CreationWiki on Evolution and Entropy
The following article was published by CreationWiki:
Wikipedia quotes "Entropy and evolution” (Am. J. Phys., Vol. 76, No. 11, November 2008) to prove that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objections_to_evolution). The article invents a false thermodynamic equation to prove the second law is not violated.
Thermodynamics is a branch of physics based on the concept of temperature (T), which is the sensation of hot and cold. Temperature is measured with a thermometer in degrees. Another basic variable is heat, which is what causes temperatures to change. Heat is measured in joules, ergs, or kilowatt hours. Entropy (S) is defined with an integral equation in terms of heat and temperature. It is measured in joule/degrees.
Temperature is related to the statistical concept of the average kinetic energy of molecules (KE), and entropy is related to the concept of thermodynamic probability (W). The kinetic energy of a molecule is determined by its speed and mass. Thermal probability can be understood by considering a system of non-interacting molecules in a container. If the gas has N molecules, imagine breaking up the container into N equal parts. The thermodyanic probability of all the molecules residing in one of the tiny compartments is one in N factorial (N!): N X N-1 X N-2… . The following equations describes the two relationships: KE = (3/2)kT and S = klogW. k is the Boltzmann constant and is determined experimentally to be 1.38 X 10-23 joule/degree.
The second law of thermodynamics is that a gas will fill up the entire container it is in because that is the most probable distribution of gas molecules. It is possible, but improbable, for all of the molecules to be huddled in one corner of the container. In other words, in an isolated thermodynamic system entropy will always increase. If you compress a gas and extract heat from the gas, the entropy will decrease.
The second law does not apply to the evolution of stars. Stars are formed in outer space when the gravitational attraction between the hydrogen atoms causes the atoms to come together. It is not correct to say that the evolution of stars violates the second law. The second law only applies to systems of non-interacting particles or entities.
The second law also does not apply to evolution because a living organism is not a collection of non-interacting particles. The equations of thermodynamics include chemical reactions, however, a living organism is not the result of chemical reactions. The formation of proteins from amino acids and DNA is not a chemical reaction.
However, there is a very slight connection between evolution and statistical mechanics. There are 20 amino acids, and the primary structure of an average sized protein is a chain of 300 amino acids. The probability of getting the primary structure by the random selection of amino acids is one in 20300, a number which has 390 zeros after the decimal point. The smallness of this probability and the shortness of time over which evolution is supposed to have taken place (3.5 billion years) is one of the reasons Darwinism explains only the adaptation of species to the environment.
This kind of probabilistic calculation gives rise to the error that evolution violates the second law of thermodynamics. "Entropy and evolution” argues, quite irrationally, that evolution does not violate the second law because of the sun. That the following drivel can appear in a peer-reviewed article on physics boggles the mind:
The creationist argument is that advanced organisms are more orderly than primitive organisms, and hence as evolution proceeds living things become more ordered, that is less disordered, that is less entropic. Because the second law of thermodynamics prohibits a decrease in entropy, it therefore prohibits biological evolution…..These misconceptions have been pointed out numerous times, but here we explicitly and quantitatively answer questions such as "What entropy changes accompany evolution?” and "If the entropy here on Earth is decreasing due to evolution, where is the other piece of the universe where the entropy is increasing?”….The Sun emits heat and hence decreases in entropy, while outer space absorbs heat and hence increases in entropy. Meanwhile, the Earth is nearly constant in entropy.
What the author, who thanked the peer-reviewers for helping him write the article, is trying to say is that entropy increases only for isolated systems not affected by outside forces or inputs. The sun is what caused the entropy of the biosphere to decrease during evolution. But as the article points out, heat from the sun increases entropy. The article makes no sense at all.
However, it is one thing not to make sense, it is another thing to write down an incorrect equation in physics. The author considers organism A evolving into organism B over a period of 100 years, and estimates that organism B is 1000 times less probable than organism A. The author then uses this number to calculate the decrease in entropy with the help of the Boltzmann constant and the equation for entropy. This is absurd because the Boltzmann constant comes from observations about atomic systems. The probability of shuffling a deck of cards and getting it back to its original factory order is one in 52! It is nonsense to plug this number into the equation for entropy to measure the entropy of a deck of cards in joule/degrees. Likewise, it is nonsense to calculate the entropy change of the biosphere in joule/degrees during evolution.
It may strikes some that the estimate of 1000 was not supported by any evidence. However, in a note titled "Evolution and the second law of thermodynamics,” (Am. J. Phys., Vol. 77, No. 10, October 2009) the evolution of proteins was considered by a different author and the estimate of 1000 increased to 10199. This new calculation did not change the conclusion that evolution does not violate the second law of thermodynamics.