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Creation Museum/Creationist Rule of Thumb with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

There's now a follow-up entry to this post, written after the "museum" actually opened. If you want to read John Scalzi's reaction from his visit, or see his flickr set of photos from the museum, go to that entry.

Well, the grand opening of the Creation Museum is scheduled for this coming Monday, May 28th. I've blogged about this once before, lamenting the fact that $27 million was being wasted on this shrine to ignorance, but I figured that with the opening day approaching, it was worth making another post on this topic (and maybe get included in the upcoming Creation Museum Carnival, update - it's here).

There are two problems I had with this entry - the first being that this is a museum that I've never visited and that hasn't even opened yet. Ken Ham, the president of Answers in Genesis (AiG), the organization running the museum, even wrote a short entry on his blog the other day, Name-calling against Creation Museum, whining about this very issue. That isn't really all that big of a deal, though. Since this museum is being run by AiG, I'm assumimg that everything in the museum is going to be consistent with the AiG website. I wouldn't imagine that there are any new, ground breaking arguments being unveiled in this museum that AiG hasn't already put up on their website. The real problem, is that AiG is such a reposity of stupidity, it's hard to narrow down your focus to one manageable topic.

I'd been planning on writing a blog entry about a certain topic for a while now, so I might as well use this opportunity to do it, and that is to state a simple rule of thumb for dealing with creationists. Anytime somebody tries to use the Second Law of Thermodynamics to refute evolution, you should realize you're dealing with somebody who doesn't understand science or who is a liar. If it's a website, you should save yourself the time, and just leave and go look somewhere else. This may seem like a bit of an ad hominem attack, and maybe it is a bit, but life is short. You shouldn't waste your time dealing with idiots and liars. Maybe, just maybe, a website that uses the Second Law of Thermodynamics this way will have some thought provoking arguments, but it almost certainly won't be because the person running the website understood the science - they got lucky (in the same way as a million monkeys at typewriters would eventually reproduce Shakespeare), or they parroted it from somewhere else. But in any case, especially under the liar scenario, you'd have to really be careful to figure out just what you could trust from that source, and you'd be much better going somewhere more reputable.

And guess what, AiG has a page all about it, The Second Law of Thermodynamics: Answers to Critics. It's a little hard to figure out if it's based on ignorance or dishonesty. I'd guess a little bit of both, considering the author, Jonathan Sarfati, was competent enough to get a PhD. But the rule of thumb still applies - stay way from AiG if you're looking for good information.

This paragraph added 2007-05-24 After reading this, I'd imagine some people would think this rule of thumb could be even easier - anytime you're dealing with a creationist at all, you should realize you're dealing with someone who doesn't understand science or who is a liar. And, that could be true for the most part, but it's possible that creationists could be people that understand science, but haven't studied evolution/biology in particular, and don't actually know all the evidence in support of evolution, or that they have such strong faith, the evidence wouldn't matter to them, anyway. This misuse of the Second Law has nothing to do with fossil evidence, genetic evidence, or faith - it's just a complete misapplication of a scientific theory that should be obvious. So, that's why I still use this rule of thumb - it's not arguing over the interpretation of evidence (which still puts creationists on shaky ground), it's getting things wrong right from first principles. Creationists that use the Second Law of Thermodynamics argument really are the bottom of the barrel.

Okay, I guess I should first define the Second Law of Thermodynamics for anybody reading this who doesn't already know what it is. Wikipedia has three short definitions listed for it, which all seem consistent with what I was taught back in my college Thermo class:

"The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium." Rudolf Clausius

"Heat cannot of itself pass from a colder to a hotter body." Rudolf Clausis

"A transformation whose only final result is to convert heat, extracted from a source at constant temperature, into work, is impossible." Lord Kelvin

I guess you need to know what entropy is, too, to understand this. It's sometimes described as roughly equivalent to disorder, but that's to try to give students a better feel for it. Actually, I'll just go ahead and quote the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry on entropy, which is pretty good.

