email - February 2004

Thermodynamic Spiders

Subject: Spider article
From: TR
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 22:51:01 -0800 (PST)
To: comments@ScienceAgainstEvolution.org

Mr. Jones: GREAT ARTICLE THIS MONTH ON SPIDERS!

I [have a] few comments regarding your Spider article. I first want to emphasize how well written it is. I very much enjoyed reading and studying it. When I discuss such subjects with my "evolutionary" friends, they don't seem to have a problems with spiders evolving. Basically, it seems, there is no falsification for the theory of evolution. It would interest (and help) me greatly, if you could let me know how to respond to the following.

Your point about "....spiders evolved a substance inside their own bodies that is lethal to other living things, but harmless to themselves". They will tell me that not all spiders have lethal poison, the cumulatively [huh?], the process of becoming lethal could have occurred gradually. They certainly don't believe the lethal poison was an abrupt change. As this process was gradually occurring, their bodies developed an immunity to it. This is the kind of answer they blanket on a lot of things. I don't quite [k]no[w] how to respond.

Your point "....they also evolved hollow fangs that can inject this poison"[.] Again, they would say, spiders could have had fangs to begin with. This is how they killed their prey, then gradually developed a poison mechanism. The spiders which could use this mechanism to their advantage survived.

Your point about "Goat Silk", for them (evolutionist[s]) seem to drive their point home about how everything is connected together and the fact you can take things out of one totally different creature and use it with another shows transportability within species. Also, some genetically created creatures (e[.]g. GloFish) can actually perpetuate other GloFish on their own. I think this principle always gets me stuck.

Your section on "email" was good. I don't think you actually answered the question. After reading the question, I had the same question as Eddy. How can a species become more complex and not be impacted by the 2nd law. You, of course, took the second law out, and made a good point. What is preventing a rabbit from having born a baby with a super-complex eye (like ours)?

I think of everything, something I would just like a little help with is what you meant when you said, " ...in both cases, it is assumed that there is available raw material and energy to construct the complex object". It seems evolutionists believe mutations (of the DNA) can cause something to be more complex (I think). Besides DNA mutations, what do you mean by raw material and energy?

Thanks for you time. I hope you can address all my questions.

TR

We will try. By “raw material” we mean amino acids, proteins, sugars, etc. By "energy" we mean any kind of energy (heat, sunlight, etc.).

The fundamental question TR asks boils down to, “What can I say to convince a hard-core evolutionists that he is wrong?” The short answer is, “Nothing.” That’s not a very satisfying answer, but TR has, in his email, explained why. Evolutionists will accept any fanciful explanation if it supports their belief, as shown by their speculation about the evolution of poison.

A Cylinder on Mars

Let’s illustrate this by putting the shoe on the other foot. Suppose that one of the Mars rovers comes across a hollow metal cylinder with a hinged door on it. There would be absolutely no question that it was evidence of intelligent life.

There would naturally be debate about where it came from. Certainly it would be carefully inspected to see if it was part of a space probe launched from Earth or not. But suppose it did not look anything like any part of any American, Soviet, European, or Japanese space probe. Suppose everyone who has ever been involved in any space program in any country on Earth examined the photos of the object and testified that it wasn’t anything that had ever been any part of an Earth-launched projectile.

Given this admittedly fanciful set of circumstances, would that not be compelling evidence of intelligenct, non-terrestrial life?

What would you say if someone insisted, “Well, maybe natural forces refined the metal and formed it into a cylinder. Then, at some later time, the door became attached.” You would think that person was unreasonable, wouldn’t you?

Compare the biological machinery inside a spider that manufactures silk, to a small metallic cylinder. If it is irrational to believe that a simple metallic cylinder might form accidentally, what makes it rational to believe that the complex interactions required to make silk would happen accidentally?

Software Development magazine published an interview with Will Wright and Mike Winter, founders of the Stupid Fun Club, a Berkley California-based robot think tank. At one point in the interview, Will Wright said,

I was playing with robots before computers. I think robots tell you a lot more about humans than they tell you about technology. You build these things and you realize how decrepit they are. It gives you a deep appreciation for evolution, that’s for sure. 1

He is probably being sarcastic, but one can’t be sure. In any case, there are certainly some people who would say something like that with a straight face. Knowing how difficult it is to make a robot that performs only a few of the functions that a living organism does, they still believe that living organisms could be the result of lucky accidents. You simply can’t reason with irrational people who believe something like that.

Why Try?

Given that no amount of scientific information will convince hard-core evolutionists that they are wrong, why do we try? The simple answer is that we don’t try. It isn’t the goal of Science Against Evolution to convince evolutionary fanatics that they are wrong.

Our goal is to present the general public with the scientific information that evolutionists attempt to suppress because it might “confuse” the unwashed masses, and make them examine the theory of evolution from a critical perspective.

Our intended audience is not militant evolutionists. That’s why we don’t engage in dialog with them. Our target audience consists of people who have already examined the theory of evolution for themselves, and have questions about it. They wonder why a theory that is presented as unquestionable fact is so inconsistent with scientific evidence and rational logic. They wonder if the theory of evolution is really true or not. They want to examine the other side of a scientific question without being subjected to a lot of Bible-thumping.

