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The Law of Thermodorknamics

I’m such a dork. No, really. I am. If you haven’t figured that out already. It’s okay because my parents — as lovely and as lovable as they are — are dorks too. So I come by it honestly. And they love me.

Maybe everybody’s a dork and only a few of us admit it and embrace it. . . . Yeah, that’s the one I’m going with.

I found some more proof of my dorkitude today although, to be honest, it was Junior High and everybody’s a dork in Junior High.

I found the signatures on the inside fly-leaf of my Bible.

Now, in 1980, this was the thing to do if you were a fundamentalist child (a.k.a. dork). A famous preacher/speaker came to your church (probably also a dork) and you race up afterward (very dorkily) to get his signature in your Bible.

I loved this little Bible. It was my 12th birthday present from my parents. It was red and had a snap cover. Cambridge. KJV, of course. I didn’t have a Scofield (new or old), but my parents did. Frankly, my parents had every translation known to the English and French and Polish world, but that’s why I love them too!

So look.


Stop laughing at my dorky stickers. Stickers were soooooooo I.T. in 1980. They had whole sticker stores in the mall. And that pizza one was scratch-n-sniff!

And the second page:


First, isn’t my mother’s handwriting lovely? Dad’s is too. Steve and I must be a throw-back to some primitive inscrutable scrawl.

Notice all the women I got too! Yeah for me. My silent-but-rebel mom probably encouraged that. Or my loud-and-rebel dad. Or both. My parents are gems.

But look at the first signature I got up there at the top — Beneth Peters Jones. I remember when I got that signature. She was promoting her (then) new book Beauty and the Best at a neighboring church, and, of course, I bought a copy! I remember the sweater I was wearing. I loved that sweater. It was pink fair isle that I got at American Eagle which was really cool back then (read: dorky) and not slutty like it is now (read: cool). Also let me say that while that particular sweater is long-gone, I now know exactly how they are knitted (in the round from the top down) and where you can find the math to make your own (Elizabeth Zimmerman) and that kids in British Isles learn to knit such things as they are walking around (because they have this belt that they can shove one needle in). But I’ve never actually knitted one (DORK!).

I was elated that I got her autograph that day! Really elated. She said something very polite — and she is an extremely gracious and hospitable lady — about it being new and how she liked the snap covers and all that. Bless her. Bless her for being so much a gentlewoman to a dorky 12-year-old.

Weird. All that she and I would share in the years to come but could never predict at that precise moment of my fawning dorkitude and her polite conversation. That my husband and I would travel with her husband and her to Mexico for 10 days (we were the singing side-kicks). That she would barely pass my grad project because she was uncomfortable with the topic (feminism!). That I, like her, would have a first born who was born still. And the rest, of course. . . . All the rest.

Look at those names. If those were the celebrities in my Junior High life, is it any wonder I became who I was? Several names are my pastors. Most of the others are evangelists or just guest speakers.

I got out my High School Bible too. We wear out our Bibles quickly in fundamentalism! It was smaller and not as fine but still KJV (my college Bible was so small that I had to hold it up right next to my nose to read it and it was NASV). It does have my Wordless Book bookmarks still in it because I was a CEF missionary for two summers, and I was prepared (kinda dorky). It has no signatures. I s’pose I had figured out it was a dorky thing to do.

Except for one thing is exactly the same and in the exactly same place — across from Genesis 1. From my Junior High Bible:


and in my High School Bible:


I remember why I wrote it the first time. I was told to! And I can probably take you right back there on 11-mile and Schoenherr and show you exactly where I was sitting in the front row (DORK!). Why did I think it was so important that I transferred that alone from one Bible to the next? I really don’t remember.

I’m glad that my High School self caught my Junior High mistake of “conversation” instead of “conservation” in that First Law. Whew!

