email to Ted Davis on 8/27/2012
Dear Dr. Ted Davis,
I think you should know that if you don’t take any action at all, I’ll be bringing the matter to the attention of Dr. Phipps.
Dear Dr Roemer,
This is simply a threat. Shame on you—is this how you respond to people who don’t do your bidding? You dragged me into this entirely on your own, Dr Roemer. I don’t encourage you to contact President Phipps, not because I fear any action she might take—she fully supports my involvement with BioLogos, and she understands that you are simply on a crusade to cause trouble for me (and others), because we won’t help you fight your own battles—but because it will simple waste some of her very valuable time. I needn’t add, that you are doing that already with my time. If you raise this issue with me again, I will have no choice but to block your messages. I have classes to teach, and students to meet with, and your concerns are not high on the agenda.
Since you did not send me information about any articles you’ve written for “First Things,” I gather that you actually are not a writer for that magazine, as you claimed. At least, I can find no evidence of such activity.
Edward B. Davis
Professor of the History of Science
One College Avenue Suite 3030
Mechanicsburg PA 17055
Voice: 717-766-2511, ext 6840
Dear Dr. Phipps,
I think you should be aware of the conflict I’m having with a number of physicists and scientists about an absurd article published by the American Journal of Physics (Entropy and evolution, Nov. 2008). One of them is Ted Davis, who you are trusting to teach Christian students. His behavior is no worse or better than the behavior of a number of other scientists that I have confronted about this article.
- The theory of natural selection only explains the adaptation of animals to the environment, not common descent. Not enough is known about the innovations natural selection acts upon to understand how bacteria evolved into mammals in only 3.5 billion years.
- The only theory that explains common descent is intelligent design, but there is no evidence for ID. Many scholars think that what is wrong with ID is that it is “not science.”
- The second law of thermodynamics (entropy or disorder increases in an open system of non-interacting particles) does not apply to evolution. Some scholars think evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics and others think it does not. The second law also does not apply to the evolution of stars from hydrogen gas.
- The sun increases disorder in the biosphere because it heats things up. Some scholars think that evolution does not violate the second law because the earth is exposed to energy from the sun.
- The entropy of the biosphere cannot be calculated using the Boltzmann constant and an estimate of the thermodynamic probability of living organisms. An article published by the American Journal of Physics (Vol. 76, No. 11, November 2008) performs such a calculation. You can download this article at https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bw0xQqr5YbtJQ09ybDR0ejd2TTA
Email to Clarence Menniga and Provost of Calvin College on 10/11/12. Subject: American Scientific Affiliation
Why haven’t you responded to my review of your book on Amazon.com and the Open Forum of the American Scientific Affiliation? It indicates that you know the attached American Journal of Physics article (“Entropy and evolution”) should be retracted. Your comments about entropy and evolution are just a mindless repetition of the errors in the AJP article.
Your silence raises questions about your integrity. Your book criticizes creationists for distorting science. You and the AJP are lying about science, as I explained to the AJP. The AJP should have given my critique to the author of the article. If the author said I was wrong, I would have written to his college and told them he wasn’t qualified to teach physics.
I posted my explanation of why the article should be retracted in the Open Forum of the ASA. Randy Isaac replied with nonsense and Robert Kaita is letting him get away with it. The ASA is effect is helping the AJP cover up its error.
If the AJP retracts the article it will be very embarrassing for atheists. Atheists promote the scam that natural selection explains the complexity of life and that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. The truth is that natural selection only explains the adaptation of species to the environment, though there is no way to draw a hard line between adaptation and common descent. The truth is that the second law of thermodynamics does not apply to evolution, just as it does not apply to the evolution of stars.
My correspondence with physicists about this issue is at
A version of my attached article was published by the Catholic Truth of Scotland:
My YouTube video titled “The Truth About Evolution and Religion” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaF8vX6HXQ) also sheds light on this issue.
What you and all the members of the ASA, especially those who profess to be Christians, is resign from the ASA.
Email sent on 10/18/12
2. Natural selection means natural selection acting upon innovations. According to James Shapiro (University of Chicago), the old paradigm for innovations was random mutations and the new paradigm is genetic engineering. Natural selection only explains the adaptation of species to the environment. It does not explain how bacteria evolved into mammals in only 3.5 billion years. The only theory that explains this is intelligent design, but there is no evidence for intelligent design.
3 and 4. All you need to know about the evolution of stars is that the hydrogen atoms in outer space go from a large volume to a small volume. This is the exact opposite of what happens in the free expansion of a gas. The second law is not universal. The second law is absolutely true because a system of non-interacting molecules will always fill up the entire container it is in. I understand that the second law can account for and include chemical reactions. The second law does not apply to the evolution of stars or the evolution of life.
5. A living organism is not a sum of chemical reactions. A chemical reaction can be described with a balanced equation. A living organism engages in genetic engineering. If you place a single bacterium in a solution of sucrose, a set of proteins will ingest the sucrose and another set will transform the sucrose into new cellular matter. The number of bacteria will increase until the sucrose runs out. If you place the bacterium in a solution of sucrose and fructose, the bacteria will ingest the sucrose, but not the fructose, until the sucrose is gone. The bacteria will stop reproducing for a time. During this time, the bacteria create a new set of proteins that enable it to ingest and synthesize the fructose. This is called genetic engineering.
