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2nd law of thermodynamics applies to information theory (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (2nd law of thermodynamics applies to information theory (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CF005:

The second law of thermodynamics applies to information theory. It follows that genetic information will become increasingly degraded as it gets repeatedly copied over time.


Morris, Henry M., 1974. Scientific Creationism, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, pp. 38-40.

CreationWiki response:

It needs to be noted that this concept is not found in Morris' book as stated above. The above wording is Talk Origins' interpretation of what Morris takes 2.5 pages to describe. Morris clearly refers to the communication of information in connection with degradation as indicated in #3.

(Talk Origins quotes in blue)

1. While statistical information theory has a quantity called "entropy", it does not have anything equivalent to the second law of thermodynamics. In a general information processing/transmitting system, entropy can freely decrease or increase.

While this is true of general information theory, as #3 shows in the case of communication or information storage systems, there is an equivalent to the 2nd law. By the way, DNA is both a communication and information storage system.

2. There are some classes of information systems in which information can only decrease, for example a deterministic, causally isolated system with discrete states. However (at least in this case) the information loss corresponds to a decrease in entropy.

True, but this does not apply to DNA.

3. Information theory does sort of have a principle of degradation, but it is only applicable in certain situations (which evolution isn't one of). It implies, essentially, that information change is irreversible: information gets more and more different from how it started out, and the more it gets changed, the harder it is to tell how it started out. In a communication or information storage system, where the goal is to transmit or replay the original message intact, change is necessarily bad, so this corresponds to degradation.

This principle of degradation is equivalent to the 2nd law, and this description fits genetic information. The fact is that DNA is both a communication and information storage system. DNA stores the information needed for the functioning and reproduction of the cell. Furthermore DNA communicates genetic information from parent to offspring.

  • In evolution, change is not necessarily bad, so this is not a principle of degradation.

This is an Evolutionary assumption and not necessarily the way genetic information actually works. The fact is that Evolutionists do not acknowledge any objective standard by which a change could be considered bad. Without such a standard this statement is meaningless.

The simple fact is that DNA is both a communication and information storage system. Furthermore random changes in such information cause degradation. Mutations are random changes and as such cause a degradation in genetic information.