Confronted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics
Warren Nunn chats with engineer Colin Gibson on his journey from evolution to creation
Published: 24 August 2017 (GMT+10)
Professional engineer Colin Gibson was raised in a church where he was taught six-day creation in Sunday school but that grounding was challenged at high school when evolution and millions of years were presented as fact in his science class.
That left him confused and thinking that he must have been taught fairytales at Sunday school. Thereafter he began a slippery slide away from church but, through a remarkable chain of events, including attending an address from Creation magazine founder Carl Wieland, Colin’s thinking was turned on its head.
Colin says he well remembers how evolutionary indoctrination impacted his young mind:
“I didn’t even suspect the State school I attended would have lied and therefore I believed the evolution story taught there was true. There was no point attending church, so I stopped attending and led a very secular lifestyle. Throughout the remainder of my schooling, including two years at a ‘Christian’ private school, I was taught plenty of evolution but zero creation.”
He enjoyed watching scientific TV documentaries but was puzzled by statements about species that referred to changes within animals as ‘adapting to their environment’.
While studying engineering and computer programming at university he continued to have ‘nagging doubts’ about creatures ‘adapting’ from one kind to another.
“I could never really understand what the mechanism was that actually made the animals ‘adapt’,” Colin said.
He wrestled with why documentaries glossed over the ‘how’ of the adaptation as if it didn’t need any justification.
“What magic mechanism re-wrote the DNA software to make the animal ‘adapt’ and change it to another kind of animal, especially before the change in environment killed it? Writing my own software at uni was hard enough and took a lot of thought, so how did DNA get re-written with no effort? What was the mechanism?”
Colin knew how much intelligence was required in engineering design and, even then, any prototype machine typically didn’t function as intended and needed to be modified.
“Programming computers and designing machines are difficult tasks requiring a lot of brain power. Random guessing and mistakes simply don’t produce the desired results. So exactly how did animals just magically ‘adapt’ without any intelligence input? How did they re-design themselves and accurately re-program their own DNA software error free? Wouldn’t it be nice to have that same magic which would make programming and designing things easy?”
As he continued in his engineering studies, he came to understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics which led to some interesting discussions.
“In our mechanical engineering class we would argue amongst ourselves about this. How can things evolve at all when the Second Law of Thermodynamics says everything will ultimately degrade? Our lecturer at the time simply dismissed our questioning and said ‘the Second Law doesn’t apply to living things’. To us, this meant evolution could still occur and therefore there was no God to worry about. His statement was completely false of course, but we didn’t know any better at the time, so we all continued on with our somewhat degenerate lifestyles, thinking there was no God to fear.
Long after university in 1991, Colin decided to attend a creation/evolution talk by Dr Carl Wieland fully expecting to hear how evolution fits in with the Bible.
Instead, when Dr Wieland pointed out that evolution was scientifically at odds with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the ‘lights went on’ for Colin.
“I knew nothing can violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics and I knew that designing things takes a lot of intelligence, not random chance. I knew the Second Law meant things go downhill and get worse, not uphill and better.”
Colin said at that point he understood why TV documentaries and university lecturers never gave satisfactory explanations but continued to advocate evolution regardless.
Now, for Colin, evolution was the fairytale and his Sunday school teachers were right.
He thereafter developed a thirst for knowledge about God and was convinced that only the Bible had accurate prophecy and a true history of the world.
“This meant that the all-knowing Creator was the God of the Bible and the gods of the other religions were false since they did not know everything. So I became a six-day creationist, Bible-believing Christian.”
When he began to live out his faith and talk with people about Christ, he soon realised the depth of sin and man’s rebellion against God.
“I remember thinking that it would now be easy for me to lead people to Christ. I thought all they needed to hear was the scientific evidence they had never heard before which points to a Creator, plus the accuracy of Bible prophecy which points to that Creator being the God of the Bible. What I didn’t realise at the time was that most people don’t want to know this and are not really truth seekers, but are in rebellion against God.”
He then understood he was in a spiritual battle, not an intellectual one and recognised the crucial need for prayer. “Prayer is required for the lost as well as evidence for creation, prophetic accuracy and who Christ is. The Gospel can then be preached and received,” he said.
For Colin, the transformation was complete. That young man who for a time believed in the lie that is evolution returned to his foundational Sunday school teaching. God did what He said He did in the beginning: “created the heavens and the earth” in six, 24-hour days about 6,000 years ago.
‘”Our lecturer at the time simply dismissed our questioning and said ‘the Second Law doesn’t apply to living things’.”’ Over the years I have had debates about this where I claimed that the second law and the second law alone was sufficient to debunk any and all claims of evolution. Of course, I was classified as sub-human in a variety of ways. However, the claim that the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to living things is the one of the most blatantly disrespectful positions regarding (real) science outside of actually denying that God exists.
