evolution and 2. law of thermodynamics

Inge Frette (inge.frette@geologica.no)
Fri, 05 Nov 1999 12:19:47 +0100

Hello folks,
I have a couple of questions that I hope some may answer.
I have already discussed this - privately - with some of the
list members.

In his book "The battle for the beginnings" philosopher
Del Ratzsch writes that evolutionists generally misunderstand
creationists when the creationists argues against evolution
basing the argument on thermodynamics.
He writes that when the creationists uses this argument, the system
they have in mind is the whole universe, and that the evolutionists normally
respond with discussing biological systems on earth.
On page 92 he writes
"Critics of creationism almost without exception take this initial creationist
claim to be about purely biological evolution on the earth and respond that
the Second Law applies only to closed systems, whereas the earth, receiving
energy from the sun, is thermodynamically open. But since the system
actually in question here is the entire universe, which is the "prime
example"
of a closed system, the response that the Second Law only applies to closed
systems is beside the point creationists mean to be making in this case."

Is Ratzsch correct when he argues that creationists GENERALLY have the
entire universe (as a system) in mind in their argumentation ?
Are the evolutionists that respond generally missing the point
of the creationists?

In his book "Information theory and molecular biology" Hubert
Yockey responds to the challenge given by the creationists.
But he deals with the problem on the molecular level arguing
that the entropy in question is the Shannon entropy from
information theory and not the Maxwell-Gibbs-Boltzmann entropy
from thermodynamics. He argues that it is important to differentiate
between order and complexity and that it is complexity that is the
important parameter (among those two) in genetic evolution.
He also argues that the two entropies have nothing to do with
each other, and therefore that "thermodynamics has nothing to do
with Darwin's theory of evolution" (page 313).
He even charges Prigogine for missing the point. On page 281
Yockey writes
"Shannon entropy does not enter in the formalism of Prigogoine et.al.,
and thus they attempt to force non-equilibrium thermodynamics to
play the role that should be assigned to information theory and coding
theory in describing complexity and order. This again results in a
confusion between order and complexity."

Is Yockey right here ? Are his claims generally accepted among
other scientists ? Is the whole discussion just a pseudo problem,
because one has mixed order and complexity and mixed the
entropy of information theory and the entropy of thermodynamics.
Prigogine is Prigogine, and I have some problems understanding that
an expert in thermodynamic like him could fail here. On the other hand
Yockey is also an expert on the topic...

Anwers or comments are welcome !

Regards from Inge

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Inge Frette
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