The concept of entropy (Greek: εν (en=inside) + verb: τρέπω (trepo= to chase, escape, rotate, turn)) in thermodynamics is central to the second law of thermodynamics, which deals with physical processes and whether they occur spontaneously. Spontaneous changes occur with an increase in entropy. Spontaneous changes tend to smooth out differences in temperature, pressure, density, and chemical potential that may exist in a system, and entropy is thus a measure of how far this smoothing-out process has progressed. In contrast, the first law of thermodynamics deals with the concept of energy, which is conserved. Entropy change has often been defined as a change to a more disordered state at a molecular level. In recent years, entropy has been interpreted in terms of the "dispersal" of energy. Entropy is an extensive state function that accounts for the effects of irreversibility in thermodynamic systems.

Now, consider how evolution works - the DNA replication process isn't perfect, so organisms invariably produce offspring with slightly different genetic makeups. Since organisms have more offspring than the environment can support, it just stands to reason that the best adapted organisms will survive more often, and go on to produce even more offspring. Evolution seems inevitable.

Looking at the definition of the Second Law, and considering how evolution works, I just can't imagine at all how anybody with even the most basic understanding of the two could have dreamt up applying the Second Law of Thermodynamics to trying to refute evolution. We know that the chemical reactions necessary for life occur, we know DNA replication takes place, and that there are often errors in this process. How the Second Law changes any of this is beyond me. It's just silly, and I could stop this whole blog post here. But, just for fun, let's take a look at a few of the worst things stated in AiG's article.

Consider this statement, "Open systems still have a tendency to disorder. There are special cases where local order can increase at the expense of greater disorder elsewhere." What the hell does he mean by local? On the scale of the universe, the Earth is a pretty "local" system. And individual organisms on Earth are even more "local." If I define a local system as a cup of water, when I put it in a freezer it will freeze, when I take the ice back out and set it on the counter, it will melt. Where in my open system was it a special case of only a "local" increase in order? Oh well, he gets to this later on, even though he's still wrong.

Then, in the next paragraph, "The open systems argument does not help evolution. Raw energy cannot generate the specified complex information in living things." Oh, my fault, I thought we were talking about entropy, not some unquantifiable concept dreamed up by creationists.

And just a few paragraphs later, Sarfati writes, "I suggest that thermodynamic arguments are excellent when done properly, and the 'open systems' canard is anticipated. Otherwise I suggest concentrating on information content." There's a reason why it's anticipated - it's the proper, correct response. And then his next suggestion is to change the subject away from real thermodynamics to that unquantifiable term. Hmm, maybe it was more dishonesty, and not ignorance.

In a later section about crystals, he does address ice. First, he quotes somebody named Boyce Rensberger,

If the Second Law truly prohibited local emergence of increased order, there would be no ice cubes. The greater orderliness of water molecules in ice crystals than in the liquid state is purchased with the expenditure of energy at the generator that made the electricity to run the freezer. And that makes it legal under the Second Law.

Sarfati's response nearly made me crack up:

Rensberger is ignorant of the creationist responses to this argument. An energy source is not enough to produce the specified complexity of life. The energy must be directed in some way. The ice cubes of his example would not form if the electrical energy was just wired into liquid water! Instead, we would get lots of heat, and the water breaking up into simpler components, hydrogen and oxygen.

Hmm. What happens in the winter, then? Is it impossible for ice in a lake to freeze without human intervention, making sure all the energy sources are hooked up the right way?

A little later in this section, the article starts trying to further explain the complex specified information concept. Sarfati tries to show how DNA is so much different from crystals.

Many scientific experiments show that when their building blocks are simply mixed and chemically combined, a random sequence results. To make a protein, scientists need to add one unit at a time, and each unit requires a number of chemical steps to ensure that the wrong type of reaction doesn't occur. The same goes for preparing a DNA strand in a correct sequence.

