Argument from the second law of thermodynamics

From Iron Chariots Wiki
(Difference between revisions)
Jump to: navigation, search
 
m (Tweak in language)
 
(11 intermediate revisions by 5 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
 +
{{argument-stub}}
 +
{{Wikipedia|Second law of thermodynamics}}
  
== Attribution ==
+
Creationists often claim that the [[Second Law of Thermodynamics]]
 +
(sometimes abbreviated 2LoT) precludes [[evolution]] (and/or the
 +
[[Big Bang]]). Often this is explained by saying that the second law
 +
says that everything tends toward disorder; since living beings (or
 +
the universe) is highly ordered, they could not have formed
 +
spontaneously. Along with this idea, they may argue that it seems if organisms were to form by chance within the universe, the ever increasing entropy would wipe out these organisms before they ever had a chance to become as intricate and detailed as they are today.
  
StrongAtheism.net [http://www.strongatheism.net/library/atheology/argument_from_2nd_law/]
+
== Examples ==
 +
From ''[http://www.trueorigin.org/steiger.asp Thermodynamics vs. Evolutionism]'' at trueorigin.org:
 +
{{Quote|The second law presents an insurmountable problem to the concept of a natural, mechanistic process: (1) by which the physical universe could have formed spontaneously from nothing, and (2) by which biological life could have arisen and diversified (also spontaneously) from a non-living, inanimate world.  (Both postulates form essential planks in the platform of evolutionary theory in general.)}}
  
 +
A.C. McIntosh, ''[http://journals.witpress.com/pages/paperinfo.asp?PaperID=420&jID=19&vn=4&in=4 Information And Entropy – Top-down Or Bottom-up Development In Living Systems?]'', ''International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics'', Vol. 4, Issue 4:
 +
{{Quote|Consequently, the fundamental laws of thermodynamics show that entropy reduction which can occur naturally in non-isolated systems is not a sufficient argument to explain the origin of either biological machinery or genetic information that is inextricably intertwined with it.}}
  
== The Argument ==
+
== Counter-arguments ==
  
 +
=== Entropy is not the same as disorder ===
  
There are a few key concepts we must cover before explaining this argument. The first is the concept of entropy. Entropy (S), in its technical definition, is the measure of the amount of disorder in a system. It is measured in the units energy per temperature, traditionally Joules/Kelvin. A system in which we measure S=10JK-1 has more disorder than a system in which we measure S=5. We say that the system in which S=5 is “ordered” and the system in which S=10 is “chaos”.
+
The most common definition of the second law is: "The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium." The second law of thermodynamics uses the word entropy, which is what causes the confusion (Or allows the lies, depending on how you look at it.) The meaning of the word entropy that is used in the second law is: "For a closed thermodynamic system, a quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work." Using that correct definition the second law of thermodynamics obviously has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution. It never did, it's just about thermal energy. (As should be evident by its very name.)
 +
But the definition that the apologists use is: "A measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system." And using that definition, the second law of thermodynamics would mean: The random disorderliness of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium. However, this is not only an incorrect use of the second law. It is also untrue, some closed systems will tend to fall into disorder, while some will become more orderly. Examples: Disorderly dust clouds in space eventualy gravitate towards a central/denser point, forming a star.
 +
If we presume that humanity is orderly, and that the apologists definition of entropy is valid, we should observe the continuous destruction of humanity - human populations should dwindle, human technology should decline. That this is not occurring is not evidence that the definition is incorrect - it would mean that the Earth is not a closed system. Evolution is compatible even with the apologists definition - the earth itself is not a closed system. In a universe consisting solely of the earth and the sun, biological evolution is still possible - the total "randomness" will increase consistently as the sun releases energy, but on earth, that energy is temporarily ordered.
  
