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# Second Law of Thermodynamics

Creationist Wisdom #392: Science Student

"The scientifically-proven, recorded and testable Second Law of Thermodynamics stands in direct opposition to the theory of evolution. It states all things change/move from a state of higher organization to disorder … which is the opposite of evolution proposes.

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't Second Law of Thermodynamics apply in a closed system? If so, it doesn't apply to evolution because the Earth is an open system, getting energy from the sun and expelling energy into the universe.

This article is an interesting one upon which the Sensuous Curmudgeon commented. The writer, Wayne, "claims he has “a bachelors degree in science, a masters and [is] working on a doctorate”. He doesn't say what his doctorate is in or where he is studying, however, from his comments Curmudgeon does not buy into his being a biology, physics, or a math major.

So, I am needing some education here. I keep hearing this claim about the 2nd law and need to be able to respond to it.

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ps Here's an example of how "free energy" works.

The oxygen molecules in our atmosphere are O2 - two oxygen atoms bonded together.

The molecules form by the chemical reaction  O + O  -> O2, where O + O are the two oxygen atoms.

The entropy of O + O is higher than the entropy of O2, the oxygen molecule, because the two oxygen atoms are bonded together in the oxygen molecule.  They don't have as much freedom of motion.  So from the point of view of entropy, O + O is better.

However, the energy of O + O is higher than the energy of O2.  From the point of view of energy, you would think oxygen would prefer to be in the O2 molecule.

So which wins, entropy or energy?  That's determined by a combination of energy and entropy, called "free energy".  You take the energy and you subtract entropy multiplied by temperature, and you get free energy.

When it's Very Very Hot, the entropy wins and the oxygen is in the form of free atoms.  At cooler temperature, the energy wins and the oxygen is in molecules.

*shrug*  Could be.  I don't claim to have a solid grasp on it.  I haven't touched the equations since college.  I remember just enough to know that the fundies who try to use it as support for their nonsense have no concept of the basics.  Forget the nuts and bolts; they're misrepresenting the central concepts.

I like Stenger's style and haven't read very much of his work. Thanks for reminding me of him. I will be better prepared to not back down when people start flinging words and terms at me that I don't understand. I usually respond with a, "I am not a physicist ... or whatever" and look for other weak points in their arguments. I will love the day when I can say back to them, "You are wrong in your claim and here is why!" In the meantime, its dodge and wiggle my way out.

Yeah, Stenger is a great companion to Dawkins.  He demonstrates the non-living components that lead up to the biology and support it.  Dawkins sticks within the realm of biology, because it's what he does.

Hi, Luara. I think the basic idea is being examined by Jeremy England at MIT. Essentially, matter tends to organize itself to maximize heat dissipation, which leads to self-replication in inorganic systems (like vortices). The short version is: put a bunch of atoms in a heat bath and plants form. Here's the link

https://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140122-a-new-physics-theo...

and here's a link to an article about the above article.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/22/physicist-says-hes-solved-the...

The true poetic justice of our interactions with creationists is that the 2nd law of thermodynamics might actually be the key to abiogenesis.

In this country the studyof theology also counts as science....

Talking to an Oxford student a little while ago, I asked what she was studying.

Inwardly I groaned, but I deliberately said: "Ah, how interesting. Theology. Does that mean that you are studying lots of the world's religions, including past religions as well as modern ones--like the muslim, jewish, hindu and christian religions (and variants like Mormonism and JW), Mother Earth paganism and scientology---and then explain how and why they all differ from one another, to say nothing of their internal inconsistencies?"

"Oh no", she said, "only christianity".

Heaven forfend someone should plot more points on a curve, when they have presupposed that there's only really one to begin with.

Your understanding is quite correct, Joan.  The issue of the Second Law of Thermodynamics is one which christians have quite purposefully misunderstood in order to leave wiggle room for their god.  Worse, after having heard this BS debunked repeatedly, the argument continues to come up, as do too many others.

Now I'm an electrical engineer with a bachelor's degree who never formally studied thermodynamics (the math for it is a skull-buster!), but I knew this back in college!  Whoever it is making the claims you cite in your piece, I have to wonder if he was paying attention in class ... or more likely was behaving like a certain "professional philosopher" we all know too well:

When you can't check his facts, or he doesn't think that you know them, he will lie.
-- Lawrence Krauss (on William Lane Craig)

So does the concept of an intervening God violate the second law of thermodynamics?  God imposing order on the world?

I think it does something far more pernicious, Luara: I think it breaks the reliable and indeed, to me, utterly necessary link between cause and effect.  With that, we have a reality not driven by predictable physical law, but potentially by WHIM ... and I don't like it, not one little bit.

Wow! What a great link! I'm using bits and pieces with attribution to you. It's too early in the morning to take it all in one bite. Thanks.

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