I really fail to see how this supports the thermodynamic argument. Sure, it shows that proteins aren't simple, and that conditions need to be just right to create them, but that's to be expected. If anything, by admitting that scientists make proteins in the lab, Sarfati shows there's nothing mystical about them. The likelihood of abiogenesis is debatable (and yes, notice how he shifted the argument from evolution to abiogenesis), but it's not impossible, and it certainly doesn't violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The third section is laughably silly, "Did the 2nd Law begin at the Fall?" As if God would completely change the nature of everything because Adam and Eve ate that apple, and that maybe in the garden of Eden, water would spontaneously crystalize into ice even on a hundred degree day. To be fair, AiG said that the Second Law must have been around from the beginning, but what does it say about their target audience that they even need to say it? I think Sarfati's wording is little funny, too, "No, I would not say that entropy/Second Law of Thermodynamics began at the Fall.' I would not say... You'd think he could have been a little more emphatic about it. He almost makes it sound like his opinion.

Entropy is used to figure out whether or not certain events will occur. We know that all the chemical reactions necessary for life do indeed happen, and we know that mutations do indeed occur. Thus the Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn't preclude evolution at all. (In fact,we have even directly witnessed genetic mutations leading to the evolution of bacteria in multiple ways - resistance to antibiotics, ability to digest new food sources like nylon, etc.). AiG has a page that actually defends this old fallacy, and even blatantly states, as was noted above, "I suggest that thermodynamic arguments are excellent when done properly..." So go ahead and use my rule of thumb - steer clear of AiG. Whether because its members are inept or dishonest, this group is not to be trusted. And unless their new museum is a complete break from everything they've done to this point, it is a complete waste of $27 million that could have been put to much better use.

(If you want to read another explanation of how the Second Law of Thermodynamics relates to evolution, just go to the appropriate entry in the Index to Creationist Claims on Talk Origins. They don't include my handy little rule of thumb, but they do have references.)

There's now a follow-up entry to this post, written after the "museum" actually opened. If you want to read John Scalzi's reaction from his visit, or see his flickr set of photos from the museum, go to that entry.

Modified 2011-07-18: I'd originally misspelled Sarfati's last name as Safarti. I corrected it following the convention of striking through the typo and following that with the correct spelling (i.e. Safarti Sarfati). Well, a friend of mine who just read this article thought I was playing a juvenile joke (fart) and that the misspelling was intentional. Of course, I wasn't trying to do anything of the sort, so I've decided to simply remove the struck out typos. I think that as long as people are aware of the correction, especially for a simple misspelling, there's no harm in changing what I wrote.)

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Comments

There's a terribly relevant PLoS article just out this month that talks about this.

The gist of the article is that the usual anti-evolution argument doesn't work, since the 2nd law is specific to closed systems and biological systems are clearly open. (And it's apparent from the AiG quotes you have above that this criticism has already been incorporated into the AiG anti-evolution retort.) But now, according to the article, new work by a theoretical physicist suggests that the 2nd law can be quite relevant to open systems as well, and that it may actually explain order, not disorder. And then the article goes on to say how this theoretical position may shed some light on evolution, which is a process of increasing order.

As an evolutionary biologist, this application sounds totally wonky to me, but I also feel totally out of my depth. Any ideas?

This (exceedingly long) youtube video of a Theist vs Atheist debate has a good answer too.

At 27:40:

Q- I'm a physics major and was stunned by your statement "Order can result from natural forces". This statement is in clear contradiction and violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which states : "Natural forces are moving toward a higher state of entropy and disorder." Thus the fallacy of your argument is manifested by your ignorance of systems moving forward.

A- The science there is wrong, that's not what the 2nd Law states. The second law states that when work is performed the total amount of disordered energy in the world increases. And what this means is that - it doesn't mean that things become disordered and this has been proven, in fact, the man who proved it, Ilya Prigogine in the 1970s won the Nobel Prize for proving it - which is a concept called dissipative systems which actually trade order for entropy: they create more entropy in the world but at the same time create ordered systems by using the energy that becomes more entropic as a result of that. So there's no conflict at all between forces interacting naturally and causing order and the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

Replying to ABP: Of course the second law applies to open as well as closed systems. Laws are expected to apply generally. 2LOT wouldn't be much of a law if it didn't! The most familiar form of the law, "When change occurs,entropy increases invariably in a closed system" happens to be the formulation of the law that applies to closed systems. Open systems are constrained by more general forms of the 2LOT. This can be seen by either changing the boundary of a system to include all changes (going to a more inclusive closed system) or introducing Gibbs energy or Helmholtz energy.

