T  W  I  N       C  I  T  I  E  S       C  R  E  A  T  I  O  N       S  C  I  E  N  C  E       A  S  S  O  C  I  A  T  I  O  N

Helen Fryman Searches for "An Authority" Who Thinks That The Second Law Is A Problem For Evolution

OK, I admitted to myself that Holloway was right. I didn't have the education I wanted in thermodynamics. So I started reading. A lot of stuff was on the web, but one fascinating book I was sent by one of the observers here was P.W. Atkins The 2nd Law; Energy, Chaos, and Form (Scientific American Library, 1994). Considering who Atkins is, I presume Holloway will not mind my using him as a reference.

Holloway states, "The first requirement in understanding this issue is to determine exactly what the Second law says and also what it does not say."

Fair enough. I defer to Atkins, as my own lay understanding is so obviously deficient.

p. 9 - The Second Law recognizes that there is a fundamental dissymmetry in Nature...All around us, though are aspects of the dissymmetry: hot objects cool, but cool objects do not spontaneously become hot; a bouncing ball comes to rest, but a stationary ball does not spontaneously begin to bounce.

p. 21 - The domain of the Second Law must now begin to spread outward from the steam engine and to claim its own. By the end of the book, we shall see that it will have claimed life itself.

p.24 - the Kelvin version of the Second Law: No process is possible in which the sole result is the absorption of heat from a reservoir and its complete conversion into work.

p.25 - the Clausius version of the Second Law: No process is possible in which the sole result is the transfer of energy from a cooler to a hotter body.

What is interesting is the inclusion of entropy on pages 30-34: The First Law instructs us to think about the energy of a system that is free from all external influences; that is, the constancy of energy refers to the energy of an isolated system, a system into which we cannot penetrate with heat or with work, and which for brevity we shall refer to as the universe...We have to construct a definition of entropy in such a way that in any universe entropy increases for natural changes, and decreases for changes that are unnatural and have to be contrived. Furthermore, we want to define it so that we capture the Clausius and Kelvin statements of the Second Law, and arrive at a way of expressing them both simultaneously in the following single statement:

Second Law: Natural processes are accompanied by an increase in the entropy of the universe.

This is sometimes referred to not as the Second Law (which is properly a report on direct experience), but as the entropy principle, for it depends on a specification of the property "entropy," which is not a part of direct experience....From now on we should be able to discuss all natural change in terms of entropy... The simplest definition would therefore appear to be:

Change in entropy = (heat supplied)/Temperature

(all emphases are in the original)

It therefore occurs to me that I was correct in applying the concept of entropy to all of life and all within the universe. It also appears to me that I was correct in implying that a decrease in entropy was essentially unnatural or, as Atkins so well puts it, contrived. What happens later is that Atkins then squirrels around with a few other definitions until he is presenting the idea that life had to occur as a process of probability connected with entropy. That one threw me, to be quite honest, but, after all, I am only an uninformed layman (woman). Nevertheless, I think his definitions above are standard and accepted in the study of thermodynamics. We can go with them.

Then Holloway wrote, "The second requirement, if one is to prove that evolution violates the second law, is to derive all subsequent arguments from the accurate statement of the second law."

And that is fine with me. Atkins, the acknowledged expert, at least by Scientific American, has stated that a decrease in entropy is unnatural and must be contrived. Since evolution is based on pure materialistic naturalism, and since living things in their development show definite decreases in entropy, I'm tempted to rest my case with that one. They must have been contrived - or maybe intelligently designed....

Holloway shortly after says rather bluntly, "Misrepresentation and distortion are a fundamental part of the Creationist position on this issue. I don't say that the distortion is deliberate on a conscious level, but in my opinion it is deliberate on some level, because Ms. Fryman and Dr. Olson have refused to have their views evaluated by authors of thermodynamic textbooks, chosen by them at random. Perhaps they are afraid of the verdict."

Now I have to admit that I had not considered it necessary to have my response in a net debate evaluated by a textbook writer in the field of thermodynamics. Might I ask if Mr. Holloway has had HIS responses similarly evaluated? If so, and if he would give me the name of the person who evaluated them, I would be more than happy to submit my own humble offerings for evaluation.

The following section of Holloway's response puzzled me somewhat:

Ms. Fryman makes a number of mistakes in her response. I don't think it is necessary for me to refute all of them but I will refute some of them. As with most Creationists, Ms. Fryman wants very much to use a "generalized" statement of the Second Law. In her words "stuff rots" or "Entropy happens". She also asks if I will deny that "eventually everything will go to a condition of greater disorder". I agree with her completely on the above statements. Things do rot and eventually everything will go to a condition of greater disorder. But eventually can be a very long time, even billions of years. In the meantime, while we are waiting for the ultimate death of the universe, some very interesting things can and do happen. These things often involve a decrease in entropy and there is no violation of the Second Law.

He refers to what I said as a mistake and then agrees with me! I did not mention a time scale. He did. I did not say that interesting things cannot happen. They can and do. However Atkins said that a decrease in entropy was unnatural, and so I am wondering what Holloway chooses as the source for that unnatural contrivance which yields the acknowledged decreases in entropy.

He stated that I am using only parts of the Second Law. The Second Law only has one part. It is stated in two different ways by Atkins and then combined into one statement:

Natural processes are accompanied by an increase in the entropy of the universe.

That's it. Simple, clear, direct.

He does not specify, as Holloway indicates must be specified, "very specific conditions." It's a general and universal statement. I have no problem with it. However Holloway accuses me and other creationists of distorting this law. I would like to ask him in what way it is distorted.

When I first responded to Holloway I was willing to back off the formal Second Law as it was in the domain of Thermodynamics. But after reading Atkins and others, I am quite sure that it is not necessary to do that. It is directly connected with the entropy principle and that is what I was arguing. So I would state that Holloway himself might not know enough about the Second Law to state what he has been saying, that we are not using it honestly.

Holloway accuses me of changing the subject when I refer to entropy, saying that without controlled energy input and intelligently designed ways to use that energy, there is no decrease in entropy. I am not changing the subject. The Second Law deals directly with entropy. Entropy is the natural result of the Second Law. Therefore a decrease in entropy is, by definition, as Atkins says, unnatural. If it is unnatural, then there must be something other than nature involved in the issue. And that is the point of the creationist argument.

I trust I have met Holloway's challenge to reference a reputable source. True, he asked for a text book, and that is not what I have used here. But I am hoping P.W. Atkins, a lecturer in physical chemistry at Oxford University, is a reasonable substitute.

Helen Fryman