Entropy’s Place In Evolution

November 14, 2008 | By | 3 Replies More

This is a fine article on one of the basic misrepresentations of Creationists, namely their misuse of the concept of entropy in calling into question the possibility of systems evolving.  Real numbers, real science.  But really it also prompted me to realize that there is a basic argument against this typical canard which I had wholly overlooked.  If the Second Law of Thermodynamics operated as Creationists suggest, then the development of zygote to fetus would be impossible.

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Category: American Culture, Education, Evolution, ignorance, Science

About the Author ()

Mark is a writer and musician living in the St. Louis area. He hit puberty at the peak of the Sixties and came of age just as it was all coming to a close with the end of the Vietnam War. He was annoyed when bellbottoms went out of style, but he got over it.

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    As Creationists cite thermodynamics, simple oxygen and hydrogen molecules could not spontaneously form more complex molecules, like water. Their favorite example is something rotting in a field, like a car or watch. But this is where the artificially created simpler substances (iron, etc) are becoming more complex molecules (rust).

    Also, a recent Scientific American article (November 2008) points out that the original laws are pre-quantum-theory. They only recently rigorously worked out what is meant by the "equilibrium" that defines an energy state at the quantum level. And the math shows that the state of equilibrium itself is a condition of continuous exchange of energy.

    Also, an expanding universe implies that a state of total equilibrium will never be reached. Things will always evolve, by definition

  2. Niklaus Pfirsig says:

    The major flaw in the entropy argument against evolution is based on the confusion of complexity, order and adaptation. In chemistry, the lower order reactions produce molecules of higher complexity. This is a common misunderstanding due to the fact that the laws of thermodynamics are only concerned with energy and not with physical structure.

    Chemical reactions that involve the highest order of entropy, include oxidation or reduction of metals. the oxidation releases a lot of energy and reduction requires a lot of energy. Because of the larger amount of energy needed reduce (reverse) the oxidation of metals, the resulting metal oxides are very stable simple molecules. Examples are rust, quartz, and cinnabar.

    The chemical properties of carbon are such that it can act either as an oxidant or an oxidizer, But the chemical bonds are pretty weak and are easily broken and recombined. It is the low order of entropy involved in organic (carbon) chemistry that makes possible molecular structures of very high complexity, including the self replicating building blocks of life.

    Complexity is actually very chaotic in nature, and chaos theory ties in nicely with thermodynamics where chemistry is concerned. I don't want to get into the details but in a nutshell, the proponents of intelligent design and divine creation have the intelligence-complexity concept all bass-ackwards. Complexity is not the creation of intelligence. Complexity created intelligence through natural selection.

    Intelligence is the ultimate environmental adaptation for now. But humans are not the only intelligent species on the planet.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    This issue is even simpler to understand than the above post and comments suggest. The second law of thermodynamics is premised on having a closed system; i.e., an environment in which energy is never added. Since the Sun continuously bombards the earth with energy (lots of it, in fact), the earth is not a closed system. Therefore, the second law of thermodynamics doesn't apply, at least not in the manner that Creationists suggest.

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