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Evolution and Thermodynamics

The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which is accepted as one of the basic laws of physics, holds that under normal conditions all systems left on their own tend to become disordered, dispersed, and corrupted in direct relation to the amount of time that passes. Everything, whether living or not, wears out, deteriorates, decays, disintegrates, and is destroyed. This is the absolute end that all beings will face one way or another, and according to the law, the process cannot be avoided.

This is something that all of us have observed. For example if you take a car to a desert and leave it there, you would hardly expect to find it in a better condition when you came back years later. On the contrary, you would see that its tires had gone flat, its windows had been broken, its chassis had rusted, and its engine had stopped working. The same inevitable process holds true for living things.

The second law of thermodynamics is the means by which this natural process is defined, with physical equations and calculations.

This famous law of physics is also known as the "law of entropy." In physics, entropy is the measure of the disorder of a system. A system's entropy increases as it moves from an ordered, organized, and planned state towards a more disordered, dispersed, and unplanned one. The more disorder there is in a system, the higher its entropy is. The law of entropy holds that the entire universe is unavoidably proceeding towards a more disordered, unplanned, and disorganized state.

The truth of the second law of thermodynamics, or the law of entropy, has been experimentally and theoretically established. All foremost scientists agree that the law of entropy will remain the principle paradigm for the foreseeable future. Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of our age, described it as the "premier law of all of science." Sir Arthur Eddington also referred to it as the "supreme metaphysical law of the entire universe." 357

Evolutionary theory ignores this fundamental law of physics. The mechanism offered by the theory of evolution totally contradicts the second law. The theory of evolution says that disordered, dispersed, and lifeless atoms and molecules spontaneously came together over time, in a particular order, to form extremely complex molecules such as proteins, DNA, and RNA, whereupon millions of different living species with even more complex structures gradually emerged. According to the theory of evolution, this supposed process—which yields a more planned, more ordered, more complex and more organized structure at each stage—was formed all by itself under natural conditions. The law of entropy makes it clear that this so-called natural process utterly contradicts the laws of physics.

Evolutionist scientists are also aware of this fact. J. H. Rush states:

In the complex course of its evolution, life exhibits a remarkable contrast to the tendency expressed in the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Where the Second Law expresses an irreversible progression toward increased entropy and disorder, life evolves continually higher levels of order. 358

The evolutionist author Roger Lewin expresses the thermodynamic impasse of evolution in an article in Science:

One problem biologists have faced is the apparent contradiction by evolution of the second law of thermodynamics. Systems should decay through time, giving less, not more, order. 359

Another defender of the theory of evolution, George Stravropoulos, states the thermodynamic impossibility of the spontaneous formation of life and the impossibility of explaining the existence of complex living mechanisms by natural laws in the well-known evolutionist journal American Scientist:

Yet, under ordinary conditions, no complex organic molecule can ever form spontaneously, but will rather disintegrate, in agreement with the second law. Indeed, the more complex it is, the more unstable it will be, and the more assured, sooner or later, its disintegration. Photosynthesis and all life processes, and even life itself, cannot yet be understood in terms of thermodynamics or any other exact science, despite the use of confused or deliberately confusing language. 360

As we have seen, the evolution claim is completely at odds with the laws of physics. The second law of thermodynamics constitutes an insurmountable obstacle for the scenario of evolution, in terms of both science and logic. Unable to offer any scientific and consistent explanation to overcome this obstacle, evolutionists can only do so in their imagination. For instance, Jeremy Rifkin notes his belief that evolution overwhelms this law of physics with a "magical power":

The Entropy Law says that evolution dissipates the overall available energy for life on this planet. Our concept of evolution is the exact opposite. We believe that evolution somehow magically creates greater overall value and order on earth.361

These words well indicate that evolution is a dogmatic belief rather than a scientific thesis.

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If you leave a car out in natural conditions, it will rust and decay. In the same way, without an intelligent organization all the systems in the universe would decay. This is an incontrovertible law.

