Friday, March 27, 2009

Evolution and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

I mentioned a while back of Dan Styer's paper on Evolution and Entropy. In it, he directly tackled this issue and pointed out quantitatively that the decrease in entropy is more than sufficiently balanced by the increase in entropy elsewhere in terms of the energy received by the earth externally.

Now comes another paper that refined Styer's work and draw up an even stronger conclusions by not adopting the assumption in Styer's paper.

Abstract: Skeptics of biological evolution often claim that evolution requires a decrease in entropy, giving rise to a conflict with the second law of thermodynamics. This argument is fallacious because it neglects the large increase in entropy provided by sunlight striking the Earth. A recent article provided a quantitative assessment of the entropies involved and showed explicitly that there is no conflict. That article rests on an unjustified assumption about the amount of entropy reduction involved in evolution. I present a refinement of the argument that does not rely on this assumption.

There ya go! Do you think those who continue to use such arguments against evolutions would read and, more importantly, UNDERSTAND it? I doubt it!


Edit 9/17/09: This paper has been published. Here's the full reference: E.F. Bunn, Am. J. Phys. v.77, p.922 (2009).


Glen Thomas said...

Overwhelming evidence hasn't worked so far in the Evolution/Creation debate, so even if those Discovery Institute folks ever did read (or understand) this paper it wouldn't change anything.

It is nice to have the details worked out properly, but it really is 'preaching to the choir'.

ZapperZ said...

Unfortunately, often that's all we can do. I certainly have no delusion that this would change their minds, and these aren't the people that I'm targeting. I'm targeting those who are googling such topics AND hope that they find valid sources along with those misinformation that comes up.

There will always be charlatans in the world. The only thing we can do is make sure the rest of the population are well-informed enough to know to ignore them.


Doctor Pion said...

You hardly have to write a paper to show the fallacy of this argument. The same "logic" would argue that a ball of cells cannot grow into an adult human. A random blob of undifferentiated cells is far more probable than that!

But why trust in the triumph of logic? Bring a supersaturated solution to the debate. Presto! Disorder into order!