The Second Law (and Discovery Institute) Defeat Evolution Once Again

(Ashwin S) #41

And my comment was a caution against expecting ridiculous miracles from nature. Thermodynamics makes life arising by natural means improbable. And we should be careful about assuming such extremely improbable events actually happened.
This is true even after prigogine’s work. It didn’t really change much other than giving an overall direction for the work and some basis in reality for just so stories.

The barrier is inheritance. i.e evolution can be kickstarted only after the first organism which can pass on its genes through some sort of reproduction arises.
However, its an interesting question to ask why only one common ancestor. If life was probable/inevitable, then there should have been many initial life forms from which the current diversity arose.
If it wasn’t inevitable, then even LUCA and all the diversity that followed is a tremendous miracle of chance.
This should be a conundrum to anyone who looks at this scenario, The current explanation of the evidence of nature involve numerous ridiculous miracles of chance. And why should chance be more acceptable to science than God? its definitely less acceptable logically.

I know its a conjecture. However, websites that report evolution seemed to habe issed this fact. Take This article from sandwalk as an example:

Anyone interested in accusing people at sandwalk of being lying pseudo scientists???

However the philosophical implications of England’s conjecture is Pantheism. i.e that the universe has an intrinsic ability to create life and consequently conscious beings.Erwin Schrodinger ended his Lecture series on “what is life” with precisely such a spiritual hypothesis… And i am not surprised. Its a direct consequence of attributing the ability to create to matter…

If i understood the idea correctly, Mr England is claiming that there is overall general tendency for nature to create structures which are more efficient at heat dissipation in some conditions (involving receiving energy continuously from an external source)… And Darwinian evolution is just a subset of this phenomenon. So ya, he is giving direction to the development of the universe by proposing a particular thermodynamic behavior.
@pevaquark: Perhaps you can confirm/correct.

Sorry for butting in… when you say;“However if you have some kind of system that has a continual energy source then you can drive it far from equilibrium”… do you mean you as in a person… or you as in nature+random chance…
The statement is confusing…
And why exactly is the probability question the wrong one? you yourself admit “random chance” cannot bring many systems far from equilibrium… (And that kind of begs the question… why not? after all random chance can drive system which are far from equilibrium by adding more and more components which are also far from equilibrium,) This is probably the reason why people like Kauffman and England view organisation as inevitable… even though they dont have much of a theoretical framework for the idea. I respect these guys for their thinking… If evolution is a natural process, then there must be a valid organizing
principle at a physics/chemistry level.

This is an unfair statement on your part. The paper that started this discussion is about whether thermodynamics allows increasing complexity similar to life… so OOL has always been in the scope of this particular argument.

Yes its perfectly possible to believe so… And such a belief would be called intelligent design/creationism.

There is no difference between the two. That’s why all textbooks on “evolution” still contain the urey miller experiment.
Evolution needs abiogenesis. If you assume God created the first life in a direct/directed manner, then you cannot turn back and say, he left the development of complexity in life to un-directed process. That would be incoherent.

Do you believe these can’t happen in equilirium/near equilibrium conditions? Water vapour condensing into water is another analogy similar to your star formation one. These are systems opposite to life forms… i.e systems that moved from thermodynamic disequilibrium to equilibrium…
This is a deceptive technique regularly used by evolutionists… You are correct in saying that.
I have seen this kind of dishonesty used to convince the masses again and again… whether its is doctored/imagined pictures or wrong analogies…
The snowflake is another such example.
My only request to the people at Biologos is not to go that route.
P.S- @pevaquark was using similar arguments until i was forced to clearly explain what the problem is . Only he was quite honest in showing these examples as how phenomenon that follow the second law seem to increase in order. He was showing how our understanding of the law and actual applications can be counter intuitive… And that’s a fair point, though not applicable to the problem of Life and hence not relevent. There is a thermodynamic problem that makes teh origin of life extremely improbable… as opposed to the formation of stars…
Given the gas clusters arise, stars will form again and again consistently… Its not an improbable event or even a miracle… till we consider how the gas clouds ended up as they did… or how intricate and mathematical the laws of physics are- which allow stars to form!.