6. All substances, like an object made from FeO, have a temperature because it can be measured with a thermometer. A Boeing 747 in flight does not have a temperature. Since the concept of entropy is derived from the concept of temperature and heat, a Boeing 747 does not have entropy. Likewise, a living organism does not have entropy. The science articles that discuss the entropy of an organism are breaking the organism down into the parts that can be described with chemical reactions.
7. I noticed with interest your insight that the term complexity is not easy to define. Nevertheless, biologists consider a mammal to be more complex than a bacterium. Since we agree that the second law does not apply to evolution, what is it that we disagree about? Why don’t you agree that the AJP article is absurd? The article calculates the entropy of a biological system using the Boltzmann constant and an estimate of the thermodynamic probability. The connection between evolution and the second law is this: Physicists calculate the probability that all the molecules in a gas will huddle into one corner of the container. Biologists calculate the probability of getting the primary structure of a protein with the random selection of amino acids. They do the same kind of probability calculations.
8. The growth of a tree is not the result of chemical reactions. The biological process involves cell differentiation. The tree starts as one cell and becomes two identical cells, and then four identical cells. Then the cells start to change. The next eight cells are not identical. A grown tree has a large number of different cells. Your statement that it is the result of “natural processes” is quite puzzling. Are there unnatural processes? As I understand developmental biology, there is very little known or understood about how a single cell develops into a multi-cellular organism. This is one of the complexities of life, in addition to molecular machinery, genetic engineering, and the primary structure of a protein.
9. Again we agree that evolution does not violate the second law. The second law does not apply to evolution. It applies only to non-interacting particles and chemical reactions. Evolution is not the result of chemical reactions. Why then don’t you agree that the AJP article should be retracted?
In conclusion, saying evolution violates the second law is an ignorant way of expressing the limited explanatory power of natural selection. It is just as ignorant to say evolution does not violate the second law. It is unintelligent to say evolution doesn’t violate the second law because the Earth is not a closed system. The Earth is not a closed system because it gets heat energy from the Sun. Heat tends to increase disorder and entropy. The AJP article exceeds in stupidity and ignorance these ideas because it includes an incorrect equation for entropy.
The motivation for this nonsense is clear to me. Atheists don’t like to admit that intelligent design is a better theory, in some sense, than natural selection. They don’t like to admit that the second law does not apply to evolution because that sounds like saying evolution violates the second law. Saying evolution violates the second law sounds like creationism and intelligent design. Atheists are more interested in marginalizing intelligent design and creationism than in understanding and teaching evolutionary biology.
Email received from Clarence Menninger on 28 Oct 2012
1. The meaning of “genetic engineering” as you use it to describe the growth process of an oak tree, and presumably the growth process of any other living organism, is very different from the usual meaning of that term. The usual meaning is a modification of the genetic makeup of a living cell by human intention and human intervention. In whatever sense the growth of an oak tree is genetic engineering, it is self-engineering. I prefer to think of it as the product of God’s design, taking place as He intended it to.
2. By “natural processes” I mean those events that take place without human intention or intervention. Well, I guess I intend to eat, and natural processes take over from there. Certainly the growth processes that you erroneously call “genetic engineering” are included in my “natural processes.”
3. Quite a few years ago, Michael Polanyi wrote a brief piece entitled “Life is more than physics and chemistry.” I subscribe to that perspective. Nevertheless, life involves chemical processes. I don’t understand your aversion to considering chemical processes; God used/uses a lot of them in his design for living organisms.
4. With this email, my participation in this conversation is concluded. I wish you God’s abundant blessings in your outreach ministry.
Email exchanges with Stephen Barr starting on 6/4/12. Subject: Pseudoscience in the American Journal of Physics
Dear Dr. Barr,
A member of the American Scientific Affiliation (Phillip Marsdon, Washington State U.) suggested that you might have some ideas about getting the AJP to retract the attached article titled, “Entropy and evolution.” My own efforts are not meeting with any success. The article sets forth a fake equation to prove that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics.
I’v attached two articles that deal with the connection between evolution and entropy in a scientifically sound way. My own analysis was published by the Catholic Truth at
I’v kept track of my conversations with the AJP on my blog:
Dear Dr. Roemer,
I have read your article given in the first link. I haven’t the time to go through all the articles and letters, as I have many other things to do. I will merely say the following things.
(a) The fact that evolution produces orderly structures from more disorganized matter does not violate the second law of thermodynamics.
(b) The second law allows order to increase in one system if energy is supplied to the system. For example, the entropy of the things placed in a refrigerator decreases as they cool. But energy (e.g. electrical) must be supplied to the refrigerator.
