Science and origins
Religion and origins
In Six Days
Why 50 Scientists Choose
to Believe in Creation
Ker C. Thomson, geophysics
Dr Thomson is a former director of the U.S. Air Force Terrestrial Sciences Laboratory. He holds a B.A. in physics and geology from the University of British Columbia and D.Sc. in geophysics from the Colorado School of Mines. Dr Thomson served as professor of geophysics at Baylor University and professor of science at Bryan College. He has published numerous technical papers in the area of geophysics and seismology.
Many, if not most, educated people throughout the world believe that life originated from nonlife (abiogenesis) by natural processes. Following the laws of physics and chemistry, the concept is that through “natural selection” operating over vast periods of time, fortuitous favorable events happened that brought about successively more complex biological chemicals, which again, either fortuitously or through some undefined inherent property of matter, concatenated, leading upward to protocells, cells, living creatures, and then man himself. “Natural selection” processes are such that biologic or prebiologic products occurring in any given environmental niche that favor that niche are the ones that propagate and reproduce, and that random changes in either or both the environment and the progeny that are more appropriate for the new conditions will be the ones favored to expand into the future. In a single paragraph, this is the general theory of neo-Darwinian evolution.
The above stands in stark contrast to creationism, which holds that currently observable natural processes are quite inadequate to explain the origin of life or its current, enormous observable complexity and variability. Rather, it postulates that a great creative mind must lie behind the origin of our observable universe and its living creatures—a mind and power vastly greater than anything of which man is capable. The questions of how long the creative process was and when it occurred vary from one creationist to another, but the concept of an original conscious creative act by a Creator who is distinct from His creation is common to all creationist viewpoints considered here.
Both creationists and evolutionists, by and large, concur that the evolutionary scenario outlined in the first paragraph above is highly improbable. It gains whatever credibility it enjoys only through the apparent availability of enormous amounts of time during which the most improbable events might conceivably occur.
It should be apparent that evolution is capable of an immediate scientific test: is there available a scientifically observable process in nature which on a long-term basis is tending to carry its products upward to higher and higher levels of complexity? Evolution absolutely requires this.
Evolution fails the test. The test procedure is contained within the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law has turned out to be one of the surest and most fundamental principles in all of science. It is, in fact, used routinely in science to test postulated or existing concepts and machines (for instance perpetual motion machines, or a proposed chemical reaction) for viability. Any process, procedure, or machine which would violate this principle is discarded as impossible. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that there is a long-range decay process which ultimately and surely grips everything in the universe that we know about. That process produces a breakdown of complexity, not its increase. This is the exact opposite of what evolution requires.
The argument against evolution presented above is so devastating in its scientific impact that, on scientific grounds, evolution would normally be immediately rejected by the scientific community. Unfortunately, for the preservation of truth, evolution is not adhered to on scientific grounds at all. Rather, it is clung to, though flying in the face of reason, with an incredible, fanatical, and irrational religious fervor. It loudly claims scientific support when, in fact, it has none worthy of the name.
If the evolution or creationism discussion were decided by sensible appeals to reason, evolution would long ago have joined the great philosophical foolishnesses of the past, with issues such as how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, or the flat-earth concept.
To bury evolutionary faith, then, it seems necessary to look beyond the general second law argument presented above to the specific details, and to consider and dispose of the quibbles raised by the evolutionary community.
One objection that can be posited to the preceding argument is that the second law deals with long-term results, or equilibrium states, in more chemical language. An evolutionary response then is that evolution must be somehow tucked in between the successive equilibrium states.
Reconsider the implications of the evolutionary theory’s requirements for large time spans. Is it not obvious that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is what is most pertinent here? The huge amounts of time available that evolution claims for itself will provide plenty of time for successive equilibrium states to be achieved and the Second Law of Thermodynamics to apply. The fast-moving intermediate states are irrelevant in the long range of time. The long-range end results of each chemical reaction will be what dominates the long ages of evolution. The clear and inescapable statement by the second law will be that the end results must be in a downward direction, not the upward direction evolution requires.
A second quibble to consider is that of “micro vs. macro”: could it be if we consider evolution from an atomic or molecular level (micro), rather than from the level of matter at the state where we can feel, see and touch it (macro), that evolution might be found tucked away among the infinitesimally small (i.e., among the molecules, atoms or subatomic particles)? This really won’t do, however.
As a minor first consideration here, note that we do not feel or see atoms and molecules with our unaided senses or rarely even perceive them at all at the individual atomic-level by any process.
In other words, our knowledge and perceptions at the micro level are obtained through a maze of complex machines which are themselves constructed from a large assortment of assumptions and abstruse theories. (No denial of atomic theory is being made here. Rather, it is simply being put in relative perspective.) On the other hand, the laws of thermodynamics rest on direct observations of matter in the aggregate and require only relatively sure and simple observations for their truth to be evident. In terms of reliability it should be apparent that, in general, results deduced from the second law should weigh in a little higher on the truth scale than results deduced only from atomic or molecular considerations. (Note, however, that the second law is not confined solely to aggregate matter, but applies at the micro level also.)
