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Evolution & the 2nd law?

DOUGLAS ROBINSON douglas_robinson at FMC.COM
Wed Nov 22 09:04:59 EST 1995

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To: methods-and-reagents at net.bio.net
From: Mark Fry <wmfry at morgan.ucs.mun.ca>
Subject: Evolution & the 2nd law?
Date: Wed, 22 Nov 1995 00:56:58 -0330
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     Curious.  If this is true, then how does your friend explain star, 
     solar system and galaxy formation?  Aren't these also more ordered?  I 
     think the fallacy of this argument is that entropy describes the 
     universe as a whole, not discrete components.  More order can occur in 
     certain areas, but organization on the whole, decreases.
     Doug Robinson
     FMC BioProducts

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Evolution & the 2nd law?
Author:  Mark Fry <wmfry at morgan.ucs.mun.ca> at Internet
Date:    11/22/95 12:56 AM

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".
Even if the case of natural selection is considered (the differential 
survival and REPRODUCTION of those individuals with greater fitness) we 
still have an increase in proportion of genes that optimize survial in a 
given environment.  This again represents a tendancy towards more order. 
Extinction is consistant with the second law.
His argument is not that of a crackpot, but seems to be based in the laws 
of physics.  I'm not sure if the basis of his argument (ie information = 
energy) is strong enough to support his argument.
I know this a little out of the scope of this group, but I know that most 
of you are knowledgable about molecular evolution.  I would like to know 
what others think of this argument.
"What does a physicist know anyway?"  ;)
Mark Fry                                    ribit    @..@         
4th floor BMS Fac of Med.                        \  (----)                  
Memorial University of NFLD                        ( >**< )             
A1B 3V6                                           ^^^""""^^^ 
wmfry at plato.ucs.mun.ca                             (Xenopus)

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