The sun supplies energy to the biosphere, some of this energy can be turned into work. This work can be used to decrease the entropy of some systems on earth. Consider the following set-up, as an illustration. The sun heats ocean water and makes clouds form. The clouds produce rain, which then fills a lake and drives a hydro-electric power plant. That plant produces electricity, which then powers a refrigerator in my home. That refrigerator decreases the entropy of the water I place in the freezer and makes its randomly moving water molecules form into highly structured ice crystals, which have lower entropy than the water did. The decrease in entropy of the water as it froze, could only happen because energy (work) was supplied. That energy ultimately came from the sun. There are several Carnot cycles going on in this illustration. One can think of the sun, ocean, clouds as a Carnot cycle. Energy is going from a hotter reservoir (the sun) to a cooler one (the ocean). This allows some of the sun’s heat to be converted into work — this work lifts the water from the ocean to the clouds. That work is converted by the hydro-electric plant into electrical energy. That electrical energy then drives another Carnot cycle in my refrigerator. That electrical energy (work) allows heat to be pumped from a colder reservoir (the contents of my refrigerator) into a hotter reservoir (my kitchen). All this obeys the second law.
(c) You are also wrong that entropy can only be defined for a system that has a uniform temperature.
I don’t have the time to get involved in controversy with you. I think you are on the wrong side of this argument. I don’t think it helps the Church to make bad arguments.
The Catholic Church has never condemned the idea of the natural evolution of plants and animals from simpler forms. Using bad science to support bad theology is a profound mistake. Leave that to the fundamentalist Protestants.
Dear Dr. Barr,
With all due respect, there is nothing in your email that shows you read my article. My guess is that you are a victim of the scam perpetrated by Protestants and atheists about evolution.
Scientists invented the theory of evolution to explain the existence of fossils, and a considerable amount of evidence supports this theory. This gives rise to the question of what caused life to evolve from bacteria to mammals in 3 billion years. The only theory that explains this is intelligent design (ID), but there is no evidence for ID. To make this theory look better, advocates of ID compare it with the theory of natural selection. Natural selection is supported by the evidence, but only explains the adaptation of species to the environment, not the increase in the complexity of life. Atheists go along with this misinformation because they don’t want to admit that there is no scientific explanation for evolution at the present time.
Saying evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics is way of promoting this scam. The article you are approving of goes so far as to give a phony equation proving that evolution does not violate the second law.
The connection between evolution and the second law is not the drivel you repeated in you email. The connection is that the model biologists use for the primary structure of a protein is an English sonnet, just as physicists use a deck of playing cards as the model for a gas. Physicists and biologists do the same kind of probability calculations, just like in statistical mechanics.
I think you owe me an apology. You can apologize by giving my email to someone who has the time to reconsider whether or not they understand biological evolution and thermodynamics. As a starter, watch my youtube video titled, “The Truth About Evolution and Religion,” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaF8vX6HXQ.
Emails starting on 7/12/12 to First Things. Subject: Evolution and the culture war.
I thought you might be interested in the attached essay which concerns an absurd article titled “Entropy and evolution” published by the American Journal of Physics.
Don’t show it to Stephen Barr, who is a Catholic physicists known to First Things I believe. I sent Dr. Barr a version of this article that was published in the Catholic Truth of Scotland newsletter (http://www.catholictruthscotland.com/MAYnewsletter12.pdf). He could not wrap his head around the idea that a peer-reviewed physics journal could be in error.
Dear Mr. Roemer,
Thank you for your interest in First Things! And for your submission, which has been forwarded to our editorial staff. They will be in touch with you in two to four weeks. Should you have any questions, feel free to send them to this address. Thanks again.
All the best, Anna Williams, Junior Fellow
Dear Mr. Roemer,
Just to follow up on the email I sent earlier — I see that your piece already appears on your personal website, and we generally do not reprint pieces that have already been published elsewhere. If you’re interested in submitting other pieces in the future, our full guidelines can be found here.
Thanks again for your submission,
Email to First Things, James Peterson, and Robert Kaita on 7/16/12.
I’m not really interested in getting “Evolution and the culture war” published. My goal is to get the American Journal of Physics to retract the article I attached for the reasons I give. My explanation of why the article is absurd was already published in the Catholic Truth of Scotland newsletter. The editor of AJP, David Jackson, is not taking responsibility for misinformation that undermines a reason to believe in the Bible. Jackson is shifting the responsibility to an anonymous reviewer of a version of my article I submitted to the AJP. An anonymous reviewer has no reputation to protect and cannot take responsibility for anything.
I submitted my essay to James C. Peterson, editor of the peer-reviewed Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, published by the American Scientific Affiliation. Peterson rejected my article for reasons that I consider disingenuous. My essay is not publishable in a peer-reviewed journal because PSCF’s readers would have wondered: Why doesn’t the AJP correct its mistake?
On the Open Forum of the ASA, I explained why the article is nonsense, but Randy Isaac, the Executive Director of the ASA, squelched me. Isaac posted comments saying that I didn’t understand the second law of thermodynamics. In effect, Isaac is doing Jackson’s dirty work, and Peterson is backing him up. Robert Kaita is the Vice President of the ASA.
