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Evolution & the 2nd law?

tamas tgaal at macc.wisc.edu
Wed Nov 22 09:22:30 EST 1995

Mark Fry <wmfry at morgan.ucs.mun.ca> wrote:
>The other day a physicist friend of mine said that he does not believe 
>the theory of evolution, based on the laws of physics.  His argument >went something like this:
>The theory of evolution, as it is generally presented, states that 
>billions of years ago, some proto-organism arose from the primevil ooze.  
>It presumably had some genetic material, encoding but a few "genes".  
>Since then, more complex organisms have "arisin":  each of these more 
>complex organisms contains more information in its genetic code.  This 
>represents an accumulation of information and energy, or a tendancy towards 
>more order in the universe.  This is in direcyt conflict with the second 
>law of thermodynamics that states "the entropy of the universe increases 
>in all natural processes".

Your friend seems to forget, that the second law of thermodynamics
is only walid in a closed system. Try to isolate any living creature
completely from its environment, and he'll see that the 2nd law is walid,
the creature will cease to be organised, the creature will cease to be...
The mistake he makes is that he forgets about the energy input into the 
process of evolution. The local increase of energy/information is 
achieved at the expense of energy input from the outside world.
If you look at the whole system, the 2nd law is valid. There is a small
increase here locally, but a larger decrease elsewhere, which 
compensates for it.



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