Attributing False Attributes to Thermodynamics
Copyright © 1997 by
arguments are often based on assuming that a scientific theory or law
possesses an attribute that it does not, in fact, possess. The
creationist thermodynamics argument is a typical example of how this
technique is used to twist well established scientific principles into
meaningless gibberish. The reader should refer to Chapter III of
"Scientific Creationism," edited by Henry Morris of the Institute for
Creation Research for specific details. This chapter can be summed up
- The second law of thermodynamics requires that all systems and
individual parts of systems have a tendency to go from order to
disorder. The second law will not permit order to spontaneously
arise from disorder. To do so would violate the universal
tendency of matter to decay or disintegrate.
- Creationists recognize that in many cases order does
spontaneously arise from disorder: seeds grow into trees, eggs
develop into chicks, crystalline salts form when a solution
evaporates, and crystalline snowflakes form from randomly moving
water vapor molecules. In cases like these, creationists have
assigned an attribute that there must be a programmed energy
conversion mechanism to direct the application of the energy
needed to bring about the change.
- This energy conversion mechanism is postulated to "overcome" the
second law, thus allowing order to spontaneously arise from
- Creationists believe that changes requiring human thought and
effort, such as constructing a building, manufacturing an airplane,
making a bed, writing a book, etc. are covered by the science of
thermodynamics. Creationists believe that a wall will not build
itself simply because to do so would violate the laws of
thermodynamics. In building the wall, the stonemason overcomes
the laws of thermodynamics!
- In the case of organic change, like seeds growing into trees and
chicks developing from eggs, creationists believe that the directed
energy conversion mechanism that overcomes the laws of
thermodynamics comes from God.
Comments on the above five claims:
- The degree of thermodynamic disorder is measured by an entity called
"entropy." There is a mathematical correlation between entropy
increase and an increase in disorder. The overall entropy of an
isolated system can never decrease. However, the entropy of some
parts of the system can spontaneously decrease at the expense of an
even greater increase of other parts of the system. When heat flows
spontaneously from a hot part of a system to a colder part of the
system, the entropy of the hot area spontaneously decreases! The ICR
chapter states flatly that entropy can never decrease; this is in
direct conflict with the most fundamental law of thermodynamics that
entropy equals heat flow divided by absolute temperature.
- There is no need to postulate an energy conversion mechanism.
Thermodynamics correlates, with mathematical equations, information
relating to the interaction of heat and work. It does not speculate
as to the mechanisms involved. The energy conversion mechanism can
not be expressed in terms of mathematical relationships or
thermodynamic laws. Although it is reasonable to assume that complex
energy conversion mechanisms actually exist, the manner in which
these may operate is outside the scope of thermodynamics. Assigning
an energy conversion mechanism to thermodynamics is simply a ploy
to distort and pervert the true nature of thermodynamics.
- The use and application of thermodynamics is strictly limited by the
mathematical treatment of the basic equations of thermodynamics.
There is no provision in thermodynamics for any mechanism that would
overcome the laws of thermodynamics.
- Thermodynamics does not deal with situations requiring human thought
and effort in order to create order from disorder. Thermodynamics is
limited by the equations and mathematics of thermodynamics. If it
can't be expressed mathematically, it isn't thermodynamics!
Creationism would replace mathematics with metaphors. Metaphors may or
may not serve to illustrate a fact, but they are not the fact itself.
One thing is certain: metaphors are completely useless when it comes to
the thermodynamics of calculating the efficiency of a heat engine, or
the entropy change of free expansion of a gas, or the power required to
operate a compressor. This can only be done with mathematics, not
metaphors. Creationists have created a "voodoo" thermodynamics based
solely on metaphors. This in order to convince those not familiar with
real thermodynamics that their sectarian religious views have scientific
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