The person at First Things who needs to be educated about evolutionary biology and the second law of thermodynamics is Stephen M. Barr. In a private email, Barr claimed to have read the Catholic Truth of Scotland article and told me I was wrong. He just repeated the nonsense in the AJP article and similar articles.
What the editors of First Things and PSCF should do is explain to Jackson what his responsibilities are and that his behavior is putting them in a difficult position. Barr and Isaac made fools of themselves because they assume peer-reviewed physics articles have no egregious errors and because they swallow the hogwash advocates of ID and mainstream biologists spew when discussing evolution on TV and other popular media. I learn about evolution by reading textbooks, scholarly works, and peer-reviewed articles.
Email sent on 7/23/12 to Robert Louis Wilken and First Things. Subject: Stephen Barr
Dear Dr. Wilken,
I’m writing to you about Stephen M. Barr who is a member of the Academy of Catholic Theology and on the Advisory Council of First Things. I submitted the attached article to First Things, a version of which was published in the Catholic Truth of Scotland newsletter (http://www.catholictruthscotland.com/MAYnewsletter12.pdf).
My article (“Evolution and the culture war”) explains why the attached peer-reviewed article published by the American Journal of Physics (“Entropy and evolution”) contains such an absurd equation in thermodynamics that the entire article should be retracted.
Dr. Barr, who is a physicists and should understand the second law of thermodynamics, told me that I was wrong in an email. He declined to answer my demand for an apology and my implication that he did not read slowly enough the Catholic Truth of Scotland article. I’m holding Dr. Barr responsible for the editorial decision of First Things to not publish my article.
I’d appreciate your asking Dr. Barr to reconsider his hasty judgement which has the effect of allowing the American Journal of Physics to continue to propagate false information. I am more than willing to walk Dr. Barr and the editors at First Things through the second law of thermodynamics and its relationship to biological evolution. If he does not apologize and remedy his mistake, I can make a good case for expelling him from the Academy of Catholic Theology.
Email sent to George Weigel and First Things on 7/24/12
Dear Mr. Weigel ,
I submitted the attached essay (“Evolution and the culture war”) to First Things. The essay explains why the attached peer-reviewed article published by the American Journal of Physics (“Entropy and evolution”) should be retracted. A version of the essay was published in the Catholic Truth of Scotland newsletter (http://www.catholictruthscotland.com/MAYnewsletter12.pdf). The scientific misinformation in the article supports atheistic propaganda.
I sent the Catholic Truth version to Dr. Stephen Barr, who is a physicist and on the Advisory Council of First Things. Dr. Barr writes books about science and religion, and should understands entropy, which is a concept in thermodynamics. Dr. Barr told me that I was wrong. Since his comments just repeated the nonsense in the AJP article and similar articles, I did not tell the editor of the Catholic Truth of Scotland.
Dr. Barr declined to answer my demand for an apology and my suggestion that he re-read the essay. I’m advising you that there is a trembling and fearful conflict between the Catholic Truth of Scotland and First Things.
Email recieved on 7/24/12
Dear Dr. Roemer,
Thank you for your interest in First Things! And for your submission, which has been forwarded to our editorial staff. They will be in touch with you in four to six weeks. Should you have any questions, feel free to send them to this address. Thanks again.
All the best,Mark Misulia, Junior Fellow
Email received on 7/31/12
Dear Mr. Roemer,
Thank you for your concern. I don’t think meeting would accomplish anything substantive, especially when we are busy working on the October issue and don’t have much time to spare. Dr. Barr is a physicist of distinction and a member of our Advisory Council and we aren’t inclined to question his judgment in these matters. In any case, it’s a controversy to be waged in the journals involved.
Faithfully, David Mills
Email sent to First Things on 7/31/12
Dear Mr. Mills,
I complained about First Thing’s handling of the situation with George Weigel and Robert Wilken, but I don’t know if they got my emails. In any case, I’ll be taking the matter up with them. You might consider that they are probably just as busy as you, and will appreciate the Executive Editor handling responsibly the morally perilous situation Stephen Barr has put you in.
Understanding evolutionary biology and the second law of thermodynamics doesn’t require judgment, as you seem to think. It requires knowledge and intelligence. In addition to the email he sent me in what must have been a fit of anger, I’v read a number of things by Stephen Barr about evolution. He subscribes to the errors I describe and explicate in my submitted essay. Barr should have either explained to me why I was wrong, or tell the Catholic Truth of Scotland newsletter about my error.
I’v done everything I can to persuade the American Journal of Physics to retract the article. David Jackson, the editor of the AJP, should have forwarded my critique to Daniel Styer, the author. If Styer said I was wrong, I would have told his employer that he is not qualified to teach physics.
Instead, Jackson told me to submit my own article to the AJP. I did so, and an anonymous reviewer said that I did not know what I was talking about. Jackson is using this anonymous review to justify not printing a retraction. I accused Jackson of dishonesty and told his boss at the American Physics Teachers Association that he should be fired. In effect, Stephen Barr is doing the AJP’s dirty work. He is publically saying that the AJP article is okay and is preventing First Things from publishing my essay.