Look science will be science… and scientist are more often wrong than right.This will be true of creationist/ID scientists as much as anyone else. So be patient … and have a waiting attitude. Just because something is considered established science today, doesn’t mean that it will remain so in the future.Even today, there a lot of agnostic/athiestic/pagan scientists who are not satisfied with the creative power of mutation and natural selection… They are looking for a more feasible creator… unfortunately, their search is bound within nature.
In the end of the day, there is a qualitative difference between divine revelation and science. Divine revelation is superior because its origins are superior.So, be patient… forming definite opinions about common ancestry/darwinism etc wont score us any Brownie points in heaven… So we need to look more closely at the world view we are promoting,
No matter what the good folks at Biologos say, a naturalistic/materialistic world view will only support athiesm or at best Pantheism/Panentheism… and if we stretch it, Deism.
So its important to resist such a world view starting from first principles.

And evolution directly bolsters and is dependent on the above viewpoint.

This is what i meant. This is also why all textbooks on evolution have a reference to experiments such as miller urey experiment. Its the contextual background on which the theory stands. If we bring in God at this point, it would undermine the entire framework of evolution.
So proponents of evolution should not do that.

Wasn’t my point… besides, when you mention “explain the devlopment of life”, you must be referring to actual mechanisms… i.e the Neo Darwinian theory. (if you mean Evolution as Common Ancestry/change in allleles; it doesn’t really explain the development of anything)
There are many scientists who think that Neo-Darwinism fails to explain the development of new classes of life. They are a minority, however they exist. So to answer your question, refutations for evolution as an explanatory mechanism would be based on whether the mechanisms mentioned can actual cause the development observed.

That’s a very valid point.
However, Spontaneous generation was about whether life could emerge from non-life in the earth now… the answer is no. No amount of Lightning striking pond nowadays will cause little cells to emerge. This means that the initial conditions from which life emerged are unknown.
This is an important point that needs to be resolved if any answer for the historical emergence of life on earth is to be found.i.e even of we are able to simulate conditions in labs that led to complex molecules/life to emerge, we need to established that such conditions could exist naturally in the early earth.

(Phil) #42

Very true, you science types are sooooo picky.:wink:
But both are “life arising from non-living material.”

(A.M. Wolfe) #43

Nope. Intelligent Design, as usually understood, requires that God’s interference in the created order be scientifically detectable. I have never believed this in my life. But I’ll grant you, yes, it is a kind of creationism: evolutionary creationism.

“All”? You’ve read them all? Impressive! I know I haven’t, so maybe you’re right on that point.

Hey, you’re free to redefine terms like “evolution” as much as you want. It’s a free country. Just don’t be surprised when nobody else follows you off the semantic cliff.

Well, it’s good to see you agree with most BioLogos voices on something! Many if not most folks here use scientific definitions of randomness when speaking about evolution. I’m pretty sure it has been explained to you about 378 times so far on the Forum that this is not the same as ontological or theological randomness.


I understand that all of the mechanisms that drive evolution obey the laws of thermodynamics.

Again, that is abiogenesis, not evolution.

Baloney. If the first life was created by God and all the species we see today evolved from that common ancestor, what would we have to change in the theory of evolution? The answer is nothing.


That is blatantly false. ID/Creationism argues that life did not evolve. Therefore, if life evolved from a common ancestor then it is not ID/creationism (which is different from evolutionary creationism). It doesn’t matter how that common ancestor came about with respect to ID/creationism and evolution since ID/creationism denies that life evolved from a common ancestor. Just look at the IC argument. Behe argues that IC systems COULD NOT EVOLVE. It is not an argument focused on abiogenesis. It is an argument focused on EVOLUTION.

What is incoherent about it? How many christians believe that God kicked off the BIg Bang and let natural processes form the galaxies, stars, and planets according to God’s will? How would that be any different than God starting life and letting it evolve from there?

And yet mutations, natural selection, and speciation continue to happen even with those systems existing. Life keeps on evolving.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #46

@Ashwin_s, Actually the only way to avoid believing in abiogenesis is to believe that life always existed (without beginning). So even the more fundamentalistic creationists already believe in abiogenesis too, because presumably the life created by God started out as nonliving stuff somewhere. That means, with or without adequate explanation, it should be considered a brute fact by everybody.

