation,” especially in the way Sewell seems to think of it.

    In thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, the flow of matter into and out of a system involves changes in energy because matter interacts with matter. The proper way to deal with this in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics is by what is referred to as the chemical potential, which is the amount of energy per particle that is involved in the transfer of particles into and out of the system. In fact, chemists and physicists use this notion in order to actually measure particle interactions. This has absolutely nothing to do with order/disorder.

    All of Sewell’s misconceptions are revealed already in his abstract (there is no such thing as “X-order”).

    Sewell also elaborates his misconceptions in his caricature of Kenneth Ford’s somewhat sloppy description of the second law. What Ford said is technically correct, but this is not seen the change of order/disorder one observes by running video of a tornado backward or forward.

    Ford was using an analogy, and doing it without realizing the conflation it was causing between the order/disorder of debris in a tornado with the backwards flow of energy from low temperature to high temperature without additional energy input. It was a poor analogy.

    These types of faux pas were not uncommon in textbooks for non-majors or in popularizations. The physics profession has tried to deal with these well-meaning but confusing analogies as well as with the intensely marketed misconceptions that began with Henry Morris and Duane Gish.

    Sewell’s elaborate story of a transition from a barren Earth to a Chicago skyline is also a misrepresentation. The second law was working that entire time, and entropy was increasing. Entropy has nothing to do with order/disorder. But matter interacting with matter and condensing has everything to do with it.

    We in physics have moved on; Sewell is attempting to reanimate a zombie.

  36. Just in case that are some who are actually trying to read Sewell’s rejected paper, here are some math explanations.

    The del operator, , is a directional derivative when applied to a scalar field and a measure of “outward flow” or “divergence” when applied to a vector field. The equivalence of “divergence” throughout a volume of space and the “outward flow” through the surface enclosing that space is given by the Divergence Theorem. The del operator is defined in Cartesian coordinates as

    = i∂/∂x + j∂/∂y + k∂/∂z.

    Sewell says after his Equation (3) that he obtained his Equation (4) “after doing a (multidimensional) integration by parts.”

    Actually it is much more straight-forward if one simply looks at the following:

    ∇⋅(J/U) = (1/U)∇⋅J + J⋅∇ (1/U).

    For those who remember a little calculus, this is reminiscent of the “product rule” for the differentiation of a product.

    This then reduces to

    ∇⋅(J/U) = (1/U)∇⋅J – (1/U^2) J⋅∇U.

    Rearranging, we get

    (1/U)∇⋅J = (1/U^2) J⋅∇U + ∇⋅(J/U).

    This is the substitution made in the integral Sewell calls Equation (3).

    Then the Divergence Theorem is used on the second term on the right-hand side of the equation and we end up with his Equation (4).

    But, as this all shows, the fields must be continuous and differentiable; and that is a severe restriction to only a few engineering applications.

  37. Sewell is an applied mathematician. He knows how to solve partial differential equations describing heat transfer, but he isn’t well versed in physics. His definition of entropy,

    ‘‘Thermal entropy’’ is a quantity that is used to measure randomness in the distribution of heat.

    is quite unorthodox. Heat is a form of transfer of energy. Entropy is defined in thermodynamics as a function of the system’s current state. I am not at all certain that his definition of entropy is equivalent to the standard one.

    His “X-entropy” is reinvention of the wheel. He defines it as a thermodynamic variable conjugate to concentration (e.g., of carbon). That quantity is actually known to physicists and chemists as the chemical potential μ. Indeed, a nonzero gradient of the chemical potential creates a particle current, J = −K∇μ. It is well known that particles flow from high to low chemical potential.

    That, however, has nothing to do with the 2nd law, entropy, and information. Instead, it is a consequence of energy minimization. Sewell is barking up the wrong tree.

  38. olegt: His definition of entropy,

    ‘‘Thermal entropy’’ is a quantity that is used to measure randomness in the distribution of heat.

    is quite unorthodox. Heat is a form of transfer of energy. Entropy is defined in thermodynamics as a function of the system’s current state. I am not at all certain that his definition of entropy is equivalent to the standard one.

