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Joined: Oct. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 02 2007,17:47   

2 April 2007
“Specified Complexity” and the second law
Granville Sewell

A mathematics graduate student in Colombia has noticed the similarity between my second law arguments (”the underlying principle behind the second law is that natural forces do not do macroscopically describable things which are extremely improbable from the microscopic point of view”), and Bill Dembski’s argument (in his classic work “The Design Inference”) that only intelligence can account for things that are “specified” (=macroscopically describable) and “complex” (=extremely improbable). Daniel Andres’ article can be found (in Spanish) here . If you read the footnote in my article A Second Look at the Second Law you will notice that some of the counter-arguments addressed are very similar to those used against Dembski’s “specified complexity.”

Every time I write on the topic of the second law of thermodynamics, the comments I see are so discouraging that I fully understand Phil Johnson’s frustration, when he wrote me “I long ago gave up the hope of ever getting scientists to talk rationally about the 2nd law instead of their giving the cliched emotional and knee-jerk responses. I skip the words ‘2nd law’ and go straight to ‘information’”. People have found so many ways to corrupt the meaning of this law, to divert attention from the fundamental question of probability–primarily through the arguments that “anything can happen in an open system” (easily demolished, in my article) and “the second law only applies to energy” (though it is applied much more generally in most physics textbooks). But the fact is, the rearrangement of atoms into human brains and computers and the Internet does not violate any recognized law of science except the second law, so how can we discuss evolution without mentioning the one scientific law that applies?

Lawyer Philip Johnson complains that scientists won't talk rationally about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

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