(Chris Falter) #47

So let’s not have a theory of gravity; it should be called intelligent design/gravity. Universities everywhere should have courses entitled:

  • intelligent design celestial mechanics 201
  • intelligent design inorganic chemistry 201
  • intelligent design organic chemistry 202
  • intelligent design meteorology 101
  • intelligent design fluid dynamics 306

But no intelligent design political science; that’s an oxymoron.

(Ashwin S) #48

I was referring to theories of Origins… not names of subjects in college.
Yes if any professor in a Biology class taught that life was created by God, then he would be rightly called out for teaching intelligent design/creationism and not evolution.

This is an undeniable fact.


Doesn’t Inteligent design state that evolution is guided by God? In other words, it does not deny evolution, just the randomness of it. Not defending ID, but trying to be precise in the terms here.

(Chris Falter) #51

Ok, then. To use terminology consistently, I would expect you to apply the “intelligent design” label to all theories of origins. No more Big Bang; it’s intelligent design cosmology from now on. No more plate tectonics; it’s intelligent design geology. And so forth.

Or should the Big Bang, the formation of the solar system, etc., just be called intelligent design creationism? What do you think?

Generating the new nomenclature could be a lot of fun. Getting people to understand it, though, could be a bit of a challenge.

(Ashwin S) #52

Thank you… and hence has nothing to do with the scientific theory of Evolution… This theory requires that life originated by natural means.

I am using a definition acceptable to pretty much every evolutionary scientist out there. No one other than misguided people at Biologos actually thinks that evolution is compatible with any kind of special creation including one at the beginning of life.

You are confusing yourself here. There is a scientific understanding of randomness. A directed/guided process is not random. While evolution has non-random factors such as natural selection, overall it is a directionless process. And hence, guided evolution is not evolution.

It has to. But a theoretical framework of how it does is yet to be developed. All current proposals involve extremely unlikely events happening again and again.
i.e under normal conditions, life should be impossible… it needs several miracles of chance.
Since i don’t hold to a materialistic worldview and no particular commitment to only natural causes, nothing compels me to accept that kind of chance.
Hence, current accpetance of evolution being compatible to thermodynamics does not stand on science. It stand on a belief system (i.e naturalism).
My point is that its either an unknown law of self organisation or its a known process such as an intelligence being involved. Cars don’t break the laws of thermodynamics either… However they are highly unlikely to arise out of purely natural processes.

So what. The discussion is about whether thermodynamics permits the emergence of all the biological complexity we see. This cant start without abiogenesis.

The answer is everything. One of the foundational assumptions of evolution is naturalism.All the data will have to be re-interpreted if you allow God or a designer to intervene in nature.You would have to redo the probabilities based on a new null hypothesis - i.e Design.

Why do you think evolutionists are so against any notions of intelligent design?

Because any hypothesis of God starting the Big Bang puts God outside time. If God can kick start life 8 billion years after big bang, why not the formation of stars… or the arrangement of the solar system (putting earth in the habitable zone) and so on…
If you assume natural causes, assume it all the way through…

Yes… once i make a car, it will run for years as long as you give it fuel.
Life involves far more complex and sophisticated machinery than cars… However the thermodynamics is the same… Once you put in the organisation/design, it can run on its own within the set parameters… The higher complexity only makes the likelyhood of such self perpetuating systems emerging on their own extremely low… or impossible.

Never said abiogenesis didn’t happen. I said it didnt happen through natural processes. Would say the same thing about my car… cars can exist… but they dont make themselves.


Evolution has more to do with the diversification of life from a common ancestor than the origin of that common ancestor. Darwin himself left that as an open question os his theory…So you could technically believe that the first lifeform was created by God or whatever, that is the point people are making here. T_aquaticus is an atheist, by the way, so it is not “the weird biologos viewpoint” that is being defended, although most people in biologos would probably agree.

(Ashwin S) #54

I understand the premise. Howeer a lot of water has flown under the bridge post Darwin.
Evolution is supported by an assumption of naturalism (i.e all phenomenon in the universe has risen from natural causes alone).
If you drop naturalism at beginning of life… then how do you justify picking it up afterwards… In such cases all natural phenomenon would have to be investigated looking at whether naural causes are more probable than an intelligence… You would end up with some form of ID.