    This is from Rudolf Clausius in Annalen der Physik und Chemie, Vol. 125, p. 353, 1865, under the title “Ueber verschiedene für de Anwendung bequeme Formen der Hauptgleichungen der mechanischen Wärmetheorie.” (“On Several Convenient Forms of the Fundamental Equations of the Mechanical Theory of Heat.”)

    It is also available in A Source Book in Physics, Edited by William Francis Magie, Harvard University Press, 1963, page 234.

    (Note: Q represents the quantity of heat, T the absolute temperature, and S will be what Clausius names as entropy)

    …….

    We obtain the equation

    dQ/T = SS0

    which, while somewhat differently arranged, is the same as that which was formerly used to determine S.

    If we wish to designate S by a proper name we can say of it that it is the transformation content of the body, in the same way that we say of the quantity U that it is the heat and work content of the body.

    However, since I think it is better to take the names of such quantities as these, which are important for science, from the ancient languages, so that they can be introduced without change into all the modern languages, I propose to name the magnitude S the entropy of the body, from the Greek word η τροπη, a transformation.

    I have intentionally formed the word entropy so as to be as similar as possible to the word energy, since both these quantities, which are to be known by these names, are so nearly related to each other in their physical significance that a certain similarity in their names seemed to me advantageous.

    …….

    Clausius apparently translates η τροπη from the Greek as Umgestaltung and not Umdrehung. However, this doesn’t matter because he modified the word to entropy for the reasons he indicated.

    That’s it, there is nothing about order or disorder anywhere in this coining of the term entropy. It has never been otherwise.

    On the other hand, here is Henry Morris’ pseudo-scholarship back in 1973.

    …..

    The very terms themselves express contradictory concepts. The word “evolution” is of course derived from a Latin word meaning “out-rolling”. The picture is of an outward-progressing spiral, an unrolling from an infinitesimal beginning through ever broadening circles, until finally all reality is embraced within.

    “Entropy,” on the other hand, means literally “in-turning.” It is derived from the two Greek words en (meaning “in”) and trope (meaning “turning”). The concept is of something spiraling inward upon itself, exactly the opposite concept to “evolution.” Evolution is change outward and upward, entropy is change inward and downward.

    …..

  39. I remain, in the Skeptical Zone, highly skeptical that the 2lot was violated.

  40. Elizabeth: Well, how are you interpreting Granville Sewell’s words?Do you think he is saying that life does not violate the second law of thermodynamics?

    Geez the simple way is to just ask him. Why is that so difficult for you?

  41. Joe G: Geez the simple way is to just ask him. Why is that so difficult for you?

    Joe, pay attention:

    Elizabeth: I’ve invited Dr Sewell, although obviously I made it clear that I myself consider his argument and conclusions obviously wrong! But I also said, which is true, that I’d be delighted and honoured if he’d stop by. That’s what this place is for – respectful discourse.

  42. And strange that we are still waiting for the evidence that refutes what Sewell said- IOW there is still no evidence taht blind and undirected processes can produce a living organism from non-living matter.

  43. It would be great if he appeared here to discuss the whole thing. The ID fans we have here are not up to the task.

  44. olegt:
    It would be great if he appeared here to discuss the whole thing. The ID fans we have here are not up to the task.

    Up to what task? You still don’t have any EVIDENCE to discuss.

    But nice to see you have backed away from your initial tard.

  45. Joe G: Up to what task? You still don’t have any EVIDENCE to discuss.

    The one stated in the OP. Read the last paragraph.

  46. olegt: And strange that we are still waiting for the evidence that refutes what Sewell said- IOW there is still no evidence taht blind and undirected processes can produce a living organism from non-living matter.

    You are slow:

    And strange that we are still waiting for the evidence that refutes what Sewell said- IOW there is still no evidence taht blind and undirected processes can produce a living organism from non-living matter.

  47. Joe G: Geez the simple way is to just ask him. Why is that so difficult for you?

    Joe, I guess I could ask him that, but why not just read his own words? I reproduce them again below:

    Granville Sewell: Thus, unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that the second law has in fact been violated here.

