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American Journal of Physics
Moderator(s): Randall D. Isaac
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6/5/2012 at 5:15:05 AM GMT
Posts: 60

I am not a biologist and rely on authorities to get my understanding of evolutionary biology. My understanding is that natural selection explains only adaptation, not common descent. It explains why giraffes have long necks, but not how giraffes evolved from bacteria in only 3 billion years.  This understanding comes from reading textbooks, peer-reviewed articles, scholarly works, and conversations with experts on evolutionary biology. I give some of those quotes in my attached YouTube video.

Like the Big Bang and the origin of life, the limitations of natural selection is a reason to believe in the Bible. It is a sign that God inspired the human authors of the Bible because the Bible says God created the universe from nothing. I don’t consider it evidence that God exists. We know God exists because we know humans are finite beings and finite beings need a cause.

I just got three long emails from Charles Kankelborg of Montana State University attempting to explain why the AJP article does not contain, as I am maintaining, a fraudulent equation. I did not find any of his comments helpful. I’v posted them at my blog at

My main complaint is with equation 4c in the attached article which states that the entropy change of an organism over a period of 100 years is 9.53 X 10 (-23) J/K. This equation comes from applying the equation S = k log (W), where k is the Boltzmann constant and W is the thermodynamic probability. The change in thermodynamic probability is estimated to be 1000. 

To me it makes no sense to calculate the entropy or temperature of an organism. It is like calculating the temperature and entropy of a Boeing 747 or a deck of cards. All Professor Kankelborg said was that I was wrong and that if I read more textbooks on statistical mechanics and thermodynamics I will see that this equation is not a hoax. 

The other absurd thing about the article is that it implies that if you add heat to a system, the entropy will decrease. When you add heat to a system the entropy increases. For entropy to decrease there has to be a source of order. For example, if you compress a gas and extract heat, there is a decrease in entropy. However, we know the cause of the decrease: the work done by the compression.
I'v attached two more articles about evolution and entropy. One was published. The Applied Math Letters accepted the article, but decided not to publish it. Both articles argue that evolution is inconsistent with the second law of thermodynamics. 

David Roemer

 Attached Files: 
AML_3497.pdf (273.24 KB)
, ,
D&NE040405f.pdf (601.41 KB)

Last edited Tuesday, June 5, 2012
6/5/2012 at 12:07:24 PM GMT
Posts: 60

The reference to the Boeing 747 is an allusion to the old model that evolution was like a tornado hitting a junkyard, picking up the remains of airplanes, and producing a Boeing 747 ready to fly. The new model is that evolution is like a computer generating an English sonnet by the random selection of letters or words. The AJP article calculates the entropy of a tornado (sun) and the entropy of an airplane (organisms) to prove that the assembly of an airplane by a tornado does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. 


David Roemer

6/5/2012 at 12:20:27 PM GMT
Posts: 142

Kankelborg is quite right.

And yes, organisms do have temperature and so does a 747. Just put a thermometer in them (or your mouth) and see!

No, I don't see where that article says that adding heat decreases the entropy. That would be peculiar

That defining equation of entropy is a universal and applies to everything in every situation.

Perhaps you need to read more biology textbooks. Reproduction with variation coupled with natural selection (interpreted broadly to include sexual selection, sweep selection, neutral selection, etc.) is adequate, in the opinion of almost all evolutionary biologists, to explain common descent from a few ancestral forms into all species of today. Yes, there are dissenters and you can certainly find them. Most of them complain because we don't have all the details of what happened in between. I don't know of any valid argument that such descent is not possible in principle.




6/5/2012 at 12:22:48 PM GMT
Posts: 142

Again, any "new model" that claims evolution is simulated by a computer composing a sonnet by random assembly of notes is not accurate and does not even come close to reflecting what evolutionary biologists are talking about. Any model must reflect the basic concepts of reproduction with variation plus selection. That's missing in the "new model."



6/5/2012 at 2:30:27 PM GMT
Posts: 60
The email exchange with Dr. Charles Kankelborg went like this:

David: I interpreted Dr. Richardson’s email to me as confirmation that the equation: S = k log(Omega) only applies to thermodynamic systems. It does not apply to biological systems.