Thermodynamics is the physics behind macroscopic systems based on the statistics of their particle (micro and nanoscopic) compositions. For example, temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy of each of the particles that makes up a macroscopic object—and thus is part of thermodynamics. Thermodynamics has 3 laws (or 4 laws, depending on your definitions). The second law of thermodynamics states that the change in entropy is greater than 0. In math language:
+
=== The Big Bang theory does not claim anything about prior events ===
  
dS > 0
+
That is, Big Bang theory does not currently tell us what happened before the Big Bang, or whether there even was a "before the Big Bang", in the sense of a point in space-time which unambiguously predates the Big Bang itself. Without knowing how much entropy, if any, was present in the pre-Bang universe, you cannot claim that the Big Bang contradicts the second law.
  
This means that starting at point A and moving to point B, the overall trend of S will be increasing, and have a positive slope. Now, as for the heart of the matter, and what this argument is all about.
+
=== The Earth is not a closed system ===
  
The Big Bang is a state of a extremely low entropy. Since the Big Bang, entropy has of course continually increased. But the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics does not only apply on the positive direction of the time axis within the block universe. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies along any axis within the block universe. As such it is, statistically speaking, more probable that your half-melted ice cube came from a glass of warm water, rather than a fully formed ice cube. (Of course, we know that half-melted ice generally starts as fully formed ice, but this is due to the Big Bang—the initial state of low entropy.)
+
The second law of thermodynamics describes what happens to closed systems, that is, systems in which mass and energy are confined to the system and cannot enter or leave. However, the Earth is not a closed system, since it receives radiation from the Sun and also radiates heat and light into space. The Earth's crust is an even more open system, because heat and material is often ejected from the Earth's interior (through volcanoes and other methods). This provides a wealth of energy that drives "machines" such as climate patterns and the flourishing of life. If the Earth was a closed system, these processes might have "run down" and ended, but as long as the Sun continues to heat the planet they are in no danger of stopping.
  
The reasoning behind this is simple to see. Imagine 2 H2O molecules bumping around. There is a pretty good chance that these 2 molecules will at one point come in close proximity, and form a half-melted (albeit microscopic) ice cube. In fact, this will happen every couple of seconds (the actual time varies depending on the substance). If we add more H2O molecules, the probability will drop, of course, but it still happens every so often for small numbers of molecules at a time. In any glass of water, there are always tiny pockets or duos of slow-moving (ice) molecules, and pockets of fast-moving (gaseous) molecules. There are many ways in which H2O molecules can combine to become a partial ice cube, but there are VERY few ways in which H2O molecules can combine to form a complete block of ice. Thus, given enough repetitions, H2O molecules will at some point form half-melted ice, and at another point (with a vastly increased number of repetitions) become a fully formed block of ice.
+
=== The argument would apply equally well to known, normal reproduction within a species ===
  
The same argument applies to the Big Bang, but with greater implications.
+
If the earth could only become more disordered or more "worn down", it would not be possible for populations of life forms to grow and flourish. In fact, every time a cell copies or repairs its own DNA, it creates more information, at least in the obvious sense of producing a longer string of nucleotides. The second law of thermodynamics ''must'' allow the creation of ordered systems, or else it would not be possible for new, young, healthy organisms to be descended from older organisms.
  
1 First, however, we must briefly consider the god-concept. The god-concept, as it is usually defined, is an orderly entity (or system). If the god-concept is not orderly, then it is chaotic. But if god is chaotic, then he can not directly cause things to happen at his will. To even have a will means that god is ordered, and to willfully cause the Big Bang would mean that he has a lower entropy than the universe after the Big Bang. (Remember, dS > 0!) For more on a chaotic god-concept, read the Argument From Non-Cognitivism. If you’ve made it this far, and you are a believer, then you agree that your god-concept is orderly. Now we can get to the root of the problem:
+
In order to argue that the second law prevents evolution, one must demonstrate that even though known harmful and harmless mutations and normal reproduction occur, beneficial mutations could never occur. This seems to be a hopeless task, because there is no fundamental difference, either in physics or in the theory of evolution, between "harmful" and "beneficial" mutations, and because beneficial mutations have indeed been observed to occur.
  
