(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXIX: Wherein the 2nd Law is Misused

Well, my darlings, we’re on to Science of the Physical Creation’s “Chemistry in Action” chapter. I have got good news and bad news for you.

The good news is, this chapter has the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics in it, and you know what that means! Lots of creationist fuckery. Oh, yes, we won’t be left starving in a desert of secular sensibility this time.

The bad news is, real kiddos are taught this bullshit is the truth. And with it embedded in basic chemistry facts, they’ll have a hard time sorting fact from fuckery.

We begin with only a reflexive nod to religiosity, as they state in their intro that “Studying chemical reactions helps us more clearly understand the workings of God’s physical creation.” Yes, okay, whatevs. Hey, kids: just don’t forget how much room for error and general misery God left in his supposed creation, okay? And before you go relying on the Fall to excuse him, just remember: he could have made it failsafe from the beginning. All he had to do was keep one pest out of the Garden. Or, y’know, give Eve and Adam enough knowledge and wisdom to be able to avoid temptation. The fact we had a fall in the first place is completely on God.

Right. Good talk. Let us proceed.

The first few pages of the chapter are unexceptionable: they’re a workmanlike discussion of chemical equations, balancing of same, conservation of mass, and the energy required for chemical reactions. We learn about exothermic versus endothermic reactions, which includes explaining how instant cold packs work. I liked that. See? This is why it’s so very neat to be alive in this particular age: we’ve learned how to do a bunch of really neat stuff. How did we learn? By using science. Note: we didn’t pray for instant cold packs and get the method for making them handed to us by God. We did all the work.

Not that the SPC authors will ever admit that.

Now we arrive at entropy, and, as we all know, creationists loves them their Second Law of Thermodynamics. In the main text, they don’t babble about God, but they’re very careful not to explain that the 2nd Law only refers to isolated, or closed, systems. They’re also loathe to admit that, even in a closed system, entropy can locally decrease as long as it increases elsewhere. This is a very inconvenient truth for them.

Image shows a white man in a black suite with a red tie, pointing at a screen on which some stats are projected. Caption says, "Thermodynamics. U R doin it rong."

The real shenanigans start when we get to an info box entitled “Thermodynamics and the Bible.” Let us take its parts apart.

The first and second laws of thermodynamics demonstrate the agreement between science and the Bible. The first law states that although matter and energy may be freely converted into each other, neither is created or destroyed. The Bible tells us that God’s work of creation is complete and that the universe is being conserved (Gen. 2:1; Neh. 9:6).

Firstly: the Bible ain’t science. It is not a science paper, nor a science book, nor even a real true history. It’s an often-contradictory collection of myths, fables, stories, religious rules and rituals, and many outright forgeries, but it’s 100% definitely not science. Quoting it as if it settles a scientific question or claim murders your credibility deader than God killed Aaron’s sons when they messed up the incense.

Next, the 1st Law can’t be used to prove science wrong and the Bible right about the origin of the universe, because nothing in it precludes the universe from coming into being all on its own. No God is required to make a universe.

The second law of thermodynamics states that for every process, there is an overall loss of useful energy and a tendency toward greater disorder. In other words, the universe is slowly “running down.” We see evidence of this law everywhere we look: rocks and soil erode, machines wear out, and people grow old. The Bible states that the heavens and the earth are wearing out like an old garment (Ps. 102:26; Isa. 51:6; Heb. 1:11-12).

We also see new rocks and soil forming, new machines being made, and new people being gestated and born. The earth receives energy inputs from the sun, you jackasses. Where is your Bible now? This is a super bad argument. You fail.

The second law of thermodynamics is the most important scientific principle showing that there had to have been an act of creation. If the universe is now “running down,” there must have been a time that it was “wound up” more than it is now. Evolutionists try to avoid the necessity of a Creator by proposing that billions of years ago, a huge explosion from nowhere (the “Big Bang”) created the universe by chance, out of nothing.

First: the fact that the universe is evolving doesn’t mean it’s “running down.” Right now, it’s expanding. Lighter elements are being forged into heavier elements in the hearts of stars. Stars eventually die. There’s less free gas for new stars to form. This might go on until the heat death of the universe, sure. Then again, the universe may stop expanding and start contracting, until all that matter and energy is compressed into a tiny singularity, causing a brand-new Big Bang and birthing a bouncing baby universe. Some models say we live in only one universe in a multiverse, with new universes being born as old ones die, and for all we know, that cycle is perpetual, with neither beginning nor ending. We don’t know yet. We’re still trying to find out.

One thing we can be pretty sure of, though, is that in our particular universe, there was indeed a Big Bang. We can even see echoes of it today.

Image shows an oval with blotches of red, yellow, orange, green, blue, and purple. A red streak with a yellow and green outline runs through the middle.
Image of the cosmic microwave background radiation, taken by the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite. Public domain image courtesy NASA.

Science told us it would be there, and there it was. We predicted this with the theory of the Big Bang. Your Bible didn’t predict it would be there. Science pwned your holy book. Again.

Of course, we know that the universe is not the product of some spontaneous explosion, but was called into existence by the words of God Himself.

You don’t know any such thing. You’re basing your “knowledge” on a book that is no more true than the Qu’ran or the Upanishads. I could point out verses of the Tao Te Ching that match observed reality better than the Bible. That doesn’t make it true in all its particulars. And none of those texts, including yours, has the explanatory and predictive power of a well-developed scientific theory.

Creationists: stop clinging to the 2nd Law. You don’t understand it, and it doesn’t support your arguments.

(Tier 1) Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XXIX: Wherein the 2nd Law is Misused