I have heard that Christians use the second law of thermodynamics as an argument against evolution.


The second law of thermodynamics expresses the existence of a quanity called the entropy of a system and states that the entropy of an isolated macroscopic system never decreases, or, equivalently, that perpetual motion machines of the second kind are impossible. (Wikipedia.)


An atheist's response was that it only applies to a closed system. So then what is the validity of this argument, to argue against evolution? What does the atheists point of view have to do with its validity? Does it only apply to a closed system? 

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Comment by Daniel Xavier Knight on July 6, 2012 at 3:21pm

@Adam J. Benton (Primitive that you can't reply directly to a person... anyways) "the sun is adding energy to the earth." and what is adding energy to the sun, and where did that energy come from. Your answer is no better than an evolutionist who finally realizes that natural evolution and abiogenesis apart from deliberate creation are impossible, but who still being stubborn and angry at God, and not wanting to have to admit he exists and admit responsibility to him, instead, so that they don't seem impossibly stupid to clearly intelligent and moral people, says, "Aliens did it" as if that solves anything. The fact is, there is no evidence for evolution, only evidence against it, and that a break down in DNA is what has created many variants of the original kinds of animals. There's no evidence for animals becoming massive and armor plated via evolution, nor for them breaking down and becoming smaller, softer and weaker and with less functionality via evolution. And the many so called "living fossils" will forever refute evolution.

Comment by Robert Driskell on June 15, 2011 at 3:21pm

I have heard the evolutionist's claim that the 2nd law cannot be used against their theory because it only works in a closed system also.  My concept of the universe is that it is a closed system.  The earth may not be a closed system in relation to the sun, but the universe as a whole IS a closed system.  The sun may, for a time, release its energy to be used by things on the earth, but eventually the sun will run out of energy also. 

One other thing that sticks out to me is the issue of design.  Even if energy were coming into a system from outside, there would have to be some organized means of utilizing it.  No matter what chemicals you possess, if you don't combine them in a certain way, they are useless.

Anyway, just my thoughts on the subject.  Hopefully it glorifies God.

Yours in Christ,


Comment by Adam J. Benton on May 26, 2011 at 5:35pm
It isn't so much that biology permits life to defy entropy as that life doesn't defy entropy if you take the entire universe into account. All biology does is convert the incoming energy into something that other organisms can use.
Comment by John Heininger on May 26, 2011 at 3:04pm
should read "defy entropy" not defy gravity - John
Comment by John Heininger on May 26, 2011 at 3:03pm
Entropy applies to both open AND closed systems, which is why our houses continually need painting and why our cars wear out, and why we need to keep eating to stay alive. The only reason lifeforms temporarly defy gravity is because A PREEXISTING BIOLOGICAL ENERGY CONVERSING conversion SYSTEM exists to keep this whole process going in any open system.  You can pour as much solar energy you like on a dead body and it will not bring it to life, but only accelerate the decay process.  John Heininger www.thegodreality.com
Comment by Adam J. Benton on May 16, 2011 at 4:54am

I'm no physicist, so this is going to mostly be "what I read off the internet" combined with my knowledge of biology.


Entropy is essentially the amount of "wasted" energy in a system and the second law of thermodynamics states that it can only increase until all energy has been "wasted". In other words, if I was running something off a battery then the amount of useful energy in the something/battery system would only decrease (as some energy is wasted by being emitted as light, sound, heat etc,). There is nothing I can do within the system that would add more useful energy to the battery than I started off with.


This principle is used to argue against evolution in two ways.


The first relies on a misunderstanding of the second law of thermodynamics and essentially goes "the 2nd law states everything moves towards disorder, evolution requires the introduction of order, thus the 2nd law disproves evolution." However, as I just explained the second law doesn't actually say that, rather it merely states that the amount of wasted energy increase, not necessarily disorder.


The second argument is more accurate and goes "the 2nd law states no useful energy can be added to a system. Evolution requires additional energy (it takes more energy to run a human than a bacteria, thus energy has to be added to turn a bacteria into a human) therefore it is impossible under the 2nd law." Of course, the problem with this argument is that the second law only applies to a closed system. Remember the battery/something system? Well, there is something I could do to that system that would add energy - charge the battery. Entropy can decrease if there is an outside force adding energy to the system. So evolution would be possible if something was adding energy to the "earth" system. Perhaps a giant ball of energy in the sky? 


So, long story short, the arguments against evolution based on the second law of thermodynamics fail because those arguments require that the earth is a closed system. It is not, the sun is adding energy to the earth.

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