Statistically speaking, as said before, pockets of low entropy within a high-entropy system are inevitable. They may be either offset by an increase in entropy elsewhere, or a statistical fluke that while improbable is certainly not impossible. As long as dS > 0 and entropy tends to be higher, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics has not been broken. But, again, statistically speaking, these pockets of low entropy are most likely the result of simple probability. Consider that these low entropy systems were directly (or willfully) caused by another system with even lower entropy. Surely, we get into an impossible infinite regress (not to mention that a system with 0 entropy cannot exist!).
+
=== Raised free energies can be the result of natural processes ===
  
Thus, the Big Bang is, statistically, the result of an inevitable improbability that exists solely due to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, and is relevant throughout the block universe. We may picture it mathematically as such:
+
The McIntosh quote above relates more to abiogenesis than to evolution (since evolution requires no processes that are physically different from normal reproduction plus mutation). McIntosh claims that the formation of the complex machinery necessary for life requires a positive free energy, and thus cannot happen spontaneously. This has been empirically disproven many times over, as many organic molecules have been produced through lifeless processes, and in fact are found in some comets and meteorites. McIntosh also makes claims about the unique nature of genetic information, claiming that it transcends the physical/chemical medium that it inhabits. However, he gives no clear way of deriving any of this from the second law itself, instead simply proposing it as something that would support his statements.
  
1.The Big Bang has entropy S.
 
  
2.A hypothetical god is either orderly or chaotic.
 
  
a.Hypothetical gods have a personhood.
+
== External links ==
 +
* [http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CF/CF001.html Response to this argument] at talkorigins.org
 +
* ''[http://www.strongatheism.net/library/atheology/argument_from_2nd_law/ Argument From the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics]'' at strongatheism.net.
  
b.Personhood implies orderliness.
+
[[Category:Science]]
 
+
[[Category:Evolution]]
c.A hypothetical god is orderly, and thus has low entropy. (See note1 for more detail.)
+
 
+
3.In order for god to directly cause the Big Bang, he must have a lower entropy (S-a, where a is positive, real number).
+
 
+
4.The probability of the Big Bang coming from a higher state of entropy (S+b, where b is a positive, real number) approaches P=1, normalizing over the condition of many opportunities for the Big Bang to happen.
+
 
+
5.The probability of the Big Bang coming from an even lower state of entropy (god) approaches Q=0 (since Q=1-P).
+
 
+
6.The difference in probability is thus the limit of 1 divided by the limit of 0, which of course approaches infinity.
+
 
+
7.There is an infinitely greater chance that the Big Bang is the result of randomness than the result of even more order.
+
 
+
8.Thus, god does not exist.
+
 
+
Possible Objections:
+
 
+
Q: But God is not within the block universe, so how can you account for his entropy?
+
 
+
A: Whether or not god exists within the block universe does not affect the necessity of his entropy. If god is in an ordered state, then he has low entropy. If god is not in an ordered state, and thus in a disordered state—he has high entropy. If he is neither ordered nor disordered, Non-Cognitivism takes hold. If you claim that god does not have an entropy, we here at strongatheism.net would certainly agree—for god has no properties—he does not exist!
+

Latest revision as of 16:09, 3 May 2011

Wikipedia-logo-en.png
For more information, see the Wikipedia article:

Creationists often claim that the Second Law of Thermodynamics (sometimes abbreviated 2LoT) precludes evolution (and/or the Big Bang). Often this is explained by saying that the second law says that everything tends toward disorder; since living beings (or the universe) is highly ordered, they could not have formed spontaneously. Along with this idea, they may argue that it seems if organisms were to form by chance within the universe, the ever increasing entropy would wipe out these organisms before they ever had a chance to become as intricate and detailed as they are today.

Contents

Examples

From Thermodynamics vs. Evolutionism at trueorigin.org:

"The second law presents an insurmountable problem to the concept of a natural, mechanistic process: (1) by which the physical universe could have formed spontaneously from nothing, and (2) by which biological life could have arisen and diversified (also spontaneously) from a non-living, inanimate world. (Both postulates form essential planks in the platform of evolutionary theory in general.)"

