Re: evolution and 2. law of thermodynamics

David Campbell (bivalve@mailserv0.isis.unc.edu)
Fri, 5 Nov 1999 09:52:33 -0500

>At 12:19 PM 11/05/1999 +0100, Inge Frette wrote:
>>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?
>
>As a former YEC who lunched, munched and partied occasionally with the YEC
>biggies, I never heard this one before. It sounds to me like Ratzsch has
>misunderstood the creationists.
>glenn

I believe that the argument regarding the whole universe is sometimes
cited, but usually I have seen it as purportedly disproving biological
evolution. A complicating factor is that young-earth advocates may not be
seeing a particular distinction. "Evolution" can be a catchall for any
scientific ideas being rejected as well as philosophical ideas purportedly
linked with them. As a paleontologist, I think of "evolution" primarily as
biological evolution, whereas the YEC may think of "hydrogen produces
humans, given enough time". Also, there is an apparent belief that a flaw
in any part of the conventional scientific picture allows wholesale
rejection. Thus, a purported problem with details of the Big Bang may be
perceived as overthrowing the whole "system". These make it difficult to
be sure exactly what is in mind in appeals to the 2nd law.

I do not know much about thermodynamics, but I believe that informational
entropy is linked to thermodynamics by a minimum amount of energy being
necessary to store information. Thermodynamics does have an important role
in evolution by providing numerous physical constraints, as well as by
making certain processes possible. However, it seems some sort of
information theory is necessary to assess the entropy of information, such
as DNA sequences. An actual stretch of DNA coding for something and a
random permutation of the same bases would have roughly the same physical
entropy, yet one would be informative and the other not.

David C.