Let’s see if I am getting your argument correctly. The second law of thermodynamics could not be brought into the increased complexity problem simply by defining an open or closed system. Let me make an analogy to see if, although changing topics, presents the essence of the argument.

If we were walking in the desert and saw three tree limbs tied together with twin and beside it we saw a dozen or so scratches on some stones. If we were anthropologists we would deduce that there was a form of civilization at the location at one time. The few scratches might even be defined as a rudimentary alphabet.

We English speaking people use an alphabet of 26 letters and almost all writing only needs 255 total characters. Our longest word, or at least at the time of quiz shows, was 26 letters. We can now see a word that contains 3 billion characters and it is so descriptive in its definition that a project manager can use that word to build an organism. That project manager orders material, directs construction, generates extremely high quality controls and takes one unit and build trillions of linked units, many with completely different functions. This word and the project manager are housed in a cell so small that only magnification that has been available for a few years can see them.

You say 2nd law doesn’t apply. Possible. But your derogatory language is one of desperation. Because half of the people in the US don’t believe what you believe and you seem obsessed with stopping all criticisms or presentation of problems with your beliefs. Even Einstein was certain there was a creator. Systems are just too complicated.

George,

To answer the question in your first paragraph, in short, no matter how you define your system, the second law of thermodynamics does not say that evolution could not have happened. Want a closed system? Make it the solar system - any decrease in entropy due to life is easily offset by the increase due to nuclear reactions in the sun's core. Want to isolate the system responsible for evolution? Make it an open system of the reproductive organs of an organism, since that's where any changes to DNA that get passed on to offspring will take place. Any decrease in entropy is not a problem because those organs are being supplied with chemical energy from the body. In fact, growth of any multicellular organism from a single cell constitutes a huge decrease in entropy. Look how many atoms just floating around in the environment have to be assembled in just the right way every time even a single new cell is made. So still, anybody who tries to use the second law to refute evolution is either ignorant or dishonest.

In your second and third paragraphs, you talk about how complex DNA and cells are. I agree, they are. But complexity does not equal special creation, and besides, evolutionary biology does do a good job of describing how this complexity came to be. In fact, studying DNA provides even more striking evidence in favor of common descent. One of the best brief explanations I've seen of this is a comment on the blog, Pharyngula, made by somebody going under the name, Ein Sophistry. The similarities in the genomes of humans and chimpanzees are pretty well explained by the fact that we both evolved from the same ancestor, especially considering that our genomes are more similar to each other than either of our's are to even a gorilla.

And finally, your last paragraph. You say my entry sounds like desperation. I'd say it's more exasperation. You correctly point out that nearly half the population of America rejects evolution. To me, that is a sad reflection of the ignorance of our country. I've blogged about America's scientific ignorance before. Not only does half of the population reject evolution, 29% doesn't know that the Earth revolves around the Sun! I think the reason I get more worked up about evolution, though, is the arrogance of the people denying it. The heliocentric-ignorant aren't going around demanding that science classes change their astronomy sections, giving equal time to the geocentric argument. But creationists are doing just that to biology.

Also, my acceptance of evolution is not simply a "belief," as you've referred to it. It's based on studying the evidence, and looking at what explanation best describes that evidence. And I'm not concerned with "stopping all criticisms" against evolution. In fact, I'm always quite interested to read about findings that challenge the current theories. It's just that the current controversies, and the contradictory findings, are in the details, not the grand scheme. I suppose it's possible that something could come along to challenge the concept of common descent, but that's about as likely as a challenge to the concept of heliocentricism of our solar system. Both are well enough supported by evidence that they can be considered fact.