    Are you disagreeing with Sewell? Or do you think he missed a “not” out of his last sentence above? :p

  48. Elizabeth: Are you disagreeing with Sewell?

    What’s the point of asking Joe this question? He wouldn’t know entropy from enthalpy. We need some ID proponents who have some idea about statistical physics and those are in short supply.

  49. Elizabeth: Joe, I guess I could ask him that, but why not just read his own words?I reproduce them again below:

    Are you disagreeing with Sewell?Or do you think he missed a “not” out of his last sentence above? :p

    Ask him and stop with the childish games already.

  50. olegt: What’s the point of asking Joe this question? He wouldn’t know entropy from enthalpy. We need some ID proponents who have some idea about statistical physics and those are in short supply.

    oleg it is very noticeable that you don’t have any evidence to discuss.

    IOW you don’t know evidence from imagination, and it shows.

  51. Well, we seem to have unanimous agreement, across both IDists and evos, on this thread so far, that life does not violate the 2LoT :)

    Which is cool. There is only a bit of a nitpick between me and Joe as to whether Sewell, does in fact claim that life violates the 2LoT.

    If Joe is correct, then we all agree that life does not violate the 2LoT, including Sewell!

    Which would make this rather a successful thread.

  52. Elizabeth:
    Well, we seem to have unanimous agreement, across both IDists and evos, on this thread so far, that life does not violate the 2LoT

    Which is cool.There is only a bit of a nitpick between me and Joe as to whether Sewell, does in fact claim that life violates the 2LoT.

    If Joe is correct, then we all agree that life does not violate the 2LoT, including Sewell!

    Which would make this rather a successful thread.

    According to us living organisms arising from non-living matter would violate the law. Therefor if you demonstrate such a thing you would prove us wrong

  53. Joe G: According to us living organisms arising from non-living matter would violate the law.

    No. I am not aware of any calculation that supports this assertion. If you know one, give us a reference.

  54. olegt: No. I am not aware of any calculation that supports this assertion. If you of one, give us a reference.

    Therefor if you demonstrate such a thing you would prove us wrong

    Your rhetoric isn’t going to do it…

  55. Joe G: Therefor if you demonstrate such a thing you would prove us wrong

    Joe, before asking me to refute an argument, present it. Not an assertion, an argument.

  56. Joe, could you answer this question for me, because I’m not clear about your position:

    Do you, or do you not, think that life violates the second law of thermodynamics?

  57. Elizabeth: According to us living organisms arising from non-living matter would violate the law. Therefor if you demonstrate such a thing you would prove us wrong

    According to us living organisms arising from non-living matter would violate the law. Therefor if you demonstrate such a thing you would prove us wrong

  58. Joe G: According to us living organisms arising from non-living matter would violate the law. Therefor if you demonstrate such a thing you would prove us wrong

    So you agree that when you build a house you do not violate the 2LoT?

  59. Elizabeth: So you agree that when you build a house you do not violate the 2LoT?

    I believe I made that clear- the only way we violtae the law is in a blind watchmaker scenario

  60. Joe G: According to us living organisms arising from non-living matter would violate the law. Therefor if you demonstrate such a thing you would prove us wrong

    It’s up to you to provide positive evidence for your own claims Joe. It’s not up to science to disprove them. You sill don’t have the slightest inkling of how science works I see.

  61. Thorton: It’s up to you to provide positive evidence for your own claims Joe.It’s not up to science to disprove them.You sill don’t have the slightest inkling of how science works I see.

    I have- OTOH your position doesn’t have anything- and your projection is duly noted

  62. Joe G: I believe I made that clear- the only way we violtae the law is in a blind watchmaker scenario

    So you disagree with Granville Sewell, when he says:

    Granville Sewell: Thus, unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that the second law has in fact been violated here.

    ?

  63. Joe G: I believe I made that clear- the only way we violtae the law is in a blind watchmaker scenario

    That sounds like a claim to me. You say you provide support for your claims. Where is your support for that claim?

  64. Joe G: I say you are misrepresenting him

    Only an IDist could say that quoting somebody’s own words is misrepresenting them.

    Why don’t you say in what way he’s being misrepresented Joe?

  65. OM: Only an IDist could say that quoting somebody’s own words is misrepresenting them.

    Why don’t you say in what way he’s being misrepresented Joe?

