current events commentary
Copyright © 1998 by Stephen Cumblidge
Since humans first looked at the lights in the sky, mankind has always
looked for answers to the mysteries of life. Thousands of years ago,
humans basically answered the very difficult questions with supernatural
solutions. Why does the sun and moon move across the sky? Mystical
wolves were chasing them. Why is the year split into seasons? Because the
daughter of the goddess of Agriculture spent half the year in the
underworld. Why is there so much grief in the world? Either Pandora or
Eve is to blame, depending on who you ask.
As human knowledge advanced, supernatural explanations became fewer and
fewer. We now know why the stars appear to march across the heavens. We
now understand the seasons. Diseases arenít seen as curses or demons these
days, but as the result of bacteria, viruses, physical imbalances, and so on.
Stephen Lutz is still using the old superstitious way of thinking. This
way of thinking can be summarized as "If faced with a complex question, just
invoke whatever god is popular at the time and presto, problem solved."
"God did it" a universal answer that ultimately means nothing. If humans
hadnít looked for more meaningful answers to various questions we would
still be in the stone age.
Also, Stephen Lutz should learn more about science if he intends to use it
in his arguments. He seems to like to use scientific sounding language,
but he ultimately fails to understand what the words mean. For example,
Stephen Lutz grossly misuses the second law of thermodynamics, making
anyone who knows any thermodynamics cringe. Stephen Lutz writes:
The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy -- that is, the
disorder -- of an isolated system can never decrease. That means the disorder
or chaos of a system will always increase. Nature tends toward disorder.
If Stephen Lutz actually knew what he was talking about, he would
understand that the second law only applies to a closed system. The Earth
is not a closed system. It absorbs heat from the sun and radiates heat off
into space. If you would like to see order appear to come from disorder,
just watch salt water evaporate. The salt begins as dissolved Sodium and
Chlorine ions mixed with water molecules, and finishes as a separated
system where the water has left, leaving behind neat and orderly rows of
Sodium and Chlorine atoms, all in place for the most part. It takes energy
to do this, the water wonít evaporate on its own, but just put it in the
sun or on a stove and watch what happens. Also, just watch water freeze.
The disordered water liquid forms into ice crystals. All you have to do is
remove some energy from the system. In open systems, order can appear to
come from disorder.
Stephen Lutz also misunderstands the science behind how life evolved. He
thinks that "Random Chance" is the best explanation for how life became
complicated, but the observable effects of natural selection are ignored.
Basically, if something is very good at surviving and reproducing then you
should expect to see a lot of it. The building blocks of life make
mistakes when replicating themselves every once and a while. These
mistakes are referred to as mutations. If a given mutation makes something
more able to survive and reproduce, then the mutation will probably be
passed on. If the mutation is harmful, then the mutation is not likely to
be passed along.
It is important not to make the mistake that more complicated is "better"
in evolutionary terms. Most living things on this planet are
single-celled, we just tend to notice the larger things more often.
Stephen Lutz shows his "God did it" mentality on the following section:
Let's give this "Reason" a better name. How about "Creator God?" That's
who we've been talking about anyway.
I find it an interesting leap to go from "Things are complex" to "The god
that I worship is the best explanation".
Another interesting facet to this letter is that the "God did it" answer
is not needed, as modern biology understands evolution fairly well. We can
examine the fossil record and trace the development of life through
hundreds of millions of years. We can watch some forms of life evolve
right in front of us.
The "God did it" answer to scientific questions may work well in Sunday
School, but is inappropriate in an academic environment.
For a lot more information on this subject, look at the Talk.Origins Archive