A.C. McIntosh, Information And Entropy – Top-down Or Bottom-up Development In Living Systems?, International Journal of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics, Vol. 4, Issue 4:

"Consequently, the fundamental laws of thermodynamics show that entropy reduction which can occur naturally in non-isolated systems is not a sufficient argument to explain the origin of either biological machinery or genetic information that is inextricably intertwined with it."

Counter-arguments

Entropy is not the same as disorder

The most common definition of the second law is: "The entropy of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium." The second law of thermodynamics uses the word entropy, which is what causes the confusion (Or allows the lies, depending on how you look at it.) The meaning of the word entropy that is used in the second law is: "For a closed thermodynamic system, a quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work." Using that correct definition the second law of thermodynamics obviously has nothing whatsoever to do with evolution. It never did, it's just about thermal energy. (As should be evident by its very name.) But the definition that the apologists use is: "A measure of the disorder or randomness in a closed system." And using that definition, the second law of thermodynamics would mean: The random disorderliness of an isolated system not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium. However, this is not only an incorrect use of the second law. It is also untrue, some closed systems will tend to fall into disorder, while some will become more orderly. Examples: Disorderly dust clouds in space eventualy gravitate towards a central/denser point, forming a star. If we presume that humanity is orderly, and that the apologists definition of entropy is valid, we should observe the continuous destruction of humanity - human populations should dwindle, human technology should decline. That this is not occurring is not evidence that the definition is incorrect - it would mean that the Earth is not a closed system. Evolution is compatible even with the apologists definition - the earth itself is not a closed system. In a universe consisting solely of the earth and the sun, biological evolution is still possible - the total "randomness" will increase consistently as the sun releases energy, but on earth, that energy is temporarily ordered.

The Big Bang theory does not claim anything about prior events

That is, Big Bang theory does not currently tell us what happened before the Big Bang, or whether there even was a "before the Big Bang", in the sense of a point in space-time which unambiguously predates the Big Bang itself. Without knowing how much entropy, if any, was present in the pre-Bang universe, you cannot claim that the Big Bang contradicts the second law.

The Earth is not a closed system

The second law of thermodynamics describes what happens to closed systems, that is, systems in which mass and energy are confined to the system and cannot enter or leave. However, the Earth is not a closed system, since it receives radiation from the Sun and also radiates heat and light into space. The Earth's crust is an even more open system, because heat and material is often ejected from the Earth's interior (through volcanoes and other methods). This provides a wealth of energy that drives "machines" such as climate patterns and the flourishing of life. If the Earth was a closed system, these processes might have "run down" and ended, but as long as the Sun continues to heat the planet they are in no danger of stopping.

The argument would apply equally well to known, normal reproduction within a species

If the earth could only become more disordered or more "worn down", it would not be possible for populations of life forms to grow and flourish. In fact, every time a cell copies or repairs its own DNA, it creates more information, at least in the obvious sense of producing a longer string of nucleotides. The second law of thermodynamics must allow the creation of ordered systems, or else it would not be possible for new, young, healthy organisms to be descended from older organisms.

In order to argue that the second law prevents evolution, one must demonstrate that even though known harmful and harmless mutations and normal reproduction occur, beneficial mutations could never occur. This seems to be a hopeless task, because there is no fundamental difference, either in physics or in the theory of evolution, between "harmful" and "beneficial" mutations, and because beneficial mutations have indeed been observed to occur.

Raised free energies can be the result of natural processes

The McIntosh quote above relates more to abiogenesis than to evolution (since evolution requires no processes that are physically different from normal reproduction plus mutation). McIntosh claims that the formation of the complex machinery necessary for life requires a positive free energy, and thus cannot happen spontaneously. This has been empirically disproven many times over, as many organic molecules have been produced through lifeless processes, and in fact are found in some comets and meteorites. McIntosh also makes claims about the unique nature of genetic information, claiming that it transcends the physical/chemical medium that it inhabits. However, he gives no clear way of deriving any of this from the second law itself, instead simply proposing it as something that would support his statements.


External links

Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
wiki navigation
IronChariots.Org
Toolbox