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Feedback from August 1997
© 2005-2007 T. Wallace. All Rights Reserved.


From: James Limer

This is not hatemail, I am merely commenting on the point that evolution is only a theory; it hasnt been proved.

I'll define a theory by how scientists define a theory in the following sentences:

lets say that facts and observations are a group of dots and lines,a theory places those dots and lines into the right place and makes a connected and sensible picture out of it all.

Though not correct in every detail,they are sufficiently correct to help the scientist develop other experiments and improve the theory. A scientist may replace a dot or redraw a line,but it still leaves something similiar to the original picture.So in other words,a theory is a set of basic rules,supported by a great many confirmed observations by many scientists,that explains and makes sensible a large number of facts that,without the theory, would seem to be unconnected(Isaac Asimov "Atom",pg 12).But,this definition of a theory only works if the theory is a good theory to begin with.The theory of evolution may only be a theory,but it cannot be discredited by saying that it is only a theory.

(this definition of a theory is based off of the definition given to me in the book "Atom" by Isaac Asimov, pg 12)

I'm not completely for evolution or against it, I dont even know if im making a strong point here. Just dont put that EVOLUTION IS ONLY A THEORY;IT HASN'T BEEN PROVED, unless of course your only writing your web page to be read by a bunch of idiots.Thank you for your time.


Response from Timothy Wallace:

I believe the definition of "theory" you are proposing is generally accurate. I would only add, with regard to the question of "good" or "bad" theories, that "good" ones continue to be supported by the empirical data and observations of scientists, whereas the "bad" ones don't (perhaps "correct" or "incorrect" would be better adjectives here).

The position that Mark Isaak takes is that evolutionary theory is not just theory, but is really a proven fact. Yet the "evidence" cited by Isaak and other hard-core evolutionary proponents is invariably equivocal, at least, and often downright wrong. For example, I would encourage you to see Isaak's other four claims regarding observation/genetics, thermodynamics, the fossil record, and chance, then read the counterparts in my rebuttal, then decide for yourself who is remaining the most objective with regard to empirical evidence and findings within the scientific community.

You are absolutely right in saying that a theory "cannot be discredited by saying that it is only a theory." However, when an abundance of empirical evidence does not support a theory, it is normally discarded. In the case of evolutionary thought, the conflicting evidence is instead reinterpreted and/or the theory is modified -- or both -- (as needed) in order to avoid discarding the theory.

(I happen to believe this is because dogmatic evolutionists erroneously think "science" must be always based on naturalistic, materialistic, mechanistic philosophy: they think that to admit that evolution even might not be fact (i.e., is still a theory) would weaken their whole belief system, so they overcompensate by claiming the theory is fact -- and get away with it. But then, what good is a belief system or a theory, if it doesn't agree with the real world empirical facts?)

There is a growing number of objective scientists who no longer place confidence in evolutionary theory. Their views don't receive the same publicity and media attention as evolutionism advocates, even though the evolutionists really have less and less in the way of empirical support for what they say. Under these circumstances, their insistence that the theory is a fact has become ludicrous, yet because of their boldness, their false claim is unwittingly believed by many.

TW

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From: Craig Rickel

"Evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics."

Okay.. Yeah, it does. However, according to the laws of probability, it had to happen sooner or later. And when dealing with long spans of time, eventually, anything and everything will happen.

"The entropy of a closed system cannot decrease."

Please explain to me this, then. Take our entire universe as a closed system. Assume that our universe is in an open cycle, i.e. it will not contract back in on itself for another big bang. If that is so, then our universe will spread out and eventually run into a scenario called "heat death." If you're not familiar with the term, essentially all the suns burn out and cool off.

Now, when this happens, temperatures will decrease. As they do, matter will crystallize into solid forms. Is that not a decrease in the entropy of the system?

Now, take the statement as true. We would assume that naturally, seeing as it is one of our most basic laws in classical physics. As the entropy of a system increases, it becomes more random and chaotic. Life (from the evolutionist postulations) is the result of the random actions of molecules colliding. Thus, as the entropy increases, the rate at which these collisions occur increases, thus making it more likely that life should occur.


Response from Timothy Wallace:

Thank you for taking the time to send me your feedback response. I am pleased to offer the following responses to your interesting points.

First, a small point concerning nomenclature: You may want to consider that the issue you addressed in the title of your e-mail should properly be called either "Evolution vs. Creation" or "Evolutionism vs. Creationism." The two types of nouns should no more be mixed than if one were to write "Conservation vs. Liberalism." (One is a concept, the other an ideology or body of thought.)

>>"Evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics."

>>Okay.. Yeah, it does. However, according to the laws of probability, it
>>had to happen sooner or later. And when dealing with long spans of time,
>>eventually, anything and everything will happen.

