Links from an article at the Skeptic Zone:
A Second Look at the Second Lawâ€¦
â€¦is the title of Granville Sewellâ€™s manuscript that almost got published in Applied Mathematics Letters last year. It was withdrawn at the last minute by the editor, but you can still download the manuscript from Sewellâ€™s web page. The purpose of this thread is to discuss the technical merits of Sewellâ€™s arguments.
In a nutshell, creationists have long argued that biological evolution is associated with increase of information. Because information in Shannonâ€™s sense is, quite literally, the opposite of entropy, the reduction of entropy by evolution appears to contradict the second law of thermodynamics. There is a loophole in this argument: entropy can decrease if a system exchanges heat with the outside world and there is a compensating increase in entropy elsewhere. Back-of-the-envelope estimates show that the increase of information associated with biological evolution is tiny compared to the overall entropy budget of the Earth.
Sewellâ€™s comeback boils down to two points:
- The compensation argument makes no sense. An extremely improbable event is not made less improbable because of â€ścompensatingâ€ť events occurring elsewhere.
- Informational entropy and thermal entropy are unrelated quantities, so adding them makes no sense. The 2nd law must be applied to each of them separately.
Thus biological evolution contradicts the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
Sewell made these points and supporting examples both in this manuscript and elsewhere.
Bad Arguments from the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics
Even within the creationist
community, there has been a divide among creationists as to the
appropriateness of the 2nd law in arguing against evolution. I think it
is fair to say, not every creationist feels comfortable using 2nd law
"Strictly speaking, the earth is an open system, and thus the Second Law of Thermodynamics cannot be used to preclude a naturalistic origin of life."
However Walter Bradely, Charles Thaxton, and Roger Olsen wrote one of the most devastating critiques of naturlistic origin of life in 1984 that I've ever seen, and their book is considered the beginning of the modern intelligent design movement. Some of the chapters are available online: http://www.ldolphin.org/mystery/
Not all of our IDEA members (even the creationists in the group) are comfortable with the 2nd law being used for the case of design.