The Misconception About Open Systems

Some proponents of evolution have recourse to an argument that the second law of thermodynamics holds true only for "closed systems," and that "open systems" are beyond the scope of this law. This claim goes no further than being an attempt by some evolutionists to distort scientific facts that invalidate their theory. In fact, a large number of scientists openly state that this claim is invalid, and violates thermodynamics. One of these is the Harvard scientist John Ross, who also holds evolutionist views. He explains that these unrealistic claims contain an important scientific error in the following remarks in Chemical and Engineering News:

...there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. ...there is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium phenomena the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself.362

An "open system" is a thermodynamic system in which energy and matter flow in and out. Evolutionists hold that the world is an open system: that it is constantly exposed to an energy flow from the sun, that the law of entropy does not apply to the world as a whole, and that ordered, complex living beings can be generated from disordered, simple, and inanimate structures.

However, there is an obvious distortion here. The fact that a system has an energy inflow is not enough to make that system ordered. Specific mechanisms are needed to make the energy functional. For instance, a car needs an engine, a transmission system, and related control mechanisms to convert the energy in petrol to work. Without such an energy conversion system, the car will not be able to use the energy stored in petrol.

The same thing applies in the case of life as well. It is true that life derives its energy from the sun. However, solar energy can only be converted into chemical energy by the complex energy conversion systems in living things (such as photosynthesis in plants and the digestive systems of humans and animals). No living thing can live without such energy conversion systems. Without an energy conversion system, the sun is nothing but a source of destructive energy that burns, parches, or melts.

As can be seen, a thermodynamic system without an energy conversion mechanism of some sort is not advantageous for evolution, be it open or closed. No one asserts that such complex and conscious mechanisms could have existed in nature under the conditions of the primeval earth. Indeed, the real problem confronting evolutionists is the question of how complex energy-converting mechanisms such as photosynthesis in plants, which cannot be duplicated even with modern technology, could have come into being on their own.

The influx of solar energy into the world would be unable to bring about order on its own. Moreover, no matter how high the temperature may become, amino acids resist forming bonds in ordered sequences. Energy by itself is incapable of making amino acids form the much more complex molecules of proteins, or of making proteins form the much more complex and organized structures of cell organelles.

Ilya Prigogine and the Myth of the "Self-Organization of Matter"

Ilya Prigogine

Ilya Prigogine

Quite aware that the second law of thermodynamics renders evolution impossible, some evolutionist scientists have made speculative attempts to square the circle between the two, in order to be able to claim that evolution is possible.

One person distinguished by his efforts to marry thermodynamics and evolution is the Belgian scientist Ilya Prigogine.

Starting out from chaos theory, Prigogine proposed a number of hypotheses in which order develops from chaos (disorder). However, despite all his best efforts, he was unable to reconcile thermodynamics and evolution.

In his studies, he tried to link irreversible physical processes to the evolutionist scenario on the origin of life, but he was unsuccessful. His books, which are completely theoretical and include a large number of mathematical propositions which cannot be implemented in real life and which there is no possibility of observing, have been criticized by scientists, recognized as experts in the fields of physics, chemistry and thermodynamics, as having no practical and concrete value.

For instance, P. Hohenberg, a physicist regarded as an expert in the fields of statistical mechanics and pattern formation, and one of the authors of the book Review of Modern Physics, sets out his comments on Prigogine's studies in the May 1995 edition of Scientific American:

I don't know of a single phenomenon his theory has explained. 363

And Cosma Shalizi, a theoretical physicist from Wisconsin University, has this to say about the fact that Prigogine's studies have reached no firm conclusion or explanation:

…in the just under five hundred pages of his Self-Organization in Nonequilibrium Systems, there are just four graphs of real-world data, and no comparison of any of his models with experimental results. Nor are his ideas about irreversibility at all connected to self-organization, except for their both being topics in statistical physics. 364

The studies in the physical field by the determinedly materialist Prigogine also had the intention of providing support for the theory of evolution, because, as we have seen in the preceding pages, the theory of evolution is in clear conflict with the entropy principle, i.e., the second law of thermodynamics. The law of entropy, as we know, definitively states that when any organized, and complex structure is left to natural conditions, then loss of organization, complexity and information will result. In opposition to this, the theory of evolution claims that unordered, scattered, and unconscious atoms and molecules came together and gave rise to living things with their organized systems.

Prigogine determined to try to invent formulae that would make processes of this kind feasible.

However, all these efforts resulted in nothing but a series of theoretical experiments.

