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Feb 1 2006
sanford and intelligent design

Newswatch – WIS – TV – January 29, 2006

Host: David Stanton

Guest: Gov. Mark Sanford

DS: What do you think about the idea of teaching alternatives to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in public schools

for instance Intelligent Design?

Gov. Sanford: I have no problem with it.

DS: Do you think it should be done that way? Rather than just teaching Evolution?

Gov. Sanford: Well I think that it’s just, and science is more and more documenting this, is that there are real “chinks” in the armor of evolution being the only way we came about. The idea of there being a, you know, a little mud hole and two mosquitoes get together and the next thing you know you have a human being

is completely at odds with, you know, one of the

laws of thermodynamics which is the law of, of ... in essence, destruction.

Whether you think about your bedroom and how messy it gets over time or you think about the decay in the building itself over time. Things don't naturally order themselves towards progression

. Uuummm.. in the natural

order of things. So, it’s in fact, it’s against fairly basic laws of physics

and so I would not have a problem in teaching both Uh, you

saying this is one theory and this is another theory.

Comments from Alex: Obviously, Sanford does not understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics if he thinks that it means that collections of objects do EVER not move from a high entropy state to a low entropy state. Consider, for example, what happens if I take ore (a rock sample out of the ground) and melt it over a hot fire. It will separate into its constituent components, forming a liquid layer of light mineral over a liquid layer of heavier mineral. This is an example of a DECREASE in entropy of the ore. (Obviously this same sort of thing could happen inside a volcano without any human activity, just in case you're thinking that my involvement somehow allows the laws of physics to be broken...which it doesn't.)

Why doesn't this contradict the 2nd law of thermodynamics? Because the 2nd law of thermodynamics applies to a CLOSED system (one in which there is no input of energy from outside the system, and not just to one part of the system but the whole) and it applies over the long run, looking millions of years into the future. That is, localized or temporary decreases in entropy are not ruled out.

Why doesn't Sanford's argument against evolution make sense? Well, there are lots of ways. For one thing, if he believes that the existence of beings like us contradicts the second law of thermodynamics, then it contradicts it whether we were produced by creation or evolution! But, more to the point of the previous examples, our existence is not a problem for the 2nd law because: (1) Like the ore held over the fire, the Earth is pulling in energy from an external source THE SUN. If you count the tremendous gain in entropy from the fusion on the sun, then even counting the localized decrease in entropy on Earth resulting from life processes, the total entropy of the system does increase. (2) In the long run, when the sun uses up its supply of hydrogen fuel, it is hard to imagine how life on earth will be able to avoid an "increase in entropy". I mean, optimistically, we may be smart enough then to escape the solar system or "jumpstart" the sun. But, if it were to happen tomorrow, I imagine that life on Earth would soon cease.

Now, Sanford may have other arguments for ID or against the theory of evolution, and I'd be happy to listen to them. However, this particular argument "holds no water" and only demonstrates his ignorance of physics. (In fact, all of the "anti-evolution" arguments I have heard so far reveal an ignorance of either physics, math or biology...but that's another story.)

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