And I don't see what Einstein's belief in a creator has to do with evolution. Plenty of people believe that a god (or gods, depending on their religion) created the universe, but that Big Bang theory describes what happened to the universe after that initial creation, abiogenesis describes how life got started on this planet, and evolution describes how that life diversified and changed over the past 3 1/2 billion years. No contradiction necessary, unless you hold to a strictly literal interpretation of the Bible (or whatever other religious text you're using). But then you've got to explain stories like Noah's Ark (and let's not forget optics & meteorology in regard to the rainbow God created after the flood), the Tower of Babel, or how putting striped branches in a watering trough will make the animals that drink from and mate in front of the trough give birth to striped animals.

Jeff and George,

Einstein didn't believe in God. Physicists tend to use the word God in a metaphysical sense. Look up the full context of Einstein's quotes and beliefs.

Manfred,

I'm aware that Einstein didn't believe in the Biblical God - notice that in reference to Einstein's beliefs, I called it "a creator," and not "God." But the main point is, it's irrelevant to whether or not evolution has happened, or whether evolution is directly contradictory to religion, so I didn't want to get hung up on that one point.

I haven't really researched Einstein's religious beliefs in detail, but from what I've seen, I'd place him somewhere between a deist and an atheist. Consider this quote of his:

I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.

Maybe he was just being "metaphysical," as you suggest, or maybe he thought there was some type of deity out there. And maybe he himself wasn't quite sure and his response on this would be different each time you asked him. I don't know. But like I said above, it's irrelevant to whether or not evolution has happened.

Jeff --

Your response to the ice cube example displays a fundamental misunderstanding of the debate, regardless of how well you know thermodynamics. The issue at hand is the creation of order by the addition of energy. Your red herring of a freezing lake is losing energy. Dr. Sarfati rightly points out that the undirected addition of energy does not lead to order, but disorder. Ice cubes do not form when energy is merely added to the system, but when the added energy is converted to work by a machine.

This is the same point you miss with regard to the creation of proteins -- it's not the conditions that create a protein, it's the work involved in intelligently designing the lab equipment, and then changing the conditions in a precisely designed manner. Without that work, long chains of amino acids simply do not form.

And, btw, Dr. Sarfati is not writing a technical paper to biologists who define "evolution" solely in terms of living beings, but to non-experts, who consider abiogenesis part of the "evolution" concept. After all, without the beginning of life, there isn't any other evolution to discuss, is there?

Webster,

Regarding your first paragraph - the main point of this essay was people applying the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (2LOT) to the evolution/creation debate. Go back and read the first few paragraphs of my entry, where I list the definitions of the 2LOT and the defintion of entropy. There is still no way that the 2LOT could be applied to saying evolution couldn't happen. The fact that Sarfati openly states, "I suggest that thermodynamic arguments are excellent when done properly..." should be a clear indication that AiG either just doesn't understand, or is intentionally mangling, science. Like I wrote in the entry, this isn't a case of having a different interpretation of evidence, it's just out and out misapplication of a scientific principle. For that reason, I would be very skeptical of anything further that AiG had to say on science.

Moving beyond that, let's just drop the 2LOT, and look at the issue more generally. You wrote, "The issue at hand is the creation of order by the addition of energy," and just a few sentences later, "the undirected addition of energy does not lead to order, but disorder." You're right - simply adding energy willy nilly to systems will not necessarily increase order. But I don't think any biologists claim that, and that certainly isn't what's happening in evolution.

I know I wrote this originally in my entry, but just to recap, here's a quick primer on evolution- to reproduce, organisms must replicate their DNA. We know this replication process isn't perfect, and that mutations occur on a regular basis, so that there will invariably be offspring with different genetic makeups than their ancestors. Since organisms have more offspring than the environment can support, it just stands to reason that the best adapted organisms will survive more often, and go on to produce even more offspring.

The energy being discussed is certainly accounted for. It goes into making the offspring (the DNA replication and all the other necessary components of the cell). Whether the DNA gets copied as ...ACGT... or ...ACTG... doesn't really make much difference when looking at it this way. Heck, there could even be a gene duplication event, giving ...ACGT... ...ACGT... Yes, it takes energy to duplicate DNA, but that energy comes from photosynthesis for plants, and food for animals. There is nothing mystical about it.