My essay was written in order to explain the absurdity of the AJP article to everyone. I’m repeating my offer to explain the matter to you, Anna, and Mark step-by-step, and why Stephen Barr owes me an apology.
Email sent on 8/1/12 to First Things
Dear Anna and Mark,
I want to explain what is motivating David Mill’s irresponsible behavior. First Things and Stephen Barr stand behind the atheistic propaganda that “the theory of intelligent design is not science.” If Stephen Barr is wrong about evolution, then First Things is wrong about evolution. Just as the American Journal of Physics erred in publishing the Styer article, First Things erred in publishing Stephen Barr’s superficial and ignorant musings about evolutionary biology. As someone who had a short business career, I know how important it is to be a company man.
ID is irrational because there is no evidence supporting this theory. Anxiety about religion inhibits ID advocates from thinking rationally. They consider, as do atheists, the Big Bang, the origin of life, and evolution evidence of God’s existence. My metaphysics teacher at Fordham was Norris Clarke, S. J., and he said the success of the scientific method is evidence of God’s existence because it supports the hope that the universe is intelligible. I consider the Big Bang, etc., evidence that the universe is not intelligible and that God does not exist. The Big Bang, etc., however, is evidence that God has communicated Himself to mankind because the Bible says God created the universe from nothing and that God cares about our welfare.That there is no evidence for ID raises the question of what evidence there is for the theory of natural selection. There is plenty of evidence that natural selection explains adaptation, but there is no evidence it explains genetic engineering, molecular machinery, cell differentiation, and animal instincts. Biologists understand this, but dilettantes like Barr do not. First Things has been helping atheists suppress one of the reasons to believe in the Bible. This is not something First Things wants to think about.Fortunately, First Things has to think about it because the American Journal of Physics published an incorrect equation for entropy and is refusing to correct its error.
Email to First Things on 8/1/12
Intelligence is usually a measure of how fast or slow it takes someone to grasp a theory or insight. In the case of religion, there is so much anxiety that people are inhibited from thinking intelligently. Because of blind spots, they can’t even grasp a theory.
I went to a Catholic college and am intelligent enough to grasp and formulate four solutions to the mind-body problem and four answers to the question of what caused the Big Bang. I give myself an IQ of 100: 20 points for understanding the mind-body problem and 10 points for each theory. My guess is that your IQ is no higher than Stephen Barr’s, which I estimate to be 50 points. Atheists have an IQ of 20, and Protestants usually have IQs of around 40 points.
I challenge you to take the test. You can consult with Anna, do Google searches, and take as much time as you want. If you know someone I can trust not to help you, I’ll explain how I will grade your test ahead of time.
What do you say?
Email to Mary Ann Glendon on 8/1/12
Dear Prof. Glendon,
I’m writing to complain about David Mills in connection with the attached essay (“Evolution and the culture war”) and a peer-reviewed article (“Entropy and evolution”) published by the American Journal of Physics. My essay explains why the AJP article should be retracted. It contains, believe it or not, an erroneous equation purporting to show that evolution does not violate the law that entropy (disorder) always increases. A version of my essay was published in the Catholic Truth of Scotland newsletter at
I think both of my versions explain, in a way anyone can understand, how absurd the AJP article is. In an email Mr. Mills told me, “Dr. [Steven] Barr is a physicist of distinction and a member of our Advisory Council and we aren’t inclined to question his judgment in these matters.” I doubt very much that Mills contacted Barr about my submission. He got the idea that Barr thinks the AJP article is okay because I told First Things about an absurd email, no doubt written in anger, I got from Barr.
Barr’s anger is understandable. He saw at once that the AJP article is consistent with his superficial understanding of evolutionary biology and misunderstanding of the theory of intelligent design (ID).
Barr’s criticism of ID is that is not science. A more rational criticism is that there is no evidence for ID. The scientific criticism raises the question of what evidence there is for natural selection? There is a lot of evidence, but natural selection only explains the adaptation of species to the environment. Biologists in peer-reviewed articles and scholarly works always refer to “adaptive evolution.” No biologist thinks natural selection explains the complexity of living organism, notwithstanding the propaganda of atheists and ID people.
The American Journal of Physics is using trickery to avoid publishing a rebuttal. They are getting away with this because First Things and Barr and his like are letting them.
My correspondence with physicists about this issue is at
My YouTube video titled “The Truth About Evolution and Religion” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKaF8vX6HXQ) also sheds light on this issue.
I’v offered to meet with the editors of First Things to explain the situation and answer any questions they may have. My offer has been refused.
Email to Matthew Levering and Robert Kaita sent on 9/27/12
I’m in the same kind of conflict about science and religion with Cardinal Dolan about the Shroud of Turin as I am with Dr. Barr about evolutionary biology. Whereas His Eminence, in my opinion, is unwittingly promoting atheism by saying my slideshow/lecture debunks the relic (http://www.holyshroud.info), Barr’s behavior is morally questionable. I’v attached my letter to Dolan because there is connection between the Big Bang and evolutionary biology. Both phenomena are part of our salvation history because there is no rational explanation for them.
