July 14, 2002

Thermodynamics, Evolution, God

Ok ladies, this one is for you. Gentlemen may participate as well, but understand that your conditions will be a bit different. The mademoiselle that can write a satisfactory answer will win my heart. I have now chosen to date in essay form.

Consider the second law of thermodynamics, which states (to paraphrase) that as matter and energy are transformed from one to the other in a closed system, there is always a loss to the surrounding environment. This is wasted energy, and while it is not destroyed it cannot be reintroduced to the original system.

For example, my bottle of Sobe Energy drink has been sitting by the computer for two months with a few ounces of fluid left. Carpets of mold have started growing on the filmy surface. Now, as the mold digested the tasty morsels of my Sobe it converted matter to energy, but not with 100% efficiency. Some heat escaped the Sobe system as the mold grew, contributing to the general disorder of the system. This disorder is quantified in the term entropy, as studied in Mandan cabin. Order (a clean cabin) can only be mantained by adding more energy (yelling at kids) to the system.

Now consider evolution, which operates as a really big moldy system in a really big bottle with lizards painted on it. Evolution depends on an increasing amount of order in the system. A certain amount of energy would be required to simply maintain existence, but the progression of evolution would require a steadily increasing amount of energy.

Question: Does the second law of thermodynamics demonstrate that a guiding hand (God) is necessary to maintain the order required to sustain evolution? Why or why not?

This is a fun, fun question to entertain while driving down a sweaty road listening to funky Galactic. People look at you funny. Then they look away. Far, far away.

No– the earth isn’t a closed system by itself… the sun floods the earth with tons of energy daily.

Indeed. That is one of the fatal flaws of that concept. Leave it to Peter to go right to the jugular!