The Thermodynamics of Andy McIntosh
The creationist campaigner Andy McIntosh spoke to me on today's Sunday Sequence, following Richard Dawkins's public challenge to his professional status as a scientist and professor at Leeds University. Dr McIntosh has claimed that biological evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which asserts that systems must become more disordered over time.
Critics claim he has failed to recognise that evolutionary biology relates to an "open" system, whereas the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies only to "closed" systems. Andy McIntosh told me he accepts that evolution relates to an open system, but there are nevertheless difficulties in respect of the Second Law.
When I asked him if he shares his view on this matter with students at Leeds University, he said he was happy to speak about his views when students raised questions about evolution. This is possibly significant, since Leeds University has published a statement distancing the University from Dr McIntosh's stance on evolution. Following today's interview, it seems clear that Professor McIntosh is prepared to explore these issues with students in the course of his work at the University.
To test whether he would regard any scientific view as grounds for dismissal from a university position, I asked Professor McIntosh if he believed a "scientist" defending geocentricity (the view that the earth is at the centre of the universe) should be dismissed from a teaching position, even if that person held to that view on the basis of his reading of the Bible. He repeatedly refused to answer that question. I pointed out that some creationists maintain geocentricity -- in opposition to Galileo and Copernicus -- on the basis of their reading of the Bible, just as his view that the universe is only six thousand years old is based on his reading of the Bible. You can hear the entire interview here.
After today's programme, I received the following comment by email from Andy McIntosh. Dr McIntosh has asked me to publish this in full on the blog today, which I am happy to do.
Professor A.C. McIntosh: A comment
My thanks to William Crawley for allowing me to speak on his programme today. Despite diversions on to age of earth issues (It is well known that I hold a young earth position and have done for years. My book Genesis for Today has been freely available for 10 years where I expound that view both Biblically and scientifically), we managed to get to the point in the short time I had available -
Thermodynamics as I have explained before, does lie at the heart of the debate. Boeing 777s cannot be made in a car factory unless the machinery is available to do so. Similarly the human brain cannot be formed from simpler machines if there is no machinery available to do this. Spontaneously forming such will not happen, even with natural selective forces at work. All natural selection will do is select from what is there already. It will not create a new machine which was not there before (either as a sub-machine or coded in embryonic form). An open thermodynamic system is not the answer either since simply adding energy to existing machinery will not change what is there already to a new machine. To quote Wilder Smith whose book 'The natural sciences know nothing of evolution' is available on the web - p. 146 "Today it is simply unscientific to claim that the fantastically reduced entropy of the human brain, of the dolphin's sound lens, and of the eye of a fossilised trilobite simply "happened", for experimental experience has shown that such miracles just do not "happen"."
My position is to side with experimental science and not with 'just so' attempts to get round the clear evidence of design in nature. At the very least these matters should be critically considered in science teaching today.
With a high volume of correspondence, I will not be able to enter extended discussions here, but may contribute as I am able.”