The theory of intelligent design explains how bacteria evolved into mammals in only 3.5 billion years, but there is no evidence for ID. Barr is against ID because it is “not science.” This serves to promote the atheistic idea that the theory of natural selection explains evolution, not just the adaptation of species to the environment. Biologists always speak of “adaptive evolution.” Biologists understand that not enough is known about the innovations natural selection acts upon to understand the complexity of living organisms.
Our lack of understanding of evolution means that the second law of thermodynamics (a gas will fill up the entire container it is in) does not apply to evolution, just as it does not apply to the evolution of stars. The second law only applies to a system of noninteracting entities. Saying that evolution does not violate the second law is a minor error because there are those who say it does violate the second law.
The American Journal of Physics article (“Entropy and evolution”) uses a fake equation to prove evolution does not violate the second law. I explain this in an article published in the Catholic Truth of Scotland newsletter. A similar analysis is in a peer-reviewed journal, which I can send you along with some other articles in peer-reviewed journals about this issue. Granville Sewell, a mathematics professor, also explains this in an article published in Evolution News.
Barr’s response to the Catholic Truth of Scotland article was inane because he simply repeated the drivel in the AJP article, adding “I don’t think it helps the Church to make bad arguments.” If Barr had integrity, he would have sent his email to the editor of the Catholic Truth of Scotland. If he was honorable, he would spare his admirers and colleagues from having to answer for his misbehavior.
Barr is not the only physicist that is refusing to admit the AJP article should be retracted. Randy Isaac, Executive Director of the American Scientific Affiliation, a self-proclaimed Christian organization, corresponded with me on the organization’s Open Forum. His statements were so ignorant and nonsensical that I appealed to Robert Kaita (Vice President of the ASA) to assign a moderator to our discussion. Kaita did not do so. I believe that most of the members of the ASA are liberal Christians and are just as emotionally wrapped up in the idea that natural selection explains evolution as Barr. The AJP is using trickery to avoid taking responsibility for the article.
The member of the Academy of Catholic Theology who should address this matter is Robert Louis Wilkens because he is also on the Institute Board of First Things. First Things should either publish the article I submitted (“Evolution and the culture war”), or get the AJP to retract its article. So long as the article exists, everyone who knows or should know that the article is absurd has a guilty conscience.
Email exchanges with Ephraim Radner dated September 29, 2012. Subject: First Things and Stephen Barr
Dear Mr. Roemer,
Thanks for writing. The debate is fascinating (even though I am not qualified to judge its details). I read your own piece with interest.
I am not sure, however, what you are asking of me, or of e.g. Prof. Novak. To get get Stephen Barr to engage you somehow? To get First Things to publish an article of yours? On the latter side of things, I have no role; that is an editorial issue and, as I said, I dont’ know anything about this topic, and am not therefore in any position to offer “advice” (I do that about other areas I know something about). On the first issue, I don’t know Dr. Barr either, and in fact have never met him (he was not at our last meeting). Certainly, it is not up to me to tell him whom he should talk to! I do know that, should Barr write an article for First Things, a letter from you about it is likely to be published, and that is probably the main way this publication can be a vehicle for such engagement, given that your concern is about something published somewhere else altogether.
Your idea that I should “resign” from the Advisory Board if I can’t “talk sense” into Dr. Barr, from your perspective, does seem a bit over the top! And it is hardly a good way to elicit my sympathies for your perspective.
Dear Mr. Radner,
What First Things should do is show the American Journal of Physics my article in the Catholic Truth of Scotland newsletter and a similar article in Evolution News by a professor of mathematics and ask why the “Entropy and evolution” article has not been retracted. If the AJP retracts the article, their gross lie about evolution not violating the laws of physics will stop deceiving people like Stephen Barr who propagates misinformation about evolutionary biology in the pages on First Things.
What you should do is examine your conscience. I see an analogy between the conduct of the AJP and the many other people I have advised about the erroneous equation in the article, and the murder of noncombatants by Germans in World War II. No one was ever forced to commit murder, however, there were severe penalties for telling about the killings.
You should read my email exchanges with Dr. Richardson of New York University, where I got a Ph.D. in physics. Dr. Richardson was recommended to me by a colleague of his that I am friends with. Richardson initially supported my view about the absurdity of the equation in the article. But when he realized what he was getting involved in he became hostile and insulting. I am being punished for not remaining silent.
Dear Mr. Roemer,
I hear your frustration at not being listened to at this time in an important debate.
However, neither I nor Mr. Mills have any knowledge about the e.g. mathematical equations involved in calculating entropic forces etc. from which to offer persuasive advice to the AJP! Nor would First Things as a journal in their view! You need to get physicists on your side, not ignorant theologians! I already believe in a Creator God, without this set of questions being resolved. (Which isn’t to say that the questions should not be be debated and resolved; only that that is not my purview of inquiry, and that it does not affect my fundamental views personally.)
As I said, when Dr. Barr publishes in First Things, it would be more than appropriate for you to write a letter to the Editor equitably challenging that which you believe needs challenging in this writing. And, because published in First Things, Barr’s writing would deserve such a letter of challenge and it would most likely be published.