    Umm evos can a nd do take IDists quotes out-of-context- that is why I told Liz to actually just ask Sewell.

  66. Joe G: Umm evos can a nd do take IDists quotes out-of-context- that is why I told Liz to actually just ask Sewell.

    Ask him what? It’s all there in his own words.

  67. Joe G: Umm evos can a nd do take IDists quotes out-of-context- that is why I told Liz to actually just ask Sewell.

    Can you expand the quote and point out the missing context?

  68. Thus, unless we are willing to argue that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable, we have to conclude that the second law has in fact been violated here.

    Yes, very unclear. Better ask him for clarification.

  69. Joe G: I say you are misrepresenting him

    You say a lot of things that you can’t support.

    How is Dr. Liddle misrepresenting what Sewell said?

  70. Thorton: You say a lot of things that you can’t support.

    How is Dr. Liddle misrepresenting what Sewell said?

    I support most of what I say, unlike evotards who never supoort anything but TARD.

  71. Joe G: Can you just man-up and ask Sewell?

    Why so much cowardice?

    Sewell has been invited to appear here. If he shows up we will ask him all of that.

    As to my question to you, I suppose it is safe to say that the answer will not be forthcoming.

  72. Joe G: Can you just man-up and ask Sewell?

    Ask him what? His words are clear.

    What is the question you are proposing that is asked Joe? If those are his words or not? If not that, then what?

  73. Joe G: I say you are misrepresenting him

    Well, I originally posted the whole abstract, and there’s a link in this thread to the whole paper.

    Here it is again.

    So do check for yourself. Do I take it that your interpretation of Granville Sewell’s paper is that he does NOT think that life violates the 2LoT?

  74. Elizabeth: Well, I originally posted the whole abstract, and there’s a link in this thread to the whole paper.

    Here it is again.

    So do check for yourself.Do I take it that your interpretation of Granville Sewell’s paper is that he does NOT think that life violates the 2LoT?

    Why didn’t you just ask him about that when you invited him here?

    If you have his email I suggest that you write him with your concerns so you can put it to bed.

  75. As I understand it, Sewell’s argument is this:

    Life goes from disorder to order, and therefore results in a decrease of entropy. A decrease in entropy on this scale is vanishingly unlikely, just as it is unlikely that a tornado would assemble a 747 from a scrapyard.

    Therefore life was intelligently designed.

    The problem we are seeing in his argument is that life does not go from disorder to order in the sense of decreasing entropy. He seems to have misunderstood the meaning of the word “entropy”. The 747 has the same amount of entropy as the junkyard, approximately, even though, to a human being, it is much more ordered.

    In other words “low entropy” does not mean “ordered” in the sense of “tidy” or “useful” or “pretty”. It only means “ordered” in the sense of some things being in a higher energy state than others. And so life does not in fact decrease entropy, even though it certainly makes things more ordered in those other senses. It makes things less ordered in the sense of having greater entropy.

    The sun plus some carbon dioxide has less entropy than the same sun and the same carbon dioxide ordered into a herb on my window box two weeks later.

  76. Joe G: Why didn’t you just ask him about that when you invited him here?

    Because I’ve read his paper!

    Tell me what your interpretation of his paper is.

  77. Elizabeth: Because I’ve read his paper!

    Tell me what your interpretation of his paper is.

    As I said he is talking about naturalism (view the video- he says it), which means to refute him just demonstrate that blind and undirected processes can produce a living organism from non-living matter.

  78. Joe, what is your interpretation of what he is saying about the 2LoT? Is he saying that life violates it (as it seems to me he is saying – and explaining that by invoking Design) or is he saying that life does not violate it?

    It’s got to be one or the other!

  79. Joe G:
    So you are never going to just ask him. Sorry but that is just sad.

    What’s wrong with reading his paper? If I asked him I’d have to read his reply! What if I misinterpreted that too?!

  80. OK, Joe, answer this question:

    Do you think that a house has more, or less, entropy after it has been destroyed by a tornado than it had before?

  81. Elizabeth:
    Joe, what is your interpretation of what he is saying about the 2LoT?Is he saying that life violates it (as it seems to me he is saying – and explaining that by invoking Design) or is he saying that life does not violate it?