Post Script: most people seem to miss that any systematics (whetehr theology,philosophy or even Science) has its own assumption/world view. When factual information leaves gaps, the world view ill fill it. So in a theistic world view, its natural for the gaps in knowledge to be filled by God (either directly or through natural means directed by him). And in a naturalistic world view, the gaps will be filled by yet to be revealed natural causes/phenomenon.
Evolution is firmly in the camp of naturalism.


Yes and no. Science works under the framework of methodological naturalism, but it does not state ontological naturalism, that is a personal belief that the scientist (or non-scientists, for that matter) can either hold or not. The thing is, what most christian scientists (myself included) believe is that we can only do science under methodological naturalism, not because naturalism is true, but because science studies nature and its regularities, that is a limitation of science. We are not claiming God does not exist and naturalism is true, just that science can’t be used to answer that because it is beyond its scope.


We can only do science for things that are bound by natural causes. So we basically can say “well, the origin of life is too hard, let’s give up” or try to study it under methodological naturalism and see if we can figure it out, and we’ve had remarkable success on that enterprise, so why stop even if you believe in an all powerful God? That only seems to indicate that that if that God exists, he must have used natural processes.


In a ontological naturalist worldview, yes. But that is a metaphysical worldview as much as theism. Saying “I believe science will someday understand why there is something rather than nothing” or “I believe science will solve the hard problem of consciousness” or even something more modest like “I believe science will come up with a theory of everything” is as much of a belief as believing in God, and not science per se. Again, science only presuposes methodological naturalism, in other words, the idea that EVEN IF there is more than natural phenomena, these are the only things we can study with science. It is kinda like saying that a biologist doesn’t believe in the existence of numbers merely because he recognizes that he can’t use molecular biology to prove a theorem in mathematics.

(Ashwin S) #58

I am talking about evolution as a science. God creating the first life is not compatible with evolution . Any investigation would have to assume that life emerged through purely natural and hence undirected processes. Any other assumption is not evolution.(and perhaps people like you may claim its not science!).

False assumptions can and do lead to false conclusions. As a scientist, you assume that God cannot and does not intervene in nature/history…As a christian, you believe the opposite.
How do you manage that?
Besides, its not like the assumptions involved in methodological naturalism have been proved. Why not think outside the box… or is that antiscience???

World views make a huge impact on how we interpret data… Do you believe that?


Yes, it is. Science can’t arrive at the CONCLUSION that God created the first life form, but it could possibly arrive at the conclusion of “we have no idea, at least for now”. And then you can personally believe that God did it without contradicting the science. That would be a personal belief, not science, but also not contradictory to science or evolution.

I believe God can intervene in nature and history, but if that happens, it is a one time event, not a regularity, and science studies regularities. If people resurrected every sunday, we could scientifically study it, but if that only happened once in history with Jesus, then well…how could we possibly study it?

(A.M. Wolfe) #60

Actually, you are the one confused. You seem to be unable to accept a fairly clear Scriptural principle:

Proverbs 16:33: The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.

That is to say, things that seem random to us may not be random to God. Just because science cannot detect God’s guidance does not mean it doesn’t exist.

I personally happen to think it’s probable that God used natural processes to accomplish abiogenesis. But I remain agnostic on this point, because the data are not conclusive. By contrast, the data are overwhelmingly conclusive that descent with modification was the (nearly sole if not sole) means by which the diversity of life came about. I think my position describes a lot of people here, and not just here but also in the scientific community.

My point overall is not, “You can believe in one act of special creation and no other special creation! It’s a great thing to believe!” but rather, “Even if the details of abiogenesis have not yet been hammered out, this does not mean that evolution is false. Quite the contrary.”

In other words, your “no evolution without abiogenesis” is, as best I could understand what you meant by it, false.


The only assumption of methodological naturalism is that science can’t study things outside nature (not that these things do not exist). If you create a science that can and prove its reliability then you would convince me that methodological naturalism is a bad idea, but it has been working so well thus far that I see no reason to believe that.

Yes, but they don’t change the data, just our personal interpretation of them. The data clearly suggests evolution is true. Whether I believe that makes the existence of God more or less plausible is a personal interpretation.