Regardless of the considerations in the preceding paragraph, when the actual chemical reactions of life are considered, especially those that might be involved at its inception, we find that the reactions are balky and require high concentrations of the reactants in order to proceed at all. Obviously then, this consideration results in levying a requirement for aggregate amounts of matter. This places us precisely back in situations uncontestably dominated by the second law. Again, the second law points to lower levels of complexity, not higher.
Another quibble about application of the second law is contained in the claim that the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies only in closed systems. This is nonsense of a high order. Surely all of us are familiar with the everyday expression of this law in open systems. (The humorous popular version of the second law is Murphy’s Law: “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.”) Metals corrode, machines break down, our bodies deteriorate, and we die. Constant maintenance and planning against contingencies are required if life is to be sustained for even a transitory period, such as the lifetime of the individual. Ultimately, the second law takes over, and our bodies return to dust and our automobiles to the junkyard. By the application of our minds, we can resist the demands of the second law temporarily. General evolution collapses around this concept, however, because at the initiation of the evolutionary process in antiquity, there was no mind available to construct purposive “machines” to temporarily obviate the second law’s demands. The idea that the second law can be confined to closed systems is a piece of confusion on the part of the proponent of such a concept.
As an aside, note also an important implication for evolution implied in the last paragraph. The second law tells us clearly that life could never get started by the activities of matter and energy unaided by outside intelligence. If life could never get started, surely we have an incredible waste of intellectual talent going on around us as many minds try to follow the pathways of evolution upwards from something that never started in the first place!
Now let us come back to the question of closed systems. Consider an experiment to see if the second law is true. It will be necessary to create a closed system to do so, a system protected from any outside confusing inputs. In this way it will be possible to see what is happening in the system, independent of outside events. When this is done, it is indeed found that inside the system, the trend is downward to disorganization, as the second law requires. What happens then in an open system is that at any point we see the sum of all the different downward trends acting there.
To believe that the second law applies only in closed systems is to confuse the experimental necessity for a closed system to test for the existence of the second law, with the actual actions of the second law evident in the open systems in which we live.
There is another quibble levied against the anti-evolutionary arguments developed here. It has to do with the word “randomness.” Refer to the very first paragraph defining evolution. Some evolutionists will quarrel with words like “randomness” or “fortuitous,” but others will agree with this definition.
There are, then, two schools of evolutionary thought. Consider first the group who believe that evolution is due to the random concatenation of available materials and the laws of physics and chemistry.
This concept can be readily treated by the mathematical laws of probability. Several writers have done this. Probably the best known is Fred Hoyle. The procedure is to estimate probabilities at each individual step of a postulated evolutionary path and concatenate these to arrive at the probability of finding an evolutionary product at any point along that path. Before proceeding very far along the path, probabilities drop to values so low that the proper word to describe such happenings is impossible. Hoyle put it roughly like this: The probability that life arose by random processes is equivalent to believing that a tornado striking a junkyard would reassemble the trash and leave a completed, assembled, and functioning Boeing 707 there.
Then there is the evolutionary group who think that randomness is only a minor or nonexistent aspect of evolution. Their perspective is that evolution is the inevitable outcome of the laws of physics and chemistry. This idea is even easier to test than the randomness concept. We simply note that one of the surest generalizations in all of physics and chemistry is the Second Law of Thermodynamics which, as we have already shown, completely devastates any idea that matter unaided by mind or outside involvement will proceed to higher levels of organization.
Now we come to the evolutionists’ quibble that the second law was different in the past from now. This is simply an adult wish fulfillment on the part of the evolutionist espousing such notions. Unless he assumes what he is trying to prove, he is left at this point with no reliable evidence whatever to support his thesis. Science relies on measurements. Measurements we make now oppose evolution totally. To point for support to conditions in the distant past, where they can’t be measured, puts the evolutionists in the same intellectual camp as those who believe in the tooth fairy.
Despite the arguments against evolution presented above and particularly in the last paragraph, the evolutionist clinging to his faith may say “Well, we are here, aren’t we?” One may point out to him that he has just finished engaging in circular reasoning. That is, he has obviously attempted to support evolution by assuming that evolution is true and is what has led to his human existence and presence here.
When the circularity of his reasoning is pointed out to him, the evolutionist may then grope for evidence in the fossil record. But again he is trotting out another batch of circular reasoning. This is so because evolution is used to interpret the fossil record, so it cannot be used to justify evolution. To do so puts the proponent in the intellectual booby hatch. Whatever the explanation for the fossil record may be, it cannot be one that in effect denies the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
In fact, the most obvious feature of the fossil record is not upward synthesis but rather death and decay. We find strong evidence for the steady loss of species within the fossil record. This is more in consonance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics than with the upward growth posited by evolution.
Not all creationists hold to six-day creationism. This writer is of the opinion that the scriptural evidence somewhat favors the six-day position. The scientific evidence for a long age rests primarily on the selection of evidence favorable to the long-age position rather than to the evaluation of all available evidence. The subject of time in this context requires a separate article to deal properly with the issue. [CMI Ed. note: For more information on the scriptural evidence for an actual six-day creation, see Genesis Q&A.]
I hope that the above article has whetted the appetite of the reader to dig deeper into the evolution-creation controversy. I have given an opinion on the controversy through the dictates of the second law. The earnest reader needs to track back through to the original sources.