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Evolution & the 2nd law?

"Marianne Leverone ", BIO leverone at CHUMA.CAS.USF.EDU
Mon Nov 27 10:15:11 EST 1995

You are right;  we've got five more billion years on this earth to evolve 
and then that's it!

On 22 Nov 1995, ed williamson 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".
> 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?"  ;)
> >HI, I have heard this before, also from a physicist.  But I thought that
> >the second law applied to a closed system only.  Entropy increases in a
> >closed system unless there is some input of energy to offset this
> >difference.  Your hard drive will become increasingly disorganized unless
> >someone or something expends some energy to organize it - a lot at once or
> >a little along the way.  The process of life is not spontaneous, it
> >requires the input of energy: the sun in most cases.  So, with this huge
> >nuclear fusion thing, releasing more energy than humans should be allowed,
> >the life forms on this planet have enormous amounts of energy to utilize.
> >Isn't this consistent with the second law?  Maybe we should worship a sun
> >god.  Then again.
>         Opinions?  ew

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