We confirm what a lot of people have already noticed. Specifically, we reassure them that there is overwhelming scientific evidence against the theory of evolution. We alleviate their fears when they are called ignorant boobs by the intellectual elite who declare truth by fiat.

There are a myriad of emotional reasons why someone might cling to the theory of evolution despite the overwhelming scientific evidence against it. Saying that the toxicity of the poison and immunity to it developed gradually over time is an emotional, rather than rational, response. They believe it because they have an emotional need to believe it--not because there is a scientific reason to believe it. When someone says that an animal might be born with a fully functional complex eye from chance mutations in DNA, it isn't a scientific observation--it’s just wishful thinking.

GloFishTM

Once a gene gets into a chromosome, it will be reproduced in offspring. Thus, GloFishTM have baby GloFish, and the species perpetuates naturally. The fact that critters reproduce after their own kind says nothing about the origin of the first one. The fact that GloFish now exist doesn’t prove that they evolved by random change and natural selection. In fact, the first GloFish were the result of conscious design that involved processes that do not naturally occur. One has to question the rational thought processes of anyone who would propose the result of a conscious design as proof that new species can arise unintentionally.

Thermodynamic Salad Dressing

Finally, let’s address the thermodynamic issue of order and complexity TR raised. This is really difficult for non-engineers (or non-physicists) to understand, which is why we tried to explain it in a three-part series. If we could not explain it in three essays, it is unlikely that a couple of paragraphs here will help much, but let’s try.

Jeneve posed a question similar to TR's this way:

I have heard the following argument demonstrating the second law of thermodynamics doesn't apply to the earth (because it is an open system). This is the argument.

"Take vinegar and oil, salad dressing, shake it up, disperse the oil through the vinegar and let it sit there. It starts out in a very disordered state. Let it sit there. The oil will separate from the vinegar. It will go to a very ordered state, spontaneously"

What is you opinion?

Thanks -J

There are two misconceptions here. One has to do with open systems. The other has to do with order.

If you take a bottle of Italian salad dressing and shake it up, the oil and vinegar will mix. Put the bottle of salad dressing in a perfectly insulated ice chest (so that no heat can enter or escape) and leave it there for a day. (This eliminates the irrelvant "open system" part of the argument. The salad dressing inside the ice chest is a closed system because there is no heat transfer to or from the salad dressing.) When you open the ice chest, will the salad dressing have settled out? Yes, it will have separated into layers of oil and vinegar and spices. Does that disprove the Second Law? No, it certainly doesn’t.

What happened in that experiment? The oil, vinegar, and spices have different densities. When you shook up the bottle, you added energy (heat) to the salad dressing. You stored heat, in the form of potential energy, by moving some of the heavier molecules to the top of the bottle. When you put the bottle in the ice chest, gravity gradually pulled the heavier molecules back down to the bottom of the bottle, forcing the lighter molecules to the top. The molecules rubbed together, converting the potential energy to warmth. The warmth distributed itself evenly through the bottle of salad dressing. Heat energy, that was organized into potential energy when the bottle was shaken, spontaneously disorganized itself and spread throughout the bottle.

The confusion comes from the fact that when one looks at the bottle and sees neat layers of oil, vinegar, and spices, the neatness appears to be “organized.” But the Second Law of Thermodynamics is all about the organization of heat (that is, energy), not about physical appearance.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics prohibits the natural origin of life on the basis of the heat flow that would have to occur at the molecular level for DNA, RNA, sugars, and proteins to form. It has nothing to do with the physical appearance of snowflakes or salad dressing.

The situation is further confused by the fact that when Claude Shannon made his ground-breaking discoveries in 1949 about the nature of information, he recognized that information flow follows the same natural laws as heat flow. Therefore, seeking to use terminology that engineers already understood, he used the term “entropy” to describe his discovery. This makes it easy for engineers to understand the fundamental nature of information, but it really confuses the general public.

The Second Law of Informationdynamics (to coin a phrase) prohibits the natural origin of life on the basis of the information flow that would have to occur at the molecular level for DNA to store the information telling how to build organic structures, and the information flow that would have to occur at the molecular level for the biological machinery to read the information stored in the DNA. Information always flows from an intelligent source to a less intelligent destination.

Just as heat does not naturally flow from a cold place to a hot place, intelligence does not naturally flow from a stupid place to a smart place. Furthermore, just as heat can neither be created nor destroyed (it can only be dispersed in such a way that it can do no work), information can neither be created nor destroyed (it can only be lost by dispersion in noise).

Heat and information act the same way, and obey the same laws, but heat is not a form of information. Heat cannot be changed into information, and vice versa. Adding energy from the Sun does not increase information.

A shaken bottle of salad dressing has more thermodynamic organization than a bottle of salad dressing that has settled into layers. A grocery store bar code has more informational organization than a very neat series of evenly spaced black and white bands of uniform thickness. Just because something looks organized (that is, neat or symetrical), it doesn’t mean that it is organized in a thermodynamic or informational sense. Don't let appearances fool you. It is the heat and the information that counts

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Footnotes:

1 Morales, Software Development, March 2004, “Inside the Stupid Fun Club”, page 42