Second Law

The Second Law of Thermodynamics PRATT is on Answers in Genesis’ “Arguments We Don’t Use” page. This didn’t stop the Discovery Institute calling it their “Simplest and Clearest Argument“, and nor did it stop the ‘creation’ of the following That’s a Fact video, Second Law:

For a refutation of this argument and related claims, start here on the EvoWiki Thermodynamics page. I quite like this one:

Take a fairly large amount of salt and add boiling water until it all dissolves. The salt is now in a highly disordered state. Let it sit in a warm place for a while, and order will spontaneously develop in the form of salt crystals. Is this a violation of the 2nd law? For that matter, does creation get around the interpretation of the law being claimed, since life still exists and reproduction happens. No. Entropy is not the same as disorder: It is the reduction in the ability to do further work. We consume food and give back wastes such as carbon dioxide. The food cannot do further work now. Plants use energy from the sun to make food for us, but the sun fuses atoms together to provide that energy, which then can’t do more work.

Crystals do make a fairly good counter-argument. But I’ll do the video anyway:

Nothing hits the spot on a freezing day like a bowl of hot soup.

I’m going to have to object: there’s nothing like a mug of hot soup. A very important distinction, I know.

But don’t leave it out too long, because all that warm goodness quickly escape, making it cold and unappetising.

Nothing like a completely irrelevant example to start us off. Moving right along…

That’s science in action, by the way.

No, that’s entropy in action – “science in action” would be the process of determining the rules surrounding the phenomenon, not the occurrence of the phenomenon itself.

It’s called the Second Law of Thermodynamics, or the Law of Entropy. History credits French military engineer Sadi Carnot as the scientist that laid the foundations for the second law. In his 1824 book Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire, which talked about heat and steam engines.

The full title was Reflections on the Motive Power of Fire and on Machines Fitted to Develop that Power as it happens. Find out more here!

Scientists today use the Second Law to describe anything that naturally goes from a state of order to disorder.

No. The systems – yes, that aspect is also important – must be ‘closed’.

Like your Car.

Another irrelevant example. What about a baby? That would be something that’s alive and grows, rather than being created in a perfect form from which all changes, by definition, must be degenerative.

Even if you maintain it like you should, it will eventually need to be replaced.

And at the end of the cycle, you get a new, equally ‘perfect’ car. Suggesting that there might be more to this system than the obvious…

Entropy affects everything, from cells in your body, to the magnetic fields of planets which run out of energy over time, like regular magnets.

Again with cells: You get new cells. How can this be? And planetary magnetic fields don’t run down as fast as creationists claim.

That’s why some scientists doubt that nature can ever make anything better through evolution.

The salt crystals above aren’t evolution, but it would fall to the same hurdle if one existed. Which it does not.

Of course, said scientists are creation scientists.

Like turning bacteria into people.

Now, evolution isn’t going to produce targeted forms, but it could easily have done it in the past and landed up here. Here’s an experiment for you: kill of all multicellular life, and then come back in a few million years to see if any new types have arisen.

Plus, the bible is clear that creation would go from order to disorder, because sin and death entered the world.

This is the specific concept that the Arguments creationists should avoid piece warns against – to quote:

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics began at the Fall. (If so, how could Adam and Eve have eaten and digested their food that they were told to eat before the Fall?)

In other words, the 2nd law would have had to have been in effect regardless of the existence of a ‘fall’ – and if so, would the world not have decayed even without “sin and death” coming into being? That’s theology for you…

And that’s exactly what we see happening all around us. So you’d better go ahead and eat that soup before it gets cold.

We do? That’s an interesting insight into the creationist world view – I certainly don’t. We may well be biased into noticing when things go in that direction – if you walk down the same road every day for a decade, for example, you probably wont suddenly notice a tree appearing, though you will when it gets cut down –  but I see no reason to suppose that to actually be the situation. Are things really looking so down for the ICR?


4 thoughts on “Second Law

  1. Neither AiG nor CMI suggest on their websites that the claim that the second law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible – because it only dictates that order cannot increase in an isolated (closed) system, and the Earth is not a closed system because it receives energy from the Sun – is an argument which should not be used. (As I understand it, the second law allows order to increase locally, provided the local increase is offset by an equal or greater decrease in the rest of the universe.) Why they have not put this onto their websites I’m not sure.
    After all, chapter 13 of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth; the Evidence for Evolution’ by Richard Dawkins explains how the theory of evolution does not contradict the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I quote: “The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that, although energy can neither be created nor destroyed, it can – must, in a closed system – become more impotent to do useful work… Almost all the energy in the universe is steadily being degraded from forms that are capable of doing work into forms that are incapable of doing work … But while the universe as a whole is hurtling downhill towards its inevitable heat death, there is scope for small quantities of energy to drive little local systems in the opposite direction… The energy … comes from the sun… energy from the sun powers life, to coax and stretch the laws of physics and chemistry to evolve prodigious feats of complexity, diversity, beauty and an uncanny illusion of statistical improbability and deliberate design.” (Of course the Second Law doesn’t prove evolution.)
    Note that in his book claiming to refute Dawkins on evolution Jonathan Sarfati did NOT refute Dawkins’ explanations regarding the Second Law even though Sarfati rejects ‘microbes to Man evolution’. Surely if Dawkins was wrong about ‘open systems’ Sarfati would have refuted him?

  2. Sorry, that SHOULD have read: “Neither AiG nor CMI suggest on their websites that the claim that the second law of thermodynamics makes evolution impossible is an argument which should not be used – because the law only dictates that order cannot increase in an isolated (closed) system, and the Earth is not a closed system because it receives energy from the Sun.”

  3. Plain energy from the sun does not increase complexity. Plain energy only destroys information. We need a machine which processes energy to increase complexity. In the absense of a machine, how enthopy can increase.

  4. Second law of thermodynamics says Evolution is impossible. Any energy conversion to useful/complex form requires a machine which does that. Hence, machines such as cell can not come just from Energy.

    Already random choices can not make cells is established from probability itself.


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