    It’s got to be one or the other!

    Living organisms arising from non-living matter via blind and undirected processes would violate it- according to IDists.

  82. I think Sewell makes a fundamental mistake in how he characterizes his argument. When humans build computers, they are not violating the 2LoT or defying entropy. What humans do is arrange matter and employ energy to produce results that are improbable to the point of absurdity without reference to intelligent manipulation.

    I think what Sewell is really arguing is that the particular kind of employment of energy and arrangements of matter we find in living thngs are so otherwise unlikely in consideration of general entropic effects that unless we explain it via the same mechanism that explains similar such unlikely arrangements (intelligent guidance), then the vanishingly small probability of such employments and arrangements should be considered in principle a violation of the 2LotT.

    While such events would not be technically impossible under 2LoT without intelligent guidance, nobody expects a volcano to spew forth a fully functional Hemi. That it did so would not technically violate the 2LoT, but we would certainly not credit volcanic processes alone with the production of the Hemi sitting on the ground.

  83. Joe G: Living organisms arising from non-living matter via blind and undirected processes would violate it- according to IDists.

    And you think that is what Sewell is arguing?

  84. William J. Murray:
    I think Sewell makes a fundamental mistake in how he characterizes his argument.When humans build computers, they are not violating the 2LoT or defying entropy.What humans do is arrange matter and employ energy to produce results that are improbable to the point of absurdity without reference to intelligent manipulation.

    Indeed. But that seems a lot more than mischaracterised an argument. It seems to me his argument is simply invalid. He isn’t saying: look these patterns we see in nature are very unlikely unless we invoke intelligence (which is the usual ID argument). He is saying: look these patterns violate the 2LoT, therefore biological organisms must obey a different set of laws.

    To quote his abstract:

    Thus, unless we are willing to argue , we have to conclude that the second law has in fact been violated here.

    .

    As he clearly does not think “that the influx of solar energy into the Earth makes the appearance of spaceships, computers and the Internet not extremely improbable” we must surely infer that he concludes “that the second law has in fact been violated here.”

    I think what Sewell is really arguing is that the particular kind of employment of energy and arrangements of matter we find in living thngs are so otherwise unlikely in consideration of general entropic effects that unless we explain it via the same mechanism that explains similar such unlikely arrangements (intelligent guidance), then the vanishingly small probability of such employments and arrangements should be considered in principle a violation of the 2LotT.

    Well, no. Or rather, if all he was arguing was that “the particular kind of employment of energy and arrangements of matter we find in living thngs are so otherwise unlikely [unless there is an intelligent designer]“, fine. Well, not fine, but at least he’d be in line with other ID proponents. But, as you say, he does not say this. He says that biological arrangments of matter are possible, but unlikely unless the 2LoT is violated. This is simply wrong. Under the 2LoT, it is vanishingly unlikely that the molecules of air in my room will suddenly fly out of the window, unless some energy-consuming process happens to cause them to do so. But that cause need not be an intelligent agent. It could be a tornado. In fact, the tornado he shows destroying that house in the video is not increasing the entropy in the house, it’s actually, briefly, reducing it, which is how the air in the house manages to do what the air in houses doesn’t normally do, namely tear the house down. But it’s only a local decrease, because we know that the tornado itself (also representing a local decrease of entropy) is actually “bought” by solar energy, and that the net result will be an overall increase in entropy. The sun and the earth will both be infinitessimally cooler afterwards than they were before.

    What’s Sewell seems to have done is to try to support the usual ID argument with an argument from Physics. But it doesn’t work. Whether or not it is true that evolutionary theory is adequate to account for life, it is certainly not true that tornados violate the 2LoT, even though they decrease entropy. Sewell gets this doubly wrong: he claims that the tornado increases entropy AND that if it decreased it it would violate the 2LoT. In fact it decreases entropy AND it doesn’t violate the 2LoT as it does so! And nor do we.

    While such events would not be technically impossible under 2LoT without intelligent guidance, nobody expects a volcano to spew forth a fully functional Hemi. That it did so would not technically violate the 2LoT, but we would certainly not credit volcanic processes alone with the production of the Hemi sitting on the ground.

