How to Write an Antievolution Article

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Today’s lesson is about publishing. Not writing. Not scholarship. Just the act of getting words out in front of other people without any sort of tedious labor behind them. Oh, and most important, these words will have your name in the byline. The case study is Creationism - How Entropy challenges Evolution Theory by B. G. Ranganathan. It went up on the “Best Syndication” weblog on the 13th. Along with the featured article, you get the opportunity to buy Ranganathan’s book offering, Origins?, from Amazon, as it is prominently displayed in the left sidebar.

The first step is to pick your topic. When it comes to antievolution, there are three things going for you. First, there is a plethora of material to be recycled without risk. As antievolution advocates sometimes point out, their ideas have deep roots, tracing back at least to certain Greek philosophers. Recognizable material of somewhat more recent vintage (and thus easier to incorporate into a pseudo-essay that passes as modern) comes from authors like the Reverend William Paley. Authors such as George Macready Price and Henry M. Morris assembled many of the arguments together in various books. And, as I said, nobody cares if you steal it. In fact, others will be confused if you provide complete references and trace back claims to sources. That just isn’t done as a matter of course in this field, and, of course, it pays to pick up the social gestalt of your new career.

Second, there is a market. As Harvard Lampoon noted, it’s the sort of market whose pant’s pockets display the sort of scorch marks produced only by large quantities of spontaneously combusting cash. Antievolution, if it accomplishes nothing else, moves money around the marketplace from folks who read the same material over and over to those who, like you, are now learning how to be the sort of person who transfers material from old sources and puts your name over the top.

Third, the mere act of repeating various hoary old chestnuts will give you a solid sense of community. Others who are doing just as you do will welcome the opportunity to come to your defense if someone criticizes you. It gives them something to do other than look for more things to recycle. You will quickly learn to do this, too. Of course, the stances taken are also all borrowed from earlier writers, so it just comes down to copying slightly different parts of the usual sources in order to label and dismiss critical forays.

Babu Ranganathan has this down pat. Let’s take a look at his effort and see where he got his material.

(Continue reading… on the Austringer)

11 Comments

Babu? Babu?!? As in, like, Seinfeld‘s Babu?

“He very bad man! Very very bad man!”

I heard this entropy argument in college in the early 70’s in a secular technical university. Without receiving the rath of Panda’s Thumb what are the best arguments against the notion that entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) makes evolution impossible?

I heard this entropy argument in college in the early 70’s in a secular technical university. Without receiving the rath of Panda’s Thumb what are the best arguments against the notion that entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) makes evolution impossible?

The fact that, by the same logic used to suggest evolution is impossible, the growth of humans from foetuses would also be impossible.

The normal response to this is that they’re not really talking about entropy, but rather the “information content” of the system. This can be countered by asking what the heck they mean by information - most formal mathematical definitions of information actually increase when random mutations occur.

>> Without receiving the [w]rath of Panda’s Thumb what are the best arguments against the notion that entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) makes evolution impossible?

The existence of the Sun.

As wielded by the Creationists, the entropy argument decisively refutes the possibility of building a refrigerator.

Snowflakes.

They self-organize from random water droplets. And they don’t violate any laws of thermodynamics in doing so.

Every time some creatiokook yammered to me that “thermodynamics makes evolution impossible”, though, I always asked to see the SPECIFIC STEP in evolution that they think is impossible. It is thermodynamically impossible to go from which sequence of ATGC’s, to which new sequence of ATGC’s, and why?

Never got any response. I suspect most of them were too pig-ignorant to know what “ATGC’s” are. (shrug)

Comment #105919

Posted by 2 old stroke on June 15, 2006 06:22 PM (e) | kill

I heard this entropy argument in college in the early 70’s in a secular technical university. Without receiving the rath of Panda’s Thumb what are the best arguments against the notion that entropy (the second law of thermodynamics) makes evolution impossible?

That’s kind of like saying, what are the best arguments against the notion that whales are harmonica-playing aliens from the Gamma Quadrant.

Lenny’s answer is accurate, albeit a bit oblique.

The second law says that the total entropy cannot decrease in a spontaneous process. The ‘key’ word is total. The entropy of the earth, or any part of the earth, for example, can spontaneously decrease, as long as a spontaneous process couples the earth or the specific part of the earth to the flux of high-temperature radiation from the sun and the reradiation of the energy back into space at low temperature. That absorbtion and reemission continuously generates enormous entropy, and so if you couple it to some other process, it permits a correspondingly huge decrease in entropy. The sun provides the earth with more negative entropy than life could ever use.

That’s point 1. Point 2 is that it is not at all clear evolution needs much of a decrease in entropy anyway. The configurational entropy of the entire human genome is tiny, on the order of attoJoules per Kelvin. I have no idea if 70 kg of bacteria have a greater or lesser entropy than a 70 kg human - I think it depends on the bacterium - but it’s certainly not an easy question to answer.

The take-home lesson is that while entropy can be computed formally from the disorder of a system, you can’t intuitively relate it to everyday concepts of disorder and order by what we physical chemists snottily call ‘handwaving’.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics and Evolution, from 2ndlaw.com The Austringer post linked to in the PT post also quotes sections from the Index to Creationist Claims that deals with the general “2nd Law!” Creationist malarky. I really do recommend bookmarking the ItCC for future paroozal. It’s a good read besides being extremely useful.

Dang, I need to get in on this racket. I can plagiarize from TO’s list of creationist claims. I can quotemine Gould and other scientists. I have a law degree, thus like Phillip Johnson I’m well qualified to critique evolutionary theory. I even have spellcheck in my word processing software! Now all I need is a title; anyone care to make a suggestion so I don’t have to have a single original thought to get my book out? Thanks!

Dude, there is only one possible title for any anti-evolution book:

“Darwinism’s Waterloo”.

BWA HA HA HA HA HA AH AHA HA HA HA AH AHA !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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This page contains a single entry by Wesley R. Elsberry published on June 15, 2006 12:42 PM.

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