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CreationWiki on Evolution and Entropy
Moderator(s): Randall D. Isaac
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1/1/2013 at 7:59:51 PM GMT
Posts: 60
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 ( 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.

David Roemer

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Last edited Wednesday, January 2, 2013
3/5/2013 at 8:29:26 PM GMT
Posts: 8
YEC drivel
YEC papers -- such as those coming from ICR and AIG, are almost always riddled with errors or completely miss the point. HOWEVER, these are our Christian brethern; we need to treat them kindly. I conclude thatth ey are so bound up by a false worldview that they can honestlyno t see the problems. It is sad.


On Global Warming -- we all live downstream!

3/7/2013 at 4:46:09 AM GMT
Posts: 60
Dr. William Bradley of Baylor University and an ASA member responded to an email I sent about "Entropy and evolution" with the suggestion I read his chapter about thermodynamics and evolution in Debating Design. I could not find in the chapter anything that refuted my arguments in the article or my review on of End of Darwin: How A Flawed and Disastrous Theory Was Stolen and Sold. 

1) In the introduction Bradley says, "The laws of thermodynamics have a unifying effect in the physical sciences". Do the laws of thermodynamics apply to the evolution of stars? 

2) In the introduction, "What is intriguing is that the predictions of one [thermodynamics] seem to contradict the predictions of the other [evolution]." A living organism is a more complex piece of machinery than a Boeing 747 in flight. I don't see how it makes any sense to speak of the temperature or entropy of an airplane. For the same reason an airplane doesn't have a temperature, a living organism does not have a temperature. I refer you also to the quote from Biology's First Law: The Tendency for Diversity and Complexity to Increase at under the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

3) In the introduction, "The Second Law of Thermodynamics suggests a progression from order to disorder… in the physical universe." The second law applies only to systems of non-interacting entities and systems with chemical reactions as a source or sink of energy.  

4) In the introduction, "Unlike biological evolution, where it is fashionable to believe that there is sufficient creative power in mutation combined with natural selection to account for the diversity of life in the biosphere, it is generally recognized the origin of life is one of the great mysteries in science." Natural selection acting upon innovations explains only the adaptation of species to the environment, not common descent. There are no mysteries in science, there are only unanswered questions. (There are only mysteries in the method of inquiry called metaphysics.) There are seven quotes in "revolution-quotes" under Natural Selection Explains Adaptation Not Common Descent. Laymen think that natural selection explains how bacteria evolved into mammals in only 3.5 billion years because of misinformation disseminated by advocates of intelligent design and their opponents. The misinformation that evolution does not violate the second law is perpetrated because saying the second law does not apply to evolution sounds like saying evolution violates the second law. Saying this sounds like creationism and intelligent design.  

5) In part 3 under Thermodynamics and Configurational Energy, "Imagine a chemical system that is comprised of fifty amino acids of type A and fifty amino acids of type B. What happens to the configurational entropy if two of these molecules chemically react? The total number of molecules in the systems drops from 100 to 99 with 49 A molecules, 49 B molecules, and a single A-B bipeptide. The change in configurational entropy is given by ...[Entropy = k ln 25]" This equation is dangerously close to eq. 4b in the AJP article, which I am saying is absurd because the Boltzmann equation is used to calculate the change in entropy of an organism as it evolves. Your equation is okay, I suppose, because you create a hypothetical situation where 100 molecules go to 99 molecules. The AJP article simply plugs a probability into the Boltzmann equation and says it is a change in the entropy of an organism. 

6) In part 3 under Thermodynamics of Open Systems, "The total entropy change that takes place in an open system such as a living cell must be consistent with the Second Law of Thermodynamics and can be described as follows:∆S(cell) + ∆S(surrounding) > 0." This is like saying ∆S(airplane in flight) + ∆S(surrounding) > 0. An airplane can be broken up into a number of thermodynamic systems, e.g., the engine, pilot’s cabin, metal wing, etc. Each thermodynamic system will have its surroundings and this law will apply. But to suggest that there is such a thing as the entropy of an airplane in flight is nonsense. A living cell has much more machinery in it than an airplane.

What follows is four more references about this matter. 

1)   McIntosh, A.C., "Information and entropy – top -down or bottom-up development in living systems?", Int. J. of Design & Nature and Ecodynamics. Vol. 4, No. 4 (2009), pp. 351 to 385.

2)   Fourth paragraph of Ilya Prigogine, Gregoire Nicolis, and Agnes Babloyantz, "Thermodynamics of evolution”, Physics Today 25(11) (1972), pp. 23 to 28. View online:

3)   My article in


David Roemer

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D&NE040405f.pdf (601.41 KB)