Now, I know why these where there in that place — because I was a reared a Creationist through and through. Heck — I still have my Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter upstairs, the text that is most often referenced for its fallacies. I remember Science class in 7th grade. Most of our time was spent being told how wrong Carl Sagan got it on Nova the night before. It was our assignment to watch him and to deconstruct him the next day. None of us in that class will ever forget when Andrea Cloud unwittingly said the exact. wrong. thing. in response to Miss Westray’s question: “Miss Cloud. Do you agree with Mr. Sagan when he said that the Earth is billions and billions of years old?” To which Andrea shrugged, “Well, yeah. He’s on TV. So he must be right.” Oooooooh! We all felt her pain.

But I got this in Sunday School, not in Christian Day School. And uh . . . it’s curious.

The first law of thermodynamics is actually:

Energy can be transformed (changed from one form to another), but it can neither be created nor destroyed.

Seriously, why did my teacher leave out the first part? She got it from her pastor/husband, I’m sure. Why drop that?

And the second law of thermodynamics has to do with entropy and is best summarized as:

It is impossible for there to exist any process whose only effect is to transfer energy from a system at a low temperature to one at a higher temperature. In other words, heat flows downhill.

Creationists reason from that that everything tends toward disorder and randomness, and, thus, evolution defies that law. I’ll let the believing scientists deconstruct the fallacies in that Creationist criticism. I don’t really much care about the Science per se.

I care more about how that idea of the inevitability of disorder affects and infects the conservative Evangelical ideology. Everything and anything — if left alone — will deconstruct into chaos. At least that’s what I was taught. Work hard — very hard — and you can resist the inevitable decay. Effort can trump entropy. And if it doesn’t, if you fail, it’s because you didn’t work hard enough or right enough.

And if we get it wrong in our hoist-them-on-their-own-petard mudball we lob at Science, how could it possibly be correct in our misunderstood application of this 2nd law to the Christian life? We are so infected with this same effort-can-trump-entropy trope. We actually believe past generations’ goofs are a result of their not working hard enough or smart enough or biblical enough.

We think we’re better. But we’re just as big a dorks as we always were. Just with more and more appeals to misunderstood laws, more and more effort, more and more rigidity, more and more illusions that our way is “biblical.” So the Law of Thermodorknamics could be:

The amount of effort is directly proportional to the dorky destructiveness of that effort.

26 thoughts on “The Law of Thermodorknamics

  1. I couldn’t help but laugh as I read this post. I, too, have the autographed-by-random-fundy-preachers Bible (KJV, of course, though I didn’t get my first Cambridge until I was out of that phase), and was taught the same variations of the laws of thermodynamics. You were hardly alone in your dorkiness! (Of course, the mentality behind the concept of autographing Bibles is a whole other issue.)

    “We are so infected with this same effort-can-trump-entropy trope. We actually believe past generations’ goofs are a result of their not working hard enough or smart enough or biblical enough.” Ouch, but I think you hit this one on the head.

  2. Excellent post. I remember holding these people in such awe as if they were somehow closer to God than I was. Like you, I learned how evolution violated the laws of thermodynamics. I couldn’t help but notice the Frank Garlock and Hamilton’s names, also. I imagine you also learned about the evils of rock music from FG and learned all the pirate songs, too. (I’m a little too old for the Patch.) It’s really weird – it doesn’t matter how far apart we former BJU’ers grew up, we all have such similar stories.

  3. I do remember the time when, in high school, I had my Bible (KJV, of course) signed by a bunch of “famous” figures in the Fundy world. At least Garlock wasn’t one of them.

    A fair point, too, about the shoddy logic in some anti-evolutionist circles. As a proud nerd myself, I am all for better logic and accurately stating what the Laws of Thermodynamics really mean.

    But I’m not completely on board with your last couple paragraphs (no surprise), or, perhaps, I’d just express similar conclusions in a different manner. I do think that, when left alone, everything inevitably leads to chaos and disorder. I don’t need science to tell me that. I don’t even need Scripture to tell me that. History tells me that.

    What I need Scripture for is to tell me *why.* It’s called the Fall, and all of creation groans. Scripture also tells me that one day, all things will be made new. All things. I’ve been reading through Isaiah recently, and am rejoicing in just how new that new is going to be.

    I never really taken that application of the Second Law as a bad thing. More importantly, I don’t believe (and perhaps that’s why I don’t always notice) the message that if things fall apart, it was because you didn’t work hard enough. The whole point is that *it doesn’t matter* what you do or don’t do. Somethings, things just fall apart because the world is cursed.

    Nevertheless, neither the Curse nor the inevitability of failure make life meaningless or excuse inactivity. Enter the Doctrine of Vocation.

  4. It’s not so much that if left alone, things will decay (although I think nature does prove otherwise in many ways). But that effort does *stop* the inevitable. That’s a weird twist. And I think it might explain the elaborate and legalistic efforts to stop “decay.”

    Here’s another way of looking at it. They say that if a parent “trains” his child to crawl up the stairs properly, he’ll learn to do so, on the average, at about 15 months. If a parent does not train the child to crawl up the stairs (say their home is on one floor or something like that), the child learns to do so, on the average, at about 15 months. :/

    All this parenting stuff I’m reading insists that *effort* to train the child (to sleep, to eat, to potty train, etc.) will stop entropy and will produce a perfect (and Christian!) child.


    That’s all I’m saying.

  5. “autographed-by-random-fundy-preachers Bible. . “

    *L* Oh, my. . . sometimes I get a glimpse of how different my basically-Christian-upbringing was radically different than yours in Fundamentalism. I was a dork, too. . . but. . . dodn’t have the Bible sigs and stickers to prove it.

  6. Yeah, I actually had my Majesty Hymns hymnbook signed by Frankie. Oh dear. I don’t think I’ve ever admitted that in public before!

    Regarding the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics: I was sold on the talking points, but never convinced by this particular argument. That’s not to say I didn’t use it, I just always used it thinking, “Something’s not right here.”

    I think I’ll start using the Law of Thermodorknamics instead.

  7. Interesting that you bring up the snarky anti-evolutionism thing now. I was just in my parents’ church a few weeks ago and they had just had Ken Ham in for a conference (how’s that for a big fundy name?). Overnight the entire church, none of whom have more than a high school class or two of science under their belts, had firm and sophisticated understandings of everything from geology to thermodynamics.

    What I found sad about this is that’s how I heard Genesis preached all growing up–and that’s not what Genesis is about. The first time I heard a sermon about Genesis was from Tim Keller–and he never mentioned evolution once! I felt cheated. Genesis 1 tells a beautiful story about who God is and what He is like and how He relates to us, and all this time I had completely missed it, distracted by anti-evolutionism and armchair science.

  8. This is so funny! I used to get my bible signed by any and every one who came to my fundy church.

    When I was home at Christmas my mom wanted me to got through an old box of my things. I found the old bible I had everyone sign and some notes from a bible class. (how did I go 8 yrs. w/o those) Apparently I had used that bible through college as well. (how dorky is that??) I looked in the front cover and was surprised to find that several guys from my prayer group had signed it. I got a good laugh out of that. They had life verses and everything.

    And what is the purpose of picking one verse out as a “life verse?”

  9. I just found your blog via a friend (Kay Bonikowsky). I’ve enjoyed reading it, and my Bible looks like a carbon copy of yours – Ron Hamilton, Frank Garlock, Bobs Jr. & 3rd, and the rest. So funny how we didn’t see that as hero worship. Arrgh. My Seattle friends have no clue the level of dorkiness I was raised in.

  10. I had most of those too…never snagged BP Jones though;) all in my BIG RED SCOFIELD Bible! I also had all of the names from the Bill Rice Ranch too—and with those names got…wait for it…
    Dave Hyles. Yeah…. sigh.

  11. I really appreciate the freedom environment that I grew up in regarding Science, creation and all that. The anti-science mind-set of the creationist culture, gives a bad example to christianity. Kids really don’t get free of it, until they grow up and out from under their parents’ and school authority figure influences regardng all this. Science is such a fantastically wonderful subject. What a shame creationists have to bad-mouth-paint ‘real Science’ as an enemy of their religion! Using this beutiful book of the Bible,Genesis, as a science text book, as creationists do, defies logic, and is so anti-intellectual. I love Genesis, because it describes a wonderful creator God, who made all things, and even made me. Fortunately there’s only ‘one’ of me, as one of me is all I think God could handle! Does it really matter how young or old the Earth and the Universe are? What’s more important? That our God created all things, or that intellectually challenged ‘men’ win silly arguments about earth age? Remember what the psuedo-science Dover, Kansas poitical infighting did to the town’s relationships? People who used to be good friends, were found to be enemies because they didn’t follow the mindless creationist former friends anti-scientifc beliefs, and were then shunned and ostracized by the arrogant creationists, who threw their non creationists friend away like ‘throw away friends’! And The towm has not recovered! What a sad comment on people’s priorities! When the court case was lost, the judge got death threats, from christians??? He had to have his family be placed under police protection! Creationist christians even ‘lied’ on the stand in court! Science is such a wonderful subject. American chidren and youth deserve a lot better than ‘this’ nonsense! I hope the schools in America have a revival of good liberal arts, and free thinking environments for the kids to learn and grow up in. But as long as home schoooling is what it is, only the public school kids, and the non fundy private school kids will ever get a decent science education before college school age! Maybe America needs Science Clubs on line, so kids can learn good science and become better thinkers. I really enjoyed reading this posting. Funny as a rubber crutch! The comments were delightful. I loved the handy dandy evolution refuting chart! And such happy memeories of childhood and school days. Has anyone been to the ‘Fred and Wilma’ Creation Museum yet? That poor excuse of ‘pseudo-science must be a hoot! Thanks for this delightful post. I just loved it. Barbara

    1. I completely and totally agree. I couldn’t have seen what you are saying in my previous life. But I get it now. And I agree!!

  12. Barbara,
    Have you even bothered to look into the credentials of some of the scientists that are associated with and contribute to the Creation Museum? No, you just snap a judgment about them from your unfortunate experiences. I grew up in a Christian high school, and I was taught the scientific method. My high school teacher taught that Creationism was not science–shocker! Also, she never once lifted up the Bible as a science textbook. She did, however, point out the inconsistencies of evolution (using sound science, not the Bible) and reminded us that evolution is a theory and should be treated as such scientifically. Since high school I have been able to go to several creation/evolution debates hosted by secular universities, and those leading creationsts are no Bible-thumpers; they are bright, intelligent scientists (free thinking in tow).

    Also, free-thinking doesn’t mean wrong thinking? I agree that students need the intellectual space to to be able to test and think through some secular theories and philosophies. But Biblcal thinking must be taught as well. The Bible challenges us to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” Some thoughts and theories need to be cast down because they lead to disobedience to Christ. Why shouldn’t we let a humanist teach humanism in a Chrisitan school? The idea is ludicrous because humanism runs counter to “the knowledge of God.” “Captive thoughts”–I agree that isn’t a term that I snuggle up to, but since He died for me, the least I can do is give Him my thoughts and my life too.

  13. Camille, I didn’t even realize what creationists actually ‘believed’ until I read “Saving Darwin” by Carl Gilberson a few short years ago! Hubby brought it home for me from the library. Apparently the monkey trial thing was all a contrived set up, by some local white men!! in the barber shop, to put their Kansas city their on the map and in the news! Reading the book really helped me in my thinking. Before that, I used to believe the evolution battles were only about the monkeys versus man creation thing. Then I started to research and study on the internet, what the creationist battles were ‘really all about in America! My head was literally spinning! An absoutely crazy, unbeievable culture war, against Science, society, liberal arts, education, the way people think, freedom of thought, anything secular is bad, bad, bad111!! you name it.If it was anything ‘outside’of the Creationists’Castle’ it was THE ENEMY! Were my eyes opened! Once my eyes were opened to what the creationist mindset was really all about, I simply threw out whatever I had automatically assumed since my conversion, and simply renewed and rejoiced more deeply, in what I had always believed and loved,since a little child, the beautiful Genesis story, of how wonderfully we were created in the image of a loving creator God. Only of course, that became deeply personal when I was Born Again. I would probably completely avoid debate with a creationist, as it would be just as futile as trying to reason with a fundamentalist. But I think I love the American people even more, after learning how unique they are to the rest of the world! But, in spite of all America’s struggles, and the enemies she has made, God still has a wonderful plan to unfold. A beautiful man of God now in Heaven, shared that God has not forgotten the christian pilgrims that came over the bring their faith to America’s shores. I am referring to the ‘nice ones’ not the Salem Puritans! When I heard that man say that, I felt faith rise up in my heart, and hope for America. Basically, God has not forgotten America, and He never will. And Grace is more powerful than sin. My husband and I get along together better, now that I don’t get irritated about evolution. I think God healed me of my ‘touchies’. I have a funny little ditty I sing sometimes ” There are no monkeys in my family tree, no gorillas or chimpanzees.” Life is so good when we can see it through a clear lens and simply rejoice. Barbara

  14. “I would probably completely avoid debate with a creationist, as it would be just as futile as trying to reason with a fundamentalist.”

    The above quotation reveals just how backwards your thinking is. If you had been the Apostle Paul, you never would have debated with Athenians because it just would have been futile. Instead, Paul engaged in debate because his message was worth it. If you value your beliefs as much as you express in your posts, you should be passionate about debating them. Doing any less would be tantamount to plugging your eyes and saying “I’m not listening!”

    Futhermore, you sweeping generalizations about fundamentalism stink of desparation. Not all Creationists fit your nice little fundie mold. I’m a creationist (in the sense that I believe God created the world in six literal days), and I have never treated Genesis as a science manual. Creation has always been “deeply personal” to me. All this simply reminds me that throwing stones from behind your “anti-fundie castle” is easier than engaging in real, personal, meaningful conversations with people who also love God with all their hearts. Futile–I think not!

    1. Michael — you’re proving the wisdom of Barbara’s conclusion. You may not realize how genuinely unkind you’re coming across, but this happens way too much with “young bucks” from our alma mater. I’m done with responding to you because you are just plain disrespectful, but when you start picking on other people, I come out of hiding.

      IOW, knock it off.

  15. Camille, I thought it was okay to get “real mad”; why is okay for you to engage people with your vitriol, but when others do the same, you pull out the moderator card? Young buck–wow, way to go with that one! My comments to Barabara were not intended as disrepect, just a simple explanation of how I view her way of thinking–as backwards. Why was Barbara not chastised for her comment: “it would be just as futile as trying to reason with a fundamentalist.” If this isn’t calling all fundamentalists unreaonable and ignorant, I don’t know what is. Who’s disrepecting whom?

    1. This is my living room. Not yours. I’m setting a boundary. Period.

      Your other comments are typically trollish, and I will not engage them. Play nice or get gone. Period.

  16. MP, freedom of speech, expression and opinion, are what makes blogs so enjoyable to converse on. We all have the freedom and the right to express our opinions and our experiences. We also have a responsibility to manage our emotional reactions, and not allow negative emotions to ‘fuel’ a reactive way of speaking to each other. You have every right and freedom to have and express your own opinions, and so do Camille , myself and the others who comment on her blog. We all have the same rights, MP, as you do. But with those rights come responsilities. We canot have ‘our freedom’ at expense of other people’s peace and self-respect by being disrespectful to others. There is nothing whatever on Camille’s blog that could remotely resemble vitriol, MP, so I do not know how you could possibly render such an imaginative critique! When is the last time you ever opened a dictionary? Camille’s very personal BLOG story of her journey, is some of the most honest, humble sharing, that I believe I have ever had the pleasure to read, and I have been reading blogs for years as a ‘lurker.’ Reading Camille’s blog has blessed me with deeper respect for people than I ever had before. When people share honestly like this, we need to respect them and validate them. Deflecting our unresolved emotional and spiritual issues, onto people, because we do not agree with them, is simply childish, and very immature emotions. It’s wrong, MP, to ‘take’ what people have freely shared in trust, and use that ‘against’ them. That’s mean! Read the blog comments of those who do not agree with everything Camille says. They do that agreeably, while keeping an open mind, along with a willingness to learn from the different way people think about a subject. They do that without attacking or reacting with resentment. We can all improve our relational skills, because life and growth is a journey, not a static stuck in the cement thing. I do not believe American scientists in Mainstream Science would place much credibility in the level of academics and science,of those associated with the Creation Science Museum have. Just email mainstream science web sites and ask around, what they think about the level of scholarship, CSM associate’s credentials in science believe they ‘have’. And it’s ‘not’ because Mainstream scientists are anti-christian, that they do not regard CSM associates as having credible degrees, it’s because of the CSM kind of science. It’s simply not good science. It’s PSEUDO-SCIENCE, MP, and it makes this particular culture of American christianity a laughing stock to the rest of the world. What’s more important, MP, that God created all things and that we believe in Him and worship Him, or that people expend energy defending a young earth policy? People have had their faith shattered, after discovering that the science they were taught was ‘false’. Our faith is meant to be in HIM, not in an ‘ism’of how young or old the earth is.”The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The world and all that dwell therein.” I respect your freedom to have our own beliefs and opinions. I do not believe we should engage in any more conversation on this subject. We can close our conversation with agreeing to disagee and leave it at that. I think that’s the wisest thing to do at this time. God Bless you as you pursue God in your journey with Him and learn more of how much He loves and respects you as his marvellous creation. Barbara

  17. Camille, thanks for sticking up for me. Your comments are greatly appreciated. I believe that it would be best for me not to converse with MP any further and I have expressed that to him. Your blog is great. I’ve never had so much fun sharing on the internet before. I think your blog ‘healed’ me of my ‘lurker’ condition! It’s fun coming out of the ‘lurker closet’ and sharing. Thanks for everything. Have a great day. Barbara

  18. Camille, thanks for the hearts! It’s really healing in our journey be appreciated and truly accepted. We sure ‘all’ need that. And we can give this to others. I think when we give kindness and acceptance away, the more He gives to us. Thanks for making me welcome in your enjoyable blog ‘community.’ Hope more people discover it. Barbara

  19. Camille, I wanted to add that I do want to respect the standards that you have set for your blog. It’s your blog, Camille, and you set the standards. I respect that. People need to feel safe and free to comment, without being attacked for what they say. I believe in good boundaries as you do.I certainly would not want anyone to be reluctant to come on and share because they thought someone was going to ‘get at them’! Being’got at’is so very upsetting. We both know that from experience. Thanks again for making your blog a positive place to share, one where people can feel welcome. Have a great day. Barbara.

  20. Interesting post, Camille. Your comments about stickers in the 80’s brought back some memories. One thing to keep in mind about entropy (or the 2nd law of thermodynamics) is that it is a law of physics. The law relates to physical science and observes among other things that in a closed system (i.e. where no energy enters the system) things tend to decay or become less organized. I have never heard of this or a similar law being observed in biological or social sciences even though some hypothesize it to be so. The main problem with these hypotheses is that closed systems do not generally exist in the biological or social worlds. Although I think those who apply this law to everything in life are painting with too broad of a brush, I do believe it is a refutation of the Big Bang Theory. Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  21. Ron Hamilton’s signature is there! You have Patch the Pirate’s autograph! Wow!

    Let’s hear it for the Conversation of Energy!

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