Charles: A biological system is a thermodynamic system.

David: I don’t understand why a biological system is a thermodynamic system. Is a Boeing 747 a thermodynamic system? 

Charles: Certainly. 

Your telling me Charles is right is just as pointless as Charles telling me I am wrong. 

When a nurse takes a temperature, the temperature is of the fluid next to the thermometer. The idea that a human being is a thermodynamic system and has a temperature and entropy strikes me as being absurd. 

We are having the same pointless conversation about the model of a protein biologists use to understand evolution. Why don’t we ask an expert on evolutionary biology? Perhaps he will be able to guide us to a scholarly work or textbook that explains why I am wrong and you are right. 
If you want, I can start by assembling all of the quotes I have already given. I don't want to do it again because you might say I am taking them out of context, or you might say they are not mainstream biologists. I'm talking about the quotes from Krischner and Gerhart, Richard Dawkins, Kenneth Miller, Michael Behe, and Niel Campbell.
Behe is an advocate of ID, but the idea that there is a disagreement between him and Kenneth Miller about evolutionary biology is precisely what we disagree about. When it comes to ID, I agree with Kenneth Miller, not Michael Behe. Other people agree with Behe. Stop and think. Does it make sense that two professors of biology at major university have a disagreement about evolutionary biology such that the likes of you and me can figure out who is right? 
I also have a great quote from Christine Kenneally, a PhD in linguistics, who thinks natural selection explains the complexity of life.  

David Roemer

Last edited Tuesday, June 5, 2012
6/5/2012 at 7:40:02 PM GMT
Posts: 142

Quotes aren't helpful, Dave. Focus on the logic and rationale and evidence underlying the concepts.

ALL systems are thermodynamic systems, whether they be persons or trees or airplanes. I am having difficulty understanding why you would call such a statement absurd. Temperature has to do with the kinetic energy of the atoms in the system. That's why it makes sense to apply to any system composed of atoms. If you are running a fever, all the atoms in your body will have a slightly elevated kinetic energy, varying somewhat according to their location, whether it be external or internal, etc. We can measure the temperature in all systems because kinetic energy of the atoms in the system will flow to a thermal sensor put in contact with it, bringing it to equilibrium.

Similarly, the second law of thermodynamics is universal, applying to ALL systems, without exception. And entropy, including its definition depending on the logarithm of the density of states, is a universal concept, applying to ALL systems.

And not a single one of the models that have independent probabilities of occurrence for each base pair or each amino acid, is a valid simulation of the process of evolution of a protein of any kind. I know you can find quotes for zillions of such claims, but they are all wrong. Why? Because no gene and no protein ever assembles in that manner nor is it proposed that they do so. Each one is an increment from a previous biochemical system. That's what we see in every cell reproduction event and every organism reproduction and we extrapolate that back to a common ancestor, though we cannot do so in detail.



6/5/2012 at 10:46:07 PM GMT
Posts: 60
Temperature is macroscopic variable measured with a thermometer. A Boeing 747 in flight does not have a temperature. You can measure the temperature of different parts of the airplane, but there is no meaningful way to average out the temperatures to get a single temperature for a plane. Likewise, you can’t measure the temperature of a single fertilized egg of an animal. A fertilized egg has many more parts than a Boeing 747. The parts are so small that you can’t even measure the temperature of the different parts. If you put a tiny thermocouple into the egg, you are not measuring the temperature of a biological system. You are measuring the temperature of a bunch of chemicals.

A fertilized egg will develop into a multi-cellular animal, just as a biosphere of bacteria grew into a biosphere with animals. The idea of proving that the second law of thermodynamics is not violated in these two processes by attributing a temperature and entropy to these biological systems and by writing down equations using the Boltzmann constant is absurd.  

The other absurd thing about the paper is that is says heat energy caused the entropy of the biosphere to decrease. When you add heat to a gas, the entropy of the gas increases. This is how the AJP paper puts it:  

"In short, the Sun heats the Earth and to a nearly equal extent the Earth heats outer space. Each of these "heatings" is accompanied by an entropy change.