You want to draw us into your debate with AJP, another journal in another discipline. Your moral analogy may or may not be accurate in this case. I happen not to think that it is. Waiting for the right venue to engage this particular argument is not a matter of allowing mortally criminal behavior to escape scrutiny and responsible adjudication. It is a matter of respecting the parameters in which persuasive argument can rightly be had. As I said, you are pushing the envelope on this score, and I don’t think it is helping the argument itself.
This, I’m afraid, is the best response I can offer.
Dear Mr. Radner,
In physics, the parameters of a debate about peer-reviewed articles are well established. I told the editor of the AJP about the erroneous equation. The editor should have forwarded my comment to the author (Daniel Styer) for rebuttal. If Styer said I was wrong, my recourse would have been to write to his college and say he shouldn’t be teaching thermodynamics. Instead the editor used trickery to avoid taking responsibility for the mistake, and Stephen Barr and David Mills are helping them with their deception. Your unwillingness to get involved by telling First Things to take your name off its masthead makes you a collaborator.
Email sent to Institute Board and Advisory Council of First Things on October 2, 2012. Subject: First Things Masthead
I finished sending emails to all or most of the advisors and board members of First Things criticizing the journal and especially Stephen Barr for collaborating with the refusal of the American Journal of Physics to retract an absurd article titled “Entropy and evolution.”
I explained in a way that anybody can understand that the concept of entropy does not apply to evolutionary biology (and the evolution of stars), and that the equation in the article purporting to prove that evolution does not violate the laws of physics is absurd.
I use the word collaborate because I see an analogy between a gross error in a peer-reviewed physics article and the murder of noncombatants by Germans in World War II. No one was ever forced to kill noncombatants, however, there were severe penalties for telling about the killings. Collaboration took the form of being silent.
As long as you allow your name to remain on the Masthead of First Things you are guilty of collaborating with wrongdoing. For the sake of your conscience, you should read and digest the information at http://newevangelist.me/2012/08/02/first-things.
Email to Peter J. Leithart sent on Oct. 2.
I am very much obliged. I’v attached three more articles that support what I am saying.
Unfortunately this principle cannot explain the formation of biological structures.The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small.
Email sent to Fr. Austriaco, Fr. Fields, and Dr. Barr on 12/3/12
Dear Fr. Austriaco,
I don’t understand why you don’t feel qualified to determine whether the AJP article is absurd. I think the following eight steps make it very clear. What part don’t you understand? Maybe Stephen Barr, who has a Ph.D. in physics, will help you out. You will certainly be able to help out Dr. Barr because I don’t think he understands # 1. My guess is that Dr. Barr learned about evolutionary biology by reading magazine articles by Protestants and atheists. Fr. Fields is also a member of the Academy of Catholic Theology.
- Natural selection explains why giraffes have long necks, but now how bacteria evolved into giraffes in only 3.5 billion years. Evolutionary biologists always speak of adaptive evolution. The old model for evolution was a tornado hitting a junkyard and producing a Boeing 747 in flight. The new model is a computer generating a Shakespearean sonnet by the random selection of letters.
- Thermodynamics and statistical mechanics are connected branches of physics. The key variable in thermodynamics is temperature, which is the sensation of hot and cold. It is measured with a thermometer in units called degrees. The second law of thermodynamics states that a gas will fill up the entire container it is in. The second law does not apply to the evolution of stars or biological evolution.
- Statistical mechanics is related to thermodynamics. For example, the average kinetic energy of a gas molecule is directly proportional to the temperature of the gas. The constant of proportionality is the Boltzmann constant and is a decimal with 23 zeros.
- There is a very loose connection between evolutionary biology and statistical mechanics. In statistical mechanics, physicists calculate the number of ways of arranging N objects: N X (N-1) X (N-2)…. Biologists calculate the number of proteins that can be formed with N amino acids: 20 to the Nth power.
- Because of #4, some non-physicists mistakenly say that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics.
- Many scholarly works erroneously try to refute # 5 by giving an expanded explanation of the second law. They incorrectly describe the second law as stating that nature goes from order to disorder, thus supporting the idea the evolution violates the second law. But they point out that this principle only applies to closed systems. Since the biosphere was bathed in sunlight, the biosphere is not a closed system.
- The idea that evolution does not violate the second law because of the sun is absurd because the photons from the sun tend to cause disorder not order.
- The AJP article is even more absurd than this. It is based a fake equation connecting the statistical concept of the “thermodynamic probability” of the biosphere with the thermodynamic concept of entropy using the Boltzmann constant. It thus produces an equation showing that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics.
Letter sent to Russell Reno on December 10, 2012
Dear Mr. Reno,
I am writing to ask for an interview with you to explain why you should publish my essay, “Evolution and the culture war.” I have already had considerable correspondence about this matter with your office and individuals associated with First Things and the Academy of Catholic Theology.
