[ the skeptics club ]
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 at http://www.talkorigins.org/