Using this line of reasoning, one should be able to say that in spite of the Law of Gravity, things of ever-increasing weight are "sooner or later" bound to start spontaneously rising up off the surface of the earth.

Neither is a true postulate, and both are based on conjecture rather than true scientific process. More time doesn't add anything to either equation than ... more time.

To so declare that "eventually, anything and everything will happen," is to insist that there is no absolute knowledge--that the laws and properties known to man through the scientific process are not constant, but always subject to change. This view does not concur with the empirical findings of science. The laws of thermodynamics are among the most firmly established, unchanging, universal principles known to man. A belief in the possibility of any natural event that violates them--in the past, present, or future--is a leap of faith, not a scientific conclusion.

>>"The entropy of a closed system cannot decrease."

>>Please explain to me this, then. Take our entire universe as a closed
>>system. Assume that our universe is in an open cycle, i.e. it will not
>>contract back in on itself for another big bang. If that is so, then our
>>universe will spread out and eventually run into a scenario called "heat
>>death." If you're not familiar with the term, essentially all the suns
>>burn out and cool off.

>>Now, when this happens, temperatures will decrease. As they do, matter
>>will crystallize into solid forms. Is that not a decrease in the entropy
>>of the system?

>>Now, take the statement as true. We would assume that naturally, seeing
>>as it is one of our most basic laws in classical physics. As the entropy
>>of a system increases, it becomes more random and chaotic. Life (from
>>the evolutionist postulations) is the result of the random actions of
>>molecules colliding. Thus, as the entropy increases, the rate at which
>>these collisions occur increases, thus making it more likely that life
>>should occur.

A very good question -- and one that is often raised. On the surface (figuratively speaking), the formation of crystals and similar structures in nature may appear to involve a reduction in entropy (i.e., an increase in organized complexity or available energy). What is being overlooked, however, is the difference between simple order (as found in a crystal), and organized complexity (as found in every life form) -- and their relationships with energy.

Crystals (simple ordered molecular arrangements) are formed in certain materials when surrounding entropy in the system is slowed (though not necessarily decreased), so that the molecules' atomic attractions may draw them into an ordered state of rest -- which again returns to disorder with the re-introduction of entropic energy. The order is not based on any information, but is directly related to the presence -- or near absence -- of entropic energy.

On the other hand, organized complexity (as found in even the simplest known life form), is based on information -- and lots of it. It is not brought about through varying entropic energy levels (like a kitchen freezer or a "heat death"), but is a functionally arranged combination of multiple, cooperative, interdependent systems, based on the information that dictates the building, operation, and cooperative function of those systems.

Consider (again) what Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen wrote on this subject:

"As ice forms, energy (80 calories/gm) is liberated to the surroundings... The entropy change is negative because the thermal configuration entropy (or disorder) of water is greater than that of ice, which is a highly ordered crystal... It has often been argued by analogy to water crystallizing to ice that simple monomers my polymerize into complex molecules such as protein and DNA. The analogy is clearly inappropriate, however... The atomic bonding forces draw water molecules into an orderly crystalline array when the thermal agitation (or entropy driving force) is made sufficiently small by lowering the temperature. Organic monomers such as amino acids resist combining at all at any temperature, however, much less in some orderly arrangement"
[C.B. Thaxton, W.L. Bradley, and R.L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Philosophical Library, New York, 1984, pp. 119-120. (emphasis added)]

Further, Nobel Prize winning Belgian scientist Ilya Prigogine wrote:

"The point is that in a non-isolated system there exists a possibility for formation of ordered, low-entropy structures at sufficiently low temperatures. This ordering principle is responsible for the appearance of ordered structures such as crystals as well as for the phenomena of phase transitions.

"Unfortunately this principle cannot explain the formation of biological structures. The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small."
[Ilya Prigogine, Gregoire Nicolis and Agnes Babloyants, Physics Today 25(11):23 (1972) (emphasis added)]

In case the above authors' statements didn't clearly enough explain the fallacy of your conclusion ("Life ... is the result of the random actions of molecules colliding. Thus, as the entropy increases, the rate at which these collisions occur increases, thus making it more likely that life should occur"), I would only add the following:

Random molecular collisions are neither accepted nor proposed by serious scientists as a basis for life, though proponents of evolution may continue to suggest the notion. By their very natures, entropy and/or random processes exclude themselves from playing a role in the creation or increase of organized complexity or information (both of which are inherent in life).

I hope this reply has been of some interest and information to you, and again I thank you for your feedback.

TW

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From: Jeff Springer

The world is flat...light bends.


Response from Timothy Wallace:

I may not share your views on this matter, but perhaps I can recommend a place where you'll feel right at home:

http://www1.tpgi.com.au/users/rdempsf/FlatEarthSociety.htm

TW


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