# The Second Law of Thermodynamics

Spirituality 22 Feb '07 12:27
1. 22 Feb '07 12:27
Originally posted by dj2becker:

Let me try and lay it out for you as I see it. Feel free to refute or correct anything I say at any time.

Second law of Thermodynamics:
"Every system, left to its own devices, always tends to move from order to disorder, its energy tending to be transformed into lower levels of availability (for work), ultimately becoming totally random and unavailable for work.
...or...
The entropy of a closed system cannot decrease.

(Entropy is a measure of (1) the amount of energy unavailable for work within a system or process, and/or (2) the probability of distribution or randomness [disorder] within a system.)

To help ensure an adequate understanding of what the second law means, consider the following, also from Isaac Asimov:

“Another way of stating the second law then is: ‘The universe is constantly getting more disorderly!’ Viewed that way, we can see the second law all about us. We have to work hard to straighten a room, but left to itself it becomes a mess again very quickly and very easily. Even if we never enter it, it becomes dusty and musty. How difficult to maintain houses, and machinery, and our bodies in perfect working order: how easy to let them deteriorate. In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself -- and that is what the second law is all about.”
[Smithsonian Institute Journal, June 1970, p. 6]

This is the essence of Classical Thermodynamics. Similarly, the “generalized 2nd law” applies to probability of distribution matters in Information Theory in such a way that, left to itself over time, the information conveyed by an information-communicating system will end more distorted and less complete than when it began (again, a higher measure of, or increase in, entropy—in this case informational entropy)—and likewise, applied to matters Statistics, left to itself over time, the order or regularity of a system will be less than when it began (and again, a higher measure of, or increase in, entropy—in this case statistical entropy).

Your Evolutionary theory faces a problem in the second law, since the law is plainly understood to indicate (as does empirical observation) that things tend towards disorder, simplicity, randomness, and disorganization, while the theory insists that precisely the opposite has been taking place since the universe began (assuming it had a beginning).

Beginning with the “Big Bang” and the self-formation and expansion of space and matter, the evolutionist scenario declares that every structure, system, and relationship—down to every atom, molecule, and beyond—is the result of a loosely-defined, spontaneous self-assembly process of increasing organization and complexity, and a direct contradiction (i.e., theorized violation) of the second law.

This hypothesis is applied with the greatest fervor to the speculations concerning biological life and its origin. The story goes that—again, in violation of the second law—within the midst of a certain population of spontaneously self-assembled molecules, a particularly vast and complex (but random) act of self-assembly took place, producing the first self-replicating molecule.

Continuing to ignore the second law, this molecular phenomenon is said to have undergone multiple further random increases in complexity and organization, producing a unique combination of highly specialized and suitably matched molecular “community members” which formed what we now know as the incredibly efficient, organized self-sustaining complex of integrated machinery called the cell.

Not only did this alleged remarkable random act of self-transformation take place in defiance of the second law, but the environment in which it happened, while itself presumably cooperating with the second law’s demand for increased disorder and break-down, managed (by some further unknown random mechanism) to leave untouched the entire biological self-assembly process and the self-gathered material resources from which the first living organism built itself.

The theory of Evolution takes its greatest pride in applying this same brand of speculation to the classic Darwinian hypothesis in which all known biological life is said to have descended (by means of virtually infinite—yet random—additional increases in organized complexity) from that first hypothesized single-celled organism. This process, it is claimed, is directly responsible for the existence of (among other things) the human being.

For some background info you can read the following:
http://www.trueorigin.org/steiger.asp

The above has been claimed before in these forums and I thought it would be nice to address it properly in a thread of its own. It will be nice to have a thread to refer back to if it comes up again.
2. 22 Feb '07 12:40
Let us first try to understand what goes on in a random system.
Flip a coin multiple times and the result is a string of random heads and tails.

Now, is there no pattern of any kind in the heads and tails? If taken as a whole, it would be random and meaningless. However that doesn't mean that interesting sequences will not occur. For example a string of 10 heads will not be particularly surprising in 1000 throws. What about three heads, three tails, then three heads, which spells S.O.S. in morse code?

Take a volume of gas and allow it to settle and the atoms are moving about randomly.

Will each molecule of gas be moving at the same speed? Will the density or temperature of the gas ever achieve total uniformity? No. Even if you start it off as totally uniform, there will always be local fluctuations and variations.

So a random closed system still exhibits patterns at the local level.

Now instead of just any gas, fill the volume with water vapor and cool it until it starts to condense. The water vapor will condense into droplets which over time will coalesce into large and larger droplets.

So given certain rules of physics such as the 'stickiness' of water droplets, we see that what starts out as a nearly uniform spread of minuscule water droplets soon becomes a number of larger droplets of various sizes.

Now suppose that in the mix there was a particular chemical that only starts to react when a droplet reaches a certain size. Only some of the droplets will experience this reaction.

Has the second law been violated yet?
3. 22 Feb '07 13:06
Now let us take the effects of gravity into account. As particles coalesce out of a uniform mixture of random particles, the heavier ones will coalesce faster and therefore tend to end up in the centre. Also if the objects being formed are fluid in nature even particles which join in late, will go to the centre if they are denser than the rest. We will see that over time the objects will contain nicely sorted layers.

So we have apparent order out of chaos.

Similar effects due to gravity can be observed all the time. The fact that the sea doesn't mix with the earth or the atmosphere doesn't mix with the sea or earth and result in a formless uniform sphere is obvious evidence that order results directly from the effects of gravity.