In anticipation of a common misunderstanding, yes, some of the mutations will be harmful, while most will actually be neutral, and only a handful will be beneficial (and in fact, whether a mutation is harmful or beneficial will also be largely dependent on the environment). But given the size of populations, the number of offspring individuals have, and the number of generations that have existed during the history of this planet, there have been plenty of opportunities for beneficial mutations to occur. Here are a couple references dealing with mutations. I realize that these aren't the primary sources, but at least they do list the primary source. And hey, this is only a blog that I work on during my lunch breaks. Anyway, according to this page,

Since sexual reproduction involves many cell replications, humans have about 1.6 mutations per generation. This is likely an underestimate, because mutations with very small effect are easy to miss in the studies. Including neutral mutations, each human zygote has about 64 new mutations (Drake et al. 1998). Another estimate concludes 175 mutations per generation, including at least 3 deleterious mutations (Nachman and Crowell 2000).

Clearly, there are quite a lot of mutations going on for natural selection to act on.
The second reference is another page from the same site. I'm not going to quote anything from it here - I'm just listing it as further reading regarding the ratios of beneficial to harmful to neutral mutations.


In regards to your second paragraph, I stand by my statement that it is the conditions that are responsible for the creation of proteins. In effect, lab equipment is just a way to make it easier for investigators to control and measure the conditions, to be able to change just the variables they want to, or to be able to repeat an experiment under the exact same conditions. Whatever it is they're studying doesn't "care" if it's in lab equipment or in "the wild," it just cares what its immediate surroundings are. Ice was one of the original examples discussed in my entry, so let's go back that. A thimble full of water doesn't care if it's in a lake, a laboratory, a refrigerator, or a high school chem student's calorimeter. It just cares about what's going on immediately around it, and will crystalize, melt, or evaporate based on those surroundings.

Just think about the implications of your claim. Experimental results would not be applicable to any natural phenomenon. You're saying that it's the equipment and the investigators responsible for the results of the experiment, not the conditions generated by the experiment. Here's a different example. I'm an aeronautical engineer. I have a book full of lift to drag data for various airfoils that was gathered experimentally in a wind tunnel. Following the same reasoning as you applied to proteins, you would have to say that it wasn't the conditions in the wind tunnel that created the lift and drag, but rather the intelligently designed wind tunnel, and the careful procedures of the engineers running the wind tunnel tests. If that were the case, I wouldn't be able to use that data and hope to get similar results in my designs that will be flying around in the open atmosphere.

To reiterate what I originally wrote in my essay, it certainly does take just the right conditions to form proteins. But whether those conditions exist in a lab, or somehow happen in nature (which they do, obviously, as organisms are naturally making proteins all the time), or even in an oceanic hydrothermal vent, it makes no difference to the molecules. They will react the same way to the same conditions.


Finally, in regard to your third paragraph, if Sarfati is knowledgeable of science, he should know the distinction between abiogenesis and evolution. Whether or not his target audience actually knows the distinction is no excuse for him to make that mistake. There's a difference between explaining things in simple terms versus explaining them incorrectly.

You're right that evolution and the beginning of life are related, as they're both part of natural history, and as you said, there certainly couldn't be evolution without life. But evolutionary biology doesn't really care how that life got started. It could have been in an oceanic hydrothermal vent, mineral laden hot springs like at Yellowstone, seeded by space born amino acids on meteorites, a diety that decided to create microbes out of nothing, or really just about anything. The point is, once you have life that relies on an imperfect replication process, evolution will happen.

