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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I asked a similar question in my blog on this website. The response was overwhelming and it is possible you might find your answer therein.

Thanks so much. I got my answer and can write with confidence. 

I'm suspicious of anyone who claims something as vague as a bachelors degree in "science".  He could be just a glorified engineer who doesn't understand the basics of either physics (under which thermodynamics falls) or biology (for biological evolution).

Hell, doesn't Liberty University offer some various "science" programs?  I wouldn't trust anything that someone learned at that university.  I've seen bits from some of their textbooks.

Someone who claims a degree in science and then spouts the most mindless fundie crap is being dishonest somewhere.  He could be lying about everything he claims of his credentials, for all we know.  When someone gives the most often repeated crap that the most ignorant apologists throw around, I don't trust them anymore.


To answer your basic question, though ... yes, entropy increases system-wide, over time.  Certain parts of the system can gain energy and organization at the expense of other parts of the system, though.  Even looking at a closed system like the solar system, if it was actually a closed system, we could have the sun increasing its entropy at a greater rate, providing a net reduction on nearby subsystems, such as the planets that orbit it.  The whole system will wind itself down into disorder, eventually, but that's a damned long time in the future.

Even beyond that basic misunderstanding, though, biological evolution isn't even necessarily a net increase in order, within the biological system.  There's a great deal that fundies don't get about things like crystallization and matter organizing itself into an energy-favorable state, which contributes to current hypotheses of abiogenesis.  Way too much stuff to go into here.

Thank you Joseph! Very clear and understandable for a non-scientist to comprehend. 

I wonder if Liberty University has to pass a competency test in order to sell their product? Are they accredited? 

Not sure.  I heard at one point that they became accredited by some less-common accreditation group that handles religious universities.  I'm not entirely sure what that involves.

Liberty University is unfortunately in the USA. Since it isn't publicly funded, it doesn't get accreditation from the government. In other words, it is privately funded, so it can issue its own accreditation. Obviously, there is no competency test. Most of the students from that school are smug about the stupidity of science - they make remarks like, "Your knowledge isn't up to date if you still believe in evolution." They address real scientists this way.

Liberty University is a disgrace to America.

Jim, thank you for this information. It amazes me that people can make statements that obviously are part of the learned catechism, catholic or otherwise, and people speak with confidence, arrogance and hubris. So many religious put on the persona of Charlton Heston as Moses and make pronouncements.  These wanna-be intellectual reveal only arrogance based on ignorance. 

crystallization and matter organizing itself into an energy-favorable state, which contributes to current hypotheses of abiogenesis.

This sounds interesting, do you have a link?

Not really.  Most of what I've read on the subject is from books by people like Victor Stenger, Dawkins, and the like.  They get into things such as symmetry breaking and other physical phenomena that cause apparent pattern creation out of symmetrical low-energy states.  The Wikipedia article on the subject isn't very extensive.  You'd be better off with an actual book that goes into the subject in depth.

I guess the basic idea is that the free energy is what decreases during a chemical reaction. 

dG = dU - T dS, i.e.

the change in free energy = change in energy minus temperature multiplied by change in entropy.

So if a reaction lowers the energy enough, it can go forward even if the entropy content decreases.  (The entropy goes off somewhere else)

Luara, what is you education background?

Let me see if I can say what you said.

When there is an action/change, there is a change in energy. The free energy not needed for the action/change goes where free energy goes. 

When a person dies, the free energy goes back from which it came, into atoms. 

Are these statements correct?

The "free energy" determines what direction a chemical reaction goes. 

The "free energy" isn't the same as the energy.  A chemical reaction doesn't simply go in the direction of lowest energy. 

It also doesn't simply go in the direction of highest entropy. 

It is driven by a combination of energy and entropy, called the "free energy" - given by that formula I gave.  The free energy will be lower after a chemical reaction, than before. 

So when creationists think everything should just wind down and evolution is impossible because of the second law of thermodynamics, they are wrong. 

Chemical reactions are the main part of what is going on in forming life, and chemical reactions go in the direction of lower free energy.  NOT lower entropy. 

This is how crystals can form out of liquids  Crystals have lower entropy than liquids.  But they also have lower energy than liquids. 

So, when the temperature is low enough, you can get crystals forming, because the free energy of the crystal state is lower than the free energy of the liquid state. 

My background is a bachelor's in mathematics from Caltech.  Every Caltech student gets lots of physics and other sciences.  But I learned a lot  after that, from reading on my own. 




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