I recently wrote on the subject of entropy here, and set off a maelstrom of comments. Some people just have that gift, and other people don’t. That appears to be just the way it is for me, and I try to be humble about it. Sometimes I think my comments section is a good example of entropy.
If I might, I would like to supplement my initial observations with a few quick follow up jabs, and see if it happens again. These are just quick responses to a couple of basic questions that were raised, and which I would like answer outside the thread.
Since I speak English, let us go with a dictionary:
Entropy is “a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system’s thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.”
Now I don’t see anything in my argument or illustrations that would constitute a howler when it comes to that definition. Assuming that this is a reasonable English expression of what entropy means, it also means that applications to the question of evolution are entirely reasonable. Entropy increases over time, meaning that disorder and randomness are also increasing. But evolution requires us to believe that the disorder and randomness are decreasing.
In order for that disorder and randomness to decrease, it is necessary to have a transfer mechanism that can utilize available energy (in a closed system) or newly imported energy (in an open system) into mechanical work that is productive.
Otherwise, any energy, new or old, will simply dissipate. The energy will get tired and take a nap. The energy will go bye-bye. We might exhort that energy not to take it lying down, and we might urge the energy to “not go gentle into that good night.” “Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” Sure, rage all you want. Rage against the heat death of the light, for all the good it is going to do you.
Now the point of my illustration in the previous post is that the transfer mechanism that can make energy useful is itself an example of decreased randomness, and hence it is also something that must be accounted for.
Now the reason all such applications to evolution get shouted down is that — in my view — they make a potent case. This is a case that can be made in English, and it should be refuted, if it can be, in English. To appeal to the inside baseball language of higher mathematics as a final arbiter does not help us with anything.
This is not knocking those who are adept in that language, as I am not, and I do thank them heartily for all the good they do in the world. One of the good things they do is that some of them know how to translate what they have done into English. When that is done, the central claims can be evaluated in English, and if that evaluation is bungled, the bungling can be revealed, also in English.
For example, if I said that entropy was pink on the inside, I trust that somebody would set me straight. If I said that an increase in entropy mean an increase in order, I trust that someone would take me aside. But if I say that entropy means that energy can’t organize itself into higher orders of complexity without help, and yet this is precisely what evolution claims it can do, the best response would be to engage with the argument itself.
Muslims do the same kind of thing with the Koran. If you don’t know Arabic, you don’t know the Koran, and so any objections are out of court. Now as a Christian pastor, do I have to refrain from saying that Islam is a false religion because I do not know Arabic? The answer is no, because translation is possible, despite what devout Muslims claim.
Another person asked a question about theistic evolution. I cheerfully grant that naturalism is an easy target, and theistic evolution does not present the same kind of easy target. This is because the theistic evolutionist can always appeal to the ultimate “God of the gaps.” Since every theist grants at the outset that God has sufficient power to have created by means of evolution, the argument that He did in fact do so can never be reduced to self-contradictory absurdity. There are problems with it though. I will mention three.
First, the God who is supposed to have done this told us in His Scriptures that He did it another way. In other words, the first issue is exegetical. What does the Bible actually reveal? And would it reveal that same thing if we were not under pressure from the naturalistic evolutionists to make our faith more “respectable to the real scientists?” The real scientists in this set-up, whose respect we must apparently have, are the ones maintaining and defending the easy target scenario.
Second, the fossil record is a record of death. I do not believe that God created millions of years of suffering — nature red in tooth and claw — and then pronounced it good. This is the theological problem. Going the way of theistic evolution exacerbates the problem of evil, and actually turns it into a genuine problem — which it is not in a fallen world. Death came into the world because of sin, and sin came into the world because of one man (Rom. 5:12). Any record of death we come across should be dated after Adam.
The third issue is that I don’t believe the scientific evidence, rightly weighed, supports the theory of evolution. But that requires discussion in the particulars, as specific arguments are brought forward.