The two most known theories that emerged as a result of that aim were the theory of "self-organization" and the theory of "dissipative structures." The first of these maintains that simple molecules can organize together to form complex living systems; the second claims that ordered, complex systems can emerge in unordered, high-entropy systems. But these have no other practical and scientific value than founding new, imaginary worlds for evolutionists.

The fact that these theories of Prigogine explain nothing, and have produced no results, is admitted by many scientists. The well-known physicist Joel Keizer writes: "His supposed criteria for predicting the stability of far-from-equilibrium dissipative structures fails—except for states very near equilibrium." 365

The theoretical physicist Cosma Shalizi has this to say on the subject: "Second, he tried to push forward a rigorous and well-grounded study of pattern formation and self-organization almost before anyone else. He failed…" 366

F. Eugene Yates, editor of Self-Organizing Systems: The Emergence of Order, sums up the criticisms directed at Prigogine by Daniel L. Stein and the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Phillip W. Anderson, in an essay in that same journal:

The authors [Anderson and Stein] compare symmetry-breaking in thermodynamic equilibrium systems (leading to phase change) and in systems far from equilibrium (leading to dissipative structures). Thus, the authors do not believe that speculation about dissipative structures and their broken symmetries can, at present, be relevant to questions of the origin and persistence of life. 367

In short, Prigogine's theoretical studies are of no value in explaining the origin of life. The same authors make this comment about his theories:

Contrary to statements in a number of books and articles in this field, we believe that there is no such theory, and it even may be that there are no such structures as they are implied to exist by Prigogine, Haken, and their collaborators. 368

In essence, experts in the subject state that none of the theses Prigogine put forward possess any truth or validity, and that structures of the kind he discusses (dissipative structures) may not even really exist.

Prigogine's claims are considered in great detail in Jean Bricmont's article "Science of Chaos or Chaos in Science?" which makes their invalidity clear.

Despite the fact that Prigogine did not manage to find a way to support evolution, the mere fact that he took initiatives of this sort was enough for the evolutionists to accord him the very greatest respect. A large number of evolutionists have welcomed Prigogine's concept of "self-organization" with great hope and a superficial bias. Prigogine's imaginary theories and concepts have nevertheless convinced many people who do not know much about the subject that evolution has resolved the dilemma of thermodynamics, whereas even Prigogine himself has accepted that the theories he has produced for the molecular level do not apply to living systems—for instance, a living cell:

The problem of biological order involves the transition from the molecular activity to the supermolecular order of the cell. This problem is far from being solved. 369

These are the speculations that evolutionists have indulged in, encouraged by Prigogine's theories, which were meant to resolve the conflict between evolution and other physical laws.

The Difference Between Organized and Ordered Systems

If we look carefully at Prigogine and other evolutionists' claims, we can see that they have fallen into a very important trap. In order to make evolution fit in with thermodynamics, evolutionists are constantly trying to prove that a given order can emerge from open systems.

And here it is important to bring out two key concepts to reveal the deceptive methods the evolutionists use. The deception lies in the deliberate confusing of two distinct concepts: "ordered" and "organized."

We can make this clear with an example. Imagine a completely flat beach on the seashore. When a strong wave hits the beach, mounds of sand, large and small, form bumps on the surface of the sand.

This is a process of "ordering." The seashore is an open system, and the energy flow (the wave) that enters it can form simple patterns in the sand, which look completely regular. From the thermodynamic point of view, it can set up order here where before there was none. But we must make it clear that those same waves cannot build a castle on the beach. If we see a castle there, we are in no doubt that someone has constructed it, because the castle is an "organized" system. In other words, it possesses a clear design and information. Every part of it has been made by an intelligent entity in a planned manner.

The difference between the sand and the castle is that the former is an organized complexity, whereas the latter possesses only order, brought about by simple repetitions. The order formed from repetitions is as if an object (in other words the flow of energy entering the system) had fallen on the letter "a" on a typewriter keyboard, writing "aaaaaaaa" hundreds of times. But the string of "a"s in an order repeated in this manner contains no information, and no complexity. In order to write a complex chain of letters actually containing information (in other words a meaningful sentence, paragraph or book), the presence of intelligence is essential.

The same thing applies when a gust of wind blows into a dusty room. When the wind blows in, the dust which had been lying in an even layer may gather in one corner of the room. This is also a more ordered situation than that which existed before, in the thermodynamic sense, but the individual specks of dust cannot form a portrait of someone on the floor in an organized manner.

