Darwin in Trouble: Evolution and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Law Office of 2nd Thermodynamics

Many evolutionists assume that adding energy (open system) will

overcome the second law of thermodynamics.   The following is an

excelent response to that position.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics
Answers to Critics

by Jonathan Sarfati

‘Someone recently asked me about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, stating that they thought it was irrelevant to creation/evolution because the earth is not an isolated system since the sun is constantly pumping in more energy.

‘This does seem to be a valid point—do creationists still use this argument? Am I missing something here?’
Answer 1:

The Second Law can be stated in many different ways, e.g.:

that the entropy of the universe tends towards a maximum (in simple terms, entropy is a measure of disorder)

usable energy is running out

information tends to get scrambled

order tends towards disorder

a random jumble won’t organize itself

It also depends on the type of system:

An isolated system exchanges neither matter nor energy with its surroundings. The total entropy of an isolated system never decreases. The universe is an isolated system, so is running down— see If God created the universe, then who Created God? for what this implies.

A closed system exchanges energy but not matter with its surroundings. In this case, the 2nd Law is stated such that the total entropy of the system and surroundings never decreases.

An open system exchanges both matter and energy with its surroundings. Certainly, many evolutionists claim that the 2nd Law doesn’t apply to open systems. But this is false. Dr John Ross of Harvard University states:

… there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. … There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.1

Open systems still have a tendency to disorder. There are special cases where local order can increase at the expense of greater disorder elsewhere. One case is crystallization. The other case is programmed machinery, that directs energy into maintaining and increasing complexity, at the expense of increased disorder elsewhere. Living things have such energy-converting machinery to make the complex structures of life.

The open systems argument does not help evolution. Raw energy cannot generate the specified complex information in living things. Undirected energy just speeds up destruction. Just standing out in the sun won’t make you more complex—the human body lacks the mechanisms to harness raw solar energy. If you stood in the sun too long, you would get skin cancer, because the sun’s undirected energy will cause mutations. (Mutations are copying errors in the genes that nearly always lose information). Similarly, undirected energy flow through an alleged primordial soup will break down the complex molecules of life faster than they are formed.

It’s like trying to run a car by pouring petrol on it and setting it alight. No, a car will run only if the energy in petrol is harnessed via the pistons, crankshaft, etc. A bull in a china shop is also raw energy. But if the bull were harnessed to a generator, and the electricity directed a pottery-producing machine, then its energy could be used to make things.

To make proteins, a cell uses the information coded in the DNA and a very complex decoding machine. In the lab, chemists must use sophisticated machinery to make the building blocks combine in the right way. Raw energy would result in wrong combinations and even destruction of the building blocks.

References and notes

1 John Ross, Chemical and Engineering News, July 7, 1980, p. 40; cited in Duane Gish, Creation Scientists Answer their Critics Institute for Creation Research, 1993.


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