Have we violated the second law yet?
4. 22 Feb '07 13:55
I believe I have shown that processes of increasing organization and complexity does occur, and in fact occurs all the time throughout the universe and before our very eyes thus showing that the claim that it violates the second law and therefore cannot occur a clearly false claim.

Evolution is a special case that I will deal with next.
5. sonhouse
Fast and Curious
22 Feb '07 15:20
Now let us take the effects of gravity into account. As particles coalesce out of a uniform mixture of random particles, the heavier ones will coalesce faster and therefore tend to end up in the centre. Also if the objects being formed are fluid in nature even particles which join in late, will go to the centre if they are denser than the rest. We will se ...[text shortened]... at order results directly from the effects of gravity.

Have we violated the second law yet?
You have apparent order out of chaos but it does not result in the ability to, by itself, generate energy so there is no conflict with #2.
You can see driving great pipes into the ground to say, 100 Km depth, you can derive a lot of energy from such a system due to the temperature differential of the top and bottom layers but eventually that energy runs out which is also no violation of #2.
6. scottishinnz
Kichigai!
22 Feb '07 18:17
Originally posted by dj2becker:

[b]Let me try and lay it out for you as I see it. Feel free to refute or correct anything I say at any time.

Second law of Thermodynamics:
"Every system, left to its own devices, always tends to move from order to disorder, its energy tending to be transformed into lower levels of availability (for work), ultimately ...[text shortened]... in a thread of its own. It will be nice to have a thread to refer back to if it comes up again.
If deej's point is correct, plants cannot grow, neither can water be pumped up hill.
7. AThousandYoung
Just another day
23 Feb '07 04:391 edit
Originally posted by dj2becker:

Let me try and lay it out for you as I see it. Feel free to refute or correct anything I say at any time.

Second law of Thermodynamics:
"Every system, left to its own devices, always tends to move from order to disorder, its energy tending to be transformed into lower levels of availability (for work), ultimately in a thread of its own. It will be nice to have a thread to refer back to if it comes up again.
Short answer - life is not a closed system, and therefore the 2nd Law does not apply.
8. 23 Feb '07 08:14
Before I get to evolution in particular let us take a look at this claim:
Your Evolutionary theory faces a problem in the second law, since the law is plainly understood to indicate (as does empirical observation) that things tend towards disorder, simplicity, randomness, and disorganization, while the theory insists that precisely the opposite has been taking place since the universe began (assuming it had a beginning).
And similar claims relating to 'complexity' that are often made by proponents of ID.
What is 'complexity' and how can it be measured?
And how exactly can you claim "that things tend towards disorder, simplicity"? Is disorder more simple than order? What is 'order' in the first place?

I have already shown that under the influence of gravity there is a tendency for things to 'sort' themselves into a more ordered pattern. This is not a violation of the Second Law even in a closed system. Can it be said to be more random or more disordered? I think not. So why the claim that randomness and disorder is a consequence of the Second Law? It seems the writer is making some false claims.
9. 23 Feb '07 11:50
Life is an example of 'water being pumped uphill'.
Life requires an external source of energy in order to maintain its level of entropy. It does not violate the second law.
10. scottishinnz
Kichigai!
23 Feb '07 11:54
Life is an example of 'water being pumped uphill'.
Life requires an external source of energy in order to maintain its level of entropy. It does not violate the second law.
Deej must be very thin, since he's unable to derive body mass from the food he eats, since that would contradict his, very personal, definition of the 2nd law.
11. 23 Feb '07 11:58
So why does the writer claim that evolution violates the second law? What is the claim? Is it his claim that life itself violates the law? Is it that life is incapable of change? Is it that life is incapable of change in way that increases its entropy? Clearly those would all be false claims as we know that life does not violate the second law as it is not a closed system but requires an external energy source.
Is it a claim that nothing can become more complex? Whatever you might understand complexity to mean you cannot possibly deny that a human being is more complex than the zygote it comes from so such a claim would be evidently false.

So without even going into the mechanics of evolution his claims are clearly false.
12. 23 Feb '07 12:32
So why does the writer claim that evolution violates the second law? What is the claim? Is it his claim that life itself violates the law? Is it that life is incapable of change? Is it that life is incapable of change in way that increases its entropy? Clearly those would all be false claims as we know that life does not violate the second law as it is no ...[text shortened]... ly false.

So without even going into the mechanics of evolution his claims are clearly false.
IMO the Theory of Abiogenesis violates the second law of thermodynamics.
13. 23 Feb '07 12:47
Originally posted by dj2becker
IMO the Theory of Abiogenesis violates the second law of thermodynamics.
Please explain in more detail in what way you think it violates the second law. Also, do you accept based on the thread so far that a large part of the original post consists of false claims?
14. 23 Feb '07 12:561 edit
Please explain in more detail in what way you think it violates the second law. Also, do you accept based on the thread so far that a large part of the original post consists of false claims?
All the examples you used are from after life had begun. IMO it has never been demonstrated that the 'formation of life from non-life' is perfectly compatible with the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

If it has been demonstrated that non-life can produce life within the boundaries of the second law of Thermodynamics then you are most welcome to share it. Please go ahead.
15. 23 Feb '07 12:57
Originally posted by dj2becker
IMO the Theory of Abiogenesis violates the second law of thermodynamics.
Which of the following claims would you subscribe to:
According to the Second Law
1. Self replicating molecules cannot exist.
2. Self replicating molecules cannot change.
3. Self replicating molecules cannot change into large molecules involving more atoms.
4. Self replicating molecules cannot occur by 'random'.
5. Natural selection (or the process whereby self replicating entities are able to change into more effective forms over time) cannot happen.

Do you have any other claims that you feel would cause abiogenesis to violate the second law.