This means that complex, organized systems can never come about as the result of natural processes. Although simple examples of order can happen from time to time, these cannot go beyond certain limits.

But evolutionists point to this self-ordering which emerges through natural processes as a most important proof of evolution, portray such cases as examples of "self-organization." As a result of this confusion of concepts, they propose that living systems could develop of their own accord from occurrences in nature and chemical reactions. The methods and studies employed by Prigogine and his followers, which we considered above, are based on this deceptive logic.

However, as we made clear at the outset, organized systems are completely different structures from ordered ones. While ordered systems contain structures formed of simple repetitions, organized systems contain highly complex structures and processes, one often embedded inside the other. In order for such structures to come into existence, there is a need for intelligence, knowledge, and planning. Jeffrey Wicken, an evolutionist scientist, describes the important difference between these two concepts in this way:

'Organized' systems are to be carefully distinguished from 'ordered' systems. Neither kind of system is 'random,' but whereas ordered systems are generated according to simple algorithms and therefore lack complexity, organized systems must be assembled element by element according to an external 'wiring diagram' with a high information content ... Organization, then, is functional complexity and carries information. 370

Ilya Prigogine—maybe as a result of evolutionist wishful thinking— resorted to a confusion of these two concepts, and advertised examples of molecules which ordered themselves under the influence of energy inflows as "self-organization."

The American scientists Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley and Roger L. Olsen, in their book titled The Mystery of Life's Origin, explain this fact as follows:

... In each case random movements of molecules in a fluid are spontaneously replaced by a highly ordered behaviour. Prigogine, Eigen, and others have suggested that a similar sort of self-organization may be intrinsic in organic chemistry and can potentially account for the highly complex macromolecules essential for living systems. But such analogies have scant relevance to the origin-of-life question. A major reason is that they fail to distinguish between order and complexity... 371

And this is how the same scientists explain the logical shallowness and distortion of claiming that water turning into ice is an example of how biological order can spontaneously emerge:

It has often been argued by analogy to water crystallizing to ice that simple monomers may polymerize into complex molecules such as protein and DNA. The analogy is clearly inappropriate, however… The atomic bonding forces draw water molecules into an orderly crystalline array when the thermal agitation (or entropy driving force) is made sufficiently small by lowering the temperature. Organic monomers such as amino acids resist combining at all at any temperature however, much less some orderly arrangement.372

Prigogine devoted his whole career to reconciling evolution and thermodynamics, but even he admitted that there was no resemblance between the crystallization of water and the emergence of complex biological structures:

The point is that in a non-isolated system there exists a possibility for formation of ordered, low-entropy structures at sufficiently low temperatures. This ordering principle is responsible for the appearance of ordered structures such as crystals as well as for the phenomena of phase transitions. Unfortunately this principle cannot explain the formation of biological structures. 373

In short, no chemical or physical effect can explain the origin of life, and the concept of "the self-organization of matter" will remain a fantasy.

Self-Organization: A Materialist Dogma

The claim that evolutionists maintain with the concept of "self-organization" is the belief that inanimate matter can organize itself and generate a complex living thing. This is an utterly unscientific conviction: Observation and experiment have incontrovertibly proven that matter has no such property. The famous English astronomer and mathematician Prof. Fred Hoyle notes that matter cannot generate life by itself, without deliberate interference:

If there were a basic principle of matter which somehow drove organic systems toward life, its existence should easily be demonstrable in the laboratory. One could, for instance, take a swimming bath to represent the primordial soup. Fill it with any chemicals of a non-biological nature you please. Pump any gases over it, or through it, you please, and shine any kind of radiation on it that takes your fancy. Let the experiment proceed for a year and see how many of those 2,000 enzymes [proteins produced by living cells] have appeared in the bath. I will give the answer, and so save the time and trouble and expense of actually doing the experiment. You will find nothing at all, except possibly for a tarry sludge composed of amino acids and other simple organic chemicals. 374

Evolutionary biologist Andrew Scott admits the same fact:

Take some matter, heat while stirring and wait. That is the modern version of Genesis. The 'fundamental' forces of gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces are presumed to have done the rest... But how much of this neat tale is firmly established, and how much remains hopeful speculation? In truth, the mechanism of almost every major step, from chemical precursors up to the first recognizable cells, is the subject of either controversy or complete bewilderment. 375

So why do evolutionists continue to believe in scenarios such as the "self-organization of matter," which have no scientific foundation? Why are they so determined to reject the intelligence and signs of creation that can so clearly be seen in living systems?

