Creationists have long tried to claim that the Second Law of Thermodynamics contradicts the Theory of Evolution. That’s to be expected, since Creationists generally don’t bother to learn anything about thermodynamics before making the claim. The Intelligent Design crowd has generally tried to look more scientifically savvy, but one of their lead proponents, William Dembski, has recently linked to a thermodynamics-based anti-evolution argument by Granville Sewell.
The anti-evolution argument goes something like this: The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that no process exists which can cause the entropy of a system to decrease. Since entropy is chaos, this law means that the chaos of a system can’t decrease. If the chaos can’t decrease, the order can’t increase. If no natural process can increase the order of a system, the process of evolution can’t account for the increase in the order and complexity of living organisms over time. Evolution is destroyed! God created life! Hallelujah!
Rubbish, because that’s not what the Second Law of Thermodynamics says. Technically, it says that no process can exist that only moves heat from a cool place to a warm place. The expanded definition is that the entropy of a closed system can never decrease.
There’s that word – “entropy” – again, but what does it mean? Entropy is energy that the system can no longer use in its process. The simplest example of entropy is waste heat. If you spin a wheel, it slows down because friction at the axle turns the kinetic energy of the wheel into heat. The wheel eventually slows down and stops as all of its kinetic energy becomes entropy.
Note that entropy is waste energy – not “chaos”. Once you understand this simple concept, you can see why the thermodynamics argument against evolution is baseless. A living being is not a closed system, so it can easily get rid of entropy just by radiating waste heat. At the same time, it takes in new energy – in the form of food – to run its processes. That’s why scientists say it matters that living beings are open systems, as is the entire ecosystem. There is absolutely nothing in thermodynamics that prevents evolution from happening; if it did, real scientists would have killed the Theory of Evolution decades ago.
Granville Sewell – and, by extension, William Dembski – is just another charlatan trying to trick an uninformed public with lies about thermodynamics.
Credits go out to Jason Rosenhouse for drawing my attention to the joint foolishness of Dembski and Sewell and to Mike Wong for succinctly explaining why the Second Law argument against the Theory of Evolution is either ignorance or deliberate deception.