Consider these three events that are all related - the origin of life on Earth somewhere around 3.5 billion years ago, the emergence of our species, Homo Sapiens, around 200,000 years ago, and the American Revolutionary War around 225 years ago. (Note that the dates are approximate, there's some evidence for life even older than 3.7 billion years ago, a bit of controversy as to when Homo Sapiens emerged, both of those were actually gradual processes as opposed to a distinct event that could be marked on a calendar, and obviously the Revolutionary War lasted several years.) Each of the subsequent events in that list required the prior event in order to happen. And in that sense, they're related. But you seldom hear Revolutionary War historians discussing the former two, because the events are so far removed that they're not terribly relevant.

Think about those dates a bit further. For the sake of argument, let's just take the time frames given above as absolutes. The amount of time that has passed between the origin of life and the emergence of Homo Sapiens is 3,499,800,000 years, while the time that passed between our species' emergence and the revolutionary war is 199,775 years. That latter time span is only 0.006% the former. Looking at it that way, the evolution of humans from our hominid ancestors is far more relevant to the revolutionary war, than the origin of life is to that evolutionary event.

Hi Jeff,

You said:

"Hmm. What happens in the winter, then? Is it impossible for ice in a lake to freeze without human intervention, making sure all the energy sources rare hooked up the right way?"

Dude, Sarfati's rebuttal is correct. The energy, i.e., heat, has to be directed in some way. In your analogy, if a heat source were to be placed right beside your lake, depending on how intense is the heat, this will discourage or prevent the formation of ice in the nearby water.

Sarfati says the energy, i.e., heat must be directed in some way. If heat were to be simply radiated from your source onto the lake, this will discourage the formation of ice. The trick is to direct heat AWAY from your lake. Mechanically, refrigerating a space is harder than heating that space. Nature does this my moving the region in winter away from the heat source (the sun), or people can do this by using a refrigerator. In either case, it is correct to say that the energy or heat is directed certains way but AWAY from the water.

Ramon,

Sorry it's taken a bit to respond. Yes, obviously, energy needs to flow in a certain direction for water to crystallize into ice. My point was - no intelligence is necessary. Nature manages to freeze and thaw ice & water all the time. And this still has nothing to do with the plausibility of evolution.

To hell with Creation and Evolution. The United States had an increase of 13 Million people from 2004 to 2009. That's only 5 years. In 25 years that will be 65 Million people. In 50 years that will be 130 Million people. In 100 years that will be 260 Million people. In 500 years that will be 1.3 Billion people. Add that to the 300 Million people we already have and you end up with 1.6 Billion people in the United States by the year 2509. There are 195 countries listed in the world. In 1915 the world's population was 1.8 Billion people. In 2009 the world's population is 6.8 Billion people. In the last 94 years the world's population has increased by 5 Billion people. In 500 years that will be 25 Billion people. Add that to the 6.8 Billion we already have and you end up with 31.8 Billion people in the world by the year 2509. If there is poverty, starvation, global warming and a hole in the ozone layer now, what will it be like in 500 years? Your generations will have to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. There won't be enough food to feed everyone. Save your generations from suffering a miserable and horrible end. Stop creating and if you have children tell them when they grow up not to create. I am 100% sure your generations will appreciate not being left behind to suffer that situation. Help spread this message to the entire world.

JC,

Your comment is a little off topic, but I'll still address it. While I agree that overpopulation is a problem, your extrapolation is a bit naïve (it reminds me of this XKCD comic). You can't just pick two years, and do a linear extrapolation into the future based on those two points. You have to look at the trends, and keep in mind the limits of resources in the future (Malthus may not have foreseen the Green Revolution, but do you really think we'll make sufficient advances in agriculture to grow enough food for 32 billion people?).

As usual, a good place to start to understand this is Wikipedia. In reality, the rate of population growth has been slowing in recent years, and estimates have it topping out around 10 billion in the next 50 to 100 years. Realize that population growth in the past century has been due mainly to improved medicine lowering mortality rates, along with increased food production thanks to the Green Revolution. Europe and North America gained from these benefits early on, growing very rapidly, but now they're beginning to stabilize (Europe has actually shrunk in population over the past few years). The developing nations began reaping the benefits a little later, but there's no reason to expect that they won't follow the same trend and stabilize at some point in the future (as I already pointed out, probably about 50 years from now).

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