    As you say, it would not “technically violate the 2LoT”. So why mention the 2LoT at all? It is irrelevant. Nothing in this world violates the 2LoT, “technically” or otherwise!

    So while ID proponents might welcome Sewell’s support, they should be wary. An obviously fallacious argument does not strengthen the one you want to make, even if it suggests the same conclusion. As I’m sure, as a logician, you will agree. :)

  85. Joe G: Yes, I do as he referred to naturalism in the beginning of the videa.

    But you think that he is saying that because naturalism is false, the 2LoT is not violated?

  86. Would we even have tornadoes in a blind watchmaker scenario? Would we have the earth? Would we have gravity, the strong & weak nuclear forces and electro-mag?

    Again his argument pertains to naturalism- you have to explain the universe using the blind watchmaker wrt 2nd law.

  87. Elizabeth: But you think that he is saying that because naturalism is false, the 2LoT is not violated?

    If ID is true then the 2nd law is not violated.

  88. Joe G: If ID is true then the 2nd law is not violated.

    What about the origin of the “designer”? By (your) definition that must be a violation.

  89. Elizabeth,

    You say “nothing violates the 2LoT” as if it is a prescriptive law. All the 2LoT is, is a description of noticeable patterns. There is – technically – no “law” to “violate”, if we’re just going to get technical and not observe the spirit of best interpretation. Anything at all can happen, and 2LoT not be “violated” because there’s nothing to “violate”. From a technical perspective, Sewell is arguing nonsense because, simply, there’s no prescriptive “law” to “violate” in the first place.

    If, however, we are going by the principle of charity, then what Sewell is arguing is that the patterns that we use to characterize “entropy” and “2LoT”, and the pattern that is evident when humans design and build things, are two different kinds of patterns. One is like the tornado movie going forwrds, and the other is like a tornado movie going backwards. Although it is not technically impossible to see the tornado build a house, we do not expect to see it. It is not the same pattern of entropic effects we usuallly see – as clumsy and as vague as that statement is.

    The same is true of life and evolution; it is not the same pattern of entropy, or the same pattern of behavior under 2LoT, that we usually see. In that sense, both are indeed “violations” of the pattern normally associated with regular entropic effects under 2LoT. No, they are clearly not impossible, but they are clearly not the same. Something else appears to be going on to specifically direct energy to organize matter in such complex, functional structures, meaning it is reasonable to believe some additional mechanism is necessarily in play that is gaming the normal dispersion of effects into very unlikely scenarios.

    IOW, even though there is no actual 2″L”oT to violate in the first place, what has been violated is the normal sequential patterning we associate with ordinary entropic effects. Sewell is trying to formally address that, IMO, and what is being offered in rebuttal here are, again, IMO, nothing more than technically valid appeals to bare possibility for no reason other than to avoid something rather obvious – something he uses the movie to demonstrate.

    IMO, this is what a lot of evo-mat argument boils down to: technically valid appeals to bare possibility to avoid the obvious larger picture that is staring us in the face.

  90. William J. Murray: IMO, this is what a lot of evo-mat argument boils down to: technically valid appeals to bare possibility to avoid the obvious larger picture that is staring us in the face.

    Which is?

  91. Joe G: If ID is true then the 2nd law is not violated.

    OK, I think I see what you are saying.

    In that case you clearly disagree with Granville Sewell, who says, at the end of his paper:

    Of course, one can still argue that the spectacular increase in order seen on Earth does not violate the second law because what has happened here is not really extremely improbable. Not many people are willing to make this argument, however; in fact, the claim that the second law does not apply to open systems was invented in an attempt to avoid having to make this argument. And perhaps it only seems extremely improbable, but really is not, that, under the right conditions, the influx of stellar energy into a planet could cause atoms to rearrange themselves into nuclear power plants and spaceships and digital computers. But one would think that at least this would be considered an open question, and those who argue that it really is extremely improbable, and thus contrary to the basic principle underlying the second law of thermodynamics, would be given a measure of respect, and taken seriously by their colleagues, but we are not.

    My emphasis.

    Right?

Leave a Reply