Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Universal law rules

A neglected garden becomes a wilderness; a bridge that is not maintained will fall down (Second Law of Thermodynamics).

In reply to Beagle (Write Back, September 4), no competent scientist, physicist or engineer, creationist or not, would deny the fact that disorder tends to increase (often called the law of entropy) throughout the known universe.

For example, when radium was discovered, it was able to maintain itself at a higher temperature than the surrounding air. Some claimed that an exception to the law had been found. Sir Ernest Rutherford disagreed and laid the foundations of nuclear energy.

As a rule, order does not spontaneously come out of disorder, as Beagle claims. If it were so, science would be impossible. You cannot establish scientific laws on the basis of a disorderly universe in which future and past events have an unpredictable relationship. What about Beagle’s snowflakes?

He may not realise it, but the Second Law applies here also. I taught materials science to engineering students for a number of years. When a substance crystallises (and when a snowflake forms in the sky!) energy is dissipated into the form of heat (entropy increases). The patterns that then appear are predetermined by the atomic properties of its molecules. They do not arise spontaneously.

Beagle’s argument that the Second Law applies only to closed systems and irrelevant to life is not borne out by the facts. Everything eventually wears out, runs down or dies.

Evolution is diametrically opposed to the law of entropy, demanding an increasing complex rise in order. But what tests have established it as a fact? How was it tested? When, where and by whom?

Ian McClean

Londonderry

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