Re:design, purposeful or random (thermodynamics)

Paul Brown (
Tue, 18 Mar 1997 18:12:10 PST8PDT

Hi, I'm new to the list although I have been reading the archives for
a while. My training is a B.S. in biology, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees
in soil science where my emphasis was bio- and organic chemistry. I
have found that many of the discussions on this list have forced me
into thinking in ways I have not done before, so even though I find
myself disagreeing at some points, just reading the posts has been

I'm not sure I agree with Pim van Meurs (and probably some others) on
several points concerning thermodynamics, but rather than waste breath
on possible misunderstandings, I would like to first clarify a few

Pim van Meurs:
>Evolution is defined quite well, extrapolating it to evolution of the
>universe, origin of life, origin of the universe is inappropiate and
>confusing. First of all the discussion was about the 2nd law of
>thermodynamics being violated by evolution. Not the origin of life.

Pim, you seem to go out of your way to distinguish between the process
of evolution and the origin of life (chemical evolution) as they are
affected by thermodynamics. Ok. But then you include in your
discussion the origin of life.

>Irrelevant for evolution and life. That the universe might be dying
>of an entropy death does not mean that it cannot lead to creation of
>life on its way. The sun itself is enough to serve as such a system.
>The initial formation of aminoacids for instance does not require
>more than the presence of UV light/lightning/heat. That is completely
>wrong. Behe shows an ignorance on this issue which is not limited to
>this topic but I digress. First of all the Miller-Urey experiment
>shows how from the pre-biotic soup, without the need for a
>metabolic system, amino-acids could form. We even see complex systems
>form spontaneously in nature all the time.
>then the answer must be less than scientific ? Let me point out to you that the energy
>conversion systems lie in the simple thermodynamics of the chemicals
>involved. A mixture of chemicals under the influence of a spark can
>form more complicated structures known as amino-acids. So source of
>energy is enough since the mechanisms for transforming it are present.
>If your question is what causes the thermodynamic behavior of these
>elements then we can discuss this. We see increase in order without
>'energy conversion' mechanism all the time, unless you mean by energy
>conversion mechanism the thermodynamics of chemicals and that we
>understand quite well. Now if your problem lies with the origins of

Then there are a whole host of statements (that I won't bother to
repeat at this stage) where it is unclear whether you are speaking of
the process of evolution, or the origin of life, or both. If you
wouldn't mind, help me figure this out (if and when you get the time -
no hurry). Are you saying that thermodynamics (e.g. entropy,
energy) is no problem for the process of evolution once life is
started, but conceding that it is a problem in the origin of life?
Are you trying to make a distinction between how the origin of life
might be influenced by chemical thermodynamics in a different manner
than the process of evolution? If so, how so, and if not, why go to
the trouble to make the distinction?

Regards, Paul
Paul D. Brown
Dept of PSES, Ag Sci 242
University of Idaho
Moscow, ID 83844
Phone: 1 (208) 885-7427 or 885-7505