I recently read an opinion (one that I share) that one of the biggest problems in scientific inquiry today is that different so-called branches of science are siloed. That is, physics is not biology. The author went on to say that he believed that this has been a major contributor to the lack of progress in many scientific spaces. Some might argue that we have made great scientific strides and in many cases, we have, but we still do not know what an electron is or how a cell actually has life, (we can see the mechanics but not the rationale). I would argue that our progress is directly related to our God given ability to abstract the designs created by God and replicate them via engineering principles that are also God given. I also believe that giving the credit that belongs to God to another may be very disastrous to one’s eternal destiny unless we seek true repentance. As John the Apostle said, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”
This is, indeed, a good article and very reminiscent of my own experience. I was taught evolution in high school as though it were fact. I, therefore, accepted it as fact and believed unwavering in evolution. When I became a Christian, in my 30's, I was faced with having to modify my belief and managed to end up as a theistic evolutionist. I spoke to a gentleman in the church I was attending who taught creation as having been only six days. I knew he was wrong, because I knew there were stars that were millions of light years away and that flew in the face of a creation 6000 years ago. He very lovingly explained that God had created everything in six days, including the stars that were so far away. "God could," he said, "have created light already in transition, or there could be a number of ways He could have done that wonder."
I still wasn't completely convinced.
Soon, a young man who was resisting evolutionary teaching asked me, "If evolution is true, can you give me one proof of evolution?" I told him I could and thought to myself that would be pretty easy. Although he continued to ask me over the years, I could, after six years of trying, not find one proof that would survive the argument of creation. Everything fit into the model of creation, nothing truly fit into the model of evolution without having to distort it or make erroneous assumptions.
I thank God for that assistant pastor who lifted the veil for me and helped me to see that creation was truly the only explanation that really worked. Thank you for this article, which made me remember my own journey.
On a much broader scale, Colin represents tens of thousands of Believers who have been indoctrinated by contemporary science telling us the Bible cannot be true. By starting with the Word and premise that God cannot lie, the truth can be found that God created in six days. It took me a few years to come around, but with the help of Creation Ministries, the old naturalistic onion world has been peeled layer by layer to reveal Jesus spoke the truth when He referred to Noah's Flood.
Now that I am fully convinced the Bible is truth (20 years now), I am excited every time CM unveils new truths (or lies being told). The key that is missing in contemporary scientist is an open mind.
With all due respect to the author of this article, I think the university lecturer was right in a sense, that the second law of thermodynamics doesn't say anything about whether living things advance (i.e. evolve to more advanced organisms) or degrade. It's to do with physics, and the amount of usable energy in the universe, not to do with biology. I don't disagree that living things do degrade over time, and John Stanford's book "Genetic Entropy" gives an excellent and highly persuasive argument along these lines. It's to do with the accumulation of mutations in the genome over time. It has nothing to do with the second law of thermodynamics.
This is addressed in Carl Wieland's book World Winding Down. In one place that article says: "Things can become more ordered by themselves, if an appropriate mechanism is in place. But in the absence of such a mechanism, intelligence (transmitted, for example in the form of a program) is needed." In other words, intelligent input is needed to produce the mechanism that anables things to become more ordered. However, as that article goes on to say, "Importantly: Even when something more orderly is produced, the surroundings will always become more disordered as a result. So every single process that takes place ‘scrambles up’ the universe as a whole, makes it increasingly ‘run down’. There are no exceptions to this."
Very good article and an even better story. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics works at odds with evolution in lots of ways, in some ways more than others. Just be careful trying to use it as an absolute argument of refutation. There's a great 2011 article by Dr. Sarfati "Thermodynamics and evolution" that guides you how far you should take it in refuting evolution. (That would be a great link to add to the Related Articles section!)
Enjoyed this article very much. I believe many in science know the truth of Creation but will not give The Lord God The Glory, and the result is they get what they lust after, A Darkened Heart. The Lord is mighty to save any who seek Him w/all their heart as HE did this man. Great Article, Glory To God.
The 2nd law implies that the universe had a beginning. But the law of conservation of energy plus matter implies that the universe is eternal. And since there is zero experimental evidence that these two fundamental laws of science can be broken, it follows that naturalistic science can't give a logical explanation for the origin of the universe without contradicting the known laws of science. That's how I concluded that there must be a God outside of nature.
I must object to M.K.'s comment: "Unfortunately for him, the creator does exist and he will have to face him after he dies, and it seems that he is at great risk of ending up in hell."
Is God a sort of cruel tyrant that will send people to Hell because they thought he didn't exist?
No, God is not a cruel tyrant. He is loving, kind, and righteous. Because of His righteousness He will judge the world and punish corruption, wickedness, and evil.
This should not be surprising because that is essential for a free and peaceful society. We have laws, police, judges, and jails to maintain law and order.
It is important to appreciate this reality. The Bible in Romans 1 is a good place to start: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (v 18–20)
God is also full of love and favour: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
It is vital to consider eternal issues and our ultimate destiny. Please consider this article Good News.
What? Seriously? He actually said the second law of thermodynamics doesn't apply to living things? He didn't even bother to parrot the long ago refuted excuses about crystals, snowflakes and open systems? And also, he was begging the question because even if the second law of thermodynamics didn't apply to living things, evolution has to produce living things from non-living things. Looks like he simply didn't want there to be a creator, not because of the evidence or lack thereof, but simply because of wishful thinking. Unfortunately for him, the creator does exist and he will have to face him after he dies, and it seems that he is at great risk of ending up in hell.
Know God, know peace and you get order and purpose. No God, no peace and chaos is the result. This is not only true in the conduct of life but also in science as this engineer found out.
Really good to read this! Thank you.
A great article. I will keep this to pass on to my doubting friends.