Nov1291 07:38PMSubject: Re: Thermodynamic arguments In article 68648@rphroy.ph.gmr.com WHA

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From: brinkman@si151a.llnl.gov Nov-12-91 07:38PMSubject: Re: Thermodynamic arguments In article <68648@rphroy.ph.gmr.com> 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 >life. 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 thermodynamics [1]: "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 [1]. 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. >Bill Hamilton >GM Research Labs [1] M. W. Zemansky and R. H. Dittman, _Heat and Thermodynamics--An Intermediate Textbook_, Sixth Edition, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1981. LOC: QC254.2Z45 1981 ISBN: 0-07-072808-9 The statements are the, in order, Kelvin-Planck, Clausius, Caratheodory, and Zemansky & Dittman formulations of the second law of thermodynamics. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Matt Brinkman brinkman@edseq1.llnl.gov Disclaimer: My opinions.

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