"If each of these organism were evolving at the rate assumed in Eq. (2), the change in entopy of the biosphere each second would be -302 J/K. In contrast we found earlier that a lower bound for the Earth's entropy throughput each second is about 420 X 10(12) J/K. In other words, at a minimum the Earth is bathed in about one trillion times the amound of entropy flux requred to support the rate of evolution assumed here."

The model biologists use to understand the evolution of the primary structure of a protein is the English sonnet, just as the model physicists use for a gas is a deck of playing cards. This is the real connection between evolution and thermodynamics. 

Because of this model, as well as the complexity of molecular machinery and genetic engineering, natural selection only explains the adaptation of species to the environment, not the increase in the complexity of life. I speak with more authority on this topic than most people because I can lawfully teach biology in New York State if there is no biology teacher available. 

David Roemer

6/6/2012 at 2:11:01 AM GMT
Posts: 142

 It seems you are saying that a system cannot be a thermodynamic system if you cannot measure or somehow determine the average temperature of that system. But that's not the criterion for being a thermodynamic system. All systems are thermodynamic systems both microscopically and macroscopically.

You state that "The idea of proving that the second law of thermodynamics is not violated in these two processes by attributing a temperature and entropy to these biological systems and by writing down equations using the Boltzmann constant is absurd." It is a basic thermodynamic principle that temperature and entropy exist for all systems and that all systems obey the second law of thermodynamics. It does not matter whether or not you understand how to determine such a temperature--it does exist and can be shown both experimentally and theoretically. I'm at a loss to understand why you object to Boltzmann's constant. Simply asserting that something is absurd is not sufficient. You do not have valid arguments for systems not having temperature or entropy.

Then you state "The model biologists use to understand the evolution of the primary structure of a protein is the English sonnet," No, they do not. I have only seen anti-evolutionists use such a model when they attempt to show evolution didn't happen. Of course it didn't happen in that way. But no evolutionist suggests it either. This is an unrealistic scenario and is meaningless.

In science, authority is of little value. It all rests on the evidence and the logic underlying the assertions. Authorities can simply be authoritatively dead-wrong.



6/6/2012 at 4:40:15 AM GMT
Posts: 60
For a gas, there is a temperature and an entropy variable related to the average kinetic energy and the thermodynamic probability via the Boltzmann constant.

For a deck of playing cards there is no thermodynamic probability because there is no temperature and no thermodynamic system. The probability of shuffling a deck of cards and getting them in factory order is 1/52! It makes no sense to say the entropy of a deck of cards when it comes from the factory is S = k log 1/52! I don’t see any difference between this absurd equation and equation (4b): S = k log 10 (-3).

The theory of evolution was invented to explain the existence of fossils, and a considerable amount of evidence supports this theory. This gives rise to the question of what caused life to evolve from bacteria to mammals in 3 billion years. The only theory that explains this is intelligent design (ID), but there is no evidence for ID. To make this theory look better, advocates of ID compare it with the theory of natural selection. Natural selection is supported by the evidence, but only explains the adaptation of species to the environment, not the increase in the complexity of life. Atheists go along with this misinformation because they don’t want to admit that there is no scientific explanation for evolution at the present time. 

My guess is that you did not get your ideas about evolutionary biology from textbooks, peer-reviewed articles, and scholarly works, but from reading popular literature. I suggest that you discuss the matter with a biology professor and watch my video titled "The Truth About Evolution and Religion” (

David Roemer

6/6/2012 at 4:48:37 AM GMT
Posts: 4


 I can't imagine why you think a Boeing 747 is not a thermodynamic system.  Of course it is. The fact that you (and I) do not know how to average the temperature correctly is irrelevant.  For one thing, the existence of an airplane is a perfect example, in the bigger picture, of a decrease in entropy due to work/heat.  It seems to me that you are trying to use this as an example that God is the Creator.  Of course He is.  But that has nothing to do with this example.  I don't get it.

 Jim Bandstra