My essay explains why an article (“Entropy and evolution”) published by the American Journal of Physics should be retracted. By not publishing my essay, you are collaborating with the American Journal of Physics and the American Association of Physics Teachers in covering up the mistake of publishing this absurd article.
Very truly yours, David Roemer
Email sent to Russell Reno, Robert Kaita, and Beth Cunningham on December 19, 2012
Dear Mr. Reno,
I got your letter saying you wouldn’t meet with me. The purpose of such a meeting would be for me to explain to you why Stephen Barr is lying about evolution. I’m not referring to his atheistic/positivist idea that the theory of intelligent design is not science. I’m referring to his email to me saying the absurd equation the attached article is based upon is correct.
You are in the same position as Robert Kaita is with respect to Randy Isaac, who are in positions of leadership in the American Scientific Affiliation. On the Open Forum of the ASA, Randy Isaac answered my explanation of why the AJP article should be retracted with nonsense. I asked Kaita to assign a moderator for our discussion. Kaita is refusing to do this, I assume, because he knows Isaac is lying through his teeth.
What I suggest you do is schedule a meeting with me and tell Stephen Barr about it. He may apologize for the email he sent me in what was obviously a fit of anger. If Barr was a rational and honest person about evolution and a good Catholic, he would have written to the Catholic Truth of Scotland about my published letter. If Stephen Barr admits that the AJP article should be retracted, then I no longer have any grounds for denigrating the character of the people affiliated with First Thingsand the Academy of Catholic Theology. I can direct my efforts towards the members of the ASA and the American Association of Physics Teachers.
Email from Robert Louis Wilkin to Russell Reno on December 20, 2012
I hope that you are ignoring this fellow.
Spoke with STanley this morning and he had high praise for FT under your editorship. He particularly liked the Leithart article (which came out of the PC conference I organized last year at which Stanley was to speak but could not be bothered) and David Hart’s piece.
Email from Peter Leithart on February 16, 2013
I’ve read through some of the material you send me. Can you clarify the following statement?
“My metaphysics teacher at Fordham was Norris Clarke, S. J., and he said the success of the scientific method is evidence of God’s existence because it supports the hope that the universe is intelligible. I consider the Big Bang, etc., evidence that the universe is not intelligible and that God does not exist. The Big Bang, etc., however, is evidence that God has communicated Himself to mankind because the Bible says God created the universe from nothing and that God cares about our welfare.”
The last two sentences contradict each other.
Good to hear from you. At the end of my answer, I’v pasted an open letter I’v been broadcasting. I’v also attached an essay that supports some of the things I say in my answer.
Humans decide whether a theory or insight is true or just probable by marshaling the evidence for and against and exercising their judgment. We know that God exists from the cosmological argument, which is the crowning achievement of the method of inquiry called metaphysics. The reason that it is an argument, and not a proof, is that God’s existence gives rise to the question of whether or not God has communicated Himself to mankind through the Western prophets and Eastern mystics. This question requires marshaling the evidence for and against the fundamental assumptions of metaphysics and deciding whether these assumptions are true. One of the basic assumptions is that the universe is intelligible. Evidence for this intelligibility is the success of the scientific method and the fact that things don’t pop into or out of existence for no reason at all. Evidence against intelligibility is the Big Bang, the origin of life, and the evolution of bacteria into mammals in only 3.5 billion years. I believe in revelation, nevertheless, because there is much more evidence in favor of revelation than against it. One bit of evidence is John 1:1 because this verse says God created the universe from nothing even though John did not know anything about the Big Bang.
There is a conflict between creationists and advocates of intelligent design (ID) on one side and their opponents. Conflict causes anxiety, and inhibition is a defense mechanism against anxiety. On the subject of evolution, both sides are inhibited from thinking intelligently and rationally and behaving honestly. Both sides agree that the Big Bang, etc., is evidence of God’s existence and not of God’s nonexistence. Of course, they have different judgments about the weight that should be given to the Big Bang. They resolve this disagreement to their own neurotic satisfaction by accusing one another of bad judgment.
This neuroticism reached a pinnacle in July, 2008, when the American Journal of Physics published “Entropy and evolution” and a further pinnacle in refusing to retract the article when I confronted them with its errors in February, 2012, not that I was the first to see the errors and write about it. The top of this mountain was reached in four stages.
Stage 1: It is widely believed that natural selection acting upon innovations explains how mammals evolved from bacteria in only 3.5 billion years. In fact, evolutionary biologists always speak of “adaptive evolution” because natural selection only explains the adaptation of species to its environment. Since there is no evidence for the theory of intelligent design, this theory is irrational.
Stage 2: Creationists have stated that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. In fact, the second law does not apply to the evolution of stars or biological evolution.
Stage 3: Many anti-creationists and anti-ID people say that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics and give reasons that are unintelligible.
Stage 4: This is a logical consequence of Stage 3. If evolution does not violate the second law, it should be possible to do a calculation that proves it. This is just what the AJP article did. The article uses the Boltzmann equation for entropy, which is a state variable in thermodynamics. It is as stupid as attempting to measure the temperature of a Boeing 747 in flight. A Boeing 747 and a mammal does not have a temperature.