The answer to these questions lies hidden in the materialist philosophy that the theory of evolution is fundamentally constructed on. Materialist philosophy believes that only matter exists, for which reason living things need to be accounted for in a manner based on matter. It was this difficulty which gave birth to the theory of evolution, and no matter how much it conflicts with the scientific evidence, it is defended for just that reason. A professor of chemistry from New York University and DNA expert, Robert Shapiro, explains this belief of evolutionists about the "self-organization of matter" and the materialist dogma lying at its heart as follows:

Another evolutionary principle is therefore needed to take us across the gap from mixtures of simple natural chemicals to the first effective replicator. This principle has not yet been described in detail or demonstrated, but it is anticipated, and given names such as chemical evolution and self-organization of matter. The existence of the principle is taken for granted in the philosophy of dialectical materialism, as applied to the origin of life by Alexander Oparin. 376

The truths that we have been examining in this section clearly demonstrate the impossibility of evolution in the face of the second law of thermodynamics. The concept of "self-organization" is another dogma that evolutionist scientists are trying to keep alive despite all the scientific evidence.

 

Footnotes

357 Jeremy Rifkin, Entropy: A New World View, Viking Press, New York, 1980, p. 6.

358 J. H. Rush, The Dawn of Life, New York, Signet, 1962, p. 35.

359 Roger Lewin, "A Downward Slope to Greater Diversity," Science, vol. 217, 24 September, 1982, p. 1239.

360 George P. Stravropoulos, "The Frontiers and Limits of Science," American Scientist, vol. 65, November-December 1977, p. 674.

361 Jeremy Rifkin, Entropy: A New World View, Viking Press, New York, 1980, p. 55.

362 John Ross, Chemical and Engineering News, 27 July, 1980, p. 40. (emphasis added)

363 "From Complexity to Perplexity," Scientific American, May 1995.

364 Cosma Shalizi, "Ilya Prigogine," October 10, 2001,www.santafe.edu/~shalizi/notebooks/prigogine.html. (emphasis added)

365 Joel Keizer, "Statistical Thermodynamics of Nonequilibrium Processes," Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1987, p. 360-1. (emphasis added)

366 Cosma Shalizi, "Ilya Prigogine," October 10, 2001,www.santafe.edu/~shalizi/notebooks/prigogine.html. (emphasis added)

367 F. Eugene Yates, Self-Organizing Systems: The Emergence of Order, "Broken Symmetry, Emergent Properties, Dissipative Structures, Life: Are They Related," Plenum Press, New York, 1987, pp. 445-457. (emphasis added)

368 F. Eugene Yates, Self-Organizing Systems: The Emergence of Order, "Broken Symmetry, Emergent Properties, Dissipative Structures, Life: Are They Related" (NY: Plenum Press, 1987), p. 447.

369 Ilya Prigogine, Isabelle Stengers, Order Out of Chaos, Bantam Books, New York, 1984, p. 175.

370 Jeffrey S. Wicken, "The Generation of Complexity in Evolution: A Thermodynamic and Information-Theoretical Discussion," Journal of Theoretical Biology, vol. 77, April 1979, p. 349.

371 Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley & Roger L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, 4th edition, Dallas, 1992, p. 151.

372 C. B. Thaxton, W. L. Bradley, and R. L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Lewis and Stanley, Texas, 1992, p. 120. (emphasis added)

373 I. Prigogine, G. Nicolis ve A. Babloyants, "Thermodynamics of Evolution," Physics Today, November 1972, vol. 25, p. 23. (emphasis added)

374 Fred Hoyle, The Intelligent Universe, Michael Joseph, London, 1983, p. 20-21. (emphasis added)

375 Andrew Scott, "Update on Genesis," New Scientist, vol. 106, May 2nd, 1985, p. 30. (emphasis added)

376 Robert Shapiro, Origins: A Sceptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, Summit Books, New York, 1986, p. 207. (emphasis added)

 

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