Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ evolution ‘n’ snowflakes

This week’s Jesus and Mo strip, called “flake,” starts off as the usual “refutation” of evolution by creationists who claim that the process violates the second law of thermodynamics. We know the answer to that one: evolution on Earth was not a closed process, and the order bought by evolution was more than paid for by the increase of entropy in the Universe due to evolution’s requiring the energy from sunlight.

The barmaid could have said that, but the Divine Duo wouldn’t understand it. Instead, she uses a simpler example (see a fuller explanation here).

25 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    “ … lifeless chemicals …”

    At some level, perhaps the correct and important and valuable distinction of life, and living things, from non living things might in total simply be just lifeless chemicals all the way down, obeying the laws of physics and chemistry.

    But that’s for another discussion, another time, perhaps.

  2. Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Creationists do not understand evolution or thermodynamics.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Many probably do. They just know that their target audience doesn’t care. Much like the tRumpians.

      • savage
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Among the creationists I have met some were certainly intelligent and educated. But not a single one could state the theory of evolution without a major misconception.

        • Posted August 5, 2020 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

          Yeah. They will almost always go off the rails, making a straw man argument out of the theory.

  3. Kevin
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    By the same reasoning, planets, solar systems and galaxies would contravene the laws of thermodynamics. They are all ordered concentrations of coalesced matter. Negentropy.
    By the same logic: negentropically, ordered objects do actually exist such as life, and the above, in the face of the laws of thermodynamics. Therefore the laws of thermodynamics must be wrong!! Q.E.D.

    Evidently galaxies are not closed systems either.

  4. A C Harper
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Chesil Beach. 5,000 years old, 28 kilometres long and made of 180 billion pebbles – perhaps the finest barrier beach in Europe.

    The beach pebbles gradually change size from east to west. The change comes from different strength tidal currents along the shore, which gradually move the smaller pebbles westwards. It is quite striking and another example of order arising from natural causes.

    • jezgrove
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      True, but doubtless the believers would argue that the sea, or the water molecule, (and on and on ad infinitum) only exist because of their beloved creator. Now, if only they could agree on which one that was…

      • Terry Pedersen
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Of curse, agree. But that word doesn’t exist in our languages with a real meaning.

        • phoffman56
          Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          Which word? “agree”?

          Surely it has a perfectly clear meaning, modulo the agree-er understands what meaning is of what he or she agrees with.

  5. jimroberts
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Creationist thermodynamics proves too much: reproduction and embryological development are also impossible (without ongoing creative miracles).

  6. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    the increase of entropy in the Universe due to evolution’s requiring the energy from sunlight.

    Standard quibble : while energy from sunlight is certainly important in the only example of life we have, the various Origin(s) of Life research people certainly do not think that is is essential for several of the origins scenarios under active research. Nor is it considered an essential component in some of the maintenance-of-life chemistries proposed for places like Enceladus and Europa.
    Geochemical (Europeochemical, Enceladine?) energy may be sufficient. The usual problems of extrapolating from one data point.
    I read an argument recently (well, the last 6 months) that the commonest volume of habitable environment (sense – within a couple of orders of magnitude in pressure, temperature and component concentration of Earth’s surface) in the universe may be within the cool upper atmospheres of brown dwarf stars. Which really challenges the meaning of “starlight” versus the chemistry of the body you’re living on.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Nice to see you back from inspecting. 🤨

      Are you suggesting life could reside in the atmosphere of stars? Would they then have to be some kind of bird-like creature? Or only particles?

      • phoffman56
        Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

        Reminds me of Fred Hoyle’s scifi “The Black Cloud”

        I read that what seems like 3 lifetimes ago.

        The final sentence in wiki on it sure does ring true today:

        “The novel has a recurrent theme of the duplicity and shallowness of politicians compared with scientists.”

        • David Evans
          Posted August 6, 2020 at 1:45 am | Permalink

          And I saw it described in a review as “a glimpse into the scientific power-dream”

          • phoffman56
            Posted August 6, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

            “….the scientific power-dream”

            is a worthless attempt to slam scientists in general.

            It certainly applies to a small minority people in the past who were scientists. As phrased by a person who has likely never contributed a thing to the improvement of the human condition, it needs to be countered. But most scientists are too busy trying to contribute as above.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 22, 2020 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Avi Loeb’s suggestion most recently, IIRC, but it wasn’t new to him. For a long time people have been reporting bacteria in high-altitude air sample (well, filter scrapings, which raises questions of it’s own) with questions about how much contact they have with the ground. Where do they get their minerals? That’s a genuine, but not insuperable problem for air-dwelling organisms (Texas got a light dusting of Saharan sand a few weeks ago – it’s unremarkable unless you’ve never heard of it before).
        Specifically for brown dwarfs, the volume with a density in the ~water and temperature in the region below the critical point of water could e quite large – a tenth or so of a Jupiter volume while the corresponding volume for Earth’s water-compatible volume is a factor of a thousand or so lower. So, just on the numbers, the insides of brown dwarfs are worth paying attention to. Whether life can survive only on CHONPS without a smidgin of Mo and a drachm of Fe is an open question.
        Bird like? Why not Portuguese Man o’War like as your search image – using gas buoyancy to move and manage your environment.

        • rickflick
          Posted August 22, 2020 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          Sounds plausible.

    • phoffman56
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Another quibble is that it’s said the neg-entropy from the sun, not exactly energy, is what permits local ‘violation’ of the 2nd law on earth, by life existing. I think but cannot find where David Deutsch discussed that. In any case, it seems still a thorny topic, with lots of words like extropy, exergy, negative entropy, free entropy, free energy, … Deutsch does claim there is yet no bullet-proof deduction from fundamental laws of particles to probabilistic laws of large amalgamations of them.

      It would clearly be better, if awkward English, to call it the ‘2nd very accurate but still just extraordinarily highly probable fact of thermodynamics’. Boltzmann deduced it (but Deutsch??) inventing statistical mechanics, ‘enumeration’ of possible states of large numbers of particles. So some isolated system could even so-called ‘violate’ it once in awhile if the universe lasted 10 to the power 10 to the power a trillion years. (No, no typo there!)

      Or so I understand as a non-physicist.

  7. chris moffatt
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    It’s almost as if there were a tremendous source of continual energy close to the earth that would somehow prevent that ‘entropy’ from occurring.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 5, 2020 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      The Moon God?

    • Jonathan Wallace
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 2:23 am | Permalink

      Spooky ain’t it?

  8. Servatius
    Posted August 5, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Wow that was a really good one.

  9. john reynolds
    Posted August 6, 2020 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    The 2LoT is a LAW for a reason. You cannot bypass it ever(macroscopic level). If you clean up a room or make a room more messy, you increase entropy.

    Why? Because work creates heat and heat is the ‘ghost in the machine’. The energy stored in chemical bonds of an energy source is converted to thermal energy to power a system. Since heat moves from hot to cold, it is essentially non-recoverable to the system. This is entropy, the amount of energy is still there (closed system) but the amount of usable energy to the system has decreased. Thermodynamic disorder increases because you have converted a lot of chemical energy stored in the molecular bonds to thermal energy, fewer bonds means the atom are a lot freer to move around. And that is the relationship of thermodynamic order and entropy.

    You now know more about T2LoT than most first year science/engineering students who are taught this idiotic messy/neat idea of the law.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 6, 2020 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      The 2LoT does have some problems: if “the entropy of a finite system tends to increase”, how can it be a valid law when a finite or “closed system” does not exist anywhere. Not even the “known” universe can be assumed to be a “finite system”.


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