Friday, May 11, 2007

Bob's War on Science: The Thermodynamic Edition!

Another of Bob's "proofs" for the existence of God rests upon his understanding of Thermodynamics. Or, more accurately, his complete misunderstanding of Thermodynamics.

Bob has read enough books to be able to rattle of the Three Laws of Thermodynamics. But so can any physics student in high school, so the trick isn't all that impressive. The really impressive part is how Bob butchers these laws in order to support his narrow, bigoted idea of God.

Take the First Law, the Law of Conservation of Energy. It states, "The increase in the internal energy of a thermodynamic system is equal to the amount of heat energy added to the system minus the work done by the system on the surroundings."

In other words, matter and energy cannot be destroyed, they can only be converted from one form to another.

Bob hears this and asks, "If matter cannot be created or destroyed, how did the universe come into existence? Something can't come from nothing, so God is the answer."

Bob is, of course, wrong. I've covered this before, so I can just quote myself:
In the macroscopic universe, the Laws of Thermodynamics are absolutely true. However, in the quantum universe, the laws of thermodynamic run into Hiesenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Because of the Uncertainty Principle, particles and space-time bubbles continually pop in and out of existence for short times depending on their energy, without breaking the law of conservation of energy as they disappear again. So at the quantum scale, Thermodynamics break down and don't apply to the creation of the universe.
So Bob misunderstands the first law, which we all know. But Bob must not be satisfied by this because he also completely butchers the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The second law "is an expression of the fact that over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and density tend to even out in a physical system that is isolated from the outside world. Entropy is a measure of how far along this evening-out process has progressed."

In plain English, energy cannot be spontaneously transferred from a cold body to a hot body and the entropy increases over time.

Bob thinks this means that the universe should be in a "state of equilibrium." Bob believes that entropy is a downward trend and doesn't permit the increasing complexity found all around us. So Bob argues that the universe should have died a heat death long ago and none of us should exist. But since the universe does exists, God must take an active role in it and suspend the Second Law.

Wrongo, Bobbo!

According to Frank L. Lambert, Professor Emeritus of Occidental College, this understanding of the second law is wrong. Quoting Professor Lambert:
There are millions of compounds that have less energy in them than the elements of which they are composed. That sentence is a quiet bombshell. It means that the second law energetically FAVORS — yes, predicts firmly — the spontaneous formation of complex, geometrically ordered molecules from utterly simple atoms of elements. Popular statements such as "the second law says that all systems fundamentally tend toward disorder and randomness" are wrong when they refer to chemistry, and chemistry precisely deals with the structure and behavior of all types of matter...Most complex molecules may require the expertise of one or of many chemists to put them together in a laboratory. However, so far as the second law of thermodynamics is concerned, not only water but cholesterol, DNA, the anti-depressant in St. John’s Wort and millions of other complex substances contain less energy than their constituent elements. Therefore, thermodynamically, their formation from those elements would be a spontaneous process, energetically favored by the second law. [Italics added.]
So, once again, it is easy to demonstrate that Bob is completely ignorant when compared to someone who holds an advanced degree.

Next time, I'll make some observations about Bob's reliance on bad science and how it affects faith.

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