How did you guy become the coolest website around?
Atheist Answer: 

By eating our vegetables, being kind to the elderly, and saying our prayers.

Okay, maybe not the last part.


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Heat And You!

I'm sure you've seen variants on the thermodynamics theme before, but how would you answer the following?

Either the universe did always exist or the universe did not always exist. If the universe always existed, then it would have reached energy death according to "Heat And You" (see below) an infinite time ago, an absurdity given the universe's present state. If the universe didn't always exist, then either the universe caused itself to exist or the universe didn't cause itself to exist. If the universe caused itself to exist, then the universe would have existed before it existed, an absurdity. Therefore the universe didn't always exist and didn't cause itself to exist. Therefore an uncaused cause (not subject to "Heat And You!") caused the universe to exist. That uncreated entity, for the sake of this discussion, is God.

"Heat and You"! The three laws of heat:

In scientific terms:

(1) The increase in the energy of a closed system is equal to the amount of energy added to the system by heating, minus the amount lost in the form of work done by the system on its surroundings.
(2) The total entropy of any isolated thermodynamic system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value.
(3) As a system asymptotically approaches absolute zero of temperature all processes virtually cease and the entropy of the system asymptotically approaches a minimum value.

In darkly humorous form:

(1) You can't win; the best you can do is break even.
(2) You can only break even at absolute zero.
(3) You can't reach absolute zero.

In Joe Q. Public speak:

(1) There's no free lunch nowadays.
(2) Even paid lunches rot.
(3) The only lunch that couldn't and didn't rot was the free one at the beginning.

Contrast these laws with evolution:

In darkly humorous form:

(1) You can't help but win.
(2) Who cares about breaking even?
(3) Anything is possible.

In Joe Q. Public speak:

(1) Lunches don't cost anything nowadays.
(2) Who cares about paying?
(3) Money for nothing and the chicks for free (or so Dire Straits said in 1985).

The science of heat has been so well established that it hasn't had any research, other than perhaps for minor topics, for at least 65 years. Yet endless research into evolution continues, even though it conflicts with the science of heat. Hmm.

Some answers

For the sake of the discussion, did God cause himself to exist? Is that not absurd too? Has he reached heat death?

If the universe has existed forever, it's an isolated, closed system by definition (since there's nothing which is not within it) so it can break even. If it hasn't always existed, why can't something simpler than a god have brought it about? Why do you discount simpler matter or energy reactions, or a previous universe, and jump straight to a fully formed, sourceless intelligence? He's even harder to explain than the universe is.

In general, why don't you apply your questions on the origin of the universe to the origin of God? Is it just a no-go zone?

Jumping to evolution, it does represent a decrease in local entropy. So does building a tower out of Lego: there was no order to the blocks, and now there is some. Would you say it's impossible to build Lego structures, or indeed to build anything at all from unordered pieces? Of course not. We've all built something.
The key word here is "local". Within a system, entropy can decrease in one area if it increases by at least that much elsewhere. In the case of the Lego, entropy increases in your body as food is dissolved and digested. This gives you the energy to move the blocks.

So a transfer of energy can decrease local entropy enough to create order and complexity. The ultimate energy source for evolution, like nearly all earthly processes, is the sun. Earth's isolated system must of course include the sun. Its explosive fusion reactions increase entropy far more than the natural process of evolution decreases it, so no laws of physics are broken.

Thermodynamics and evolution are perfectly compatible, or else evolution would have been struck down in Darwin's lifetime; research towards entropic principles began around 1803.

So that's why we've heard the Argument from Thermodynamics a lot and yet we're still atheists.

- LX