Nov-12-91 07:38PMSubject: Re: Thermodynamic arguments
In article <firstname.lastname@example.org> WHAMILTO@cmsa.gmr.com writes...
>For the sunshine to accomplish anything useful, it has to shine
>on something that possesses an organized mechanism for using energy in the
>form of light and/or heat. So it takes more than sunshine to bring about
Bill, thanx for finally bringing up the new creationist "God through
Entropy" argument. After repeated repostings of the standard creationist
dreck it is at least encouraging that you at least realize that the initial
formulation of "God through Entropy" is fallacious.
Just a short, historical aside. The original "God through Entropy"
argument is somewhat as follows. Entropy, a measure of disorder, must
increase. Since life is more ordered than its non-living components,
the second law of thermodynamics (i.e., entropy must increase) must have
been violated in the evolution of the first life form; thus, God exists.
This is one of the common early creationist arguments, used by Henry
Morris as a primary proponent. When scientists aptly pointed out that
the second law of thermodynamics only held for a closed system (i.e., one
in which no energy enters of leaves) and that the Earth is by no means a
closed system, the battle was joined. At first the creationists simply
ignored this point. After getting repeatedly bloodied, however, they
switched to what I have called above the new "God through Entropy" argument.
In short the new "God through Entropy" argument runs something as follows.
The creationists combined the thermodynamic use of entropy with the trendy
entropy of information theory formalism. From this they came up with the
new statement entropy must increase in all systems, unless a plan exists
for utilizing incoming energy. God is the plan; thus, God exists. For
examples, one can look at Morris's _The Troubled Waters of Evolution_ where
he makes the analogy (roughly paraphrased) "Look at an automobile scrap heap.
The sun can shine and shine on it, but we will never see a brand new car
emerge." Another example is Bill Hamilton's statement, "For the sunshine to
accomplish anything useful, it has to shine on something that possesses an
organized mechanism for using energy in the form of light and/or heat. So it
takes more than sunshine to bring about life."
But how well does this restatement of the second law of thermodynamics
correspond to the actual second law of thermodynamics? Looking at a standard
science text you can find the following statements of the second law of
"No process is possible whose *sole* result is the absorption of heat from
a reservoir and the conversion of heat into work."
"No process is possible whose *sole* result is the transfer of heat from a
cooler to a hotter body."
"In the neighborhood (however close) of any equilibrium state of a system
of any number of thermodynamic coordinates, there exist states that cannot
be reached (are inaccessible) by reversible adaibatic processes."
"The answer is that a process always takes place in such a direction as to
cause an increase in the entropy of the universe. In the case of an
isolated system, it is the entropy of the system that tends to increase."
Now, each of these statements of the second law of thermodynamics can be
shown to be equivalent . None of these statements talk about an "organized
mechanism." Is one forced to conclude that you are using your own private
(well in fairness a Morris-like) definition of the second law of
thermodynamics? Can you show that your statement of the second law is
equivalent to any of these other statements?
In all fairness, you can also start from the information theoretic or
statistical mechanics concepts of entropy. In that case, please be specific
in how you define the information content or statistical formulae of solar
light and/or heat.
You also need to explain what the "organized mechanism" is for such
phenomenon as crystal formation, cloud formation, chemical processes forming
more complex constituents than their original reactants, and nuclear fusion,
to name a few. Note that if you claim self organizational abilities (such
as stereochemical properties) for these mechanisms, you have made a statement
that conveys no new information, and, in effect, forfeits the point.
>Sorry, but it seems to me that both creationists and their opponents
>misapply the second law.
No. If it helps you to make the distinction, think of it this way...
Scientists do not make up their own private definitions of physical laws and
expect them to be accepted without reason; creationists do.
>GM Research Labs
 M. W. Zemansky and R. H. Dittman, _Heat and Thermodynamics--An
Textbook_, Sixth Edition, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981.
LOC: QC254.2Z45 1981
The statements are the, in order, Kelvin-Planck, Clausius, Caratheodory,
and Zemansky & Dittman formulations of the second law of thermodynamics.
Matt Brinkman email@example.com
Disclaimer: My opinions.