Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Religion and science - oh dear!

Often its better to steer clear of the old science vs religion debate. There's plenty of chatter about that in the letters pages of the Irish Times whenever Prof. William Reville thinks he's the religious correspondent rather than the science one. I'll leave all that to the philosophers to resolve.

However, a quite remarkable story has emerged in the UK whereby a Professor of Thermodynamics & Combustion Studies in the Mechanical Engineering Dept at Leeds University has been advocating that the Earth is only 6000 years old and he is part of an organisation called "Truth in Science"(sic) which promotes Intelligent Design/Creationism in UK schools. What is most remarkable, however, is not that this person is making public their deep religious conviction, which he is of course entitled to do, but that he is now actually claiming that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics proves that evolution cannot happen and therefore that a creator had to have a hand in the process (is the creator subject to the 2nd law also?). As a lapsed (?) physicist I can only respond with a stunned silence at the thought of a Professor of "thermodynamics" making the kind of basic error and misunderstanding that I'd have failed a first year undergraduate for committing!

He is also being backed up by Prof Stuart Burgess, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Bristol.

Please don't misunderstand, people can believe whatever they want to, but talking nonsense about science in this way, really is something else. I'm afraid that the 2nd law does not prevent evolution. Small issues to do with localism, closed systems, etc are subtleties that seem to have passed Prof MacIntosh by. Perhaps most of his efforts were in the "combustion" part of his duties, although dealing with smaller bangs then the big one, I presume! :-)

No comments: