JUDGE RULES AGAINST HUNTINGTON RELIGIOUS TRAILER

In a decision likely to draw fire from those who believe God and religion should be implanted into our children’s minds from the moment they leave the birth canal, a United States district judge, James T. Moody, has issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the Huntington School System from keeping a trailer used for bible lessons on school property.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in November on behalf of a parent who asked that the school system be prohibited from allowing a  program called “By the Book Weekday Religious Instruction” to be taught in a trailer located at the Horace Mann Elementary School – on the school’s property and near the front entrance.

In a January hearing, Magistrate Roger B. Cosbey found that the program violated the First Amendment’s prohibition against an establishment of religion and recommended that the program be discontinued on school property.  Judge Moody then had the opportunity to either uphold the magistrate’s ruling or to rule against the magistrate and in favor of the school system.

Since the school system is considered an arm of the state, it falls within the purview of the 14th amendment, which made many of the original Bill of Rights guarantees applicable against the states.  One of those guarantees was the separation of church and state.  The issue of separation becomes more critical when it arises in the context  of elementary, junior high, and high school students since the state mandates attendance and these students are considered a “captive” audience – at least up to a certain age.

In determining whether or not a policy has violated the First Amendment, courts use what has come to be known as the Lemon test – from the United Supreme Court case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).  The Lemon test sets out the following three criteria when analyzing whether or not a governmental action is an establishment of religion:

  1. The government’s action must have a secular (non-religious) legislative purpose;
  2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
  3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

If any one of these three prongs is violated, the governmental action is deemed an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

The parent did not seek damages of any type other than reimbursement of her attorney’s fees.   Those from the school system who supported the placement of the trailer and the instruction taught within its walls just couldn’t quite fathom the issue involved.  Arguments were made that the program had been in existence for 50 years, thus it couldn’t be wrong.

Yes, and slavery existed for 50 years – would anyone argue that it was acceptable?  The length of time a policy has been in force has nothing to do with whether it is right or wrong.  In the case of the religious trailer and instruction, it was probably a case of no one having the nerve to tackle the issue.  After all, when anyone speaks out against a possible violation of the Establshment Clause or any religious issue, for that matter, the person is crucified as being anti-god and anti-religion.  Then we get a lengthy diatribe about how our country has gone downhill because of taking God out of our daily lives.

To those who want to pray, to have God in their lives on a daily basis, to worship as they please, those rights have never been taken away.  If I want to sit here at my laptop and pray, I am perfectly free to do so.  What we are not free to do is to use state-funded property to advance the cause of religion – which the Huntington school system’s program did.  The decision by Judge Moody should be of no surprise to those who follow constitutional law and who understand the real issue underlying the decision.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Politics, Religion, U.S. Constitution, U.S. Court System and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to JUDGE RULES AGAINST HUNTINGTON RELIGIOUS TRAILER

  1. Iceironman says:

    I didnt see the “separation of church and state” in the bill of rights. I bet the school forced the children into the trailer at gun point (because we are bitter clingers). The way you present religious subjects and others, is that of an “HA HA gotcha” attitude. It is sad really. I guess people should not let the govt schools “teach” religion untill they can actually teach other subjects correctly. If the schools did teach religion they would get it wrong anyway. Now, if you will excuse me I have the worst finacial crisis in the US history to deal with. If you need me I will be on ESPN doing brackets, appearing on Jay Leno, and Making fun of underdelveloped children, who, by all reason, should have been aborted in the first place. I also need to print 1 trillion dollars, because as you know, Pelosi said we would be a “pay as you go” congress. Turns out it is “Print as you go”

    But we need to worry about a trailer on govt property.

  2. Iceironman says:

    I also dont see ANY Christians sueing govt schools to force children into religious classes. Can you reference one? But you have a problem even if it is an OPTION? “those who believe God and religion should be implanted into our children’s minds from the moment they leave the birth canal” It is a little insulting how you make a case that is simply not happening. Yet the same folks like you fight sooooo hard to get sex ed for kindergardners? They want my 6 year old to be taught about same sex marrage? Then they reason that chicks didnt know they would get knocked up? BS. I will be waiting on a court case stating that some evil christian wanted to force religious education on those in our govt schools.

  3. Ice:

    So no other issues deserve discussion while we are in an economic crisis? Be realistic. Life goes on whether the economy is tanking or not.

    The separation of church and state grows out of the very first clause in the First Amendment – it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The Founding Fathers did not want religion to be supported or established by the government. That is where they came from and that is what they did not want.

    Later, when the 14th amendment was passed it forbid states to deprive citizens of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or deny equal protection of the laws. The United States Supreme Court used selective incorporation to apply many of the clauses found in the Bill of Rights (since it applied only against the federal government) against the states to prevent them from depriving its citizens of rights.

    I don’t know what to tell you other than the Court has set out the test in the Lemon case, and the Huntington School system violated the separation by having a trailer on school property where religious classes were held. Either you understand that is a violation or you don’t – accepting it though is another story.

    Those who want religion in schools had it there for decades. When I went to high school we had bible study in class as a part of our school curriculum. We didn’t have a choice – it was taught right in the class room and students had to attend for a grade.

    I don’t have a problem if it is an option. The trailer can be set up off school property which is what is done here in Fort Wayne. Huntington isn’t prevented from having the program – all they have to do is move the location. Do you have a problem with that?

    Yep – Obama goofed when he referenced the Special Olympics, but at least it didn’t cost American lives like the comment made by W when he said “bring it on” like he was a cowboy at the O.K. corral and not understanding that his statement was a challenge to terrorists. How dumb can you get on that one!

    By the way, I don’t fight for sex ed for kindergartners – I never have. And where is your outrage at the young men who impregnate the young women? Off the hook?

    I will say this again in reference to your last statement – we had religion in schools since the beginning of this country. It was used to argue that blacks were inferior and could be enslaved since they were no better than animals, it was used to keep women subservient and in the place under the guise that women were chattel and could be beaten by their husbands when they misbehaved, it was used to argue that races shouldn’t mingle, etc. Need I go on?

    Religion belongs in the home and in the churches – not in the school systems. Like I said, no on has taken away any rights to pray or practice his or her beliefs – as long as those beliefs don’t infringe on others or cause harm.

  4. Iceironman says:

    The founders and constitution says Govt must stay out of religion, not that religion must stay out of govt (schools).

    So religion can be an option in schools, just so it is not on school propery? So it is not an option!

    And I guess we are losing a right to home school pretty soon so the govt will control and indocrinate my children even more.

    I have to go now, Maybe I will go do Jon Stewarts show on Comedy Central. As you know with me, Its all about image, Sincerly, BO

  5. Danny McNeal says:

    Wonderful article, Charlotte! As always, the refutation of theocratic illogic seems to come as easy as silk across a baby’s bottom. (Seriously, how long did it take to see the error of the school board’s 50-year logic, or in the “what’s-so-bad-about-religion-in-schools” riff, and come up with snappy examples to reductio-ad-absurdum the crap out of ’em? LOL 😉 Love the blog, by the way. Take care!

    ICEIRONMAN, on March 22, 2009, at 8:45 pm, said:
    “I didnt see the ‘separation of church and state’ in the bill of rights.”

    Here’s the flaw in your logic: If you posit that if the words “separation of church and state” do not appear in the Constitution, then church and state being kept separate is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind; then the *wholly inescapable* logical extension of that position is that the entire body of constitutional law, built up over the last two centuries, has to be thrown out except for those very few portions whose wording can be traced back, word for exact word, to the very letter of the Constitution. Are you actually trying to say that? You can’t have it both ways: either we try to run a 21st Century society on just the bare bones of the 5,700 words of the Constitution (plus the 12 amendments established while the Founding Fathers were still around), or you stop and think a little about the inescapable consequences of your stance. The nation’s eyes are on you, Ice. What’s it gonna be?

    ICEIRONMAN: “I bet the school forced the children into the trailer at gun point (because we are bitter clingers)…I also dont see ANY Christians sueing govt schools to force children into religious classes. Can you reference one?”

    First, you know as well as I do that when school teachers and adminstrators tell 5- to 10-year-olds to report to the “By the Book-mobile” for religious instruction, their little minds and even narrower breadth of experience cannot possibly comprehend that this command might somehow be different from any of the other commands they’re expected to obey on a daily basis, or else face punishment. From the children’s standpoint, they most certainly *are* forced, and you know it.

    More importantly, however, your inflammatory gunpoint hyperbole doesn’t change the fact that the Huntington School System violated the 14th Amendment rights of both parents and students by “…abridg[ing] the…immunities of citizens…and…deny[ing]…within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” You can quibble about whether anyone was forced to do anything until you’re blue in the face, but that question is wholly immaterial. The 14th Amendment guarantees that we will all enjoy equal protection of the law, including First Amendment immunities from incursions of religion into the arena of the state. We don’t *have* to reference any cases of “Christians sueing govt schools to force children into religious classes.” We don’t have to show that any damage has already occurred. You’ve entirely missed the point if you think that “force” is where the violation occurred. The simple fact of the matter is that we have a right to send our children to the public schools, which our taxes pay for, expecting that they be safely free from religious agenda and harmful philosophies, thus preventing the psychological damage of dangerous dogma *before* it occurs.

    ICEIRONMAN: “The way you present religious subjects and others, is that of an ‘HA HA gotcha’ attitude. It is sad really.”

    The indoctrination of young children into the dangerous philosophies which have fueled the savage oppression, torture, and murder of millions of people over the past two millennia being stopped in its tracks in our little corner of the world is not cause for a modicum of elation? You may not agree with this characterization (and perhaps Charlotte doesn’t either). However, the point is that it’s ridiculous to think that when *you* celebrate a victory against, say, the “big bad ACLU” or “Pelosi the Anti-Christ,” it’s okay for you to smile and enjoy the moment; but when people you consider sociopolitical “enemies” smile and enjoy a victory over what they honestly see as a major source of the world’s ills, they’re somehow petty for doing so. This is a clear double standard. Unless you can provide a logical chain of reasoning and a compelling body of evidence establishing that you’re right and your opponents are wrong (and you people never can ), then you don’t have a leg to stand on here.

    ICEIRONMAN: “Now, if you will excuse me I have the worst finacial crisis in the US history to deal with…But we need to worry about a trailer on govt property.”

    No, “we” don’t have to worry about it at all, Ice. Just those of us who see this for the threat that it is (or have you forgotten that little 500-year stretch called the Dark Ages that stands in perpetuity as a shining example of the wonderful things that theocracy can bring us?). You don’t have to lift a finger and can go on forecasting our doom due to nitpicky tongue slips, tilting at ACLU and Pelosi windmills and pining after your beloved Dulcinea.

    ICEIRONMAN: “But you have a problem even if it is an OPTION?”

    You know where people have the option of exposing their children to Christian “education,” Ice? It’s called a church. Information about (only) one of the countless religions humanity has evolved has absolutely *nothing* to do with academic education. Would you put a confessional in a 7-11? How ’bout a lawfirm inside a McDonald’s? Oooh, ooh! You could put a massage parlor inside Concordia Seminary! What would you think about a part-time evolutionary biologist setting up shop in the vestibule of your church to offer the “OPTION” of an alternative to the Genesis story?

    Can you honestly not see the inescapable logical extension of this thinking? If Christianity is allowed into the public schools, what’s to stop Muslims from claiming their piece of the “young, impressionable mind” pie? Don’t forget the Buddhists. And, believe it or not, there are still some Mithraists rattling around. What happens after the first representatives of major religions wedge their foot in the door of the public schools? What if the Southern Baptists feel that those kooky Presbyterians aren’t preachin’ the gospel quite right to the kiddies, and petition the local school board for some “equal time”? (And what will become of the little ones with ADHD when the Apostolic ecstatics start bouncing off the walls of the classroom!? Why, Little Johnnie’s already on the maximum dose of his meds as it is!) According to the millennial edition of the World Christian Encyclopedia (a Christian publication), there are today over 33,800 different Christian denominations…

    Your idea of a public school is looking less and less like an institution of academia and more like an imaginary friend free-for-all. When I was in grade school, at Price Elementary in Fort Wayne, we had to waste time with one of those bible trailers, rather than, oh I don’t know, being taught something useful and marketable instead. I’ve never put “religious instruction” down on a resume. I’ve never gotten a job because of the “trailer lady’s” bible-beating thwacks on our heads every week. It’s arrogant and wholly indefensible to think that there’s some basis for Christianity to be in the public schools, but no other religion; and just what form of Christianity should our precious children be taught when 33,800 Christian denominations can’t even get things straight between themselves? Once again, you don’t have a logical leg to stand on.

    ICEIRONMAN: “Yet the same folks like you fight sooooo hard to get sex ed for kindergardners? They want my 6 year old to be taught about same sex marrage?”

    If you have a grievance about these completely unrelated matters, then I suggest you address them through proper channels. These words in no way whatsoever nullify the fact that the Huntington School System was violating the U.S. Constitution and was right to be stopped. It never ceases to amaze me how Christians can actually be upset and even angry when they are prevented from continuing to do something they knew very well they weren’t allowed to do but tried to get away with doing anyway. “We’re morally superior, so the rules don’t apply to us.” I assure you, they do.

    ICEIRONMAN: “It is a little insulting how you make a case that is simply not happening…I will be waiting on a court case stating that some evil christian wanted to force religious education on those in our govt schools.”

    It’s a little insulting how you won’t lift a finger to actually become educated in a balanced, objective manner regarding what it is you’re talking about before, um, trying to talk about it. You do know what a Google search is, right, Ice? Here, let me get you started:

    And of course there’s the benchmark of the 1987 Supreme Court case where SCOTUS ruled that states are not allowed to force public schools to “balance” the teaching of evolution by teaching “creationism.” Please tell me you don’t believe that this U.S. Supreme Court case materialized out of thin air and that it didn’t involve Christians trying to (let’s see, how did you put it?) “force religious education on those in our govt schools.” That, in fact, was precisely the impetus for this high-court case. There have been countless such similar cases before and since. (Do you at least get the paper?)

    Look, this is really very, very simple: Religion does *not* belong in public schools, or in any other part of the arena of state. You may not agree with it, but it is nonetheless the way this country was established by our Founding Fathers, explicitly and even verbosely. This is no more a matter of opinion than 2+2=4 or that the Earth revolves around the Sun. It is not a point of contention just because there are people out there who say otherwise, while covering their ears and closing their minds in obstinacy to all evidence that casts what they’ve already decided to believe in doubt, rocking back and forth mumbling, “La-la-la! I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!” I’m quite certain that if the Founding Fathers were raised from the dead, asked point blank by Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O’Reilly once and for all what the deal is with this “separation of church and state crap,” and stated just as clearly and verbosely as they already have in countless pages available to anyone in the Information Age at the clacking of a few keys and the click of a mouse, then the mad trio would bluster, “Don’t beat around the bush, tell us how you really feel!”

    Of course, the evidence is there, *volumes* of it, and all that Christians have *ever* been able to come up with is wild claims like, “Every publisher between then and now was a godless heathen with an agenda!” When faced with one of the most powerful scientific theories ever discovered, enjoying decade after decade of confirmatory scientific evidence, it’s, “Satan planted those dinosaur bones and those carbon isotope ratios to test our faith!” The list goes on and on.

    But if Christianity’s positions on such issues are so untenable, then why do so many people still believe them? Multiply this link by every priest, pastor, preacher, pious politico, pew-sitter, and armchair opinion-slinger in the last couple centuries, and you’ll begin to understand why:

    “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty.” –President James Monroe

  6. Danny McNeal says:

    Hmmm… Not sure why the xhtml tags didn’t work. Oh well, here’s that last block again (and might as well get the latest few icicles LOL).

    ICEIRONMAN: “It is a little insulting how you make a case that is simply not happening…I will be waiting on a court case stating that some evil christian wanted to force religious education on those in our govt schools.”

    It’s a little insulting how you won’t lift a finger to actually become educated in a balanced, objective manner regarding what it is you’re talking about before, um, trying to talk about it. You do know what a Google search is, right, Ice? Here, let me get you started:

    December 2005 Harrisburg, PA, Dover Area School Board ‘Intelligent Design’ case: http://74.125.95.132/search?q=cache:C1cA2CdsnBoJ:www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10545387/+%2B%22judge+ruled%22+%2B%22intelligent+design%22&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

    And of course there’s the benchmark of the 1987 Supreme Court case where SCOTUS ruled that states are not allowed to force public schools to “balance” the teaching of evolution by teaching “creationism.” Please tell me you don’t believe that this U.S. Supreme Court case materialized out of thin air and that it didn’t involve Christians trying to (let’s see, how did you put it?) “force religious education on those in our govt schools.” That, in fact, was precisely the impetus for this high-court case. There have been countless such similar cases before and since. (Do you at least get the paper?)

    Look, this is really very, very simple: Religion does *not* belong in public schools, or in any other part of the arena of state. You may not agree with it, but it is nonetheless the way this country was established by our Founding Fathers, explicitly and even verbosely. This is no more a matter of opinion than 2+2=4 or that the Earth revolves around the Sun. It is not a point of contention just because there are people out there who say otherwise, while covering their ears and closing their minds in obstinacy to all evidence that casts what they’ve already decided to believe in doubt, rocking back and forth mumbling, “La-la-la! I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you!” I’m quite certain that if the Founding Fathers were raised from the dead, asked point blank by Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O’Reilly once and for all what the deal is with this “separation of church and state crap,” and stated just as clearly and verbosely as they already have in countless pages available to anyone in the Information Age at the clacking of a few keys and the click of a mouse, then the mad trio would bluster, “Don’t beat around the bush, tell us how you really feel!”

    Of course, the evidence is there, *volumes* of it, and all that Christians have *ever* been able to come up with is wild claims like, “Every publisher between then and now was a godless heathen with an agenda!” When faced with one of the most powerful scientific theories ever discovered, enjoying decade after decade of confirmatory scientific evidence, it’s, “Satan planted those dinosaur bones and those carbon isotope ratios to test our faith!” The list goes on and on.

    But if Christianity’s positions on such issues are so untenable, then why do so many people still believe them? Multiply this link by every priest, pastor, preacher, pious politico, pew-sitter, and armchair opinion-slinger in the last couple centuries, and you’ll begin to understand why: http://z.about.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/0/c/bush_sheep.jpg

    “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty.” –President James Monroe

    Iceironman: “The founders and constitution says Govt must stay out of religion, not that religion must stay out of govt (schools).”

    Patently false. If a government institution (publicly funded schools) were to allow Christianity to be intertwined with it to the exclusion of all other religions, it would be a very clear and obvious case of “mak[ing]…law respecting an establishment of religion.” After all, why should the government show favor to Christianity instead of, say, Buddhism, or Satanism, or Bobism (a guy named Bob out in Cali with a $7 million home a decent-sized undifferentiated ego mass that does everything he says without question…sounds familiar)? (If you think that *all* religions should be welcome in public schools, see the above “imaginary friend free-for-all” scenario and, please, rethink.)

    It simply does no good to try and twist the literal letter of the Constitution around to fit what you’d like the Founding Fathers’ intentions to have been with claims of, “This doesn’t appear here,” or, “Nowhere does it say this.” By that same illogic, I can say that the terms “original sin,” “Christianity,”immaculate conception,” “rapture,” and “trinity” don’t appear in the Christian bible (and I would be right); but that those terms don’t appear in the Christian bible does not in itself nullify the established theology behind those concepts, nor does playing word games with the Constitution nullify the fact that *religion does not belong in public schools*.

    Iceironman: “…so the govt will control and indocrinate my children even more.”

    Please.

  7. Marymary says:

    Charlotte: I have to commend you for your patience with Iceironman, whose comments are generally off point, to put it mildly.

    Iceironman: I suggest you read Charlotte’s original post again, assuming you read it in the first place. She puts forth a simple, easy-to-understand synopsis of the Lemon Test. I don’t think she referred to President Obama being involved in this court case at all, so why you had to make sarcastic comments about what Obama should or shouldn’t be doing is beyond me. What’s your point? As far as I know, Obama hasn’t commented on the case in Huntington and has no involvement with it.

    Although I’m not certain that our current Supreme Court of the United States would agree, on its face, the Huntington situation does appear to violate prong 2 and possibly prong 3 of the Lemon test. If this case were to ever get so far as the SCOTUS, I’m afraid that Chief Justice Roberts and his cohorts would use it as an excuse to “re-evaluate” Lemon. I have no problems with Lemon. As a Christian, I don’t need to have the state (whether in the form of the public schools or some other public institution) promoting or endorsing my religion. That is not the government’s function.

    A passing familiarity with recent events should have made you aware that some misguided Christians (I wouldn’t go so far as to call them evil) have tried to get Intelligent Design (thinly disguised Creationism) into the public schools. So yes, some Christians have tried to force public school students to learn their religion, or at least their unscientific version of biology.

  8. Iceironman says:

    Danny, do you need spectacles to look that far down your nose to see us ignorant Christians? You are right Im just an ignorant person who believes if you teach evolution you should counter it by say 5 minutes on Creation (non denomination). How can science teach about ENTROPY (I will give you a second to look it up) and in the next sentence say we were created from it? You clearly know the rules of science (physics in this case)but hold your hands over your ears and scream LA-LA-LA.

    And as for fancy quotes

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” This uneducated (and quite offensive) quote comes from John Adams-yes I actually read! So here is where we are at–we have no morals as a govt, and now we cant speak on religion. Way to screw up the country!

    You damn people better be the first to stand up when it is prayer time for the Muslims in our schools. Yet, you wont be because for the most part the ACLU types are hypocrites. And why would they pick on defensless little Muslims.

    Now if you will excuse me I have to go erase my signature from a bill that gave AIG execs lots of money. You know my man Dodd put that in there and I read it line by line. But now I will act offended.

  9. Marymary says:

    >>You damn people better be the first to stand up when it is prayer time for the Muslims in our schools. Yet, you wont be because for the most part the ACLU types are hypocrites. And why would they pick on defensless little Muslims.<<

    On the contrary, if there were ever a public school that demanded that its students learn the Koran or engage in Muslim practices, I suspect that the offended Christians would run to the ACLU and demand separation of church from state. And guess what? The ACLU would take the case. Also, why are you cussing at people? That’s not Christian behavior.

    And please explain why the public schools, or any schools for that matter, have to “counter” evolution with five minutes on Creationism? What would be the point? It is the job of the schools to teach students accepted scientific theory, not to provide voice to every person or group that has an untestable alternative view. Despite what some very misguided Christians think, there is no controversy to teach regarding evolutionary theory vs, Intelligent Design in the scientific community. Evolution is established, accepted theory that has been tested over and over.

  10. Marymary says:

    Refutation of the entropy argument in favor of Creationism:

    http://blog.mlive.com/readreact/2009/01/creationists_entropy_argument.html

  11. Danny McNeal says:

    Marymary on March 23, 2009, at 1:26 pm said, “As a Christian, I don’t need to have the state (whether in the form of the public schools or some other public institution) promoting or endorsing my religion. That is not the government’s function.”

    That is so bitchin’ and awesome. 🙂 I so respect that public arena stance. You’re my kind of Christian. My grandma says there’re Christians, and then there are xtians… In the end, whether speaking in terms of anti-constitutional Christians, scientists engaging in “scientism,” atheists who dogmatically and religiously dismiss out of hand all that even remotely sounds spiritual or mystic, etc., aren’t we just talking about precisely the same underlying human failing?—lacking the humility to keep an open mind while researching subject matters of sociopolitical impact across a balanced, objective cross-section of multiple sources *before* formulating an opinion (rather than just formulating an uninformed prejudicial belief).

    Iceironman on March 23, 2009, at 1:43 pm said, “Danny, do you need spectacles to look that far down your nose to see us ignorant Christians?”

    Oooh, that was good one! Now make me look like a pirate! (I always had a childhood fantasy about being a grungy high seas pirate. Arrrrrgh, matey!)

    Iceironman: “Danny, do you need spectacles to look that far down your nose to see us ignorant Christians? You are right Im just an ignorant person who believes if you teach evolution you should counter it by say 5 minutes on Creation (non denomination).”

    Don’t misunderstand, Ice. I’ve restricted my comments to challenges of your own public-forum presentations, and those of other like Christians I class you with based on similarities between those presentations (actions, stated opinions, arguments, etc.). I don’t know you and know next to nothing about you personally or spiritually, but I find your stated arguments and actionable sociopolitical beliefs logically flawed and it is to those and those alone that I speak. At no time have I made a personal value judgment against you or against another Christian, or your religious beliefs (just your stated *sociopolitical* beliefs, informed by and/or identical to your religious beliefs though they may be, which is not my concern or responsibility). Challenging and refuting others’ public-forum arguments is neither rude nor unethical, and doing so with a *Christian’s* arguments in no way whatsoever equates with making a prejudicial value judgment against Christians in general, as you seem to suggest above. All of my characterizations and judgments have been *post*-judicial and directed “ad argumentum” (to the argument), not “ad hominem” (to the person making the argument). Why would I do otherwise, which would be the act of one who can do none other to support his arguments?

    The biting-tack editorializing was just a return volley of your own tack. (My writing voice tends to do the emotional chameleon thing.) While such turnabout is fair play, the important thing is that—bite aside—I stand by the soundness of the points I made, and would point out that your over-generalization of my comments above does nothing to logically refute any of those points. In fact, you didn’t even *speak* to any of them, nor to Charlotte’s (except for a highly selective one-liner reinterpretation of the Establishment Clause that was all conclusion and no logical chain of reasoning to establish the conclusion—where’s the beef? (Man, I miss that Wendy’s lady!)). Since you didn’t speak to the points, let alone refute them, and you didn’t concede your own points, what is a person to think about the strength and validity of your arguments (which you obviously care about at least to the degree of committing time and effort to read others’ arguments, formulate and type your own responses, and then follow up)? It’s very easy—too easy—to pigeonhole people as “hateful persecutors” or “bleeding-heart liberals” or “blinded by Satan” and completely write off what they’re saying without a second thought, but if your sociopolitical beliefs are worthy of you, shouldn’t they be logically defensible in the face of public-forum challenges and shouldn’t they be able to stand up to the open-minded scrutiny of your own self-analysis?

    At the heart of your over-generalization of my comments is the assumption that my comments are directed at Christian religious belief. They are not. I draw a sharp distinction (believing fervently in church-state separation as I do) between a person’s private religious beliefs and practice and a person’s sociopolitical beliefs and practice expressed in the public forum, the state arena (which may or may not be informed by their religious beliefs). I’ve observed that many such Christians so challenged by others often tacitly assume they’re being persecuted for their religious beliefs because, choosing to mix church and state so inextricably in their own lives, they don’t seem to see the difference that church-state separationists are predisposed to see between religious belief/action in the private/church arena and sociopolitical (albeit religiously informed) belief/action in the public/state arena. There is, of course, a difference between Christianity, the religion, and Christianity, the sociopolitical activist; and it’s to the latter that challenges of the anatomy of beliefs on which these public-forum expressions and actions are based is directed. EVERYONE, including Christians, who opine in the public arena or act sociopolitically are fair game for and should be prepared for challenge and refutation, as the status of being Christian offers no special immunity of public actions to public criticism, nor should it. Such criticisms are no more persecutory than comments made against the antics of public lunacy perpetrated by any other sociopolitical entity. (There can be no equality where there is double standard.)

    For example, when one or more Christian organizations try to achieve the passage of legislation based on Christian beliefs, they are attempting to inject their religious beliefs into the laws which govern all Americans. Not only is this patently unconstitutional, as it clearly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment; but in so doing, they have espoused a set of sociopolitical beliefs in the public forum as a basis for proposed laws which would affect everyone. Thus, *every* *single* *American* has an ethical right to speak out, for good or ill, about the beliefs forming the basis of this proposed legislation. When they speak out against these *sociopolitical* beliefs, they are in no way whatsoever attacking Christians’ *religious* beliefs. That these sociopolitical beliefs happen to coincide with these Christians’ religious beliefs is a function only of the fact that these Christians insist upon blurring church and state in their own lives, and has nothing to do with, nor is the responsibility of, those making the criticisms. Thus, having espoused their religious beliefs in the sociopolitical arena, these Christians have opened their private religious beliefs up to the approval or disapproval of all those whom this legislation will affect, i.e. every American. These Christians cannot have it both ways: either they refrain from attempting to make their religious beliefs the basis of legislation that affects all Americans, and keep their religious beliefs safe and porcelain sensibilities intact, or they violate constitutional ethics and try to force their religious beliefs on others, thus opening up those religious beliefs to rightful criticism. It’s one or the other, and at no time are any Christians persecuted in any way; and frankly no one should pay any attention to the rather tiresome bleatings to the contrary.

    I mean, really, how patient can one be expected to be after the Pat Robertsons, Rush Limbaughs, and Bill O’Reillys of the world have cried wolf for the umpteenth time? So sue me if I’m just a little bit tired of hearing what a dirty, hateful, sinful, godless piece of crap I am just for daring to defend myself. “I am treated as evil by those who feel persecuted because they are not allowed to force me to believe as they do.” You know, even long before I became engaged in sociopolitical activism, I’ve been persecuted by Christians *far* more as a non-Christian than I *ever* was persecuted by non-Christians when I was a Christian. “The Devil’s greatest trick was convincing the world he doesn’t exist.” …and Christianity’s greatest trick was convincing the world that they were the persecuted rather than the persecutor. Yes, Christians have actually truly been persecuted at times through history, but the vast majority of the time when persecution is claimed by Christians in this society, what they’re calling “persecution” is nothing more than the defensive response of those whom these Christians are themselves persecuting.

    Owing to our more traditional societal mores (though secular, evolved and culturally adopted over an earlier time when the Christian Church wielded much more power over the arena of state than today), our society indoctrinates all of us, whether religionist or non-religionist, to think that questioning others’ publicly espoused opinions is rude, unethical, and even persecutory; yet our Founding Fathers, children of the Age of Enlightenment during which that Greco-Roman flame was rekindled, as well as those ancient Greek and Roman grandfathers of our democracy felt otherwise. They all believed deeply in the absolute necessity, not only of robust freedom of speech, but of the active exercise by the citizenry of that freedom in the public forum for the very survival of a healthy and resilient democracy (so much so, the democratic Greco-Romans that, by the time of the Golden Age of the Roman orators, there were over 500 Greek and Roman terms describing logical tools and argumentative strategies perfected over centuries in the art of public debate). Both our Founding Fathers and democratic grandfathers would be aghast at the degenerate idea that challenging sociopolitical beliefs and actions should be considered inappropriate or immoral, let alone persecutory.

    Iceironman: “How can science teach about ENTROPY (I will give you a second to look it up) and in the next sentence say we were created from it? You clearly know the rules of science (physics in this case)but hold your hands over your ears and scream LA-LA-LA.”

    Thanks for the magnanimous donation of a second, though as I’m already well versed in the concept of entropy from my graduate work, I used your generous second to confirm the spelling of “Kolmogorov” instead: A little specificity please, Ice; what kind of entropy are you referring to, as from your whopping 50 words of argumentation**, at least five types of entropy off the top of my head might bear on your question? Are you referring to Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy, Rényi entropy, soliton entropy, von Neumann entropy, Riemannian-invariant entropy, Shannon entropy, Gibbs entropy, Boltzmann entropy, Tsallis entropy, chaotic entropy, inflaton entropy, Clausius entropy, negative entropy, Casimir entropy, Fermi-Dirac entropy, Bose-Einstein entropy, holographic entropy,…?

    Shooting from the hip, are you sure that the latter entropy of the “next sentence” to which you refer was the same as the former entropy mentioned? (Various entropies aren’t just shades or flavors or variations on the same theme; they’re often completely unrelated concepts.) Since you’ve expressed confusion regarding how the these two statements about entropy may be reconciled: Are you talking about peer-reviewed scientific journal papers and/or professional-level texts, i.e., what scientists have actually said—from the horse’s mouth, as it were? Or by, “How can science teach about ENTROPY…,” might you actually be referring to a lay-filtered media-paraphrased statement in which something may have been lost in translation? (The media is constantly doing this—another reason why people should take responsibility for achieving multi-information-source objectivity on their own rather than relying upon information from any one news source.) Or might this information have come from a third-party propagandistic source that presents selective snippets of information with no provenance in order to make an unfavorable scientific claim seem flawed? (These are notoriously unreliable, and the seeming discrepancy can usually be cleared up with a quick google search to get some information that’s actually in context, or else definitely with an objective look at a bias-balanced cross-section of multiple sources, as always.) Hope this helps! 😉

    Well, that’s all I got until you provide more information to narrow down whatever it is you’re referring to.

    **(I returned your gracious grant of a whole second and went ahead and counted “LA-LA-LA” as three words rather than one. Who loves ya’, baby?)

    Iceironman: “So here is where we are at–we have no morals as a govt…”

    But wouldn’t you consider *anyone* who does not share your particular morals to be amoral?

    Iceironman: “…and now we cant speak on religion.”

    Tell me, Ice, who is preventing you from speaking on religion?

    And in case you’re thinking about suggesting that, unless you can say absolutely anything absolutely anywhere at absolutely any time, you are somehow being oppressed and your religious freedoms and free speech violated: please ask yourself whether you really want to live in a society where people are free to shout, “Fire!” in a crowded theatre or where people can slander you with impunity and without the censure of law or threat of judicial action. Also ask yourself whether the places in which you want to be able to speak about Christianity, but feel you are currently prevented, are places in which you wouldn’t mind *all* other religions, current and future, being able to promote their religions there as well. If not, then consider that there are far older religions than Christianity, many much older even than its parent Judaism, a fair number of which had fully developed systems of law long before Christianity and its paultry ten commandments were a twinkle in a Jewish mystic’s eye, and some of which are practiced in derivative forms to this day. (In this sense, Christianity has always seemed to me to be like the guy who comes to the party late, and then tries to convince everyone that he threw the party and that no one was partying before he got there.)

    So, considering that Christians have never been able to produce or otherwise demonstrate their god’s existence nor authenticate the provenance of the book they claim to be the supreme word of this god, inescapably relegating Christianity’s claims of revelation, authenticity, and superiority to the status of hearsay, then on precisely what basis are you trying to establish the worthiness of Christianity to receive preferential treatment over all other religions? (This is that pesky “inescapable logical extension” thing again.)

    Truly, hyperbole is just so very transparent and ineffective. I’m sure you honestly believe that you have a basis for what you’re saying, so why not share that and try to actually establish the claim logically, rather than just making the claim as if uttering it were enough to make it true? Otherwise, why are you hanging around the public forum?

    Iceironman: “You damn people better be the first to stand up when it is prayer time for the Muslims in our schools. Yet, you wont be because for the most part the ACLU types are hypocrites. And why would they pick on defensless little Muslims.”

    Wow. Is it safe to say that your compassion is, um, somewhat limited when it comes to those of the Muslim persuasion? (I bet they absolutely love to be lumped together with their “weird cousin Fundy,” just about as much as many Christians love to cry, “Persecution! Persecution!”)

    It’s easy to call the ACLU names as the sole mode and totality of your argumentation to support your dim view of them, but I’ve never once come across anyone who could actually back up this very common accusation of hypocrisy. Perhaps you imagine there is hypocrisy where the ACLU has been absent in cases you would otherwise have expected to find them, because their limited resources prevented their participation. Or perhaps you think it’s proper to hold people you don’t agree with to an übermensch standard, so that when they reveal themselves to be flawed human beings like the rest of us, you can tell yourself that they deserve to be categorically written off, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (Should Christianity be thrown out with the bathwater because of the Dennis Malvasis, Eric Rudolphs, and Hitlers**, or the Dark Ages, or the Malleus Maleficarum, or the biblically supported slavery platform, or the centuries of institutionalized misogynism that makes Fred Phelps look like Gloria Steinem, Alice Paul, and Lucy Burns all rolled up into one quivering, menstruating mass…?) Or perhaps you just disagree with their philosophy so intensely that you insist on creating a caricatured straw man proxy for their philosophy and judging them according to *it* instead, demonizing them at will, making them the butt of childish jokes, and bearing false witness against them (now where have I heard *that* phrase before…?) with any one of a number of viral anti-ACLU e-mails that make the rounds each year, which make up some fictional ultraliberal commy-loving case the ACLU is supposedly currently handling in order to rally support against them among others who won’t lift a finger to google a simple search string and confirm the e-mail’s truth or falsehood, but will just assume it’s true because it fits with *their* fantasy ACLU straw man that they like to take out and stick pins in every once in a while when they’re feeling particularly morally superior and a bit squirrely. (Screw my third grade teacher—sometimes run-on sentences are fun!)

    Of course, I’m just throwing those out; I wouldn’t know what’s going on in your noggin about the ACLU (mostly because you insist on just *uttering* these wild claims but not letting us in on your thinking process, let alone actually supporting the statement with something that might actually persuade someone to take what you’re saying seriously).

    And I’ll remind you that far, far, far more people have been slaughtered in the name of Christianity than in the name of Islam (even *after* one resets Christianity’s kill ratio after the advent of Islam). As such, I for one, while prioritizing the use of my limited resources with respect to sociopolitical activism, will be far more concerned with Christian incursions into public schools than Muslim incursions.

    Separation of church and state is in the best interest of peace-loving Christians, as well as non-Christians, for many reasons, for instance: Where a pool of about 33,799 potential rival Christian denominations exists, any one or more of which might come to theocratic power and denounce your humble denomination’s interpretative theology as “lukewarm” or “heretical,” where is the religious freedom in that? President Jefferson was very much torn on this very issue when the Danbury Baptist Association wrote him in 1801 about state congressional action that placed religious legislation first on the session agenda (before the state constitutions came to embrace laissez-faire religious commerce policies in the tradition of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment). He wanted to help stem the tide of theocratic cannabalism that threatened to devour the then tiny Baptist faith, but knew this would set a dangerous federal precedent that would tear at the very heart of the anti-establishment doctrine, what he called the “wall of separation between church and state” in his response to the DBA when he had to disappoint them. When someone is truly oppressed, it’s a very repugnant thing. I can’t speak for the DBA, but by accounts they were somewhat progressive in those days and seemed to genuinely want, not only to be left in peace with respect to their particular take on Christianity, but also to support and to avail themselves of the anti-establishment protections they knew well were at the heart of the country’s founding: sort of like a pre-incorporated, religious chapter of the ACLU—bitchin’ and awesome.

    **(One can quibble ad infinitum about whether these Christians were “real Christians,” but that is completely immaterial. The irrefutable fact is that Malvasi, Rudolph, and Hitler were shaped by the same core tenets and beliefs of any other Christian then, before, or since. The problem, as Charlotte pointed out, is that Christianity can so very easily be used as a platform to selectively interpret scripture to sell absolutely, positively, and without a doubt any agenda whatsoever; and Christianity’s history is just one big laundry-list litany that confirms this through and through.)

  12. Danny McNeal says:

    Iceironman: “You are right Im just an ignorant person who believes if you teach evolution you should counter it by say 5 minutes on Creation (non denomination).”

    Alright, alright, you can have your 5 minutes in the public school science teacher’s classroom to espouse a snippet of religion that’s masquerading as alternative science… IF the public school science teacher gets 5 minutes in the pulpit after your pastor’s sermon every Sunday to counter it with a snippet of science masquerading as alternative religion…

    (After all, fair is fair.)

  13. Andy says:

    I think Danny did an excellent job of arguing why mixing religion with government is a BAD idea.

    I would like to add the local Channel 15 News aired the Huntington County School’s board meeting on Monday night:

    http://www.wane.com/dpp/news/local_wane_huntington_parents_speak_out_about_bible_study_being_halted_200903232258_rev1

    People from the community publicly voiced their support for the Bible trailers, and someone even requested the name of the parent who filed the lawsuit be named:

    “Where is that person ?” “Who is that person?”, was publicly asked during the meeting.

    This particular person also wanted to know why the parent did not attend the meeting so the group could publicly confront him or her.

    I don’t think the majority of people realize why the lawsuit has included the privacy of the person be limited to their’s and their child’s initials. It is my guess one of the main reasons would be to help protect and try to ensure the safety of the parent and the child.

    It took great courage for this parent to come forward. I believe there are many who feel the Christian Bible trailers which are parked on the Huntington public school’s property should not be part of our public school’s curriculum. Many of these parents are probably hesitant to “speak out” due to the very, strong, vocal, Christian backlash they may receive for doing so. Not to mention, they run the risk of having their child “singled out” and possibly mocked for not taking part or opting out of the program.

    I think it is healthy to remind the Huntington community the United States is NOT a theocracy. Since public schools are funded by ALL tax paying citizens regardless of the taxpayers’ personal religious beliefs or lack there of, it is only appropriate and fair to separate religion from public schools. For those parents interested in mixing and incorporating religious doctrine with their child’s education, there are plenty of parochial schools in NE Indiana to send their children to.

  14. Iceironman says:

    So, you didnt really answer how in a universe acted on by outside forces becomes more organized rather than less. This goes against physics.
    I am not quoting anyone on entropy, they teach it everyday in colleges.

  15. M Badgett says:

    Thank you Danny for taking the time and energy to put forth intelligent discourse. Just wanted to let you know it is appreciated.

  16. Iceironman says:

    Isnt it amazing, everyone thinks Danny did such a good job, and I admit, if you dont like answers, then yes, it was quite long and tedious answer. I have A.D.D, I cant read all of that. And I have always maintained, that those who try to talk over others heads and use large words in place of common words, are making up for a lack of self confidence. I dont need long responses, just answers Dannny!

    Again, the purpose is for govt to stay out of religion. Not for religion to stay out of govt.

  17. Ice:

    Are you actually stating that all the Constitutional law that has been built up over the past 200 years and all the philosophies of the Founding Fathers be ditched? Don’t you think that is presuming that you know more than the collective wisdom of the justices and the Founding Fathers?

    If you want an idea of how church and state can become intertwined into one read about Henry the VIII. He believed he was above the law and above the Catholic church in Rome. In order to marry Anne Boleyn, Henry needed an annulment. He couldn’t convince the Pope to give him one, so he broke from Rome and declared himself head of the Church of England (the Anglican Church)- a state sanctioned church. He then proceeded to approve his own annulment from Catherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne. The Church of England remains the state-sponsored church to this day in England.

    In Western Europe, there was little concept of separation of church and state. Most religions were state-sponsored, or endorsed, and supported by the civil authorities. This is the background from which our Founding Fathers came. If they had intended for those in this new nation to have an official church, they could very well have established one in the Constitution. They not only rejected that idea but also the notion of an official religion.

    The Founding Fathers did not mention God in the Preamble (as so many preambles of the states did), they prohibited a religious test for office, and they passed the First Amendment with its mandate to Congress against making any law establishing religion.

    You may argue all you want that the amendment requires keeping the government out of religion but yet allows religion into government, and you will be wrong. If that were allowed to happen across the board, eventually we would have a state-sanctioned religion – something that the Founding Fathers did not want and did not implant by choice in the Constitution.

    By the way, religion is allowed into government if it is representative of more than just Christianity. Religious displays at Christmas that contain items representing a cross-section of America’s religions have been upheld by the Supreme Court. Prayers are entered prior to the beginning of sessions of legislatures as long as they are non-denominational.

    Perhaps what is upsetting to you is that the forced religion isn’t Christianity and that Christianity must share the spotlight with other religions which co-exist in this country.

  18. Danny McNeal says:

    M Badgett on March 24, 2009, at 6:43 pm said, “Thank you Danny for taking the time and energy to put forth intelligent discourse. Just wanted to let you know it is appreciated.”
    Andy on March 24, 2009, at 11:57 am said, “I think Danny did an excellent job of arguing why mixing religion with government is a BAD idea.”

    Thanks very much! That’s nice to hear. 🙂

  19. Danny McNeal says:

    Andy: “I don’t think the majority of people realize why the lawsuit has included the privacy of the person be limited to their’s and their child’s initials. It is my guess one of the main reasons would be to help protect and try to ensure the safety of the parent and the child.”

    Yeah, I’ve personally gotten off light, myself. I’ve had several Christians try to bitch me out about my bumpersticker that reads, “Against gay marriage? How sad you’re an ignorant, hate-filled bigot.” (I caught the last one actually trying to get his fingernail under one corner to remove it when I walked out of the supermarket with my groceries! Then, after having been caught breaking the law, he had the nerve to start yelling at me about how *I* was victimizing *him*.) I usually just calmly (*really* pisses them off LOL) but sternly tell them something to the effect of, “I am in *no* way persecuting you, I am acting in accordance with my constitutional rights, the bumpersticker *stays*, and there isn’t a *single* thing you can do to stop me. Period. End of discussion.” I mean, if you want to hold bigoted views, express those bigoted views, and take sociopolitical action based on those bigoted views, that is your constitutional right; just don’t expect not to be called a bigot while you do it.

    I believe that far too few people are speaking out about religionists invading the sociopolitical arena, mostly because of the societal indoctrination we all receive to believe the degenerate idea that daring to express your opinion about public actions taken by Christians somehow amounts to persecution of Christians. Bill Maher, in his closing remarks to his documentary Religulous, hits the nail on the head: “The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions made by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken… This is why rational people—anti-religionists—must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves.”

    Persecution by Christians (not *of* Christians) is far more common than a lot of people realize, often hidden because of its predominance in rural areas, where it goes largely un- or under-reported. Many places are so rural and so fanatical that the persecution is often institutionalized to the point where “petition[ing] the [local] government for a redress of grievances” leads to those government officials either stonewalling the victim or else joining in on the lynching—little de facto theocracies like something out of an episode of the old Twilight Zone sporting the tagline: “This quaint little town holds a dark secret.”

    Yet it happens in big cities, too. An incident in L.A. a few years ago, which made the national news, happened to a friend of mine: Angry Christians kidnapped the little boy of Acharya S, author of “The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold,” in retaliation for the simple exercising of her constitutional right of free speech. (He was recovered safely.) How weak do you consider your god to be if you think he needs your vigilantism to help him “punish the wicked,” ya’ know? How pathetic.

  20. Danny McNeal says:

    Iceironman on March 24, 2009, at 5:41 pm said: “So, you didnt really answer how in a universe acted on by outside forces becomes more organized rather than less. This goes against physics.”

    You can be assured that had you actually asked a question rather than making a vague reference that could have meant anything, I would have answered. You know when I said, “…that’s all I got until you provide more information to narrow down whatever it is you’re referring to”? What I meant was, “…that’s all I got until you provide more information to narrow down whatever it is you’re referring to.” (Not sure how to make it any clearer.) You didn’t even identify what kind of entropy you were referring to. (And, by the way, “you didnt really answer,” or concede, a single refutation since I’ve been here. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” –Matthew 7:3)

    From what little more you’ve provided, and from Marymary’s comment, I think I’ve managed to piece together a vague idea of just what it is you’re asking. (Honestly, for as hard as you make the rest of us work by writing so little and so vaguely, your woeful complaints referenced below about having to read so *much* ring rather pettily.)

    I take it you’re referring to the second law of thermodynamics. Referencing the “universe becom[ing] more organized rather than less” refers to *macro*states; however, thermodynamic entropy describes a statistical average of physically possible *micro*states. The laws of physics in no way disallow a *macro*system from moving from less macroscopically organized to more macroscopically organized. Macroscopic organization has nothing to do with thermodynamic entropy. The comic book version of the second law of thermodynamics would be something like, “You can’t break even”: No matter how efficient the system, heat is always lost as it flows from higher concentrations to lower concentrations, and the total thermodynamic entropy of the universe increases. *This* is thermodynamic entropy, not macroscopic organization or the degradation of macroscopic organization. Further, this is not contentious in the scientific establishment and is the universal scientific definition of thermodynamic entropy (and has been for a century and a half).

    Though most of the phenomena which occur in the universe tend toward disorder, many phenomena are characterized by becoming *more* orderly; but thermodynamic entropy does *not* decrease and violate the laws of physics in either case. Thermodynamic entropy just means that systems tend toward a lower energy state. Though this usually means tending toward DISorganization, there are countless examples of where tending toward a lower energy state means tending toward *organization*.** However, whether speaking of organizing or disorganizing systems, both involve going from a higher energy state to a lower energy state; so the second law of thermodynamics is at no point violated and the total thermodynamic entropy of the universe still increases, in either case.

    Thus, your claim that increasing organization “goes against physics” is false, and again this is not contentious in the scientific establishment and is no more a matter of opinion than 2+2=4. But don’t take my word for it: any peer-reviewed science text on the subject will tell you precisely the same.

    **An obvious example is water. As water cools to the freezing point and undergoes a phase change from the disorderly molecular configuration of liquid to the solid phase of ice, it becomes *more* organized but still loses heat (thermodynamic energy); thus, even though the molecules become more organized, the phase change from liquid to solid still generates increased entropy. So again, your inference that more organization means less entropy is false: organization and entropy are *not*, nor have they ever been, equivalent concepts.

    Iceironman: “I am not quoting anyone on entropy, they teach it everyday in colleges.”

    I beg to differ. I’ve never heard of a college that teaches that increasing thermodynamic entropy equates with increasing macroscopic disorganization. You’ve been operating under a fundamental misunderstanding of what thermodynamic entropy is. This is very common when a peer-reviewed scientific statement filters through to a lay audience. For instance, what percentage of lay people would agree that nothing travels faster than light? Probably a pretty high percentage. However, this is false. Data from the currently operational WMAP satellite, for example, confirms this on a daily basis when it observes the speed of one distant galaxy relative to another exceeding the speed of light.

    How can this be? Because something was lost in translation when peer-reviewed scientific statements filtered to the lay audience (and even poorly written high school and college science texts). Einstein’s Relativity in no way establishes that nothing travels faster than light. It merely establishes that nothing can travel *through* *space-time* faster than light. Space-time itself, however, can indeed travel faster than light. (e.g.: The leading inflationary Big Bang model, for decades, calculates that an instant after the Big Bang, the space-time fabric of the universe stretched by a factor of 10^50, a one followed by 50 zeroes, in 10^-33 second, a single part of a second divided by a one followed by 33 zeroes.)

    Iceironman on March 24, 2009, at 8:02 pm said, “Isnt it amazing, everyone thinks Danny did such a good job, and I admit, if you dont like answers, then yes, it was quite long and tedious answer… I dont need long responses, just answers Dannny!”

    I’ve given you every single answer you asked for, Ice. Your unwillingness to either attempt to refute them or concede the point, or to even consider them, is your failing, not mine. Your mistake is in thinking that short answers even exist and would be adequate for complex sociopolitical questions, such as about constitutional law and civic history. Short *comments* may exist about such questions, but not short answers. Short answers do not establish the validity of an argument; carefully constructed logical chains of reasoning do. A short answer has no place in a sociopolitical forum; logical reasoning does.

    I get the impression that if you asked Albert Einstein to explain his Theory of General Relativity to you, you’d cut him off after the third paragraph and shout, “I dont need long responses, just answers Professor!” The short comments you call for here would accomplish no more than a back-and-forth volley of “Nuh-uh!” “Uh-huh!” “Nuh-uh!” “Uh-huh!” Now what possible reason could you give me to want to waste my time with that?

    Iceironman: “I have A.D.D, I cant read all of that.”

    I have A.D.D. too, and I can.

    Iceironman: “And I have always maintained, that those who try to talk over others heads and use large words in place of common words, are making up for a lack of self confidence.”

    I would agree that “those who try to talk over others heads and use large words in place of common words [when they are not necessary to the subject matter], are making up for a lack of self confidence,” but by the illogic of your statement, for instance, all technical manuals and science texts should be devoid of technical language and only use common words. Besides, that *your* vocabulary of common words may not contain certain terms does not mean that they are not contained in others’ banks of common words. Generally, the more common a word, the less descriptive it is; thus, if we used only very common words to discuss complex subjects, then you would have far *more* to read, Ice, not less. Using more descriptive words is a mercy, not a veiled insult.

    I’m not trying to talk over your head, Ice. If you don’t understand something I’ve written, ask for clarification. I’m happy to oblige. Your problem is that, of all the segments of the public forum and topics of sociopolitical interest to choose from, you’ve chosen topics for which there are no quick answers and for which common words are simply inadequate to fully elucidate them. Religionists are still bringing up the same old asked-and-answered objections to these complex topics as they have for the last two centuries, having progressed in neither their discussion of nor their understanding of them. What does that tell you about the philosophy of small words for big concepts? (Case in point, your repetition of the already asked-and-answered, and rather easily refuted, statement below…)

    Iceironman: “Again, the purpose is for govt to stay out of religion. Not for religion to stay out of govt.”

    This isn’t any truer now than the first time you tried to claim it and has already been amply refuted. Why are you afraid to either answer this refutation or concede the point? It’s a weak position indeed that shrinks from debate in the public forum and opts instead for hands-clasped-to-ears “I can’t hear you” obstinacy. If your statement is correct, then you should be able to support it with a logically consistent chain of reasoning. It’s as simple as that. The fact that you can’t tells others all they need to know about the validity of your claim.

  21. Danny McNeal says:

    Charlotte A. Weybright on March 24, 2009, at 9:37 pm said, “In Western Europe, there was little concept of separation of church and state. Most religions were state-sponsored, or endorsed, and supported by the civil authorities. This is the background from which our Founding Fathers came. If they had intended for those in this new nation to have an official church, they could very well have established one in the Constitution. They not only rejected that idea but also the notion of an official religion.”

    Great point. Another pebble from the mountain of evidence denying the Founders’ intention of religion in government comes from Ben Franklin, who kept a diary of notes of the happenings during and surrounding the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention in 1787. He related that a motion to open the convention with (Christian) prayer was defeated when *only* *four* conventioneers voted in favor of prayer. Obviously, had the Founding Fathers meant for religion to ever play any role whatsoever in government, the motion to open the proceedings for drafting the constitution of a hard-fought-for fledgling nation with prayer would have passed and prayer ensued.

  22. Danny McNeal says:

    Iceironman: “I am not quoting anyone on entropy, they teach it everyday in colleges.”

    Wrong.

    …just trying it out. Nope, I was right the first time: short answers don’t accomplish anything.

  23. Marymary says:

    @Iceironman and Danny McNeal: There are plenty of resources available on the internet that debunk the idea the evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. That myth has been around for decades. I remember reading a book by a creationist in a college biology class twenty-some years ago. The author made a big point about how evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics, a point which the class professor easily refuted. I can’t believe that people are still arguing about this.

    Iceironman: please Google, “entropy, creationism” to find tons of links that explain why evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. You can choose to not believe in evolution, but at least try to understand that much of the reasoning put forth by creationists is flawed.

  24. Danny McNeal says:

    Marymary on March 25, 2009, at 1:01 pm said, “Iceironman and Danny McNeal: There are plenty of resources available on the internet that debunk the idea the evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. That myth has been around for decades.”

    Oh but, Ice is “not quoting anyone on entropy, they teach it everyday in colleges.” (LOL I didn’t really buy that either.) Yeah, I remember this little tidbit floating around back then too. An early form of it was brought up by the first disciples of Wilberforce, so it’s really decrepit by now. LOL

  25. Andy says:

    Iceironman –

    If you, personally, want to subscribe to Christianity that is your personal business and right to do so. If I want to subscribe to Buddhism or any other form of religion, I have the right, here in America, to also do so.

    What is at stake here is someone, or some organization, pushing their own personal religious beliefs in a PUBLIC school setting. I can assure you, if a group from the Islamic religion wanted to set up a Muslim Trailer outside of my child’s public school, and try to coerce my children into attending, I would have a BIG problem with this also. It would be the same with any other bonafide religion. By allowing this trailer to be present, one is approaching very murky waters – Why are other religions not allowed to set up trailers outside of the school ? Which sect of Christianity does the trailer subscribe to ? How about setting up a Jewish Trailer for the kids who don’t believe Christ is the Messiah ? We can go on, and on, and on,….

    Religion can be a unifying force for some, it can also be a divisive force for others. One’s own personal spiritual beliefs or non beliefs are their own personal business. Since we here in America tout, “Religious Freedom”, this means there are many other religious groups present in the US. To those members of different faiths or non-faiths who are law-abiding, tax paying citizens, should it be the government’s responsibility to accommodate and represent each particular faith in a public school setting ? After all, we are all paying taxes that go to the construction, maintenance, staff, general expenses, etc. of a our public schools. Why would we want to give preferential treatment to just one religion ?

    A realistic, simple solution to this is to separate church and state, or keep our public schools NEUTRAL GROUNDS.

    Why are you so intent on giving the Christian religion special treatment by allowing the Bible Trailers to be set up on public school grounds ?

  26. Danny McNeal says:

    Andy on March 25, 2009, at 2:40 pm said, “Which sect of Christianity does the trailer subscribe to ?”

    No, Andy, those trailers, and public school science class “balancing act” segments on Creationism, are “non-denominational.” LOL I never really bought the myth of “non-denominational” either. There’s just no such thing, since a truly non-denominational Christian organization, or “religious education” program, or even statement of belief would have to be in complete agreement with the beliefs of at least 33,800 different Christian denominations, which differ on even the *major* as well as minor tenets.

  27. Iceironman says:

    So, I gather order comes from disorder?

  28. Danny McNeal says:

    Iceironman on March 25, 2009, at 6:00 pm said, “So, I gather order comes from disorder?”

    No, otherwise eggs would “unbreak,” for instance. Order does not come from disorder; rather, both order and disorder come from the fact that systems tend toward lower energy states—most times that means disorder, but countless times it means order.

  29. Iceironman says:

    A certain professor of thermodynamics was known to give the same final exam every year, always consisting of just the single question: “What is entropy?” One day an assistant suggested that it might be better to ask a different question now and then, so the students wouldn’t know in advance what they would be asked. The professor said not to worry. “It’s always the same question, but every year I change the answer.”

    Yes, the physics freaks have a sense of humor.

    So is entropy reversible?

    And Marymary, did you get your evelution sticker put on your bible?

  30. Iceironman says:

    Countless times? name 100 quickley.

  31. Iceironman says:

    Crap, Danny, I just left you a curve ball on the reversibility, now I wont get a response on the last question quickley…..

  32. Danny McNeal says:

    Iceironman: “So is entropy reversible?”

    If you mean, “Does the total amount of thermodynamic entropy of the universe ever decrease,” then the answer is no; all change through time that occurs in the universe results in an increase in the total entropy of the universe, whether that change results in macroscopic ordering or disordering.

    Iceironman: “Countless times? name 100 quickley…Crap, Danny, I just left you a curve ball on the reversibility, now I wont get a response on the last question quickley…..”

    Quid pro quo, Ice. Where are the answers to the numerous questions asked of you but never answered? But I’ll throw you yet another freebie: 100? How about approximately 100,000,000,000,000,000,001, one for every star in the observable universe plus when liquid water freezes solid.

    Curve ball? I wish all my college exam questions would have been that simple. LOL Ah well, I suppose I wouldn’t have learned as much that way.

  33. Iceironman says:

    Stars counts as 1 parameter set.

    Did you like the entropy answer changing every year?

  34. Danny McNeal says:

    Iceironman: “Stars counts as 1 parameter set.”

    What are we, 6 years old? I said, “…systems tend toward lower energy states…; countless times it means order.” Pointing out the fact that this phenomenon has occurred 10^20 times in the history of the universe from stars alone justifies this statement. Whether or not I’ve jumped through your little hoop doesn’t change this, and in no way jeopardizes the fact that organizing systems generate entropy. Other examples would be, obviously, everything in the universe that has gone from less ordered to more ordered over time; and you’re just as capable of enumerating these as I.

    And why are you afraid to answer the refutations of your arguments, Ice?

    Iceironman: “Did you like the entropy answer changing every year?”

    Do you have a point?

  35. Marymary says:

    Iceironman: I shouldn’t even dignify your smart-aleck question with an answer. I don’t have any stickers on my Bible. Yes, I get the sticker reference, and it’s just plain stupid. Grow up! As per usual, you are making sassy remarks that don’t address the issue at hand. How do we know that your examnple about the professor isn’t complete bunkum? Why don’t you admit that you don’t know much of anything about the Constitution of the United States, evolutionary theory, and thermodynamics? It appears that you are simply quoting tired arguments from dubious sources about thermodynamics and conveniently not responding to much of anything else on this thread.

  36. Iceironman says:

    The defining characteristic of a reversible process is that it can (or could) proceed equally well either in the forward or the reverse temporal directions. An irreversible process is one that can only proceed in one temporal direction, and would violate the laws of physics if it proceeded in the reverse time direction. At first this might seem to be a reasonable and unproblematic classification, since we can easily think of physical processes that are (essentially) reversible, such as the progression of the planets in orbit around the sun, and we can also think of processes that are (evidently) irreversible, such as the expansion of a gas released into a room from a small container. In the case of the planetary orbits, if we filmed the solar system and then played the film in reverse, the orbital motions would still look physically realistic, i.e., they would still satisfy Newton’s laws, for the simple reason that Newton’s laws are time-symmetric (neglecting tidal effects and not considering gravitational waves). In contrast, if we filmed the expanding gas, and then ran the film in reverse, the behavior would look highly unrealistic, as all the wisps of gas backed out of the room and converged, finding their way back into the small container.

    However, if we consider the case of the expanding gas more carefully, a puzzle arises. On the molecular level the gas can be regarded as consisting of many individual particles, each of which obeys Newton’s laws of motion, which, as already mentioned, are time-symmetric. The individual trajectories of these particles, including the effects of their perfectly elastic collisions, are therefore reversible, so the entire process of the gas expanding into the room must also be reversible, in the sense that it would not strictly violate any fundamental laws of mechanical dynamics. In fact, all the fundamental laws of physics are purely time-symmetric, including the laws of electromagnetism and the wave equation of quantum mechanics. (This is indirect evidence of inherent temporal asymmetry in one particular decay process in quantum mechanics, but this decay plays no role in most physical processes, so it cannot account for irreversibility.) The puzzle is how seemingly irreversible processes emerge from the workings of purely reversible phenomena. Perhaps it’s better to ask what exactly we mean by “irreversible”.

    A solid object moving at constant speed in a straight line through the vacuum of empty space from point A to point B may be regarded as a very simple reversible process. If we reverse the direction of time, the process consists of the object moving at constant speed in a straight line from B to A. If instead of a vacuum we imagine the object immersed in a highly viscous (and initially static) fluid, it might begin at point A with some speed and direction of motion, but would quickly lose speed, and arrive at point B moving very slowly. Reversing the direction of time for this process, we begin with a slowly moving object at B, which then accelerates toward A, and arrives at A with increased speed. This reversed process seems unrealistic, but it need not be, provided both the object and the fluid are given the correct initial conditions, i.e., the time-reversal of the final conditions that existed once the object had moved from A to B. The reason the accelerating object seems so unrealistic is that it would be practically (but not theoretically) impossible to set up the appropriate initial conditions in the fluid and surrounding container.

    Of course, it’s quite easy to set up the reverse of the required conditions, simply by beginning with a stationary fluid and then pushing the object from A toward B. At the end of this process, when the object arrives (slowly) at B, we will have the reverse of the required initial conditions for the unrealistic process, but actually reversing them is far from trivial. This is presumably what Boltzman had in mind when someone criticized his derivation of the second law on the grounds that any process which occurs is necessarily reversible by simply reversing the conditions at the end of the process, and he answered “Go ahead and reverse them”. The point being that it’s not so easy.

    If we touch the center of a pool of water, we can produce a circle of ripples emanating outward. The laws of mechanics governing the propagation of these waves are time-symmetrical, so in principle it would be possible to arrange for in-coming ripples to converge on a point in the center of the pool. However, this would require a perfectly coordinated set of initial conditions at the boundaries of the pool, something which is practically impossible to accomplish. Furthermore, to leave the pool in its quiescent state, it would be necessary for a finger to come into contact with the water exactly as the waves converged to absorb the momentum.

    These example suggest that our intuitive sense of what processes can and cannot realistically occur depends to a great extent not just on the fundamental physical laws but also on the degree of coordination in the boundary and initial conditions necessary for the process to occur. Thus, even though every process is theoretically reversible, we may legitimately regard a process as irreversible if the process would require a sufficiently high degree of coherence and coordination in the boundary conditions. However, even this approach doesn’t lead to a completely satisfactory representation of irreversibility.

    To see why, consider a collection of particles distributed at random inside a spherical region of empty space. We’ll assume the particles are point-like, so they don’t interact. If the particles are all stationary, the configuration will remain unchanged, but suppose each particle has a speed v in a randomly chosen direction. After some time has passed, the volume of the minimum convex region enclosing the particles has necessarily increased, because some of the particles on the original outer perimeter had outward velocities. In fact, it’s easy to see that, after a sufficient amount of time, the particles will occupy an expanding spherical shell whose thickness equals the diameter of the original sphere, as shown below.

    Hence beginning from a “random” bounded configuration of particles there is a tendency for the particles to disperse and expand into the surrounding space, and we might be tempted to regard this as proof that “most” configurations tend to disperse in the positive time direction. However, just as we can extrapolate the future positions of the particles from their initial positions and velocities, we can also extrapolate their positions into the past, and when we do this for our sphere of randomly directed particles we find that it expands into the past exactly as it does into the future. Snapshots at three consecutive instants are shown below.

    The “randomness” of the directions of motion at time t = 0 corresponds to the fact that, at this instant, the configuration is a superposition of all the incoming spherical regions. As the particles expand into the future or the past, they tend to “sort themselves out”, because all the particles with a given direction of motion end up in the same spatial region. In a sense, we could say the overall “orderliness” is conserved, because as the particles become more spatially concentrated (increasing the correlation between their positions), the correlation between the directions of motion of neighboring particles is reduced. This conservation isn’t surprising, because we stipulated that the particles don’t interact. However, if we give the particles some non-zero cross section and allow them to bounce off each other, the boundaries of the expanding shell would not be as sharply defined, but we would still have a time-symmetric situation, with a spherical cloud of particles converging inward from the past and then expanding outward into the future.

    The second law of thermodynamics is closely related to the idea of an irreversible process, and it is perhaps the only fundamental law of physics that is asymmetrical with respect to time. In fact, it has been argued that the second law is an essential aspect of the meaning of time itself. The law can be expressed in many different (but equivalent) ways. One statement is that heat always flows from higher to lower temperature, never from lower to higher. Another statement is that it’s not possible for any cyclic process to convert heat entirely into work. To formalize statements of this kind in a more general and quantitative way, a state variable called entropy is defined, and the second law is expressed by saying that the overall entropy (of an isolated system) can never decrease. It follows that a process in which entropy increases is irreversible.

    So, the meaning of “irreversibility” is intimately connected to the meaning of the thermodynamic quantity called entropy. Historically there were two different approaches to defining entropy. Originally it was defined as a macroscopic state variable in the context of classical thermodynamics. Later it was defined in terms of kinetic theory and statistical mechanics. What exactly is entropy? Recall that the first law of thermodynamics asserts that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, so the total amount of energy in the universe is constant, and yet when we use energy to perform some task there is a sense in which that energy has been “expended”. The ability of energy to produce change depends on the unevenness with which the energy is distributed. If everything in a system is in equilibrium, no change can occur, despite the fact that there may be a large amount of energy in the system. In a sense, entropy is a measure of the uniformity of the distribution of energy. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that energy tends to become more uniformly distributed.

    How should we quantify the concept of uniformity? Suppose we distribute ten balls into ten urns. Assume for the moment that each urn and each ball is individually distinguishable. Now, the least uniform distribution would be for all ten balls to be in just one of the urns, leaving the other nine urns empty. Assuming the arrangement of balls within a given urn is of no account, there are 10 distinct configurations of the system such that all ten balls are in just one of the ten urns. At the other extreme, the most uniform arrangement would be for each urn to contain exactly one ball. In this case we have ten choices for the placement of the first ball, nine choices for the placement of the second, and so on, giving a total of 10! = 3628800 distinct configurations with this perfectly uniform distribution. In general, we find that there are many more distinct ways for the elements of a system to be distributed uniformly than there are for it to be distributed non-uniformly, so we take this as the basis of our definition of entropy.

    We might simply define the entropy of a given distribution as being proportional to the number N of distinct ways in which that distribution can be realized (within the constraints of the system). However, if we did this, the total entropy of the union of two similar isolated systems considered as a single system would be the product of their individual entropies, because the two constituent systems are still regarded as distinct, so each of the N1 possible arrangements of the first system in its distribution could be combined with each of the N2 possible arrangements of the second system in its distribution, giving a total of N1∙N2 distinct ways of realizing the joint distribution. It’s more convenient to define entropy in such a way that the total entropy of the union of two systems is the sum of their individual entropies, because this enables us to regard entropy as an intrinsic property. To accomplish this, recall that the logarithm of a product equals the sum of the logarithms of the factors. Thus if we define the entropy of a distribution with N possible realizations as S = k ln(N), where k is just a constant of proportionality, then the entropies of the two system distributions in our example are S1 = k ln(N1) and S2 = k ln(N2), and the entropy of the union of these two distributions is

    In the above discussion we’ve glossed over some important points. First, we should point out that we have not actually defined the entropy of a system, we have defined the entropy of a distribution of the elements of a system. Moreover, we’ve assumed that many distinct configurations of the system represent realizations of the same distribution. For example, the configuration of having all ten balls in the first urn is regarded as being the same distribution as having all ten balls in the second urn, or all in the third, etc., even though these are counted as ten distinct configurations. When we count configurations we treat each ball and each urn as individually distinguishable components, but we abstract away most of this distinguishability when we define the distributions.

    We assumed in the above discussion that the arrangement of balls within a given urn was of no account, but suppose instead we assume that each urn is a tube, and the balls are placed in the urn in a definite linear order. In this case there would be 10! distinct ways of placing ten distinguishable balls into any single urn. On this basis we would have to conclude that there are 10∙10! distinct ways of having all ten balls in any one of the ten urns, whereas there are still only 10! distinct ways of having exactly one ball in each urn. This seems to suggest that the non-uniform distribution has higher entropy than the uniform distribution. However, the imposition of a definite sequence in the arrangement of the balls in an urn represents a new constraint, and it implies that the positioning of each balls is not independent of the others. The balls must be placed in a certain sequence (because we do not have a 10×10 array, we have a 10-place array with a fixed sequence for multiple entities in each position). If we fix this sequence, there are still 10! ways of producing the uniform distribution, but only 10 ways of producing the most non-uniform distribution. This shows that there are some conceptual difficulties involved in the determination of the number of “distinct arrangements” in which a given “distribution” can be realized.

    Often we refer to the individual distinct arrangements of a system as microstates, and to the distributions of the system as macrostates. Then we say the entropy of a given macrostate is proportional to the logarithm of the number of microstates covered by that macro-state. Notice that we count each microstate as being equal, i.e., each microstate contributes exactly one to the total number of microstates. We don’t try to assign different “weights” to different microstates. As long as it is a distinct arrangement from any of the other microstates, it counts as a full fledged microstate. It isn’t a priori obvious that every microstate is created equal, but we take this as assumption. Of course, this simply pushes the issue back onto the question of what constitutes distinctness.

    In statistical mechanics the concept of entropy was first developed in relation to ideal gases. In this context we can consider a fixed number n of gas molecules, and the 6n-dimensional phase space for this system, representing the components of the position and momentum of all the molecules. The state of the system, then, is represented by a single point in this phase space. To define the entropy of a given macrostate of this system we partition the phase space into regions that correspond to the distinguishable macrostates, and then count the number of microstates contained within the given macrostate. There is admittedly a degree of arbitrariness in defining the boundaries of the macrostates, because the distinction between macro and micro is somewhat subjective. We could regard microstate as a macrostate, and then the entropy of every state would be zero. The concept of entropy works best and is most useful when there is a “thermodynamic limit” in which aggregate “state properties” such as temperature and pressure are applicable.

    The regions corresponding to highly uniform distributions of energy are very large – many orders of magnitude larger than regions corresponding to non-uniform distributions – so as the system meanders around in phase space it almost certainly will be found in progressively larger and larger regions, i.e., macrostates of higher entropy. However, we still encounter the puzzling fact that the same argument works in reverse time. If we extrapolate the same meandering pattern backwards in time, we always would expect the entropy to have been decreasing up to the present moment, and then increasing toward the future. Since in fact the entropy of the world has been increasing in the past leading up to the present moment, we are forced to conclude that the “meandering” of the system in phase space is not temporally symmetric. But all the classical laws of physics are temporally symmetric, so we still face the question of how a system whose detailed behavior is governed by symmetrical laws can evolve in such an asymmetrical way.

    Many ideas have been proposed to resolve this puzzle, mostly of two general types. It can be argued that the second law of thermodynamics is explained by the fact of extremely low entropy in the past, and so the task becomes to explain why the universe began with such low entropy. Alternatively, it can be argued that the fundamental laws of physics are not temporally symmetric after all, but embody some fundamental directionality, despite their apparent reversibility. For example, Ritz argued that Maxwell’s equations were flawed because they permit advanced as well as retarded wave solutions, yet we never observe advanced waves. More fundamentally, the measurement process in quantum mechanics can be seen as irreversible, even though the relativistic Schrodinger equation is time-symmetric. Whatever the case, it clearly is not correct to extrapolate the state of a system backwards in time symmetrically with our extrapolation forward in time, because this lead unavoidably to the implication of greater entropy in the past. It must be that either there is a temporal asymmetry in the physical laws or else there is an asymmetry in the current conditions, such that extrapolation backwards in time leads to conditions of progressively lower and lower entropy. If the laws are symmetrical, and the difference between the forward and backward behavior can be attributed entirely to the asymmetric state of the present condition, then this seems to imply nearly perfect precision in order for the backward trajectory to continue to find itself in states of lower and lower entropy.

    Incidentally, we sometimes see a more generic definition of entropy, based explicitly on probability. Let a given macrostate consist of N microstates, and let pj denote the probability of being in the jth microstate (on condition that the system is in the given macrostate). Then the entropy of this macrostate can be defined as

    Notice that if a macrostate consists of N equally probable microstates, then pj = 1/N for all j, and so the summation reduces to S = k ln(N), just as before.

    Since probabilities and logarithms are dimensionless, the constant of proportionality k (Boltzman’s constant) determines the units of entropy. For consistency with the use of entropy in thermodynamics, the value of this constant is taken to be Ru/NA where Ru is the universal gas constant and NA is Avogadro’s constant. Thus we have k = 1.380E-23 Joules/[deg K molecule].

  37. Danny McNeal says:

    “He speaks much but says little…” Well, about half an hour has passed, so apparently this is supposed to stand alone without further comment; I’ll bite: And all that bears on the question at hand…how exactly? What point is it that you’re trying to make with somebody else’s words, Ice? (I could copy word for word an entire article from the folks at MathPages.com and commit plagiarism by passing it off as my own too, but I won’t.) There was nothing in that MathPages.com article to question the established definition of thermodynamic entropy, nor anything to support your claims, so what can your motivation be here? (Just out of curiosity, did you read the article? Did you understand it?)

  38. Norma says:

    What hyperbole. I remember when weekday religious instruction began–after prayer was kicked out of public school. Yes, we certainly have a school system and values to be proud of.

  39. Marymary says:

    I agree with Danny McNeal: I cannot believe that Iceironman wrote that comment at #36.

  40. Danny McNeal says:

    Norma on March 26, 2009, at 7:24 pm said, “What hyperbole.”

    What hyperbole? The obvious hyperbole; that what hyperbole. Parlaying Charlotte’s reasonable and terrestrial comments about the Huntington School System issue into a straw-man image of marching children at gunpoint, as well as the inferred straw-man image of a country where religion can’t be spoken about anywhere at all, most assuredly constitutes hyperbole.

    Norma: “I remember when weekday religious instruction began–after prayer was kicked out of public school. Yes, we certainly have a school system and values to be proud of.”

    Yes, I’m certain that the Bard’s “faint hymns to the cold, fruitless moon” were all that stood in the breach between public school and utter disaster. So whenever a non-religious human institution is ailing, it’s automatically because it doesn’t bow down to your Christian god? How convenient. Care to provide some empiric evidence to support your claim of the efficacy of doing so, instead of just flippantly claiming it as a foregone conclusion?

    (From past experience elsewhere, I feel it’s probably necessary to reiterate here: As soon as you prescribe your private religious beliefs as the basis for sociopolitical action, then those resulting sociopolitical beliefs become the ethical purview of everyone who would be affected by them and especially by legislation based on them. You can be assured that I would never speak to your private religious beliefs, nor would I be remotely interested in doing so.)

  41. Danny McNeal says:

    And by the way, Norma, don’t let the return volleys of your own sarcasm give you the wrong idea: I can’t speak for anyone else here, but in my opinion every public forum needs counterpoint. Preaching to the choir is notoriously fruitless, and only a fool believes s/he cannot benefit from being exposed to alternative viewpoints, though counterpoint really doesn’t work unless it’s engaging.

  42. Ice:

    How about back to the issue at hand? Namely separation of church and state. While entropy and thermodynamics may be interesting, your use of these subjects diverts attention from the topic of my post.

    You stated that you did not see a “wall of separation” in the Constitution. Here is a brief list of protections that you also won’t see in the Constitution.

    1. The right to privacy
    2. The right not to be sterilized against one’s will
    3. The right to counsel if one is indigent
    4. The right to remain silent (Miranda Warnings)
    5. The right to die with dignity
    6. The right of women to be included on a jury
    7. The right to obtain birth control as a married couple (at one time it was criminal to dispense to a married couple)
    8. The right to marry someone of another race
    9. The right to obtain birth control as a single individual (see #7 – criminal to dispense to singles)
    10. The right to not be put to death if one is mentally retarded

    There are hundreds of rights and protections that are not set out in the Constitution. They come from court decisions handed down throughout our history based on interpretations of the Constitution. You can’t seriously think that we should read the Constitution literally, and, if the right wasn’t spelled out by the Founding Fathers, then it doesn’t exist.

    You are dodging the real issue, and that is the Founding Fathers preferred a separation of church and state, and they implanted that belief in the Constitution.

  43. Arah says:

    Norma: “I remember when weekday religious instruction began–after prayer was kicked out of public school. ”

    Prayer has never been removed from school. Children have always been able to pray quietly to themselves in school whenever they want, provided it does not inturrupt the class. No one will ever take that right away from them.
    School FORCED prayer is the only prayer that has been removed, and the effect was the protection of ALL religions, including Christian. For example, because forced prayer was removed, Christians don’t have to worry about being forced to pray to Allah in a school that is primarily Muslim.
    When I was growing up (many years ago), I had a friend who was forced to pray to Jesus everyday at school. If she did not, she was not allowed to eat her lunch. She was Jewish. I am glad that things have changed.

    Danny: “I can’t speak for anyone else here, but in my opinion every public forum needs counterpoint.”

    I cannot agree enough. I often play “Devil’s Advocate”, just for the purpose of making others analyize their position.

  44. Andy says:

    Iceironman –

    Are you trying to “punk” us with comment # 36 ???

    I’m in agreement with Charlotte: “How about back to the issue at hand?”

    BTW, you never addressed my question to you:

    “Why are you so intent on giving the Christian religion special treatment by allowing the Bible Trailers to be set up on public school grounds ?”

  45. Iceironman says:

    My point to 36 is to show Danny that he has not come up with any info that is his own (has he invented or discovered laws of physics). And it is boring as heck. If you notice on the article, it begins with this

    A certain professor of thermodynamics was known to give the same final exam every year, always consisting of just the single question: “What is entropy?” One day an assistant suggested that it might be better to ask a different question now and then, so the students wouldn’t know in advance what they would be asked. The professor said not to worry. “It’s always the same question, but every year I change the answer.”

    just like the definition of global warming, I mean global climate change.

    Why did physics enter into this conversation, because as the sheep know, global warming (man made) is real. And so science can prove (and change, adapt if you will) definitions to allow the evolution theory to make sence. We change definitions all the time to suit needs. Like Chuck said up above we even changed the definition of “privacy” to give abortions. Words mean things, our constitution means something. But we dont want to change it, we want to interpret it differently. There is a difference between keeping the govt out of religion and keeping religion out of govt. I have to go now, Im writing a note to my senator on the importance of keeping a wall of seperation between govt and corporations(this way they can later change the definition) Thank GOD we now are taking over GM.

  46. Ice:

    Given your notion that science can change, then I assume you would agree that religion can change as well.

    Remember both the Old Testament and the New Testament were scribed by fallible men. How do you explain so many different versions of the Old Testament and the New Testament? Are we to assume that in all other areas men are imperfect and fallible but in the area of taking down the words of God, they become perfect?

    The bottom line is that the Supreme Court has decided many cases which interpret the First Amendment’s prohibition against an establishment of religion, and it doesn’t fit your view. The Lemon test is three-pronged test to prevent government from favoring a specific religion.

    Obviously religion is a part of government in the form of opening prayers, but these are only acceptable if they do not favor a particular religion (establishment). Indiana uses several representatives of different religions to open its sessions.

  47. Iceironman says:

    Science doesnt change, our definitions and knowledge does.
    Religion can change as dictated by God and or a prophet.

  48. Iceironman says:

    I had better correct that, science changes based on the def of science. The physical laws of our earth dont.

  49. Andy says:

    Iceironman –

    “Religion can change as dictated by God and or a prophet.”

    Your right.

    Religion is a changing ALL the time. The Mormons have decided African Americans are now OK to be members of the church.

    The reason for these “changes” is often cited as “God’s will” or my god (insert religion) came to me and told me I should take and keep as many wives as possible. Ah yes…. the ‘ole “God said so” excuse.

    So, Jim Jones, David Koresh, L. Ron Hubbard, Tim Haggerty, or the “prophet” who came up with the whole Heaven’s Gate “religious” organization can shoot from the hip, make up rules as they go just to keep the flock of sheep under their command and control.

    Nope science isn’t perfect, but I’ll put my money on science over some Toufik Benedictus “Benny” Hinn
    “prophet” any day of the week.

  50. Iceironman says:

    Damn Mormons- Kinda weird how you pick that over the “hey Muhamad told us to kill 3000 Americans. One happened in the 70s the other 8 years ago. Its ok, I understand your thinking. By the way, since Barry Obama is a GOD “messiah” to some in America, we cant put his picture up in the classrooms.

  51. Andy says:

    Iceironman-

    “Kinda weird how you pick that over the “hey Muhamad told us to kill 3000 Americans.”

    No discrimination here – Whether the religion be Islam or Mormonism. Ignorance doesn’t discriminate.

    Doesn’t matter if it happened 8, 20 , 50, or 800 years ago. The Crusades were full of blood thirsty, violent deeds performed by both sides, coincidently in the name of religion. 9/11 was some form of sick, massive jihad carried out against us (the infidels) in the name of religion.

    I do have to question why humans are so eager to give up their own unique ability to actually think for themselves to what I consider to be some sort of asinine, religious doctrine.

    I wonder if the Bible trailer parked outside the Huntington Public Elementary School teaches the kids about the Crusades or the Inquisition for that matter.

    And go ahead and petition your public school about removing Barack Obama’s picture from the classroom. If you are not successful, maybe file a lawsuit and take it all the way to the Supreme Court. But, if you choose to home school your kids, you don’t even have to worry now do you ?

  52. Iceironman says:

    So all religion is ignorance? So all Americans are ignorant- after all we had slaves. What am I giving up? To think for myself? I didnt accept religion until after the geniouses at college told me that nature tends toward disorder. I didnt gain a testomony until I saw my child being born. But Im secure knowing that the world is bigger than me, not the other way around as you would have it be. Now, if you will excuse me, Im going to go see where those darn glaciers went.

  53. Andy says:

    Iceironman –

    “But Im secure knowing that the world is bigger than me, not the other way around as you would have it be. ”

    Contrary to what you might think, I happen to know the world is much, much bigger than me too. Every night I look up into the sky and see the beauty of all the stars in our galaxy I get confirmation of this. And just as you did, I received that same feeling when I witnessed my child being born.

    Yes, the world is bigger than both of us Mr. Iceironman.

    I am truly glad we have found something we can agree upon.

  54. Iceironman says:

    cool

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